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It's been a while since I posted a trip report, but I had the pleasure of being on the very first Southwest Airlines flight from Bellingham, WA on November 7, 2021. This is the first time I've ever been on an inaugural flight and I was curious how Southwest would celebrate a new route on a Sunday from a small airport to one of its major airports, Las Vegas.
To watch the video, check out my YouTube video. Otherwise, please read on!
So I'm used to flying out of major airports with either good public transportation links or good taxi/uber or know people who can take me to the airport. Unfortunately Bellingham has none of those things, especially on a Sunday. Not being a major tourist city, Bellingham has very few taxis. It took more than 45 minutes to get one to pick me up from my hotel, which also didn't have shuttle service. Uber is not allowed to pickup or drop off from the airport. And the city bus does not go to the airport on Sunday. Be warned about these things if you're used to easy and convenient travel to or from the airport to the city.
Southwest took center stage at the ticketing area. Even though I checked in online and had my boarding pass on my phone, I was A28 thanks to Early Bird Check in, I still wanted to get a paper boarding pass to keep as a memento and to chat with the people at the counter. There was no one in line ahead of me when I got to the desk. The two people checking people in were very friendly and excited about the new service into their airport. I wished everyone at BLI and Southwest would do well here for years to come. You could tell people were excited with balloons and posters all around.
After collecting my boarding passes, I was off to the gate. There is a TSA Precheck line here. However there was only one person checking boarding passes and identification for Pre Check and Non-Pre Check. Though the lines were relatively short, the airport certainly didn't seem as prepared for the extra fanfare today. It took about 15-20 minutes to get through all the regular security checks. As Precheck, I was given a pink slip to show to the agents checking our bags and simply tossed the slip once I passed. In front of me were several Southwest officials here to commemorate the occasion.
Because of that and the really early arrival of the inbound flight , the flight arrived 12 minutes early, I just missed the water cannon salute.
The first passengers disembarked and were greeted with cheers as they entered the terminal. It seemed every airport official and city official who could be there was there. Speaking on behalf of Southwest was Andrew Watterson, Chief Commercial Officer. There was a table with a goodie bag and some water, sparkling cider and little lollipop cakes. The goodie bag contained a welcome letter, some Southwest and Bellingham stickers, a coffee sample from a local coffee roaster and Southwest shades. Not a bad haul in my humble book. There was also lots of photos and videos being taken to capture the moment. Southwest was the center of attention as there was no other flights coming in.
I purchased Early Bird Check-in which allowed me to be automatically checked in 36 hours ahead of time. It also should give me a better seating position. I ended up in the A Boarding group, number 28. Boarding is done outside by stairs and by now, the rain and wind were making it feel very Northwest. As it was not a full flight, we departed a couple minutes early. Other than announcement from one of the flight attendants about this flight, nothing fancy or celebration onboard.
This is Southwest's Boeing 737-700 with the older seats and cabin. No headrest, no power. It's a standard seat and cabin for the older Southwest 737s. Nothing wrong with that. I already knew I was part of history.
We pushed back a couple minutes early and were probably between 60-70% full. There was no one seated in the middle seat.
There was Wifi available for $8. There is also a live stream tv and some movies and a simple moving map with info about connecting flights in Las Vegas. The live TV is always nice, but there aren't as many channels as on JetBlue. Remember to bring your device fully charged or with a charger handy as there is no power outlet or USB ports.
I fly Southwest between Long Beach and Vegas. On that 45 minute flight, we usually don't get any snacks or beverage service. But this 2 hour flight does have beverage and snack service. The flight attendant walked through our section and took our drink orders. She then came back with a tray to hand out our drink orders. A snack mix was also handed out as that has become more common during Covid. I had a ginger ale to go with my snack mix.
it was such a beautiful day once we left Washington State. We landed in Vegas around 3:40 pm. No water cannon salute here, so I guess I'll have to take another inaugural to see that. Now I had a long wait for my connecting flight to Long Beach.
A few hours later I received an email from Southwest congratulating me on being onboard the inaugural flight and I even got a certificate for it. It was great to be a part of something special like an inaugural flight. I think Bellingham has a lot of work to get their transportation options better especially with new airline service like Southwest. The airport put on a good show and was very friendly and welcoming. Nothing fancy onboard or in Vegas. I guess if we were going to a new country or something, it would be different. I can't wait for my next inaugural. Thanks for reading and watching my YouTube video which gives you a bit more flavor than just reading.