Proof (with pics) that the Southwest 737-800 is a nice way to fly

Proof (with pics) that the Southwest 737-800 is a nice way to fly

After being grounded in March of 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I fantasized daily about which airline (and route) I would fly once things got better. Would you believe that it was on a Southwest Airlines 737-800 from San Diego to Phoenix? I can’t.

Despite my return to the skies being a bit less sexy than I had hoped it would be, I can honestly say that I was surprised by how nice the interiors of the Southwest 737-800s are. The aircraft I flew on had the newest seats, and it even smelled like a brand new airplane. 

I was sort of hoping that I’d be able to write a scathing review of my experience (those are really fun to write). Unfortunately, all I’ve got to show you is how damn good this airline (and airplane) really is. 

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Aircraft: 737-8H4
Registration: N8551Q
Duration: 1 hour 6 minutes
Seat: 7A (Business Select)

Southwest Airlines 737-800 side view
Southwest Airlines 737-800 side view illustration by
WN2440 flight track
Our route from San Diego to Phoenix today as WN2440

The video

Although the purpose of this trip was for reasons other than making airline review videos, that didn’t stop me from recording the s*** out of this flight. Despite how many times I’ve flown Southwest in the past, I’ve never actually made a video about the experience. I’ve got it admit – it was fun!

To be honest, this video was more about documenting my return to the skies that it was about a proper Southwest Airlines 737-800 review. I didn’t care that I was flying to Phoenix. It was all about the joy (and satisfaction) of ending eight months of being grounded.

My full review of the Southwest 737-800 experience from San Diego to Phoenix

After years of flying around the world experiencing amazing airline products such as Qatar Airways business class, QANTAS premium economy, and Asiana first class, who would’ve thunk that I’d be super excited to fly on a 45-minute Southwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Phoenix? Well, that’s what 8 months of being grounded will do to a world traveler I guess. To say that I felt like a first time flyer is an understatement.

Arrival at the airport

My routing today had me going from San Diego to Phoenix to San Francisco and then back to San Diego. Since this was a one-day trip and I didn’t need to overnight anywhere, I decided to drive to the airport myself. I even splurged on parking in the main parking lot at the airport (close to the terminal entrance). I paid dearly for this luxury, but it was totally worth it.

San Diego Airport terminal 1 walkway
Yup. I’m happy as all heck to be here at the airport (my home away from home).
SANspotter selfie terminal 1 walkway SAN
< insert Shaft theme song here >
Terminal 1 SAN exterior
A lot has changed since my last flight. Most notably, we all have to wear masks and maintain social distancing now. I don’t see any cooties from here though, so I’m pressing on…
SANspotter selfie fogged up glasses
Speaking of which…after 8 months of wearing a mask, it still ticks me off that I can’t find a solution for the fogged up glasses thing. This is gonna be a challenge.
Southwest Airlines check in SAN Terminal 1
If it wasn’t obvious by now, I’m flying to Phoenix today on a Southwest Airlines 737-800.
Southwest Airlines check in San Diego Airport Terminal 1
Well, I’m actually headed to San Francisco, but a stop in Phoenix sounded…fun. Why not, right?

Getting reacquainted with Terminal 1 here at San Diego

I remember feeling a bit disgruntled as I was booking this itinerary, as I knew that it meant spending time in the terminal that I hate the most here at the San Diego International Airport. However, it wasn’t anything like I expected it would be…

Southwest Airlines baggage drop San Diego Airport Terminal 1
This is Terminal 1 at the San Diego Airport. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but: man I missed this place.
San Diego Airport terminal 1 interior early morning
Terminal 1 is just as Terminal 1 as it ever was. I think the PPE vending machine spiced it up a bit.
San Diego Airport terminal 1 escalators
Remember when I used to make jokes about how ugly and stupid Terminal 1 here is at the San Diego Airport?
San Diego Airport circle of death
Well, it’s still ugly and stupid, but…excuse me while I experience the joy of getting reacquainted with my old pal I like to refer to as “The Circle of Death”.
San Diego Airport during coronavirus
This was the scene after coming down from the high of doing laps around T1. It’s still awfully quiet in here and…I don’t know. It’s hard to explain how strange it felt to see this place so empty.
SANspotter selfie Southwest Airlines review San Diego Airport
But then again, this is pretty much a dream come true for introverted weirdos like me.
SANspotter yawn San Diego Airport terminal 1
And if you’re wondering: No. That’s not a real yawn. You should know by now that it’s all part of my schtick.
SANspotter flying during coronavirus
Throw in a casual (and dorky) retrieval of my camera, and…SANspotter is back, baby!
Southwest Airlines 737 SAN
By the way, this isn’t my plane for the flight over to Phoenix, but we’ve reached this far into this Southwest 737-800 review and I haven’t even shown a picture of an airplane yet. So here you go.

