Nathan Hart flies Southwest Airlines flight 6750 from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona.
A Boeing 737-700.
Price: Unknown — it was a work trip so somebody else booked and paid for it.
Flight time: One hour 20 minutes on the ticket, into Phoenix a whole three minutes early.
My seat: Despite our boarding cards being labelled with seat numbers, we got to the gate (delayed by the sheer size of the beer and burger in the terminal bar — welcome to the USA!) and realised it was a free-for-all seating arrangement. No surprises, I got the least-coveted middle seat. So let my experience be the lesson; if you really want a window or an aisle seat with Southwest, line up early.
Fellow passengers: Ended up between a guy wearing headphones the entire trip and a friendly Phoenician lady returning home after a same-day trip to Los Angeles for a funeral.
How full: No spare seats. Thankfully the air conditioning was cranked up high.
Entertainment: Passengers could upgrade and purchase Wi-Fi and full entertainment access, but for an 80-minute flight, what's the point?
The safety briefing: Is it unpatriotic of me to say I enjoyed a relatively straight (and dated) safety briefing after many years of Air New Zealand trying to beat their previous "viral" (hate that term) "creative" (again what does that really mean?) safety videos?
It was time-travelling back a couple of decades. The flight attendants even had the mock seatbelt, safety card, life-jacket and oxygen mask props to hold high over their heads as part of the presentation.
The service: Overall the service was pleasant but with only 80 minutes aboard there was no real chance to pick holes in it.
Food and drink: A free packet of pretzels and a Coke. Wallets were out for those who wanted alcohol.
The toilets: Although dated, they were clean but I may have been the first to use it as I did the unheard of, using it before taking my seat (again, the large beer).
Luggage: I only had one checked bag from the previous AKL-LAX flight, but have since found out Southwest do two checked bags as standard (we needed it on the return leg as the shopping in Arizona is good).
The airport experience: Once on the ground we had quite a long taxi to the terminal (at what seemed to be a good consistent pace), but Phoenix is one of the biggest cities in the US so I guess their airport needs to be big too. Be prepared to walk out from the air conditioning into a wall of heat (Phoenix sits in the desert southwest; Arizona is directly above Mexico).
Communication: We had updates throughout, including details on the descent about a "few small bumps which are very common when flying at this time over the desert". It turned out not to be bumpy at all, so perhaps it was a case of managing expectations from the flight deck.
The bottomline: All in all, a pleasant (and short) experience after coming off a 12-hour flight from Auckland. Learning about the two checked bags as standard was a great surprise.