Before I begin, there are two ways to see this review:
1. Watch this YouTube video I made reviewing the flight
2. Read the text review, see below
With seasonal service between Rochester, NY (ROC/KROC) and Tampa, FL (TPA/KTPA), Southwest Airlines provides a nonstop gateway for vacationers, spring-breakers, and business travelers. Today, being the first day of spring break, I thought for sure that the airport would be insanely crowded, but to my surprise, the A Concourse was the exact opposite. After checking in our four bags (for free, of course… this is Southwest Airlines, afterall), we made our way over to the centralized TSA Checkpoint at the Rochester Airport which we cleared in 5 minutes with no waiting in line. The agents were nice and worked together to get me and my family through the checkpoint in short order.
WIth an hour to go before departure, we stop at one of the bars in the concourse as we wait for the inbound flight to arrive. A half hour later, our 14 year old B737-700, N760SW, arrives at gate A4 after a short flight from Chicago Midway (MDW/KMDW).
You can see how empty the terminal is this evening.
N760SW arrives at the gate as the passengers disembark through the jetway, now completely devoid of airTran branding.
Since we purchased EarlyBird check in, we managed to score a boarding position in the A group and were among the first to board. I found the boarding process to be relatively efficient with the group organization and lack of large carry ons. I found my way over to exit row seat 12A after a friendly flight attendant asked me if I would like to sit there. I said sure and promptly took my seat, and boy, what a great seat this is!
Completely unobstructed leg room and a great window view. I didn't find the seat width any bit reduced with the armrest mounted tray table.
I found the seat comfortable, with supportive padding and good back support. The pitch was, well, amazing and the recline was pretty decent, too.
The three flight attendants were funny with the safety briefing which helped keep the passengers attentive for all the details. After the announcement, one of the flight attendants walked over to the exit rows and got a verbal yes for assisting in evacuation if needed. I obliged as we taxied to the end of runway 04 before a short 5,000 ft takeoff north into the Rochester sky, over Lake Ontario, with a sharp, 180° turn to the south, towards Florida.
I'm still amazed by the legroom in my exit row seat… I'm very lucky. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to sitting in an exit row seat, mainly how cold it gets sitting beside the emergency exit door at our cruising altitude of 41,000 feet. Passengers ,be warned; wear long pants to avoid freezing!
Still climbing out of Rochester.
After reaching 10,000 feet, the flight attendants begin their beverage service by asking the passengers individually what they want and hand delivering their drinks.
I ordered a Coke Zero as I ate the rest of my Subway Footlong.
Later in the flight, the FAs came back through the cabin with a basket full of RitzBits and Southwest braded peanuts. Both were good and appreciated as many other airlines stopped providing free snacks for their passengers, ahem, United.
This flight was outfitted with Row44's excellent satelite wifi service, that, although I didn't buy a day pass for $5, provided the passengers with an overview of the flight (i.e. map, altitude, heading, and speed), free live TV (provided by Dish Network), and movies for purchase. Additionally, the wifi provided free access to Southwest's booking website where I looked for flight to Charlotte, NC to visit my aunt. I had to do homework, so I didn't take advantage of the free live TV, but there wasn't anything interesting on, so I didn't miss anything.
A few hours later, we began our relatively smooth descent into Tampa. I say relatively because the pilots deployed the speedbrakes which made the ride a bit bumpy.
The pilots kissed the ground on touchdown and as we taxiied to the gate, the lead flight attendant came on the PA system and sang us a little song, along the lines of, I love you, you love us, we're much faster than a bus, if you want to fly free, just marry one of us! It's these acts of humor that keeps passengers happy and is one of the reasons people fly Southwest for the great service and friendly people!
Pulling into Gate C30 at Tampa Int'l, the seatbelt sign flicks off as the engines whirl down from the 2.5 hour journey and the passengers disembark.
Upon exiting the plane, I snap a quick picture of the flight deck before making my way up the jet bridge into the terminal. (Please excuse the iPhone quality)
Thanks for reading my first trip review, I hope you enjoyed it!
My final gift to you is an image of N760SW parked at Gate C30 in Tampa. Take care and have a great flight!
Rochester - ROC
Tampa - TPA
I would definitely fly Southwest again, likely over other legacy carriers for their low prices, on-time arrivals, and great staff. Great job Southwest!
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