Boeing 737-800 (738)
Flight 2036, Los Angeles to New Orleans
The Loyalty Scheme
Southwest Rapid Rewards. There's no airline partners, but you can earn extra points with affiliated hotel chains and car rental agencies.
3 hours 50 minutes
Frequent flights daily to New Orleans from LAX.
I'm informed this aircraft features new seats with a more comfortable, supportive bottom cushion and a fixed winged headrest for each seat. I'm at the rear of the plane, which seats 175, almost all in a 333-333 configuration. The 738 offers more legroom overall, leaving passengers with a 32" seat pitch and a width of 17 inches.
For a minute there, I thought I was flopping back into an old couch. The seats are most definitely comfy, with ample legroom for an economy seat, and a few G'n'Ts from La La land I'm drifting off into a lala land of my own.
Your regular economy ticket includes two checked bags weighing no more than 23 kilos apiece. That's correct, you read right: TWO bags, totalling 46 kilos. Such generosity is vitually unknown outside the US; Southwest are the only airline left in America that don't 'nickel and dime' their passengers. Extra baggage can be purchased (on the outside chance you require more than 46 kilos).
They say nothing beats southern hospitality, and in this instance, I'd have to agree. Southwest's flight attendants were warm, funny and friendly and as soon as they cottoned on to my Australian accent and the fact I'd just come off a long haul flight, the spirits were flowing - the second for free. Non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary.
Who needs electronic entertainment when you are flying Southwest? The minute everyone's settled the air stewards take to the cabin like it's a stage, singing songs over the PA, or making friendly jokes at passengers' expense. Today the Baptist convention on board got a fair ribbing: "don't do anything I wouldn't do," one flight attendant cackled.
Wifi is available on board for those who get tired of the airshow; download Southwest's app to watch entertainment with their free onboard hotspot, which enables you to access 19 live channels and up to 75 television episodes from popular series. You can also purchase movies for $5. Of course, you'll need to BYO your own headphones and powered device.
You don't board Southwest for the meals, largely because there aren't any. Pretzels and peanuts are handed out with gay abandon during the flight. The cheery stewards offer you two packets and I'm sure if you'd asked for more, they'd happily oblige. Save your appetite for NOLA.
One more thing
Free baggage is not the only advantage to flying Southwest. They also allow you to change your flight at no extra cost. You can cancel your flight and the cost will be credited towards your account which you can put towards a new flight. For the uncommitted or indecisive traveller, this is a distinct advantage.
If you're unused to flying in the States, make sure you check in early as it determines what place in the boarding queue you'll take. You can check in 24 hours before your flight. Seats are not assigned, so it's first in, best dressed. On a full flight, i did this at the airport and secured an aisle seat, but towards the rear of the plane.
Drenched with southern hospitality and humour, Southwest will be my go-to airline in the US for economy flights. Or if you prefer: Hey y'all, I'm here to tell ya this is the greatest little airline in the US of A. Y'all come back, now, y'hear?
The writer travelled at their own expense