Southwest Airlines Business Select review: is it really worth the extra cost?

new seats on the Southwest Airlines 737-800

After being grounded last March due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, there were all kinds of questions about which airline (and route) I would fly once things got better. Well, things still haven’t gotten better at the time of this writing, but it turns out that Southwest Airlines Business Select from San Diego to Phoenix was how I got back into the game.

Don’t get excited though. It was just a 45 minute flight with abbreviated service due to strict social distancing regulations. And it’s not like I’m going to be flying all the time again either. This was simply one segment of a round trip up to San Francisco (and back) all in the same day. I’ve got no future travel planned at the moment.

But hey – it’s been a while since I’ve last flown Southwest Airlines. And in my opinion, there was better way to get reacquainted with them than to choose the baller “Business Select” option.

WN2440
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 Norebbo.com
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 Business Select review. I didn’t care that I was flying to Phoenix, nor that I was flying a “mini” version of business class or anything. It was all about the joy (and satisfaction) of ending eight months of being grounded.

Can you guess where the music in this video came from? If you guessed Epidemic Sound, you’re a pretty smart cookie. Be sure to read my full Epidemic Sound review to find out exactly why I use them and nobody else.

The full video transcript of this Southwest Business Select review with tons of pics – and even bonus content!

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.

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
Hey everyone, it’s Scott from SANspotter.com again. After boring you to death over the last 8 months with super lame videos that had nothing to do with flying, I’m happy as all heck to be here at the airport again making…another lame video!
SANspotter selfie terminal 1 walkway SAN
Okay, yeah, all my videos are lame, but at least this one involves actual flying.
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.
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 with Southwest Airlines.
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
The Covid-19 pandemic is raging out of control here in the US, and…uh…yeah. It’s quiet in here today. That PPE vending machine definitely wasn’t here the last time I flew out of Terminal 1, which is just a sign of the times I guess.
SAN Airport terminal 1 interior land side
Oh – and here’s some more footage of the empty terminal (which I couldn’t see because of my fogged up glasses).
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.
San Diego Terminal 1 Airport during COVID-19
If you would have told me a year ago that it would be frowned upon to sit next to complete strangers at the airport in 2020, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have been excited of course, but I certainly wouldn’t have believed it.
SANspotter red shoes 2020
For those of you who have missed my trip report videos, don’t worry. As you can see, there is still plenty of cringy b-roll of me trying to look cool in my dorky red shoes.
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 Airlines Business Select 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
I’ll admit it – prior to today’s flight, I had no idea how this social distancing thing was going to work in a place like Terminal 1.
Southwest Airlines gate 4 terminal 1 SAN
It seemed to work ok, but there’s only so much you can do to avoid tripping over others here in The Circle of Death.

I’m flying Business Select today, 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
Can you believe that this is the first ever Southwest Airlines video that I ever made?
Southwest Airlines boarding process
More importantly, this is also the most anxiety I’ve ever felt while stepping onto an airplane. If one of these ladies takes my favorite window seat just ahead of the wing I’m gonna be p*****.
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 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. Not bad, especially when combined with being able to snag a good seat! In that sense, I guess it was worth paying a few extra dollars for Business Select.
SANspotter Southwest Airlines review
Speaking of Business Class…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. This is so much better than what I experienced the last time I flew Southwest Airlines out of San Diego!
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.
Southwest Airlines 737-800 safety card
I also thought it might be a good idea to fondle 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 video 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 some nice footage of the 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 subscribers I lost over the last 8 months from not flying? Or…from just being a goofball in general?

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 screen.
Southwest Airlines takeoff from SAN
And of course, I still couldn’t see anything thanks to my fogged up glasses.

Southwest Airlines business select cabin service

Even though I was flying Business Select today, I knew that the service was going to be diluted a bit thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only was Southwest Airlines blocking middle seats still, they also weren’t serving any beverages other than water. Some may say that I wasted my money paying extra for Business Select, but I beg to differ. The window seat that I got was exactly the one that I wanted. That’s all it took to make me happy.

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. And of course, I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate program, and this is an Amazon affiliate link. This means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on the link:

SANspotter man spreading action
Ooooor, you can just revert to disgusting man spreading like I did.
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, all you’re gonna get is snack mix and water.
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
I have a confession to make: It wasn’t easy to come up with enough footage of this 45 minute Southwest Airlines flight to warrant a full video, so here’s some more footage of my snack to stretch this out a bit.
Southwest Airlines Business Select SANspotter review
Hey – it’s not my fault you clicked on this video.

