The Southwest Airlines experience - Denver to Phoenix via Los Angeles, February 19th, 2022 (Trip report)

Hello all! As many of you know, last week, I flew from Denver to Phoenix via Los Angeles on WN605/2356. I took this experience for the joy of flight, and to try to get on a MAX 8 for the first time. Both of those were achieved, and I hope you enjoy reading about my first flights of 2022 as much as I enjoyed taking them.

The experience once again started with the early arrival at 7:15 AM for a 10:35 AM flight to planespot and to stroll around the terminals. I was able to see plenty of aircraft movements and even a couple planes I flew on in 2018. After about two hours of successful planespotting, I headed over to gate C26 in order to catch my inbound’s arrival.

Today’s ride over to Los Angeles on Flight 605 was N748SW, a 22.6 year old 737-700, delivered new to Southwest in 1999, and being the oldest plane I’ve now flown to date. Unfortunately not Canyon Blue but that’s ok. Reflections in the terminal weren’t really having their way with me, as you can tell by the mass amount of them. It was arriving in from San Diego, which was also the airport of origin for the last Southwest plane I flew on in June, which I find to be a strange coincidence. Unlike last time though, the jetbridge was connected immediately and passengers disembarked on time. Boarding started on time, and I was assigned position A39, which is pretty good. After a short amount of time, the A31-60 group was called, and I was able to board. I chose my seat, 16F, probably my favorite seat to fly on on these -700s, and settled in. The flight was very full, with me notcing only about one or two seats unoccupied. We pushed back about ten minutes late, but I wasn’t concerned as I still had a very good chance of making my connection. We then taxied over to Runway 17L for departure, and then rocketed out of Denver.

Watching the world fly by as you cruise along at 38,000 feet is quite pleasing. Shortly after takeoff, I attempted to connect to the Wi-Fi, but it would not let me connect. The captain came on the intercom, announcing that they were having an issue with the Wi-Fi and that they would reboot it. About five minutes after that, I was able to purchase the Wi-Fi on my iPad. It worked a little slow at the start, but it improved as the flight progressed. After the flight, Southwest actually refunded the Wi-Fi, which I found to be quite kind. Shortly after that announcement, the friendly flight attendants came around with drink orders, and passed out the classic Southwest snack mix. Between the time I last flew Southwest and now, they had reintroduced their full drink menu up again. I ordered a Dr. Pepper, and also had some water from my water bottle. I also ate some pretzels that I bought from a Hudson News stand back at the airport. I felt like I enjoyed this snack mix more than the one I had about eight months ago, but the pretzels I bought were slightly better than the ones that were in the snack mix.

The American Southwest is a joy to fly over, and seeing canyons and other landforms rise from the desert is very spectacular to see. I was unable to see the Grand Canyon, as I was on the other side of the aircraft, but I was able to see Las Vegas from 38,000 feet, the first time I’ve seen Vegas.

Soon after passing Vegas, we began a steady descent into Los Angeles. We passed the San Gabriel Mountains and started the long approach over the far eastern end of the Los Angeles suburbs. We flew by Downtown Los Angeles, and then landed smoothly on runway 24R, completing our two-hour journey. After a short taxi, we headed over to gate 15 and shut down, about ten minutes earlier than scheduled. I then headed out of the plane, and said goodbye to N748SW, thanking the crew on the way out for the pleasant flight.

Once I landed, I realized I had about an hour to kill before my next plane would show up. This was my first time flying on a connecting flight, and also involving two airport codes that does not include DEN in one of them. I then learned that my plane was late leaving Phoenix, so I wandered around Terminal 1 in search of lunch. I then found a Chick-Fil-A, and then made my way over to my second gate, 12B, after securing lunch. Shortly after, my next ride appeared, and started to get catered and unloaded.

The ride over to Phoenix on Flight 2356 is N8728Q, a 3.2 year old 737 MAX 8 delivered to Southwest in December 2018, and is the second-youngest plane I’ve flown on to date. This was also my first flight on a MAX 8, and it was excellent. I had a slightly better boarding position for this flight (A35) but it felt like I was at the start of the B group due to a large amount of pre-boarders. Thankfully, my group was soon called and I was able to snag seat 18A on the hour-long flight over to Phoenix. This was once again a very full flight, with me noticing every seat being taken. I settled in, looked out the window, and enjoyed the better legroom (compared to the -700), larger windows, better seat, and mood lighting in the cabin. We then left the gate around 15 minutes later than scheduled, and taxied over to runway 24L. We then promptly left LA, taking the scenic DOTSS2 departure to the east, and overflying the Pacific. I’d actually never seen the ocean before these flights, so it was a treat to see an ocean for the first time.

A quick climb up to 33,000 feet later, the flight attendants once again came around asking for drink orders and passing out snack mix. I once again had a snack mix but had a ginger ale instead of a Dr. Pepper. Combine that with some Seinfeld and it was a pretty good service.

