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Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:20 pm

Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:11 pm

My dad grew up in Milwaukee. Because of that, 1-2 times a year we travel out there to be with family and to indulge in some of our favorite treats: frozen custard, and kringle. When I was young we would do this route on YX's B717. Once they were bought out by Republic and merged with F9 we would fly on F9's A319's. A few years after the merger F9 pulled out of this route, and we began to fly on WN on their none stop BOS-MKE.
As always, feedback is always appreciated.

Booking for this trip was performed on the Southwest website. For the BOS-MKE leg we booked their only flight: WN 5642 which departs BOS at 15:25 and arrives into MKE at 17:05. For the return on July 5th I would have wanted to go on the 6:20 departure from MKE-BOS in order to travel on the WN B738. Unfortunately, my mother is very difficult to wake up in the morning, so we had to go with WN 781 which left MKE at 21:45, and arrived into BOS at 00:55 the next day.

WN 5642

Online check in
Southwest does not assign seats. Instead, they assign boarding groups and numbers which then dictate when you can board the plane and choose your seats. As normal for me, I checked in right at the start of the check in window (24 hours before the flight). Normally by doing this I can get a seat somewhere in the mid-late A group. This time though we ended up getting B17-B19.

At the Airport
After being dropped off by the PreFlight parking shuttle at the terminal A arrivals area, we proceeded to the WN check in desks. Once there, we used the self baggage tag kiosk to quickly tag our bags to MKE. After a little confusion about where to stand to get in the line to actually drop off the bags, we quickly dropped our bags off at the desk. After a quick stop at the bathroom, we proceeded to the TSA Pre line where we proceeded through security without any sort of wait. Once at gate A18 I proceeded to do some plane spotting. Below, I have attached some of the best plane spotting photos.

Image WR DH8D

Image AC E jet. I'm gonna miss the old livery...

Image Assorted DL jets preparing for their flights.

Image DL B712

Image YX E170

Image My WN B737 N921WN for the ride to MKE

At 14:57 boarding was called utilizing the classic Southwest airline boarding system. Once A1-30 had boarded, my family lined up in our boarding position. Once A31-60 and all families had boarded, we proceeded to enter the aircraft. Upon boarding, I noticed that we had one of the B737's with the original evolve seats. These seats were comfortable for the short length of my flight, but I'm not sure if I would find them as comfortable on a longer flight. The leg room was sufficient so that my legs had some room between them and the seat in front of them

Image WN evolve seat

From my seat in 19F I had an ok view of operations at the A concourse and I began to do some spotting. Right around departure time we began to push back and taxi towards runway 09.

Image WN B737 in the Canyon Blue livery

Image DL A320

Image DL A333

Image DL

At 15:35 we proceeded to execute a smooth takeoff.

Once we were above 10,000 feet I switched on the wifi and proceeded to browse the free offerings. Besides 15 channels of live TV, WN had a good selection free tv shows and pay movies available. In what seems to be the norm now a days, their was nothing good on TV so I watched an episode of undercover boss on my phone. Shortly after leveling off the captain came on the PA and announced that we were cruising at FL340. About half way through the episode, the flight attendants came through the cabin taking down drink orders and passing out peanuts and Wheat Thins Veggie Chips. I was kind of surprised to get the Wheat Thins chips because while they are good I seem to get them on every WN flight that I take. Shortly after distributing the snacks the flight attendants came back through the cabin with the beverages. I ordered a still water with no ice.

Image The inflight snack

Once my Undercover Boss episode was finished, I tried to use the free iHeartRadio streaming service. I was disappointed because it was not working. For the rest of the flight I listened to music on my phone and watched out the window. After the beverage service was completed, the flight attendants came through the cabin again offering additional beverages to passengers who wanted them.

Right around Lake Michigan (with 130 miles to go) we began our descent into MKE.

Image A marina on Lake Michigan

Image Lots of speed brake on the descent

As we descended into MKE, the flight attendants came through to prepare the cabin.

Image The Wisconsin shore

Image Downtown MKE

At about 16:30 we executed a soft but bumpy landing onto runway 19R at MKE. After a quick taxi, we arrived into gate C23, 27 minutes early. During the disembarkation, their were 17 people continuing on to PHX from BOS- quite a lot for a continuation flight on WN.
By the time we had reached the gate, our baggage was coming off of the carousel and we were able to quickly proceed to pick up our rental car.

Overall Weighted Score

WN 781

Online Check In
24 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave I logged in to perform online check in for our flight. In a contrast to our last flight I secured boarding spots A28-30, which to the best of my knowledge are the lowest numbers that I have ever been able to secure. Initially I thought that I was able to secure the numbers because everyone was out celebrating the fourth of July, but I was in for a great surprise when I got to the airport.

At the Airport
At 1PM the day of the flight I checked the flight status and saw that it was delayed by about 1 hour. After saying goodbye to my 90 year old grandmother we dropped off our rental car and arrived at the airport at about 19:00. When we proceeded to the check in area to self tag our bags/print our boarding passes we found that the kiosks were all down, so we proceeded to the lone check in agent manning the desks. After explaining to us about how we could have rebooked the flight because it was delayed by more than 15 minutes, she issued our boarding passes, tagged our bags, and told us that there were a whopping 23 people on the flight. Seeing as these flights are almost always full, this was a surprise.

We then proceeded to security which had no line. Due to the late hour, we ended up getting our TSA precheck downgraded to expedited. Shortly after arriving at the check point we were through and I began to planespot.