And then… The arrival into Phoenix

Just when I was starting to get comfy and relaxed, we stared 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. This flight was over way too soon, and it felt like it 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. I do slightly regret the Business Select thing though, as this was a fairly empty flight and I probably wouldn’t have had much difficulty scoring a good window seat.
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 video is now over, because I can’t tell you what that is other than a field just west of Phoenix.
SANspotter eating airline food
But that’s not why you clicked on this video, is it? Who needs geography lessons when there’s plenty of embarrassing footage of the host to keep you entertained?
Arrival at PHX airport in Arizona
Care to take a guess about which part of the world is the EXACT opposite of Arizona? That would be Switzerland of course, and my buddy Mark from swissdaytours.com would be glad to give you the most amazing “This Isn’t Arizona” tour of Switzerland you’ve ever had.
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
In hindsight, maybe Pennsylvania would have been a better choice for him today…
Southwest Airlines flying during coronavirus
Thanks again to the amazing Southwest cabin crew on this short flight over from San Diego!

Flying during coronavirus is definitely a different (but still very safe) experience, and I have to give huge props to everyone at Southwest Airlines for taking it so seriously. By the way, part 2 of this journey (PHX-SFO) is coming soon. Do stay tuned…

Pros and cons of Southwest Airlines Business Select

First of all, I have a confession to make. Before this flight, my feelings towards the Southwest Airlines were neutral. I didn’t love them, but I didn’t really hate them either. I guess the best way to sum up my feelings is to explain how I thought of Southwest Airlines as they pertain to business travel:

Long story short, I was of the opinion that any serious business traveler with really deep pockets isn’t going to be flying Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to New York. Or Washington DC to Seattle.

Anyone with a little money to spend on long business-centric routes such as those would likely spring for a proper business class seat on one of the legacy airlines, right?

Well, after a full day of flying around on Southwest Airlines in Business Select, my perceptions changed slightly.

This is a darn good airline. No, they aren’t the pinnacle of luxury or anything, but they run really really tight operation. The following list of pros and cons of Southwest Airlines Business Select reflects how I’m feeling about them (and this product) now:

Pros

  • It’s affordable! Getting the opportunity to be one of the first ones on the airplane (and then getting free drinks when you’re there) is something that many business travelers pay thousands of dollars for other airlines. On Southwest, it’s usually not that far out of reach.
  • Everybody values perks differently, but to me, the most beneficial perk of Southwest Business Select is the ability to be one of the first passengers onboard. Since there is no assigned seating on Southwest Airlines, it’s first come first serve. Your chances of getting the exact seat that you want without paying for Business Select is slim to none.
  • Did I mention the free drinks thing yet?
  • The bonus points you’ll earn for flying Business Select is generous – assuming that you fly Southwest Airlines often. At the time of this writing, Business Select travelers earn 12 Rapid Rewards points for every dollar that they spend. And with no blackout dates on award redemptions, that’s a nice perk.

Cons

  • There are no dedicated business class seats on any Southwest Airlines aircraft. It’s all economy class, so you’re not going to get a big and spacious seat by choosing Business Select.
  • There’s no food on Southwest Airlines. Not even for hoity-toity Business Select passengers. Yes, they do serve complimentary snack mix on most flights, but don’t expect anything more substantial than that.
  • You know that tree drink thing that I keep mentioning? Well, it isn’t as generous as it sounds. You only get one free drink coupon, meaning that if you want to get lit, you’re gonna have to pay extra for it.

Is Southwest Airlines Business Select worth the extra cost?

It depends. Everybody’s needs are different, and only you can determine whether or not the perks are worth the extra cost. Here are a few specific scenarios to help guide your decision:

  • If you are a very frequent business traveler with deep pockets who needs a comfortable seat and space to work, it’s absolutely not worth it. JetBlue would be a good alternative, assuming they fly to where you need to go. Do be sure to read my extensive JetBlue vs Southwest comparison to help you choose one over the other.
  • If the most important thing to you about your flight is getting the exact seat you want, yes, Business Select is worth it. As a matter fact, it’s almost a necessity.
  • If not having to pay for a drink on a flight is what you live for, then yes – it’s worth it. Remember though: you’re only going to get one free drink. And most of the time, the extra cost of Business Select over a standard economy fare is more than enough to pay for unlimited drinks for everybody in your entire row.
  • If you you are a very frequent traveler, and Southwest Airlines flies to all the places you need to go, it may be worth it to spring for Business Select. With the generous bonus points you’ll get, you’ll be on your way to cashing in free flights sooner rather than later. Combine this with not having to pay extra for checked luggage, and it’s probably going to be worth it for you to fly Southwest more than any other airline.

The moral of the story is that Southwest Business Select isn’t for everyone. Yes, it’s a lot cheaper than paying for business class on nearly any other domestic US airline. But the perks are far fewer as well.

Would I fly business select again? Yes! Only because I’m very picky about my seat choice and I can’t stand the thought of not knowing where I’m going to be sitting before I actually get on the airplane. There are a lot of things I’m stubborn about in life, and that’s gotta be in the top 5 – at least.

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