The boarding process for flight 2440 to Phoenix

One of the things that I hate most about Southwest Airlines is the boarding process. Not knowing which seat I’m going to be sitting in until I get on the plane extremely nerve-racking, and I was quickly reminded of this during the boarding process.

San Diego airport social distancing terminal 1
Gate 4 is where we will be departing from (assuming the anxiety of not having a seat assignment doesn’t kill me). 
Southwest Airlines gate 4 terminal 1 SAN
Ugh. I hate being told what to do, but I have no problem being told where to sit on an airplane. It’s a lot easier that way!

I had a Business Select ticket, which is just a fancy pants way of saying that I get to be one of the first passengers on the plane. And on Southwest Airlines, that’s very important because there’s no assigned seating. It’s first come first serve, and there ain’t no way I’m gonna let someone steal my favorite window seat just ahead of the wing.

My first impressions of the all new Southwest Airlines interior of the Boeing 737-800

I don’t follow Southwest Airlines news at all, but I knew immediately upon sitting down that I was on an aircraft which featured their newest interior. The last time I flew Southwest Airlines was on a 737-700 from Las Vegas to San Diego. The interior of that airplane was nothing like this one.

Southwest Airlines 737-800 boarding door
I spy blue mood lighting that matches the exterior of the plane. So far so good!
Southwest Airlines boarding process
I’m gonna be p***** if one of these ladies takes my favorite window seat just ahead of the wing. Just sayin’.
Southwest Airlines 737-800 new interior
Looks like I have the full cabin of this Southwest Airlines 737-800 all to myself! Disaster averted, and all that pent up anxiety was for nothing.
Southwest Airlines seating
Par for the course when flying Southwest Airlines I guess. By the way, I actually prefer these seats over what American Airlines is offering (as I noted in my Southwest Airlines vs American Airlines comparison).
Southwest Airlines 737-800 leg room
Southwest Airlines 737-800 leg room is identical to the leg room you’ll find on the all new Southwest 737 MAX 8 (which is a good thing). 
SANspotter Southwest Airlines review
When exactly do they serve the champagne and caviar?
new seats on the Southwest Airlines 737-800
While I wait for a flight attendant to arrive to take my order, here’s a pic of the new seats on the Southwest Airlines 737-800. 
what does the new Southwest Airlines interior look like?
Still waiting. Here’s a pic of the interior looking towards the back.
Southwest Airlines new seats
I’m starting to think the service on this airline sucks…
Southwest Airlines 737-800 tray table
Ok, if the champagne and caviar isn’t coming, I’m going to have to find something else to keep my mind occupied. Here’s the Southwest Airlines 737-800 tray table (and my fingers for no good reason).
Southwest Airlines 737-800 safety card
I also thought it might be a good idea to have a look at the safety card as well, since it’s been a while since I’ve flown and I’ve forgotten how this stuff works.
SANspotter reading safety card
If we go down in a ball of flames…I want to be ready.
Sanspotter man spread
Some things never change I guess. Would it really be a SANspotter airline review without disgusting manspread action? I promise you this wasn’t intentional.
Boeing Sky Interior Southwest Airlines 737-800
To help get your mind out of the gutter (and off my crotch), here’s a nice pic of the beautiful Sky Interior of this Boeing 737-800.

A quick summary of the departure process

To be honest, I was very much looking forward to the departure process of this flight over to Phoenix. After all, it had been 8 months since I had last flown, and I was curious to see if it was going to feel like flying for the very first time. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Southwest Airlines 737-800 wing
Flying time over to Phoenix today will be a short 45 minutes, and while it may not be all that thrilling to you, I don’t care. It’s happening!
Southwest Airlines san Diego airport
I’ve never been more excited about a 45 minute flight to Phoenix in my life. How excited exactly? I almost saluted back.
Southwest Airlines flight from SAN
I wonder how many people have impaled themselves on the pointy end of that split scimitar winglet? You just know it has happened at least once. 

View of San Diego from the air sunrise
Do I even have to tell you how much I’ve missed this view? No, of course not. But I just did.
view of North Island Naval Air Station
Anyway, Here’s North Island Naval Air Station – with the San Diego Airport in the top left corner of the pic.
Southwest Airlines takeoff from SAN
And of course, I still couldn’t see anything thanks to my fogged up glasses.

In-flight entertainment

Good news: Southwest Airlines does offer a fully-featured streaming in flight entertainment service (which you can access via your personal device. Bad news: there are no power outlets in these seats. At least not now. These planes will be retrofitted with them in a few years (or so I’ve heard).

