Why review a one-hour Southwest Airlines 737-700 flight? One, because I hand’t flown Southwest in years. Two, because we’re still in the middle of COVID-19. Three, because I was darn impressed by it.
Southwest Airlines Check-In
I had checked-in online, but I did notice that the check-in area at Phoenix was mostly deserted, despite several Southwest flights departing in the early evening hours. Most stations were closed, all employees were wearing masks, and plexiglass shields were present at every counter.
While many people ignored the mask policy in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, everyone appeared to have a mask on in the gate area. Boarding began on schedule. Recall, this was a very last-minute trip and I ended up with B15+B16 boarding priority, having checked in about eight hours before the flight.
My son Augustine loves visiting airports and planespotting, but the “what’s this aircraft daddy?” question gets pretty old pretty quick at a Southwest hub (Southwest only uses 737 aircraft).
Southwest Airlines Boarding
Southwest Airlines boards its A group first (60 passengers) then allows families with young children to board before beginning the B boarding group. The boarding process was prolonged (15 at a time with time gaps in between) in order to promote social distancing.
Southwest Airlines 102
Phoenix (PHX) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Friday, May 29
Depart: 7:20 PM
Arrive: 8:45 PM
Duration: 01hr, 25min
Distance: 370 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
A masked flight attendant welcomed us onboard. Southwest has open seating and we found seats just in front of the exit row. While the seats did not recline, that was not an issue for a quick flight (and reclining seats are dangerous anyway with a three-year-old who loves to press button and has trouble sitting still…)
Southwest Airlines 737-700 Seating + Legroom + Social Distancing
Southwest has 31″ legroom and blue faux-leather seats….31″ is not much, but it felt generous enough. The open middle seat helped. The flight was full…full as in 2/3 full. Southwest is currently blocking all middle seats and so every aisle and window seat was taken, but no middle seats were occupied. I thought that families traveling together might have to take middle seats, but that is not the case or there were just no parties of three traveling together.
We took off on time and were soon in the air. During the flight we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Southwest Airlines Food + Drink
I was not expecting anything during the flight, but Southwest has re-introduced a modified drink and snack service on flights over 250 miles. Water and snack mix are offered.
The canned Deja Blue water took me back several years to grade school trips on Southwest…I think Southwest is the only place I’ve ever seen it. The snack mix was really tasty and the snack was perfect for a one-hour flight (though obviously a selection of beverages would have been preferred).
Southwest Airlines Service
The flight crew was very lovely. There was a bit of humor in the announcements, but by the time the flight attendant got to our aisle there was only one can of water left…and it was warm to the touch. Rather than just hand it to me, he picked it up, noted it was warm, and told me he was going to try to find a cooler one for me, which he did. What a nice, proactive gesture.
Everyone adult onboard wore masks so there were no enforcement or compliance issues.
Southwest Airlines 737-700 Wi-Fi + IFE
Here’s where Southwest really impressed me. I was not expecting any IFE beyond wi-fi, but found that Southwest has a large library of streaming movies available and also offers live TV in addition to wi-fi internet. That’s a huge leap forward from the last time I flew Southwest and would be quite handy on a transcontinental flight (though plan in advance for the lack of power ports).
Augustine got more out of the safety card than the actual IFE…
Southwest Airlines 737-700 Lavatory
I was certainly hoping we could avoid it, but Augustine insisted he had to use restroom as we approached Los Angeles. It was small and dingy. I hope it was clean, but most airline lavatories are bad enough during normal times. During COVID-19…ugh. I just don’t want to go near them. But if you’re a parent, you know what it is like to have a child who simply cannot wait…
Do bring wipes along…
We landed early at LAX then had to terminal in which all stores were closed…no Urth coffee today. My car was parked in the Signature Terminal so we had to take an Uber to get there. That took 15 minutes, by the way. Even though LAXit was empty, there were no cars waiting. Talk about a twilight zone…
Overall, this was a great flight on Southwest. I appreciated the cheap flight, the great service, and was really impressed by how far Southwest has come with its IFE onboard.