I haven't flown in 1,004 days: Finally flying after nearly 3 years! (Southwest Segment)

Hi all! I haven’t done a flight review here in… a very long time. Times have definitely changed since my last review, especially highlighted by my age change, me knowing what I am doing now and untimely events over the past year. Some of you may ask: “How did it take 1,004 days for you to fly again, Luke?” Well, it was going to be less than that. I was going to fly to Disney World (Orlando) in March of 2020… you all know how that went down. During that time, I was able to uncover most of my flights from 2006-2016 due to resources at my house and on the internet. This helped spark a fire that has been yearning for that moment to enjoy the wonders of flight once more. Around 3 weeks ago, I was able to find a good deal on a round-trip with Southwest and Frontier, despite me flying to Detroit in the same week (I’m still doing that by the way), and with negotiations with my parents, I was in. I chose my destination airport of Fresno since I would be able to fly on one of my all time favorite aircraft (the Frontier A319, that segment will come in part 2), as well as flying my overall favorite airline (Southwest).


So, how was my experience? Keep reading to find out!

I arrived at the airport at 7:40 AM for a 11:00 AM flight, since I wanted extra time to planespot. I was dropped off at the Southwest section of check-in, and since I already had checked in, did not have any checked bags (who would even bring a checked bag on a day trip?), and had my boarding pass, I did not need to visit this, but I tried to follow signs to security. DEN’s great hall is currently a mess, so I wanted to take the bridge security. I followed signs to the North Checkpoint then took an escalator up a level to go to the bridge. The bridge security was very smooth, I was all good to planespot only 15 minutes after arrival at the airport (the most of that time was walking to the checkpoint since I was confused on where it was, as it had been a very long time since I last used that checkpoint lol). I then proceeded to visit all three concourses and take pictures with my camera. (I will make a spotting topic soon!) At around 9:45 AM, after spotting for almost 2 hours, I decided to head to my gate in Concourse C to try to see my plane pull in. I did get there early, and was able to see today’s ride pull in from San Diego. I was pleased to know that it was wearing my favorite livery of all time, Southwest’s Canyon Blue (or Spirit) livery.


N7740A is a 14.4 year old 737-7BD, originally delivered to AirTran as N313AT in February 2007, and acquired by Southwest in 2012 during the Southwest-AirTran Merger. It would carry me to Fresno on this fine Wednesday morning.
With the plane starting to get catered and unloaded with bags, all was set for the passengers from San Diego to disembark. Oddly enough, the plane sat very close to the jetbridge but it was not connected to the aircraft for 20 minutes. With this, an early arrival became a delay, and by the time the first passengers were disembarking, scheduled boarding time had come and gone. Southwest never communicated why that happened, but the friendly gate agent told everyone to get ready to board in the A group. I got a pretty good boarding position (A33) and chatted with some people who were near me in position for a bit. The friendly gate agent greeted me by my first name when he scanned my boarding pass, and wished me a nice flight. I then boarded and found my seat for this flight, 8F, a window right on the front wing. Southwest expedited the boarding process well, due to the odd delay, and had everyone on the plane before the 11:00 AM scheduled departure time, but that also came and went. (My seat and my window view)


According to the flight deck, the first delay to our departure was that we were missing the co-pilot and he was in the airport somewhere, then once he showed up, we were delayed for weight and balance calculations as well as some straggler bags needed to be loaded. Finally, at 11:31, 31 minutes behind schedule, we pushed back, and then took a 17-minute taxi to Runway 25 following 2 United MAX9s and a United A319. I then noticed a (mostly United) conga line behind us, and then enjoyed the roaring takeoff out of Denver. It’s so surreal to see an area you’d been confined to over a year’s time from the air, making it so small and limited.

Quickly after takeoff, the friendly crew started to take drink orders. Southwest held only 4 drink options (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, 7-Up, and good old dihydrogen monoxide), and I went with number 3. I also took a bag of their snack mix, which contained bread circle things (ok), cheez-its (good), and pretzels (also good). I also drank some water that I got from a fountain (not pictured)

I’ve never flown over Utah or Nevada before today, and it was quite interesting to see the terrain they held, as they were the two primary states we flew over. We passed many small towns along the way, such as Huntington, pictured in the first picture, and somewhere just east of Sevier Lake in the second picture. The sky was also filled with clouds on both segments of my journey and it was interesting to see how they changed throughout.


After a (mostly) smooth flight, and me watching part of a movie we started our decent into Fresno from 38,000 feet close to the California-Nevada Border, and flew over the Sierra Nevadas on our decent. I’ll always prefer the Rocky Mountains as I’ve been close to them for all of my life, but seeing new mountains was cool.

After some more descent, we set up for a left base into Fresno and made a steep left turn into final for Fresno. We landed abruptly and not very soft on Fresno’s smaller runway 11R, and had to wait on the plane for an extra ten minutes as the Las Vegas flight was delayed as well, and we had to wait for it to push back. With that, that concludes the first segment of this trip!


So, how would I rate this?
Of course, this was my first flight in a long time, but I was still paying attention and making mental notes on what went well and what went not-so well. Based on my experience, I can break this review into a 10-point scale for each category:

Departure Airport Experience: 9.5/10
Note: DEN is awesome, but I got slightly lost when I showed up, but other than that, great

Planespotting: 10/10
Note: planespotting is fun, and DEN has a nice variety of airlines

Crew: 9/10
Note: Friendly crew that was attentive and seemed like they wanted to be there.

Food: 8.5/10
Note: I liked the pretzels and cheez-its more than the bread circle things. What else can I say? Also the 7-Up was good.

Seat: 9/10
Note: I liked the two windows at my use, the seat was comfy, pretty good legroom, nice tray table that was large, extendable, and had a cup groove. The seat also reclined.

IFE: 7/10
Note: I couldn’t figure out Southwest’s IFE so I was thankful I brought my own, thankfully it was good.

Cleanliness: 9/10
Note: I felt like the aircraft was cleaned recently, made me feel safe that everyone listened to the mask rules.

Landing: 4/10
Note: Not very soft, quick slowdown as well.

Arrival Airport Experience: ??/10
Note: Stay tuned for part two to hear about Fresno’s airport!


And that’s all for this part! Stay tuned for my return to Denver with Frontier’s A319, coming soon, as well as a spotting topic from both Denver and Fresno!
If you’d like to read my awesome (not very good) previous trip reports, they are linked below.

Very good Flight Reviews from 2018

Trip Report: Heading home to the Mile High City on 9/15/18

Trip Report: Jetting down to the Valley of the Sun to PHX, 9/12/18

Southwest 6333 - KGRR to KDEN - August 11th, 2018

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First

SWAwesome trip report!

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Nice trip report.

I remember flying to the Canary Islands back in 2016 after not having been on a plane in almost a decade - now that was surreal.

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Sorry about Nevada’s trash air quality!

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Don’t diss my bread circles 😞

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Thank you! Glad the first airline I flew back was SWA.

I could have probably only gone a decade without flying from about infancy to around age 11, since then, I didn’t really care about aviation during those times lol. But I do agree, flying after remaining on the ground for so long felt so surreal.

It wasn’t really too bad, all I could really remember was some haze and some clouds, but that was from 38,000 feet, not ground level.

they were ok

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