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AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Thu Aug 16, 2001 1:17 pm

I booked this trip back in April when Southwest was having a $99.00 sale to visit friends in the Bay Area,

Part One: Thursday, August 2, 2001
Flight 261
Scheduled Departure - 9:15 a.m.
Scheduled Arrival - 10:20 a.m.
Delivered to Southwest on 11/30/98

Since a friend was giving me a ride to the airport and had to get to work, I was dropped off at Austin Bergstrom International Airport about 7:30 a.m. I figured I would check my bags, have a bite to eat and make it to the gate by 8:15 when boarding passes would begin to be issued.

There were several people manning the ticket counter and not very many people in line, so check-in was fast.

After clearing security, I walked down to Matt's El Rancho and got two breakfast tacos and a large coffee, passing by Gate 13, where AA's 737-800 , which they had just starting using on this route the day before, was being prepared for departure to SJC.

Since I was starving, it didn't take long to finish the breakfast tacos and I took what was left of my coffee and walked back to Gate 10. The gate agent had just arrived and a line had already formed.

I got into a casual conversation with 2 ladies in line ahead of me and we kept one lady's place in line while she went over to the Schlotsky's pastry/coffee counter and got her something to eat. Then the other lady (who was also going to OAK and would be on my connecting flight) mentioned that she was hungry, too, so I suggested that she go and get a free doughnut and coffee or orange juice located behind the podium at Gate 10. She was surprised and didn't know that Southwest provided doughnuts, coffee and orange juice in the gate areas for their morning departures.

Finally got to the podium and got Boarding pass #25. Good deal. I'm in the 1st boarding group after all the pre-boards.

I refilled my now empty coffee-cup with free Southwest coffee and went over behind some of the shops and looked at a black and white photo exhibit put on by the Austin History Center called "Summer in Austin" or something like that. It was a series of photos from the early 1900's through the 1980's showing Austinites celebrating summer in a variety of different ways.

The incoming flight from TPA arrived at the gate about 10 minutes early and by the time I got back to Gate 10, all the AUS passengers had already deplaned. I thought it was kind of odd, though, that no one was crowding the jetway waiting to board the continuing segment to LAX. I soon found out why.

An announcement was made that there would be an hour delay due to ATC and weather (low clouds) at LAX and we were told that we would be boarding at 9:45 a.m. for a 10:15 departure. I then walked through the terminal and looked at a different display that was about the filming of the mini-series Lonesome Dove.. There were a lot of costumes and props from the set and it was quite entertaining.

Went back to Gate 10 and we began boarding at 9:45 a.m. This aircraft was a little less than 3 years old and still looked basically brand new inside.

I picked seat 23A because I like to sit in the back. The middle seat was empty and a businessman was on the aisle. There were 116 passengers, 2 pilots and 3 flight attendantds on board, Kathleen, Lisa Marie and Audria.

While we were boarding the captain explained again the reason for our delay this morning and mentioned that it was a good thing, because they had just discovered that the rear lav wasn't working and that a mechanic was coming to fix it.

The lav got fixed (I thought) and we got the go-ahead from ATC and pushed back from the gate at 10:18 a.m and took off at 10:26 a.m.

We reached our cruising altitude of 39,000 feet at 10:52 a.m. and the seatbelt sign was turned off, but the captain requested that anyone who needed to get up to please try and give the flight attendants the "right of way" so to speak, so they could begin their cabin service. He mentioned that there was a lav in front and one in the rear. Several people got up to use the rear lav near where I was sitting and then another flight attendant came on and said no, the rear one was broken (wouldn't flush) and everone would need to use the one at the at the front.

About 5 minutes later the flight attendants began taking drink orders. I ordered a Mr. and Mrs. T's Bloody Mary Mix (without the vodka).

About 11:00 a.m. they brought around the "food". It was a bag of Fischer Roasted Salted Peanuts and what I like to call a "snack pack". It comes in a little plastic box with a peel-off top which proclaims "Real Fast Food - A Tasty Little Snack Served at Jetspeed."

Inside was an O'Brien's Premium Hickory Smoked Summer Sausage, A Grist Mill Low-Fat Calcium Fortified Strawberry and Grain Cereal Bar, 2 packages of Turnbull's Sesame Seed Breadsticks and a small container of Le Petite Fromage Pasteurized spreadable cheese. It certainly wasn't first-class food, but then again, I wasn't paying first-class prices, so I couldn't care less. It was quite adequate for a mid-morning flight.

