Part One: Thursday, August 2, 2001
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.
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