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Review: Southwest B737-700 Economy (STL-AUS)

After a weekend in the St. Louis area celebrating the wedding of two of our DEN based friends, it was time for us to head back home to Austin.


Booking

I started this booking as I always do, by visiting Google Flights. Southwest was the only airline with a direct flight between St. Louis and Austin on the day we needed to travel. Unfortunately, Southwest doesn't show their prices via third party websites so I had to log into Southwest.com to see the pricing for our flights.


Prices were inexpensive but I decided to use points. I redeemed 8,886 Rapid Rewards points plus $5.60 in taxes and fees for my one way flight.


Check-In

We arrived at St. Louis Lambert International Airport a few minutes after 3:00p for our 4:50p flight to Austin. There were a few people in line ahead of us but after 5 minutes we were at the counter and had our bags tagged to Austin. I was also able to use my Southwest Premier VISA Card's 2 free priority boardings to upgrade my boarding position for this flight.

Southwest Airlines Check-In Counters at St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Southwest Airlines Check-In Counters at St. Louis Lambert International Airport

After dropping Mrs. ATX's bag at the counter, we headed off to the nearby security checkpoint. While St. Louis' Terminal 2 has a CLEAR lane, there were more people in it than the standard TSA PreCheck lane so we elected to use the latter. and we were through security in seconds.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport Terminal 2 Security Checkpoint
St. Louis Lambert International Airport Terminal 2 Security Checkpoint

Pre-Flight

Airside, we made our way over to the Wingtips Lounge which was located across from Gate E29, which is the Lufthansa departure gate.

We had access to the lounge thanks to my Priority Pass membership from my American Express Platinum Card. While the lounge wasn't anything special, especially on the food front, it was a good place to wait out our flight especially considering our delay.


Boarding

Our updated boarding time was listed as 5:39p and I arrived at Gate E20 5 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin. I spotted N912WN, a 15 year old 737-700 waiting to welcome us aboard.

Southwest Boeing 737-700 N912WN at St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Our ride to Austin this evening

The boarding process began right at the (updated) scheduled time with preboards. Group A was also invited to line up at this time.


For those that aren't familiar with Southwest, they have no assigned seating and the plane is boarded by number based on your check in time. Boarding is split into groups A, B, and C, with each group holding up to 60 passengers. Families with small children and elite status passengers are boarded between groups A and B.


Southwest Airlines

WN 3271

STL-AUS (St. Louis Lambert International - Austin-Bergstrom International)

Seat: 11C (Economy)

B737-700 (N912WN)

Scheduled: 4:50p-6:45p

Actual: 6:24p-8:16p


Once group A1-A30 was called we headed down the jet bridge to catch our waiting flight to Austin.

Boarding a Southwest Airlines 737 at St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Cattle car boarding on Southwest

Seat

Thanks to Southwest's open seating policy, and our early boarding group, we were able to snag two seats in the exit row. Southwest's 737-700's only have 2 seats in the emergency exit row on the left side of the aircraft which is perfect for couples traveling together. If you're a solo traveler, I recommend seat 12A, as the seat in front is missing which provides almost unlimited legroom. The seats on the opposite side are in the standard 3 per row configuration. I also had plenty of our space in the overhead bins for my carry on bag.

Legroom in the Exit Row was ok but I still felt a little cramped. Thankfully, given the fact that there were only two seats in this row, there was some extra space to spread out.

Southwest Boeing 737-700 Exit Row Legroom
Southwest Boeing 737-700 Exit Row Legroom

As is standard on Southwest, there was no seatback IFE and all entertainment was streamed to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Southwest Boeing 737-700 Economy Seatbacks
Southwest Boeing 737-700 Economy Seatbacks

The tray tables folded down from the seat in front of us and were large enough to hold my tablet with room to spare.


Departure

Once boarding was complete, we took another small delay while we waited for some paperwork to be completed. We ended up pushing off of the gate over an hour and a half late and taxied out towards the runway. The flight attendants also performed a manual safety demonstration.


There was no wait for our departure runway and we immediately throttled up and took off as soon as we turned on to it. As we climbed out of St. Louis, those of us on the left side of the aircraft got a great view of downtown and the Gateway Arch.


In-Flight

After we reached 10,000 feet, the flight attendants made the announcement that we could now use our laptops. I pulled out my computer to try and get some work done but the Wi-Fi on this flight didn't want to cooperate which scuttled my plans of being productive.

Southwest Inflight Wi-Fi not working
Pretty disappointing when there is no seatback IFE and the Wi-Fi doesn't work.

25 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendant working our section of the cabin came by to offer us a small bag of snack mix (or as CrankyFlier calls it, salty death mix) and our choice of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. Since we had been traveling for over a week, and spending much of our free time eating and drinking, I just had a water.

About 30 minutes after the snack and drink service, I headed to check out the lavatory. In what has become the new standard on these 737s, the bathroom was tiny. You could realistically only wash one hand at a time in the sink and for any larger passengers it could be difficult to maneuver. The lavatory was kept relatively clean throughout the flight, though a few pieces of trash were on the floor.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Lavatory
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Lavatory

At this point we had roughly an hour left to Austin and, since I couldn't stream the IFE on my computer, I closed my eyes and tried to sleep the rest of the way.


Arrival

We had (what I assume to be) an uneventful approach into Austin and I woke up as the wheels hit the runway. We had a quick taxi over to the terminal where thankfully there was an available gate for us. Austin has had issues in the past with delayed flights arriving at peak times as the airport is running short on gate space. We deplaned and headed for baggage claim to retrieve Mrs. ATX's checked bag before hopping in an Uber and heading towards the house.


Summary

This flight, just like almost every recent flight on Southwest, was remarkably unremarkable. The airline has had some well documented issues over the past few years related to delays and technology so when we got a delay or when I found the Wi-Fi wasn't working I wasn't upset or surprised. While I typically try and avoid the airline, they do offer numerous point to point routes to/from Austin which is why they won our business for this trip. I certainly didn't choose them because of their on-board product or on-time record.


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