Hi everyone. Welcome to my third trip report. After the first two, I think I'm hopefully starting to get the hang of how it's done, but as always- if you have any comments, please feel free to drop them below. I would be happy to read them.
As part of my college search, a few weeks ago, Georgia Tech had invited me down to their campus to have a little interview with them. Naturally, I was ecstatic to get a chance to interview with them, but the 5 year old in me was low-key more excited to go down to Georgia (a state I had never been to before) and of course, get a chance to fly.
When my dad and I are searching for flights, we are generally pretty detailed in which flights we want, the airports to go fly from, and the times to leave- as most of you are, I'm sure. However, with this trip being planned so last minute, we didn't have too much time to search around different sites trying to find the best option. In the end, we were going to book either a Delta or a Spirit Airlines option when a quick search on Southwest.com showed some pretty good timings, and some excellent prices. Ultimately, we ended up booking a 6:30 AM flight out of DCA on April 4th, and then a 3:35 PM flight back to DCA on April 5th. Plus, the whole thing cost about $100 per person.
I was of course planning to do a report of my flight on April 4th, however, once I sat down in my seat I was out. In short- flight was less than half full, got the full row all to myself, perfect wing seat, early departure, and early arrival- pretty much every flyers dream flight.
With that, we begin what was sort of the opposite of my first flight…
Arrival at ATL
For those of you who might have been in the area on April 5th, Atlanta was experiencing some really bad storms, which was quite surprising given the beautiful 80 degrees weather we experienced just the day before. Nevertheless, I was prepared for the possibility of a delay, constantly checking my phone to see if my flight had left its previous destination Chicago MDW. However, just as we were set to leave, Southwest sent out an alert saying the flight was to be delayed 4 hours- now leaving at 7:30 PM instead of 3:35 PM, okay, no big deal, just hang out in the hotel for a little bit, maybe sleep or watch a movie. One hour later, we got another alert saying the flight departure time had been bumped back down to 6:10 PM, although I had never seen that happen before, it was still better than leaving at 7:30.
At 3:30PM, we finally left for the airport. Just an FYI, drivers in Atlanta are insane!
Approaching the rental car deposit area. The roads leading to the airport led to some awesome spotting, however, my S5 camera wasn't good enough to get any pictures.
Dropped off the rental car- goodbye Toyota Corolla which was super brand new!
For those of you who haven't experienced ATL, getting from the rental car area to the gate requires the use of two trains- one, dubbed the ATL Skytrain.
Waiting for the train. For those who have ever been to Dulles, its the exact same model as the Dulles Aerotrain, just different colors of course.
Damn it, wrong way!
The train takes about 3 minutes to get from the rental car center to the main ATL airport concourse.
Here we are approaching the main check-in area.
Because we were so busy yesterday, we forgot to print out the boarding pass, and the Southwest app has this odd system of not issuing mobile boarding passes unless each passenger has their own booking itinerary. Although it meant one quick stop at the check-in kiosk, I was pretty happy because it meant I got myself a nice old-fashioned card stock boarding pass.
Easy to use kiosk, obviously cropped so my name isn't shown.
And my beautiful new boarding pass- ya boy got that TSA Pre!!
For those of you who don't have TSA Pre, it's really nice. Although security at Atlanta is a bit weird, it's nice being through security in 10 minutes rather than 1 hour. After security, we started to make our way down to train number two- this one called "The Plane Train."
Going down the escalators to the platform.
The entire system runs pretty quickly. After leaving from the main concourse, we reached the C terminal in less than 5 minutes.
The C Terminal and a Little Bit of Spotting
Thankfully, when we reached the airport, the rain had cleared up leading to some really great pictures.
As always, we first walked to the gate, just to make sure the flight time hadn't changed or it hadn't left without us, then it was off to walk around.
Quick shot of the FIDS- since SWA shares this terminal with Delta, the FIDS were all airline specific. I actually felt pretty bad for some of the Delta passengers, while most of the Southwest flights were only mildly impacted, a LOT of Delta flights were pretty screwed. There was one flight leaving to DCA that was supposed to depart at 11:05 AM but unfortunately, ended up being delayed till about 6PM.
Southwest 737's taxiing across the ramp.
The two Delta MD's in the back taxied up to the gate, but then just waited there even until after WE had pushed back. Although it doesn't seem likely, I'm guessing with all the delays, there wasn't enough gate space to accommodate them.
Delta parking lot out in the back. Try and spot the A330's.
There's a glitch in the matrix.
At this point, I was getting a little bit worried. The inbound flight was scheduled to arrive at 5:45, 40-ish minute turnaround time, and pushback at 6:10. However, with the increasing congestion at the runways and the oncoming dark clouds, I didn't actually think we were going to get out until much later. We went to the gate anyway, found one empty seat in the by the windows and grabbed it. My dad took the seat while I sat behind him on the floor.
I'm not sure how we found a seat in the sea of all these people.
Delta 757 coming into the gate.
One of the brand new Delta A321's coming into the stand. It was pretty unusual, the day before at DCA, I saw two of them sitting on the ramp- I'm not really sure what they were doing there, anyone want to guess?