By 11:35 a.m., I was finished and the flight attendant took my trash and brought me another Bloody Mary Mix. I set my watch back to 9:35 am for the Pacific Time Zone.

At 9:41 a.m., the captain said we were going to be flying through some clouds and there was a possibility of turbulence and he was urning on the seat belt sign. At 9:49 a.m. it was turned back off and a few people got up to use the lavs. The captain announced that we were 474 miles from LAX and would be arriving at the gate in about an hour and fifteen minutes. About 3 minutes later, there was a bump and one of the flight attendants got on the intercom and "reminded" those passengers who were up and about that it was not ok to be moving about the cabin until the seat belt sign had been turned off. Next thing you heard was 2 "double dings" and she got on the phone to the cockpit. Apparently the captain informed her that he had turned the seat-belt off and she got back on the intercom and apologized for her mistake. It did get bumpier still a few minutes later and the seat belt sign went back on from 9:56 a.m. to 10:11 a.m. Once it was turned off again, a line started forming for the forward lav. Now a different flight attendant announced that the rear lav was working. Who knew? Go figure.

At 10:39 a.m., we began our descent into LAX. I pulled out a pair of binoculars and stared out the window at the Southern California scenery. At 10:53 a.m. the announcemnt was made to secure the cabin for arrival and we landed at 11:02 a.m. and did a slow taxi to Gate 10, arriving at 11:13 a.m.

Flight 969
Scheduled Departure - 12:00 noon
Scheduled Arrival - 1:10 p.m.
Delivered to Southwest on 08/24/88

I was originally supposed to have an hour and forty minute layover at LAX, but due to our late arrival I had only 47 minutes - enough time to make the flght, but not early enough to get a "good seat". I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would probably be sitting in a middle seat on this flight. Also, the flight was coming from MDW, OMA and LAS and I wasn't sure how many through passengers woud be remaining onboard for the continuation into OAK.

I stopped at the first set of departure monitors and caught up with one of the ladies I had been talking to back in AUS, who was going to OAK, too and from there we both went to Gate 3B. Imagine my complete and utter surprise to get boarding pass #52. Perhaps I won't be condemned to middle-seat-from-hell after all. I must have good karma.

Southwest deparately needs more gates at LAX. The USAirways and America West gates were virtually empty, while many of the Southwest gates were handling check-ins for 2 flights, with people sitting and standing everywhere. I had just enough time to use the restroom, (which was filthy, BTW) and walk over to Gate 1 where I snapped a few photos of several Southwest jets parked along that side of the concourse, and then back to Gate 3B where boarding began at 11:40.

At thirteen years of age, this was the oldest aircraft I was on during this trip and it still looked fairly good on the inside and had the lounge seating. I chose seat 20F in the back. Once again, the middle seat was empty and there was another gentleman on the aisle. There were about 90 passengers on board so there were lots of empty middle seats. Our 3 flight attendants were Lisa, Maria, and a hilarious skinny black male named Lynford.

We pushed back from the gate at 12:03 p.m. Lynford made the safety announcement and cracked jokes all the way through it. The only part I really remember was when he did the oxygen mask part he said place it over your nose and mouth and continue to breathe normally. If you're Darth Vader, breathe like this: (Made Darth Vader breathing noises). If you're from Florida, like this: "Beep Beep Beep Beep Beeeeeeeeep" (Like an elderly person on a heart monitor).

We took off at 12:10 p.m and drink service began shortly afterwards. I had a Dr. Pepper and we all got 2 bags of peanuts. We reached our cruising altitude of 20,000 feet at 12:27 p.m. and the seat belt sign was turned off. The captain announced that we were presently 203 miles from OAK. Eighteen minutes later, at 12:45 p.m. the captain announced that we were 63 miles from OAK and were beginning our initial descent and the seat belt sign was turned back on. He mentioned that the current temperature at OAK was 61 degrees, which, coming from Texas, where we had had 21 consecutive days in a row of tempertures 100 degree or higher, was a delight to hear.

We touched down at 12:59 p.m. and as we were braking and slowing, Lynford did the horse bit. We heard over the intercom this "Cloppety cloppety cloppety cloppety clop clop clop" (geting slower) and a "Whoa, Nellie!" and a couple of whinnies and a snort thrown in for good measure. It was the best horse impression I've ever heard and he got a nice round of applause when he was done.