Image AC/ZX CRJ2

Image WN B737 Canyon Blue

Image Bernie Brewer enroute to the All Star Game

Image WN B738

Image DL MD8X (not sure which type. any suggestions?)

Image AC/ZX CRJ2

Image Close up of the tail. Did I mention how much I like this livery?

Image UA CRJ2

Image AC/ZX CRJ2 riding off into the sunset

Image Y4 A322

Image VY A322 parked at the MKE IAB. Eventually this will be replaced by the renovations being performed at the E terminal.

At 22:07 the plane for my flight to BOS rolled into the gate from BWI.

Image N420WN, my B737 for the flight to BOS.

After deplaneing the plane as quickly as possible, the gate agent began to give a long speech with all the rules for boarding, including the TSA restriction on carryon baggage, that everyone had to line up by their boarding number and that everyone who could had to be holding their own ticket. I found this to be kind of odd, because the flight was so empty that bin space and boarding number was not an issue, and I had never hear of a federal regulation requiring everyone capable to carry their own boarding pass. Boarding was called at 22:17 and everyone lined up at the posts to be boarded, with no one in positions A1-15. After a very short wait I was onboard the plane, and I made for seat 16F, right behind the wings.

My first impression was that their was a lot of general debris on the floor, and the crew was tired (the one making the announcements was having trouble speaking coherently). As usual the WN leg room was good and the seats were comfortable for this length of flight, but I am not sure if they would have been comfortable for a longer flight. Because of the light load, I had the the entire row of 3 seats to myself.

Image The new modified heart interior seats

By 22:22 boarding was completed. Shortly afterwards, Captain Dave and First Officer Steve made a predeparture message, and said that we would be cruising at FL410. At 22:33, the plane pushed back and the flight attendants began to perform their manual safety demonstration. Again, they did struggle with this due to their fatigue. At 22:43 we began a quick take off from MKE.

Once we were over 10,000 feet, I began to explore what was on TV. Luckily, I found that Undercover Boss was on so I stretched out across the three seats and watched TV. Shortly after I stretched out across the streets, I felt a light tap on my feet, and the flight attendant handed me the snack for the flight- a pack of pretzels and peanuts. While not the best snack that they have served, it was more than sufficient for a short night time flight. Over Flint Michigan the seatbelt sign was turned off and no announcement was made. Shortly after this, the flight attendants came through the cabin taking drink orders. I got my standard water. After a very short wait, the flight attendant came through with my water which was served in a can?!

Image The Snack

Image Canned Water

Somewhere over Lake Ontario the seat belt sign was re illuminated due to some light chop. For the rest of the flight I watched Undercover Boss on the live TV. The flight attendants came through the cabin once seeing if anyone wanted something else to drink. East of Albany we began our descent into BOS, and the flight attendants came through the cabin to prepare it for arrival. They swapped out who was giving the announcements, so this announcement was not butchered like the others. After another bumpy landing (what is it with Southwest? I don't think I have ever gotten a smooth landing with them), and a quick taxi we pulled into BOS gate A19 41 minutes late.

Image WN aircraft preparing for the next day's flying.

After a very quick debarkation, the bags were waiting for us on the carousel by the time we got there. After a very short wait we were on the bus back to Preflight Parking.

Overall Score


As evidenced in my log book below, WN consistently has delivered a good product on this route, which is similar to how I felt WN5642 was. This last flight was an exception to that: the flight attendants were tired and acting unprofessionally because of it. They struggled with making announcements, they missed several important safety announcements (surrounding when the seatbelt sign was turned on and off), and their service was not done as warmly as I have had in the past. As WN makes the flight times on this route more and more inconvenient we will be looking at potentially using the DL for its none stop, if its times line up better.

My logbook: ... N-/pubhtml
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Re: Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:05 am

Thanks for the trip report. I don't think I've ever been on a mainline flight with that few people. I hope that was just a one-off and WN isn't actually struggling that badly to fill seats on MKE-BOS.

Also, that looks like a DL MD-90 to me.
Topic Author
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:20 pm

Re: Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:21 pm

I don't think I've ever been on a mainline flight with that few people. I hope that was just a one-off and WN isn't actually struggling that badly to fill seats on MKE-BOS.

Normally when I take this flight it is always full. I think a combination of DL's recently ramped up service on the route, along with the flight being a late flight on the fifth of July led to it being so empty. I should be traveling on it again sometime this winter, so it should be interesting to see if it is still so empty.

Also, that looks like a DL MD-90 to me.

Thank you. I have always struggled with spotting the MD-80/90 series aircraft.
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Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:11 am

Re: Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:07 pm

Awesome of course. A thing a bit nit-picky is the vertical photos, as in these TRs you should have them landscape. Second, the usual thing to do about commenting is that you should comment after you hit enter on the line. Liked the report and still haven't flown Southwest yet
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Re: Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:18 am

Cool report, was this recent? I didn't realize there were some tan seat covers left on the -700's.
Topic Author
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:20 pm

Re: Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:53 pm

Super80Fan wrote:
Cool report, was this recent? I didn't realize there were some tan seat covers left on the -700's.

It was last week. I was also kind of surprised to see the tan seat covers.
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 pm

Re: Southwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)

Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:32 pm

ConnectAir wrote:
Thank you. I have always struggled with spotting the MD-80/90 series aircraft.

Fat engines and the extra window between the window exits are your best visual cues for a -90.

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