Photo © Shane Stoffregan
I had checked-in online the previous morning at work, so we were in the desired 'A' group. The night before, we also drove up to Baltimore and spent the night with friends, so we didn't have a 60-min plus drive to the airport to face the day of our flight. When we got to the airport, the check-in lines were long, but the security wasn't too bad, but it did get worse as we were waiting in line. All told, it probably took us about 10 min to clear security, and we made our way over to gate B15 where our plane was already waiting. B15 is a great gate to have to wait, as we could see all the arrivals that morning, including a NW 757 with Winglets! After about an hour of waiting, our pilots arrived, at which point, people started to line up to board the plane- my wife and I were the second and third people in line. Our gate agent arrived around 9, which was 30 min before departure, and she announced the flight wasn't very full, and that we wouldn't board for another 10 min, and promptly went down the jetway to help prep the plane. Once she returned, boarding began- there were no pre-boards, so my wife and I made our way down to the plane, and snagged seats 1AC (guess who got the window? ) Everyone got onboard quickly, and we pushed back 3 min early, and made a fast taxi and rolling takeoff (sorry, I'm not too familiar with BWI, so I'm not sure the runway number) to the west, where we made a 180 and flew almost due East. We passed right over Dover AFB, and the C-5 that crashed
Photo © Ralph M. Pettersen
was not too far off the centerline, maybe a few hundred yards from the threshold. I was surprised to see it where it was. After passing Dover, we made a turn to the north and followed the NJ coast for a bit before another turn to the NE to head towards Islip. About this time, the in-flight service came around, and I noticed there are no tray tables at the bulkhead! So I just held my coffee, and we used the empty 1B to keep our garbage. Once our descent began, we doubled back to the west over the Long Island coast, before turning to the NE (again) to intercept the RWY 4 approach at Islip. Landing was firm, but no bounce, and we taxied quickly to gate A6, ending the first part of our adventure.
Photo © Steve Hill - Spot This!
Once again, I checked in online the night before, so we were in the A group again. We made great time to the airport, and got there at 6pm for our 8pm flight. I noticed there was no line at the Southwest checkin, so we decided to check our bags, as they barely fit in the overhead bins on the flight up. This proved to be a good idea, as the TSA guys in ISP were going over all the checked bags for the 3-1-1 rule crap, unlike at BWI, where I probably could have brought a gallon jug of moonshine through without them batting an eye. Typical TSA inconsistencies. A flight to West Palm Beach was boarding at our gate (A8) when we got there, so we waited for them to close the door before we got in line. Unlike at BWI, once the previous flight closed, there was a mad dash for the boarding lines, but we managed to be first in line. Our inbound flight arrived about 730, and the gate agent announced that a full load was getting off, then a full load was getting on. Once boarding began, 3 sets of infants boarding the flight got on, then a pair of UMs- which Southwest describes as 15 and under- my guess is these girls were no younger than 13- and they didn't get a pre-board card, so the gate agent chewed them out (rightfully so I thought) and said next time they were going to the back of the line. I must say I loved that gate agent- she was stern and serious when she had to be, and the rest of the time she was friendly and cracking jokes. Once the pre-boards were on, she looked at us and shouted 'Come on down!' Seeing as this was to be a full flight, we decided on the only twosome set of seats, 11DE. Sure enough, this was a full flight- including the Naval Academy Men's basketball team. But, we managed to push within a minute or two of on time, and had a very short taxi to RWY33, where we did a climbing right-hand 270 degree turn to the south. Inflight service began fairly quickly, but was interrupted when they asked if a Doctor was onboard, and if he could go to the rear of the airplane. The guy who I presume was the Naval Academy's team trainer got up and went back, and after 10 min or so, he returned to his seat and service resumed without comment. On approach, we broke out of the clouds while parallel to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and bounced our way down the runway. As we were pulling off the runway, I saw an ambulance, lights flashing, speeding towards us. As we were pulling into the gate, we were told to remain seated, and two cops and a pair of paramedics boarded the plane, and went back. After a few minutes, they walked off, escorting an elderly gentleman who was sweating, and looked very pale, along with two other women, who looked understandibly worried. Once they were off, we were given the all-clear to get up, and we made our way off the plane, and over to baggage claim. Overall, I'd say the cabin crew did a good job with this situation, not great, as a lot of the passengers around us were worried/bothered by the very terse announcements given by the crew ('we need a Doctor' 'stay seated' 'get out now') and yes, they actually said the last one as their way of announcing we could get off the plane. Still, otherwise everyone else at Southwest was friendly, and given the right situation, I would fly with them again, no doubt of that.
Note: I tried to post the Flightaware route maps of our flight, but they failed for whatever reason. Sorry.