April 21st, 2003
Southwest Flight: 728
Boeing 737-300 N324SW
Photo © Art Brett
My family and I arrived at PVD at 6:30Am and parked in the C garage. Upon proceeding into the terminal, I was stunned. I had never seen PVD so crowded in my entire life! We made our way to the queue to check in with WN and, surprisingly waited only about 15 minutes to check our three bags. The security line was the longest I have ever seen, for those who are farmilair with PVD, the line snaked around the check in area upstairs and continued down the stairs into more snaking in the baggage claim area. There was even a guy holding a huge sign that said "Line Starts Here", what a crappy job! The line did move pretty fast though, it took about 40 minutes to get through, at the checkpoint, I was pulled aside and wanded, but the TSA guys were actually quite friendly. Finally through check in, we proceeded to gate 15 where there was no plane, yet. Even though we checked in nearly an hour and a half before the 7:50Am flight, we still only got boarding group B. After a while, N324SW pulled up to the gate, bringing the early morning arrival from BWI.
We boarded and made our way to the rear of the plane, I can't remember the exact row, but I think it was 16 or 17, I do remember it was the port side though. All around us was a group of high school kids traveling to MCO on a field trip. I took a look around the cabin, N324SW is one of WN's older -300's (a 1987, I believe) and the interior was a bit worn, but reasonably comfortable. We pushed back on time and taxied out to the main runway. With no wait, we rocketed out of PVD, heading for the warm south. The seatbelt signs were kept on as beverage service commenced. We were served a beverage (I had cran-apple), a bag of peanuts, and a package of Chips Ahoy cookies, not bad for WN! The FAs were also very friendly. The captain kept us up to date on the weather in MCO and our routing throughout the flight. The sign went off for about an hour, but came back on and off twice again, due to light chop. Regardless, people still got up to use the lavatories (surprise, surprise ). Before long, the engine power was pulled back and we began our decent over the Atlantic Coast. The high school kids were actually pretty quiet during the flight, except during decent when the captain was on the PA and accidentally called an FA Jim when his name was Tim or something, then he went on to say "Sorry Tim, I was just protecting you from that group of 17 year olds in the back." Then he said "It's all good", it was kind of funny. We descended over Daytona Beach, then SFB and straight onto runway 17, where we made a normal touchdown. We deplaned into the new airiest (4, I think) and quickly collected our bags. As we were waiting for my dad to get the rental car at the Budget desk, the fire alarm went off. It was strange though, because no one (including the employees) reacted to it.
April 29th, 2003
Southwest Flight: 1253
Boeing 737-300 N397SW
Photo © Timothy O'Bryan
After 9 fun-filled days, it was time to go home (I always hate going home from Orlando). We returned the car and checked in quickly. The crowds weren't that bad, we waited 20 minutes to get through security. We made our way to the new airside and waited near the Jetblue gate. After a long wait, we boarded N397SW, which was a noticeably newer -300 (a 1995). Even though we checked in two hours early, when we boarded, the plane was nearly full. We got the last fully open row of three seats, which was row 20 or something (the last seats in the back). We pushed back and headed for runway 35, where we took off immediately. The takeoff was strange though, the pilot seemed to be steering the plane in a zig-zag pattern down the runway, I'm not sure why that was. The seatbelt sign turned off quickly and beverage service commenced. This time we got a drink, a bag of peanuts, and a package of Wheat Thins. The cup we got the drink in was small and they did not give us the whole can, but the FA did come back and ask if anyone wanted refills. As on the flight down to MCO, the FAs were very friendly. The flight was pretty uneventful, but we did get to see the sunset, which was nice. We touched down in the dark at PVD with full reverse thrust and taxied to gate 19, ending a great trip.
Concluding, Southwest was good to us on this trip, except for the fact that I still can't stand their open seating (we arrived 2 hours early and still had a hard time getting good seats). I would definitely fly them again though. The trip itself was excellent, except for a huge problem we had with the hotel we reserved. So that's my report, hope you liked it.