My Experience with SouthWest Airlines USA

About half of my flights during USA trip were on South West. They don't appear on skyscanner or other portals, but when I checked on their website, had cheapest fares for most of the destinations I wanted to visit. Thus I booked several flights with them.

  • Washington to Bahamas via Fort Lauderdale
  • Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale
  • Costa Rica to Fort Lauderdale
  • Austin to Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas to SFO
  • SFO to San Diego
Southwest has some unique features why they are liked by many fliers
-Cheapest fares
-Two check-in bags included
-Light snacks and non-alcoholic beverage included
-Simple and efficient booking- no cheap tricks like showing low fares and then adding taxes, baggage fee etc. What you see in first result is what you pay.

But one issue with SouthWest is that their flights are not listed on travel sites and 3rd party portals like Skyscanner, Kayak etc. They sell tickets exclusively on their website, so we need to check and book on only.

Similarly if I had known better I would have flown BWI to FLL instead of IAD to FLL, but didn't know this to search.

No assigned seating. You need to be little lucky to get the seats you prefer or be seated together as family.

Of the six flights listed above, one flight had major delay. All other flights were on time or even ahead of time. I got into A group only twice, all other times it was B group, even when I did web check-in within minutes of it opening up.

Almost all the flights were full, except only 2 flights which had some empty seats.

Flight 1: Washington to Fort Lauderdale
Early morning flight, fell asleep after sometime, missed out on snacks and drink. So couldn't figure out what snacks they serve.

Flight 2 and 3: Fort Lauderdale to Nassau & back:
Short flight, citing not enough time, only juice were served. No snacks. Crew would go to each passenger, ask what would they like to drink, make a note and then serve them one by one. No pushing a trolley and serving as they go through the aisle. On the way back, citing turbulence even juices were not served. My SouthWest Snack experience now had to wait another 8 days.

Flight 4: San Jose Costa Rica to Fort Lauderdale
Web check-in was not allowed for this flight as it needed visa check.

Major flight delay:
One of my flights were delayed by close to 6 hours. I was waiting to board at San Jose Costa Rica to FLL, USA. But the inbound flight had to return to FLL mid air for an aircraft swap due to technical glitch. Got email from airline in 5 phases- first 30 min delay, then one hour, then another... Southwest's twitter team was responsive, communicated that cancellation is not likely and flight is being returned for an aircraft swap. While the gate still showed "on time", passengers were informed of the delay at SJO airport by SouthWest staff and were given a 100 USD voucher for use in a future flight within one hour. Also got a 10 USD food coupon.
Eventually reached Fort Lauderdale by midnight, instead of earlier planned 6 PM.
If the delay had been communicated before I left for airport I could have spent more time in city. But I understand this delay couldn't be predicted precisely due to developing situation.

This was one mistake I did during my planning- should have checked SouthWest website and booked San Jose-Austin via Houston instead of booking San Jose-FLL and then Spirit flight from FLL to AUS. Like I said, since Southwest itinerary didn't appear on Skyscanner I missed checking this route manually.
On this flight I had my first Southwest snacks. Two packs of light snacks- not even 100 grams in total. This was a disappointment. Snacks did nothing to quench hunger. Absolutely nothing. Even a sandwich would have been better. Because of this one reason alone, I am hesitant to call SouthWest a full service airline.

WiFi available on select planes to watch entertainment etc. Browsing costs 8$.

On subsequent flights I realized that standard issue is only one pack of this snack. Probably because of major delay they gave 2 snacks on SJO-FLL flight.

Flight 5: Austin-Vegas
Terminal Confusion in Austin- Internet literature said SouthWest operates out of South terminal in Austin airport. But when we arrived at Austin airport's main terminal, there was a Southwest board there and another board saying "South Terminal"- we proceeded towards South Terminal but then there were no more signs as to how to reach South Terminal. Even Google maps wasn't helping. We did a circle and came back to main terminal, down down near the SouthWest board- all their flights were operating from here only.

Crew try their best to make announcements interesting.. (like "Back of the plane also goes to Vegas, please come back here, there're more seats)

Got great views of Grand Canyon from the window seat.

Flight 6: Vegas-SFO
Late night flight- the cheapest one at some 49 dollars- cheaper than Greyhound bus. Was on time, slept through

Final flight- SFO-SAN
Early morning flight, paid about 58$, again cheaper than what bus or train would have cost, arrived 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Standard SouthWest Experience.
Southwest flights out of SF- Almost all airports I visited, saw maximum Southwest Aircrafts.
So overall, was good flying SouthWest. I wish they serve better food/meals on at least flights longer than 2-3 hours.

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