Southwest 783: The Inaugural Flight From Ft. Lauderdale To Newark

March 15th, 1967. That was the day two small town Texas business men by the name of Herb Kelleher and Rollin King founded today’s well known low fare legacy U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines. The dream of having an airline to commute Texas travelers within the cowboy state was finally a reality. The airline started with three Boeing 737-200’s with a purchase agreement with Boeing to carry 90% of the financing. They are famous for the “Triangle Route” between Dallas’ Love Field Airport, San Antonio and Houston-Hobby Airport. From the day the first flight flown on June 18th, 1971 to now the airline has grown to fly to more than 100 destinations throughout the Continental United Sates and Latin America, with more than 700 Boeing 737’s. 

Personally, I have flown well over a hundred Southwest Flight’s. On every kind of aircraft the airline has had in resent years. From the classic 737-300 and -500’s to the newer more efficient -700’s and 800’s. Today I am here to tell you about a specific flight I had flying on one of Southwest’s new Inaugural flights. The flight departed from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and flew to Newark’s-Liberty Airport located just 15 miles from The Big Apple. The flight was being flown on Southwest’s newest and largest Boeing 737-800 which can accommodate up to 175 passengers. The aircraft still wore the now older “Canyon Blue” livery, the tail number/registration for this bird was (N8611F) built in 2013 and was directly sold to Southwest the same year. 

As Most Aviation enthusiasts and passengers know Southwest does not have different class’s of service or even assigned seats. Yet they have an all economy cabin which offers very comfortable seats and great service on board for all customers. You are given a letter either A, B, or C and a number between 1 and 60, that will decide at what point in time you are allowed to board. Once on board any seat you see open is yours, no matter if it’s a window, middle, or isle seat. You can talk to a thousand different customers and almost always you will have a split vote on weather they like this style or not. A huge advantage to Southwest especially in today’s expensive competitive airline industry is that they offer a no charge baggage policy which allows customers the option to check, two stow away bags for free as well as a carry on and a personal item. They are the last U.S. Airline to offer this service. New York based jetBlue Airways was the last airline to compare to Southwest’s baggage allowance policy by offering one checked bag for free but that changed at the end of June 2015 to where you now have to pay $25 like most other American based airlines. 

The Inaugural Flight I was on took place on Thursday March 9th, 2017 scheduled to leave at 9:25 am as flight 783. We departed out of gate B6 which is an end cap gate in the Southwest terminal at FLL. I was lucky and got a very early boarding position of A 20 which means I would be at most the twentieth person to board. On Southwest you can purchase either online of at the gate a boarding number of A1-A15 to allow for earlier boarding. The flight went out very light with only 86 of the 175 seats taken. To my surprise their was no party or even any acknowledgement of flight being the very first flight flown on this route for the Dallas based airline.  

Prior To This Day the only way you could fly nonstop to Fort Lauderdale from Newark was on United Airlines or jetBlue. This new route offered great low fares from only $45 which to my amazement being a South Florida resident was spectacular. Comparable on jetBlue the least expensive one way ticket I have ever seen was $69 plus a baggage fee. Now that it was only $45 plus two checked bags more residents and vacationers could connect between the two cities for much more affordable prices. Yes many will say Southwest does not have personal tv’s at your seat or above your head and yes you do not have assigned seats but you will get the great friendly service from Southwest’s amazing highly qualified staff and the ease of knowing there will be no hidden fees attached to the ticket you purchase. 

Now Back To The Flight. As the gate agent made the first announcements for boarding at approximately 8:50 am which was 30 minutes prior to departure I got ready to board. Southwest typically boards all of their flights 30 minutes prior to departure to allow customers enough time to find whichever seat they would like and get comfortable before they takeoff and fly to their destination. 

Once Boarding Positions A1-30 Were Called I stepped up to the boarding scanner, scanned my ticket, and proceeded down the jet bridge anxiously awaiting to see what seat I could pick. When I reached the end of the gate I double tapped the blue metal siding of the Boeing like I usually do for good luck and got on board. Now on board I was greeted by a friendly Southwest flight attendant and saw that the whole back of the plane was wide-open so I picked a row on the right side of the aircraft that had two windows overlooking the stylish painted winglet and wing. My seat also gave me a chance to view the ocean and the Big Apple very well from the position of the window’s. I was in seat 20F and to my luck with such few passengers on board I ended up having the whole row to myself. As the safety announcement was being made by the 4 flight attendants I noticed the beautifully designed Boeing Sky Interior which offered blue LED lighting throughout the whole cabin and very large overhead bins for great storage. I also looked down to see the legroom, and like on all Southwest planes the legroom was phenomenal. I think Southwest has the best legroom compared to all U.S. airlines economy seats. 

After A Short Taxi To Runway 9L we departed eastbound soaring over the beautiful Atlantic ocean on a perfectly clear and sunny day. The power of these 73’s can really be felt from back behind the wing. Once we hit 10,000 feet the flight attendant came on and once again greeted the passengers and let us know about the inflight services being offered and that we could now use our portable electronic devices such as laptops with Southwest’s broadband Wi-FI. Southwest only charges a flat $8 fee for internet Wi-Fi that lasts 24 hour for all connecting flights and what not. They also offer an array of TV Shows and Movies on your on device through their website for free. 

The Inflight Service was shortly delayed due to turbulence as we made our way up to our cruising altitude of 41,000 feet. After about a 15 minute delay the inflight service began. On this flight you were offered your choice of CocaCola beverage and either Honey Roasted Peanuts or a Orange-Cranberry BelVita Cracker. I ordered my usual Diet Coke and I opted for the Crackers as I was pretty hungry from not having breakfast that morning. Since I pre-downloaded my own Movies I watched them on my device as we made our way up the east coast into Newark right outside of Manhattan. 

Roughly 60 Miles from landing the flight attendants came around and collected any remaining service items and trash before we landed. As she walked past my row I asked if the city would be on the left or right side of the aircraft and she told me it was on the left, after thanking her for this information, I told her about how this flight was the first ever one in Southwest’s system and she was thrilled to have learned of this, and made an announcement on the PA system letting all of the passengers know of the cool experience they have just had. Once she walked past I saw that the other side of the isle 20 A, B and C was open so I moved to 20A to hopefully capture some amazing pictures of New York City. 

I Must Say After A Wonderful Inaugural Southwest Flight the customers seated on the left side of the aircraft were given a spectacular showing of Manhattan as we made our final approach into Newark’s runway 29. Out of the many many approaches into the Big Apple via New York City airports I have had, this was definitely the best one I’ve seen. The city by air in all of it’s glory on such a sunny clear day was breathtaking. The landing was gracefully smooth, in fact it was one of the best I have ever experienced on a 737. After landing the Flight attendant mad her usual announcements about baggage and connecting flights and added on the end “Congratulations Folks!, you all have been the first to ever fly from Ft. Lauderdale to Newark with Southwest!” and with that we made it to one of Newark’s famous black grey gates. We pulled into Concourse A gate 14 where Southwest has their gates located in Newark. 

Overall The Flight Was Amazing as it usually is on Southwest. It was on time, had a great inflight service, and was quick and enjoyable. I was a little disappointed in the fact there was no real acknowledgement of the Inaugural flight but it was made up by the actual great flight experience. Thank you Southwest for an exceptional flight to the Big Apple. I am looking forward to my next Southwest Journey. 

-Brandon Aronoff

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