Photo © James Richard Covington, Jr
Got to the terminal at 6:30 I entered the building and there was a security check right away. So I deceided to go outside and use the curbside check in because I didn't have the itenerary with me. I thought that I could get the itenerary at the curbside check in desk. That was not available at the curbside check in so I decided to head to the security check again to ask for a place where I can get the itenerary The security agent sent me to to the ticket place wher ehte lady told me that I didn't need the itenerary. Once I told her that I couldn't go through the security, she said "aaah.. ok i see"
whatever. I guess you REALLY need to print out the iteneraryt that comes off the website.
Passed throught the security with no glitch and proceeded to gate b-22. I had the boarding pass number 57. I just made it to the second group of people . At this point i started to wonder around what should i do in order to be at the first group of people.. I guess some people spent the night at the airport to get into that group.
WN has an interesting way of arranging the gates. They have a quarter of a circle that they devide in 3 section with 1-30, 31-60 and 61-90 on them . Whenever they are boarding the appropriate gate they the approproiate section's light comes on.
The WN section of the BDL terminal was really small. It was so small that it didn't have any bathrooms. There were some signs by the security saying that you needed to use the bathrooms before going throught the security. WN is using only 2 gates at the airport and it was not a suprise to me that our plane was pulled from the parking area. LEt me get this straight, you are
supposed to show up early at the terminal to get a good seat and then you don't have any bath rooms to go to?I guess Herb invested in some Depends stocks?
Around 7:10 am without any announcement, everybody got up with a big mess and formed a line really quick. Then I noticed the old SW posters from 70s with "hot F/As in miniskirts photographed in WN destinations. It was a nicest touch of the morning so far. Boarding started around 7:13 am. Much later compared to the United's policy of 30 mins before departure time.
Inside the plane looked like it was decorated in the 70s by the same people who designs the cloths of the people in TV series sHAFT: all beige and brown..
I was expecting some F/As with afro hair and brown leather outfit The Airducts were all brown also.. Since I didn't get the tailnumber of the airplane from until I was in BWI I thought that the airplane was an early 1980s -300 model.
We started engines at the gate while we were taking care of the pushback at 7:36 am. Runway 33 was not that far and we used that one for the take off at 7:40 am. The plane was not loaded too much and we lifted off about 1000 feet before the runway 6 intersection.
Captain announced that our final altitude would be FL310 and as he was making the announcement we started our turn to southwesterly heading. It's been a while since I have been to a single class 737. The last similar experience was on TC-SUN on MUC-IST run with Sun Express when they
were flying on behalf of Lufhtansa for a short period of time. Surely, the airplane looked much bigger with no class devider.
Photo © Alastair T. Gardiner
At the final cruise altitude we were skimming the tops of the last cloud layer, a thin cirrus cover. The view from 19A was nothing but gorgeous. At this point F/As started to walk around with treys of orange juice and coffee. At this time, since we were at the crusing altitude and since the weather was smooth captain came on the PA saying that he turned the seatbelt sign off and "take the freedome of Southwest to a higher level by moving about the cabin". Five minutes after this announcement, the "head F/A" (the one that was making the announcements all morning) came on the PA and said that seatbelt sign was still on,it was not, and told to people to stay put. That created a lot of confusion among people who left their seats already.
One nice touch was the fact that Southwest prints their destinations at the back of their napkins. Took one as a souvenier as I don't think that I will be flying them that many times to come. I also checked out their inflight magazine. It was full of ads, many of them were Las Vegas area attractions.
While I was doing all this, it was time for the decent to BWI.F/As came by and they were extremely strict on collecting each single one of trash. That's understandable ,as you want the airplane to turn around as fast as possible.
We landed at BWI on runway 28 about 500 beyond "refrigirators" (ie 1000 feet markers) and taxied to the gate B1. The F/As announcement was "Be careful when you open the overhead stuff. Some items might have shift during the flight. We don't want you to get hurt and it's darn early in the morning to do paperwork". What she didn't realize it was also darn early to sing a Barney the dinasour song that early in the morning, but she did it anyway.. "We LUV you, you LUV us we're much faster than a bus.. blah blah blah" ...
Then it kind of dawned on me, yes.. you are much faster than a bus but that's pretty much the only difference you guys have. I guess living in Turkey for 20 years and traveling with good bus companies with great on board service and even full meals, I was kind of spoiled.
As we deplaned at 8:40 am through gate B1, I looked at the monitor and the flight was leaving to ALB at 9:05am. That's 25 mins turn around time and that's fast.. Talking to one of the F/As while waiting for the people before me she said that their schedules are usually packed. That day she was flying BDL-BWI-ALB-BWI-STL-OAK. She was not too enthusiastic about it.
WN 1343 6/16/02 BWI-BDL B737-300 NxxxWN
Seat 11A (backwards facing seat)
Photo © Jason Whitebird
Came to the airport 2:30 hours before the flight thanks to a warning about the flight being booked solid. Spent an hour with stupid Dollar rent a car people since they overcharged me and they wouldn't admit it. But before that I did my checkin for the flight, thinking that would help me.
One thing that i am not used to, that didn't help me at all, as I had to show up at the gate 90 mins earlier. at 8:10 pm I was at the gate. 80 mins before the flight.. There already was a huge line at the gate and I got lucky to get the boarding pass number 61!!!
That pushed me at the 3rd boarding group. Yikes! Terminal B in BWI was a zoo with people sitting on the floor, lots of "vacationing crowds" not that many business people look a likes. If you take 2:20 pm or 5:17 pm ORD flights out of BDL on a Thursday or Friday you'd see many people traveling on business. This was not the case with WN.
Boarded around 9:37 pm. As I was boarding I noticed that the seats on this aircraft were red leather. I took one of the reat facing seats. I took the seat so that I can add to my Southwest experience one more thing. That was nice.. We pushed back at 9:40 pm and took off around 9:45 pm with a climbing
continuous left turn to northeast.
We flew over downtown Baltimore, eastern shore, over Atlantic City and JFK VOR. As we were passing over JFK NYC looked gorgeous from 27000 feet which was our crusing altitude.
Compare to our previous flight, on this one F/As took orders from the pax and there were more choices available besides orange juice and coffee. I ordered a glass of sparkling water.
The weather was clear until we reached northern portion of Long Island. We ended up shooting a thigh ILS to a runway that I couldn't figure out but I am guessing it was 24. We were at the gate at 10:40 pm.
While I was walking towards the luggage area, I noticed that this was ship 629, N629SW with Silver anniversary colors. I wish I was able to see it during the daylight. That would make a lot of difference.
- Flying SW was like setting foot to a foreign country for the first time in your life : completely difference culture, completely different check-in, boarding, etc. procedures.
- I cannot see myselft flying Southwest again unless I have to. I kind of like chosing where I sit in the plane, and I don't want to spend 3 hrs before the flight in order to accomplish it.
- In both flights there was a stampede of people to the gate for the best seat. That was interesting.
- Most majors match Southwest's fares, and sometimes they are even cheaper.
- I like my United's Economy Plus and Ch. 9 for 20-40 bucks of difference I will never defect again. That was the case on this flight. IAD on CRJ vs. BWI on Southwest.
- Good to see AirTran having more presence in BWI. I wish they flew to BDL.
- Security at BWI was done by government employees, they had huge TSA signs on their shirts. They were much much better compared to rent-a-cops at BDL.
- I wouldn't mind working for WN but flying in them is something that I can put up only for flights up to 100 mins.. I cannot imagine taking their coast to coasts flights.