Southwest Airlines streaming onboard entertainment
Although the in-flight entertainment wasn’t working on this particular flight from San Diego to Phoenix, here’s a picture of the streaming video entertainment I had the chance to test on a more recent Southwest flight. In a nutshell: it’s really frickin’ good.
battery pack for charging devices in flight
One of the most interesting things about this flight was the realization that there are no power outlets in these seats. If you’re flying Southwest Airlines soon and you plan on using your phone to stream entertainment, bring a battery pack.

By the way, here’s a direct link to the newest version of the Anker Power Brick that is shown above. If I lost my red one, this is the one I would get to replace it with:

If I had to replace the one I already have...
Anker PowerCore 20,100mAh Portable Power Bank
  • Ultra-High Capacity: Weighs as little as a can of soup (12.5 oz) yet charges a smartphone almost seven times, and a full size tablet twice.
  • High-Speed Charging: PowerIQ and VoltageBoost combine to deliver the fastest possible charge.
  • Recharges itself in 10 hours with a 2 amp charger.
Check Price on Amazon
Note: I may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Food and drinks

Even though I was flying Business Select today, I didn’t take advantage of the free premium drink coupon that comes with it. I stuck with the basics (water) to go with my complimentary bag of snack mix. 

Southwest Airlines business select snack
Feeling hungry? You’re in luck, because….it’s snack time!
Southwest Airlines Business Select snack mix
As you might expect, snacks are pretty basic here on southwest. Even as a Business Select passenger, you’re not going to get anything substantial.
eating on planes during coronavirus
By the way, it didn’t take long to discover more downsides to flying with a mask. On the other hand, the dry cabin air was the perfect solution for the fogged up glasses. You win some, you lose some I guess.
Southwest Airlines Business Select food
To be honest, the service on this flight was pretty much identical to the service post-pandemic. You’ll still get a small bag of snacks and a free drink (coffee, water, soda, tea) on most every Southwest flight these days. Alcohol is available for purchase. 
Southwest Airlines Business Select SANspotter review
Yup. Eating with a mask sucks. 

And then… The arrival into Phoenix

Just when I was starting to get comfy and relaxed, we started the descent into Phoenix. No, I wasn’t any more comfortable and relaxed than anyone who didn’t pay for the Business Select option, but you know what I mean. It felt like this flight was over immediately after it had begun.

SANspotter reviewing Southwest Airlines
If you’re curious: no. I still don’t regret voluntarily choosing a stop in Phoenix on my way up to SFO today. These new Southwest 737-800 seats are perfectly comfortable for short trips IMHO.
Colorado River from the air
Oh, and that’s the Colorado River down there, which is the border between California and Arizona. See? Anyone who says that SANspotter reviews aren’t educational is lying to you.
A field west of Phoenix
Unfortunately, the educational portion of this review is now over, because I can’t tell you what this is other than a “field just west of Phoenix.”
SANspotter eating airline food
The truth is that I was thinking how awesome this all new interior in the 737-800 was compared to other aircraft in the fleet. Reading my Southwest 737-700 review is a good way to see what the differences are.
Arrival at PHX airport in Arizona
Phoenix looking as dapper as ever on our final approach.
Arrival at PHX airport
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Arizona! Which, oddly enough, was something that Donald Trump heard on this exact same day as well.
Southwest Airlines PHX
Yup, he was in town hosting another one of his pre-election rallies, with Air Force One parked on the southwest side of the airport.
Southwest Airlines 737-800 deplaning
His 757 is no doubt more luxurious than any Southwest 737-800 is though. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I can pretty much guarantee that.
Southwest Airlines flying during coronavirus
Thanks again to the amazing Southwest cabin crew on this short flight over from San Diego! Now I’ve got a short connection in Phoenix to worry about…

Pros and cons of flying on a Southwest Airlines 737-800

Chances are, flying on Southwest 737-800 will mean that you’re flying on an aircraft that features the newest interior. It’s pretty nice, and they are very competitive with what all the other airlines are currently offering. Mostly. Here are all the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s worth going out of your way for:


  • It’s a very consistent experience with other aircraft in the Southwest fleet. Not only that, the onboard experience is exactly the same.
  • Legroom isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not the worst either. Compared to Spirit Airlines, I find these Southwest 737-800s to be far more tolerable.
  • The streaming video and audio entertainment is quite good actually.


  • Beware! There are no power outlets in these seats. If you plan on taking advantage of the streaming in-flight entertainment, be sure that your phone has a full charge before boarding.
  • The seats are rock hard and somewhat really painful on longer flights. This is something you really need to keep in mind when flying Southwest Airlines to Hawaii – yes, you’ll end up in paradise, but you’ll be sore and grumpy for the first day or so of your vacation.
  • There’s no option to pay more for a seat with extra legroom. Booo!

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