A short time after completing my snack, we started our decent into Phoenix, and I opened up FR24 to track our descent into Phoenix, while also continuing my Seinfeld episode. I’ve never tracked myself from the inside of a plane before this day, so I find it pretty cool that I was able to do this.

Ultimately, all good things come to an end, and so did this flight. We made a smooth arrival into Phoenix, but the touchdown on runway 7R could have been better. A short while later, we made our way to gate C14, right next to gate C16, the last gate I used when I flew out of Phoenix in September 2018. Despite our delayed departure from Los Angeles, we landed right on time in Phoenix. I then thanked the crew again, went inside the terminal, waved goodbye to N8728Q, and headed outside for some spotting before I went home, later that day, but on Frontier.

My thoughts:
Overall, this was an excellent series of flights on Southwest. Both flights were smooth, seamless, and on-time. Southwest is a great carrier, and I’ll definitely fly them again. As is usual in my reports, I’ll be including a scale, but I’ll be rating both flights then have the mean rating at the end for both flights.

Departure Airport Experience:
DEN - 10/10 - Denver, despite being quite busy, was actually pretty seamless, open, and nice. Security was quick and I was able to planespot for a good while. Much better experience compared to last time I flew out of DEN.
LAX - 9/10 - Los Angeles has a very nice T1, with a modern feel and plenty of shops. Space was somewhat limited and some of the outlets did not work, as well as some cleanliness issues.

DEN- 10/10 - DEN’s B West deck is an awesome place to spot at, and I highly recommend you take a visit there if you ever have a layover or morning flight out of DEN. It’s probably my new favorite spot to spot at.
LAX- 9/10 - For the short time I was at LAX, I did get to see some international movements, such as 3 JAL planes and an Emirates A380, but I did not have my camera out. The windows are also tinted so it made my pictures that I did have come out a bit dark.

WN605 - 9/10 - Crew was nice, friendly, and seemingly wanted to be there. They jokingly told us at the beginning of the flight that we were going to Hawaii, which made some people laugh in the cabin.
WN2356 - 9.5/10 - Crew was nice and efficient, and was able to serve 170 people in about 15 minutes, which was quite impressive, especially on a shorter flight.

WN605/2356 - 9/10 - For both flights, the same food was served, just a difference in drink between both flights. Southwest has a great snack mix comprising of bread circles, cheez-its, and pretzels, all combining to make a nice snack, especially for the shorter duration of both flights.

WN605 - 7/10 - Southwest’s 737-700s are aging, and you can tell by their seats. Their legroom is subpar and their seat comfort is going down. I don’t know if the ex-Air Tran 737 I flew on eight months ago has a different feel because it was not originally for Southwest, but I felt that that -700 had better legroom compared to this one. The seat was still comfortable and wide, but the recline was a little less than I remembered. The window alignment was great.
WN2356 - 9.5/10 - Southwest has introduced an excellent product on their newer -800s and MAX 8s with their Heart Cabin. The legroom was noticeably better than my previous flight, the seat was more comfortable but at the same time more slimline, and had better recline. The window alignment was also great. If I have the choice of a -800/MAX over a -700, I’d probably take the -800/MAX.

WN605 - 7/10 - IFE was good. I’m glad I downloaded some stuff before the flight but I also enjoyed the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi didn’t initially work but it later did and Southwest provided a refund at the end of the flight.
WN2356 - 8.5/10 - This was only better because the Wi-Fi worked throughout the flight and was faster as well.

WN605/2356 - 9/10 - Both flights were very clean. I felt safe that people around me were wearing their masks and listening to the mandate too.

WN605 - 7/10 - Good landing. Did not feel like we slammed down on the runway.
WN2356 - 6.5/10 - Ok landing. There was some slamming done on the runway. Not as bad as my Southwest flight in June, though.

Arrival Airport Experience:
LAX - 9/10 - Same reasons I stated above
PHX - 9.5/10 - Arriving in Phoenix was great, I was able to spot in February and not be cold, which was a great bonus. I also got to meet some local spotters as well.

DEN-LAX, WN605 - 79.5/90
LAX-PHX, WN2356 - 77/90

The MAX is such a great aircraft, and was an absolute treat to fly on. The flight out to Los Angeles was great, but you can tell that the Southwest 737-700 fleet is aging rapidly. No clue if they will put the Heart interior in these but if they did, I would gladly fly them more often. Southwest did an excellent job with both flights, but ultimately, the MAX is a great aircraft and edged out the -700 on my experience.

Thanks for reading this trip report! I may post about my return flight to Denver with Frontier, but only time will tell for that. Enjoy my other trip reports if you’d like!

Older trip reports

Three airlines in three days. Why not? (Delta Comfort Plus on the 737-900ER)

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

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

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


What a shame… 😏


Truly a shame.

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