Push back: 7:00am
At gate: 9:28am
Photo © Manas Barooah
I quickly got a gate pass at the fairly empty Southwest ticket counter and proceeded to gate B-5 where my 737-300 was waiting patiently to take it's first load of the day to MCO. Only 11 passengers on this flight. Tuesday's are never too busy really, especially early morning flights. The 7:00am flight to Houston looked busy, but that's the norm since it's a big business market.
Boarding began at 6:45am. All 11 of us took our seats fairly quickly. Pushback was on-time at 7:00am. We taxiied to runway 28 quickly and we were number three for takeoff, behind a Continental 737-900 bound for IAH and another Southwest -300 headed for Dallas/Love Field. Takeoff roll was 15 seconds tops, and as expected, climbout was extremely steep. We made a swooping left turn once we reached 5000ft., overflying downtown New Orleans before heading out over the vast marshlands just East of the metro area.
In flight service was decent, nothing overly memorable, however it was one of the few times where I ever got a full can of soda on Southwest without asking. Gee, I wonder if the load had anything to do with it? The f/a's were nice, passed out some animal crackers, always wore a smile. En route, we pretty much followed the Gulf of Mexico coastline down the Florida panhandle, before making a Southeasterly turn inland. There was not a cloud in the sky until we commenced final descent, so I had a great view of the shiny blue ocean some 32,000ft. below.
We had a 160 knot tailwind so we reached the MCO area ahead of schedule. We landed under a very overcast sky, in fact, we just missed the downpours by about 20 minutes apparently. The tarmac was soaked. Touchdown was smooth, and I saw some Song 757's for the first time in person as we taxiied to Southwest's stunning new terminal.
Overall, a nice relaxing flight. Even though the interior was pretty dated, 733's beat 717's hands down, anyday, nopt even close. The flight was a nice prelude to my 23-hour rail adventure on Amtrak's Sunset Limited. If anyone wants a copy of that trip report, just let ,me know. It was quite a journey!