Usually delays are pretty boring, but I started talking with this really cute 8 year old boy who seemed really interested about airplanes, cars, and your typical 8 year old boy stuff. Although the aircraft didn't actually arrive at the stand until about 6:00 PM, as soon as the jetway touched the aircraft, the ground crew sprung into action.
Here it is coming into the stand.
This flight will be on board N415WN, a Southwest 737-700 delivered in November of 2001. Originally, the flight was going to be operated by one of the newer Southwest 737's (I don't remember the exact reg. number) but with all the delays and cancellations, an aircraft swap was inevitable.
ALL THE THINGS!!!
Boarding WN 3844
Finally, after a long wait at the gate, the boarding process finally began at around 6:20 PM. Having experienced the Southwest boarding procedures only once before, I was quite nervous that I wouldn't get a nice window seat.
Luckily when the B Boarding group was called, I immediately got up and handed in my boarding pass, a little bit upset they wouldn't let me keep it.
Wi-Fi is always nice.
As soon as I walked onto the airplane, I was greeted by a nice flight attendant who welcomed me on-board the aircraft. As soon as I saw the seats, I could see that chaos was later going to unfold. Thankfully, I found the perfect seat behind the wing and grabbed it as soon as I could.
A quick shot of the seats that would remain empty…for now.
As soon as I sat down, a huge stream of people just came onto the airplane. Just a few minutes later, one man took the aisle seat, and then one lady took the middle seat.
I didn't care how many people were on the flight, just as long as I got my beautiful wing-view.
Legroom for the flight was surprisingly not bad, given that I had a backpack underneath the seat in front of me. Although I couldn't stretch my legs all the way out, I was pretty comfortable for the full flight.
A quick shot of the seat back offerings.
Still happily enjoying my view of the ground.
When all was said and done, the flight was 100% full. Pushback began around 6:45 PM accompanied by the usual charm of the Southwest crew during the safety instructions.
Good-bye Gate C12.
Making our way out to Runway 8R.
Somewhat unusually, much of the ground traffic had cleared up pretty quickly. Instead of the anticipated 10 aircraft wait to take off, we had one Delta A320 and two Southwest 737's in front of us.
Waiting on Runway 8R.
You are cleared for take-off.
Wheels up at around 7:00 PM, not bad at all.
We had a pretty steep take-off rate, punching through the grey clouds very quickly.
WHERE ARE WE!!!!
However, the moment we passed the gloomy skies of Georgia, the transformation from grey to blue was incredible. Combined with the tons of clouds, the pictures were phenomenal!
Climbing up to our cruise altitude.
Still climbing. BUT LOOK AT THESE AWESOME CLOUDS!!
Even more climbing, my lord, how far are we actually going?
Around 7:25 PM, we finally reached our cruising altitude. After a brief look through the Southwest seat-back magazine, I discovered that they offered a flight tracker as well as free cable tv provided by Dish TV. All you had to do was log on to their wi-fi browser on your device. It was very convenient. The only thing I was concerned about, with the lack of power ports, it would kind of stink if you ran out of power while watching TV on a long cross-country flight.
With 25 minutes of straight climbing, I was quite curious to see how high we actually were flying. A quick look at the flight tracker gave me these results.
41000 feet, that's insane! This definitely took the cake for highest I've ever flown on a short-haul flight, maybe even a long-haul flight. I didn't even know 737's could get that high.
The view was pretty incredible.
Once we had reached our cruising altitude, the three flight attendants began their in-flight drink service. One thing I did notice is the flight attendants walk up to each passenger, ask what they want, write it down, and move on. Although it does take a little longer to get the drinks, it does feel a little bit more personal than if they brought out a drink cart. However, just after they asked me what I wanted, that's when the ride started to get really bumpy. The ascent had a few patches of turbulence, but this was pretty wild. I'm not gonna lie, I have flown a lot, but this was some REALLY bad turbulence. It got to the point where the Captain told us that the turbulence was going to continue pretty much until we touched down at DCA. Combined with the fact that one of the flight attendants had hit her head in the back of the aircraft, he suspended the service, no peanuts for me I guess.
Around 7:45, we began our bumpy descent down into DCA- although it was slightly uncomfortable, the sunset views were gorgeous.
What a nice view…
Luckily, we did get the river visual approach into DCA. This has never happened to me at nighttime, because I was so focused on my window, the pictures turned out to be a little bit blurry- but I'll post them in here anyway.
The Kennedy Center
The Washington Monument
Touchdown onto Runway 19.
While the landing was pretty smooth as far as turbulent landings go, the moment the wheels touched the ground, the pilot SLAMMED on the brakes. I mean, he literally gave it everything he had, full thrust, full spoilers, extreme braking, everything. The three of us where pushing the seats in front of us, it was that wild.
We finally pulled into Gate A4 at around 8;05 next to an Air Canada Embraer.
And that's pretty much it for this report. Thanks for reading.
Atlanta - ATL
Washington - DCA
This was really not the worst flight I've ever had. Southwest was actually pretty good at attempting to keep everything running smoothly even with all the delays and cancellations. The seat was clean and comfortable, the flight crew was excellent. Although I didn't get a chance to eat or drink anything, that is understandable considering we had turbulence lasting pretty much throughout the entire flight.
All in all, a wonderful experience on Southwest Airlines, wouldn't hesitate to fly them again!
Thank you for reading.
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