At 1:02 p.m. we arrived eight minutes early into Gate 12 in Terminal

Topic Author
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RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Thu Aug 16, 2001 1:21 pm

Grr..I hate it when the last part of my post gets cut off.

I knew that Southwest had all the gates in Terminal Two, but apparently they have now spilled over into Terminal One as well. One of my friends met me at the gate and once we collected my bags, we took AirBart, Bart and then Muni into San Francisco. Stay tuned for Part Two.

Topic Author
Posts: 2802
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RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Thu Aug 16, 2001 1:26 pm


Tuesday, August 14, 2001
Flight 761
Scheduled Departure 10:25 a.m.
Scheduled Arrival 11:50 a.m.
Delivered to Southwest on 08/12/93

I awake at 6:30 a.m. with a moderate hangover from the night before. Thank God I had sense enough to pack the day before. I had purchased half of Chinatown and was now lugging everything back to Texas in two rather large suitcases and a big shoulder-bag carry-on. I showered and dressed and my friend and I were out the door by 7:00.

We took the #48 Bus to the Mission Station, then BART to the Coliseum in Oakland and then Air BART from there to OAK. The whole trip took about an hour and 25 minutes and cost $5.75. If your luggage is such that you can comfortably manage it, this is a good form of transportation to OAK. It's a lot like flying Southwest. It gets you there, it's cheap, it's reliable and there's no assigned seating.  Smile
We arrived at the airport at 8:40 a.m. and I got in line to check my bags while my friend wandered off to break a $5.00 bill so he could purchase his Air BART ticket back to the Colisum. He got his change and came back while I was still in line. I told him to go ahead and go (He needed to rent a U-Haul as he was moving from Twin Peaks to Downtown that afternoon - Thank God I left when I did -I could have been put to work  Smile )

He ran out the door to try and catch the Air BART that was just leaving, but didn't make it. Meanwhile, I was now checking in. My flight to SAN would be departing out of Gate 17 in Terminal One. I asked the lady checking me in how many gates Southwest had in Terminal One and she said two, Gates 12 and 17 in addtion to all the gates in Terminal Two.

We chatted during check-in and she mentioned that she had been in OAK for about a month just helping out. She normally worked in SAT and she was enjoying the milder weather.
After that, I went back outside - my friend was still there waiting for the next Air BART - and we said goodbye again while I smoked a cigarrette. When he finally left about 9:00 I went inside, cleared security and bought a double mocha and a blueberry muffin and slowly made my way back to Gate 17 clear at the other end of the airport. Of course, by the time I got there, a line had formed and I ended up getting boarding pass #31. Missed being in the first boarding group by one!

After that, I went outside again, this time going through Terminal One's ticketing lobby. Although Terminal One's Concourse was nice, you could definitely tell that Terminal One's ticketing and baggage claim areas had been there for a while and could probably use some remodeling.

Went outside and smoked a couple more cigarrettes and entered back through Terminal Two and made another long walk back to Gate 17. The walking and the double mocha did wonders for my hangover, I must say.
One thing that was very annoying (and it happened last year, too when I was leaving OAK) was that when I came back into the terminal for the last time, there was this announcement being broadcast (loudly) all over the airport. "You have violated airport security boundaries. Close the doors and remain until instructed to leave the area by airport security personnel." Over and over and over again with scarcely a pause in between. I must have heard it 917 times. But looking around, it seemed to be business as usual. No closing of doors, no evacuations, and not a single airport security personnel to be seen anywhere. Go figure.

We began boarding about 10:05 a.m. I had originally planned on being in the first boarding group, so I could sit near the front and be one of the first ones off in SAN so that I could (hopefully) get a halfway decent seat on the SAN-AUS leg. Boarding pass #31 put an end to those dreams, so I went ahead and sat in 23A near the back.

The flight was full with 137 passengers, 2 pilots, 3 flight attendants (Cheryl, Brandi and Rob) and either a flight attendant trainee or a non-rev just helping out. I couldn't tell which.

We pushed back at 10:24 a.m. Jokes once again were plentiful during the safety announcements. Ex: "Whatever you choose to smoke, you can't smoke it on our aircraft" and "In the event of a water landing your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. We know it will float because the goverment told us so."

We took off at 10:33 a.m. and within 10 minutes the cabin service began. I had coffee. We got a bag of peanuts and a larger bag of snack mix with the breadsticks and the seasoned melba-toast thingies. Our flight today was at 33,000 feet.

