I had to cancel an FLL-PHL-FLL trip from June 2011, so with my credit, I booked a day trip to MCO. I had stayed at the Hyatt at MCO for a night last December (traveled that time via Amtrak Silver Meteor) and thought that the terminal area was really cool, so I'd thought that I would fly up, spend a few hours exploring the terminal, then fly back.
I was scheduled for a vacation from work the week of 4/9/12, so I decided that I would fly on 4/10. This would enable me to print my boarding passes right at the 24 hour mark
So I logged onto Southwest.com promptly at 8:45 AM and was given A50 (!) Stupid ppl with their smart phones! As things turned out, I had to go out later, and didn't get back home until 3:30 PM (return flight departure was at 2 PM), and I got A38! Who knows.
Tuesday arrived, and I got up at 4 AM (not that bad, as I usually get up at 5:00 when I am going to work) and left around 5:15 for FLL. Got to the airport a little before 6:00 (pretty good for an 8:45 flight), parked and headed for security around 6:30. I decided to be proactive and removed everything from my person, including my watch, which I had never done before. Walked through the scanner (traditional ones, no nude-a-vision at FLL)
without a problem and was at the gate at 6:45. The previous flight was at my gate (B5). I checked the boards (nice thing about FLL is that they have arrivals as well as departures) and saw that my plane was incoming as WN 977 from TPA. I thought that this was curious, as WN often has long, multi-stop itineraries for their flights (wait until you see the one for my return flight!), yet this was a one stop flight (and even my flight was only FLL-MCO-PVD, though I suspect the plane was going to fly a third flight from there). Oh well, who can figure out what WN does sometimes. Also, this was the first day that my flight operated. So I walked around the terminal taking pics, then lined up at the appointed time. I was concerned as to what kind of seat I would get boarding 50th, but I needn't have worried as I stepped in and the entire plane behind the wing was empty! (seems there were quite a few families or other groups sitting together in the earlier boarders). I selected a window seat about 2 rows behind the wing on the right side, so I could monitor the spoilers and other control surfaces. A little later, the F/A announced that there were 111 on board. This was encouraging on a 73G with 137 seats (or maybe 143, I haven't flown WN enough to know if the new interior had been installed in this particular plane. Subsequently, a man came and sat in the aisle seat, but no one else came by, so the middle seat was empty. Sweet!
Equipment was N227WN, a 737-7H4 manufactured in 2005, certified on 1/5/06. It was WiFi equipped (though since I don't own a laptop, this wasn't important to me). I didn't notice if anyone was using a laptop during the flight. We pushed back from B5 at 8:47, and were wheels up at 9:06. We did the usual departure from 9L, climbed out over the Atlantic, then turned back and headed northwest to MCO.
Flightaware flight 1231 FLL-MCO
We topped at at FL 210, for all of 7 minutes until we started the descent. We passed north and east of MCO passing near the Stanton Energy Center (which a lot of people, including me think is a nuclear power plant because of its twin cooling towers), and also by the Univ. of Central Florida campus, then made a U-turn and came in on runway 17L. We were wheels down at 9:41 and arrived at gate 123 at 9:47. Exactly an hour gate to gate. Reminded me of my many LAX-SF Bay Area flights when I lived out there.
I took the AirTrain? to the main terminal building. Looked pretty much the same as in December, except of course the giant Christmas tree was gone. I walked around the terminal, checking out all the shops, at one point, went out to the north side ground level to check out the Lynx buses (local buses in Orlando). Grabbed a bite, then went to go back through security around 12:20 for my 2:00 return flight. Now, many times the TSA are called "Thousands Standing Around", but the only airport where I've been in the TSA era where this is true is MCO! A bunch at the checkpoints, plus even more around the terminal area! Everywhere I went, I'd see an agent or agents. I don't know if they were on break or what (well I guess the ones eating at the food court were)
The only place I didn't see any was outside at the bus loading areas (maybe they are not allowed outside the building while on duty?) Didn't bother me, just found it interesting.
Got back to Airside, this particular terminal has a north wing and a south wing. AirTran is in the north wing (gates 100-112, more or less), while WN has the south wing. There may have been one or 2 other airlines, but I didn't see any. Got some more pics, then went to gate 120 to await my flight which was arriving from Lubbock and Austin. It arrived a few minutes at 1:15. Now when I checked flightaware the day before, they indicated that the equipment was to be a 735, which happened to be the only type in the WN fleet as of 4/10/12
that I had not flown. Of course, FA is often wrong on the plane types, indeed if you click on the link above for flight 1231, they have it as a 733, and it most definitely was a 73G. So the plane arrived, and it was N514SW. I thought this was a good sign, and later it was confirmed, a 735!
There seemed to be some kind of school cheerleading convention or something going on in Orlando, as 2 different groups got off the plane, and I had seen a third earlier in the day. There didn't seem to be many people in the waiting area, and I guess the gate agents took advantage by not starting the boarding process until 10 minutes to 2. Even with that, we pushed back at exactly 2:00 PM. I was sitting in 14F, there was a lady in 14A, no one at all in row 13. 735 has 122 seats, I would say there was not more than 80 people on the flight. We were wheels up at 2:11. I had never flown MCO-FLL before, so I figured we would come down the middle of the state and then turn in to land on 9L. Yet after I few minutes, I looked out and we were heading out over the ocean. I guess they wanted us in the same flow as the other flights coming from the north.
Flightaware flight 422 MCO-FLL
This flight, we topped out at FL230 for all of 9 minutes until we began descent. We turned in on the usual track, just north of Sunrise Blvd, but instead of turning left at around the Sawgrass Expressway (like most of my B6 flights from NY), we continued west over the Everglades to US 27 and then made the turn. I guess it was for spacing. We then lined up for 9L, I saw the usual landmarks along Griffin Road, and we were wheels down at 2:54. We made a high-speed turnoff and blocked in at gate B3 at around 2:58
This flight was more like the WN flights that I am used to LOL. Total route was LBB-AUS-MCO-FLL
-BWI-CMH-MDW-OMA. Another strange thing is that this routing was apparently only for Tuesday 4/10. On Monday 4/9, flight 422 was in the last day of its TPA-BHM-STL-MDW-LAX-SMF routing, which it had been operating since March 11th. After 4/10, flight 422 was missing until today, when it assumed a RSW-STL-MCI routing. I swear that WN has the weirdest scheduling ever. No wonder they are having trouble integrating with F9 LOL.
Been awhile since I made a trip report, hope you enjoyed. I was going to include pics, but I didn't feel like messing with Photobucket, so I'll just make a separate photo post at another time (maybe tomorrow, but then again maybe not). Stay tuned...
Oh yeah, milestone for a day refers to my first WN 735 flight, which meant I had flown all 3 types that WN had in service on 4/10/12. Of course, the next day, they introduced a 4th type (738 ), so so much for that accomplishment. At least I have a chance to fly that type, as I have an FLL-MDW-FLL trip in 2 months, and that is one of the routes that the 738 will be flying, so we'll see.