We began our initial descent into SAN about 11:25 a.m. and landed at 11:40 a.m. The flight attendant thanked us for flying Southwest and mentioned that we'd be arriving at the gate early, so be sure and tell all our friends. We did, in fact arrive at Gate 9 seven miutes early at 11:43 a.m.

Flight 1925
Scheduled Departure - 12:30 p.m.
Scheduled Arrival - 5:20 p.m.
Delivered to Southwest 05/02/00

I'm one of the last people off of Flight 761, exiting the jetway into the terminal about 11:50 a.m. It was chaos. People everywhere. It seemed as if Dan Diego's entire population was in the Southwest concourse at the airport.

Since most of Southwest's gates at SAN are in a big circular rotunda-like area, I just walked around the circle checking the informations boards at each gate. My flight wasn't listed at any of them, so I checked the departure monitors. We were leaving from Gate 8, the next gate over from where I started.
I go to Gate 8. There is another flight 1547 to SJC leaving at noon posted at the gate, but not 1925 to AUS and RDU. One of the agents did announce a few seconds later, that this was also the line for flight 1925.   I slowly made may way to the front of the line and pitifully took boarding pass #96. I am now virtually guaranteed 2 hours and 50 minutes of middle-seat-hell.

Flight 1547 departs for SJC at noon and immediately afterwards, our aircraft pulls into Gate 8. It is flight 481 from BDL, MDW and PHX. It will turn around and fly SAN-AUS-RDU.
Boarding began about 12:15. 1-30. 31-60. 61-90. FINALLY 90-137. I get on. Only 15 months old, this was the newest aircraft I was on this trip. In the back I see a few window seats (a glimmer of hope?) and some aisle seats but there are about 20 people in the aisle ahead of me and they're all headed that way. I began scoping the rows for skinny people to sit between.

Suddenly, at row 10, my heart begans beating faster. I gasp and clutch my chest. I rub my eyes in disbelief. There, in row 10, is the most wonderful sight. There's this little bitty woman about 55-60 on the aisle and a bigger, but nowhere near fat, pretty young black woman in the middle seat and no one at the window.    

I cautiously ask if the seat is taken and they say no and get up to let me in! I hear angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the background.. I gratefully take my place and notice a sticker in the window. "This seat does not recline". I wonder if that was why the middle-seat lady hadn't wanted it. I seldom recline anyway, so it was no big deal to me.

We finally get everyone settled (it's a completely full flight) and push back from the gate at 12:38 p.m. Take-off is at 12:44 p.m out over the Pacific Ocean, then south, then east.

Little Bitty Aisle Lady takes this HUGE turkey sandwich with gobs of meat out of her purse and commences to eat. Middle-Seat-Lady asks "Did you bring that with you?" "Yes". I ask "Did you buy it at SAN?" "No at a delicatessen on the way to the airport." I want to tell Middle-Seat-Lady to hold down Little-Bitty-Aisle-Lady while I take her sandwich, but I refrain.

Found out that Middle-Seat-Lady was flying to visit her sick father in a VA hospital in Central Texas and had relatives in Austin. She hadn't fown in 4 years and was very nervous. She said that was why she chose the middle seat so she'd have a person on each side that they could grab ahold of. I think to myself, "This should be an interesting flight."

Little-Bitty-Aisle-Lady was from 65 miles north of MSY and had been to San Diego to visit an elderly 91 year old friend of hers and was returning home.
Flight attendant comes around and takes the drink orders. I get a Dr. Pepper. Middle-Seat-Lady wants a Sprite and then a gin and cranberry juice. Flight attendants makes a mistake and mixes the Sprite with the gin and cranberry juice, but Middle-Seat-Lady is nervous and drinks it anyway. Flight attendant is reminded by Middle-Seat-Lady that she didn't get her $1.00 change back and flight attendant leaves to get it. She and one of the male flight attendants then proceed to dissappear for about 20 minutes, which is unusual on Southwest because they're usually really good about patroling the aisles seeing if you want anything else.

When they finally reappaered about 20 minutees later, both seemed to have some sort of faint reddish brown stains all over the front of their uniforms like they'd been bled or thrown up on and then tried to clean it up. We asked what happpened. A can of tomato juice exploded in the back and "It was a real mess back there" laughed the lady flight attendant. It was nice to see them be able to find humor in the situation and laugh at themselves.

We didn't get the expected 'snack pack" on this flight (boo..hiss) but we did get some peanuts and a package of some sort of cheese snack mix.

Middle-Seat-Lady ordered another cocktail and the flight attendant got it right the second time around. Little-Bitty-Aisle-Lady gave us both a stick of gum and we yacked it up some more. Three strangers on a plane, sharing a couple of hours of their lives together.

  About 4:40 p.m., we began our initial descent in AUS and the seat belt sign was turned back on. As we descended the sky grew overcast and the captain mentioned possible turbulence ahead. Middle-Seat-Lady didn't like it at all. I was hoping this meant rain for Austin, but by the time we landed at 5:10 p.m the sun was out and it looked like it hadn't

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RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Thu Aug 16, 2001 1:30 pm

Damn. The last part of the above post "disappeared". too. This s turning into a mini-series. Maybe I'm too wordy.  Smile

Continuing, I was hoping this meant rain for Austin, but by the time we landed at 5:10 p.m the sun was out and it looked like it hadn't rained at all. (The airport did get .10 of an inch earlier that afternoon which finally officially ended a 42-day streak of days with no rain.).

We pulled into Gate 12 at 5:14 p.m. I went off to the baggage claim, pausing to look at 2 of the holographic panels that have been installed over the exit doors leading out to the lower level. The third panel has not been installed yet. When it is, the three panels will make up the world's largest hologram.

Went to Carousel 4, had my bags by 5:30 p.m., rode the escalator up to the Departure Level walked outside and there was my friend. Trip over.


Jason Seiple
Posts: 686
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2000 7:42 am

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Fri Aug 17, 2001 12:24 am

Good trip report.
I'm not a fan of Southwest myself... for some of the reasons you mention:

"I slowly made may way to the front of the line and pitifully took boarding pass #96. I am now virtually guaranteed 2 hours and 50 minutes of middle-seat-hell. "

Thank god for assigned seats on other airlines so you don't have to run during connections to queue up.  Smile

It is too bad Southwest has chosen to put only two lavatories on their B737-700s. Everybody else puts the original three in (two in the back). I was on a OMA-MDW flight on a B737-700 that had the aft lav out of service and there was a very long line until final approach when the flight attendants yelled for people to get in their seats immediately.

The fare was good though for your trip... but did any other airlines have similar fares? Most of the time the other majors will match or have similar fares to what Southwest is charging (at least out of Omaha... makes TWA seem like a lowfare airline.. even Northwest has reasonable fares via MSP to go to MDW, STL, PHX, LAS).

Jason Seiple
Topic Author
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2000 1:02 pm

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Fri Aug 17, 2001 1:59 am

>>The fare was good for your trip though... but did any other airlines have similar fares?<<

I'm sure the other airlines probably did have similar fares, but I went ahead and chose Southwest because of their frequent flyer program. This trip along with 3 cheap ($68.50) roundtrips between AUS and DAL that I'm taking later in the year, will earn me another free ticket. I probably would have to take many more flights (and thus end up spending more money) to get a free domestic roundtrip had I chosen another carrier.


Posts: 457
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 6:51 am

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Fri Aug 17, 2001 11:12 pm

Seiple why is it that whenever there is a post about Southwest in these forums you always barge in and criticize them. IF YOU DONT WANT TO FLY SOUTHWEST DONT FLY SOUTHWEST.

Anywayz..... Nice trip report. I haven't flown Southwest in about 8 years but your trip report wants to make me fly them again.
Jason Seiple
Posts: 686
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2000 7:42 am

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Sat Aug 18, 2001 2:31 am

I simply pointed out the issues with flying Southwest, which differentiate them from other carriers.

I am as entitled to my opinion about Southwest as you are. Why don't you stop with the violent outbursts on this board? That isn't what this site is about.
Posts: 457
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 6:51 am

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Sat Aug 18, 2001 4:01 am

whatever  Yeah sure.......
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2001 2:19 pm

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Sat Aug 18, 2001 4:24 am

Southwest is in the balence I like REAL food on airlines. Yet i like cheap costs, when i want realy annoncements, or a workomg lav. Southwest's food just plain sucks.
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2001 2:19 pm

RE: AUS-LAX-OAK-SAN-AUS O Southwest (long)

Sat Aug 18, 2001 4:53 am

Southwest is ok but i suggest a few improvments forget the other post.

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