First time on Southwest

Old Oct 31, 11, 10:39 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: SYD, and not PKC
Programs: VA Gold, QF OWS Gold, HH Diamond, Marriott/IHG Gold
Posts: 1,417
First time on Southwest

We am going to fly WN the first time at 20 December for SFO-LAS. I had to make a choice between WN and VX and I chose WN, because of no change fees and also 2 free bags for each person (we come from Australia so will definitely need luggage check-ins). I paid $99 one way all in per person.

I do not know WN much but it looks like WN is like LCC, should I just keep my expectation very low? How does it compare say UA/CO Y (they were more expensive than WN/VX)? Do they sell food on board? Is it worth paying that $10 for early checkin?

Finally, should I care about collecting RR points? Do they ever expire? I don't come to USA often at all (last time in year 2003, flown on UA/AA at that time)? I don't think you can put WN miles to other airlines's mile program?
kamchatsky is offline  
Old Oct 31, 11, 11:19 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 3,463
They don't sell food on board. That's a pretty short flight. Early check-in (EBCI) might be worth it if you have a problem getting online at the 24-hour mark, such as if you'll be inflight from Australia then, but you can consider whether it's that much of a problem to be in scattered middle seats for that short a flight. RR points don't expire if you have activity in your account in 24 months; I guess your pre-tax fare is under $90 and would get you under $9 in non-full-fare travel. Consider whether there's a chance that you'll earn the points to get an award.
rove312 is offline  
Old Oct 31, 11, 11:42 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: SYD, and not PKC
Programs: VA Gold, QF OWS Gold, HH Diamond, Marriott/IHG Gold
Posts: 1,417
Just to provide more info, I will be connecting from CO72 HNL-SFO arriving on 14:52 before checking in WN705 departing on 17:20. If I EBCI and if say CO72 is late, then can I change the flight to later one (and pay the difference) one I arrive at SFO? Or once I EBCI then my ticket is forfeited if I cannot make it to that flight?
kamchatsky is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 8:20 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Toledo, OH
Programs: Delta DM & MM, Hilton DM, Marriott gold
Posts: 12,913
CO provides service from SFO to LAS. Why not use them the entire way. Of ir you are only spending part of the trip in LAS and the rest in SF, I would see about booking SFO/LAX as a second trip. Your luggage fees should still be waived and would be easier to handle your checked bags and you would be protected if your original flight is late.

Problem with WN is they don't interline with any other airlines so you will have to allow yourself enough time to clear customs and recheck your bag at SFO. You should be ok if your flight is on time coming in but if it's even an hour late you could realy be pushing it.

I would pay for EBCI. After flying that long from home, the last thing you want to do is be in the C group and try to find a decent space.

If you miss the earlier flight, they should put you on a later flight (as long as there is an empty seat of course), but you will probably have to pay the difference in fare unles syou can try to invoke the flat tire rule, and even if you can the EBCI won't apply and you will be out that and probably end up with a middle seat in the back since you'll board last.
jamesteroh is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 8:29 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 3,463
HNL-SFO? There shouldn't be customs.
rove312 is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 8:37 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: NRV, VA
Programs: DL, WN, US, FL
Posts: 65
HNL is in the United States, therefore you will clear customs there if you have to from Australia, the flight to SFO is a domestic flight.

About frequent flier, they don't transfer to other airlines, but the worst that can happen is you don't fly them for two years and you lose them. No money lost, so I don't see why not to sign up for Rapid Rewards for your Southwest flight.
cyclonehokiece is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 9:15 am
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Toledo, OH
Programs: Delta DM & MM, Hilton DM, Marriott gold
Posts: 12,913
Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
HNL-SFO? There shouldn't be customs.
Sorry I saw Sidney in his profile, wasn't paying attention the OP was flyign from HNL
jamesteroh is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 9:17 am
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Toledo, OH
Programs: Delta DM & MM, Hilton DM, Marriott gold
Posts: 12,913
OP-Why not just take CO the entire way to LAS????? You wouldn't have to worry about transferring bags and you would be protected on the SFO/LAS flight if there was an irrops situation on your HNL/SFO flight. CO isn't going to charge you again to check your bags from SFO to LAS.
jamesteroh is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 9:43 am
  #9  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,149
The small amount of RR points you'll earn on that flight won't do you a whole lot of good. If you're like me, you'll at least open the account, accept the points, add it to your spreadsheet of FF accounts, and maybe pay attention to it once in a while on the off-chance that you'll use that airline in the future. But you're only talking about a few bucks' worth of points: if you never fly WN again and the points expire, it's not the end of the world.

I'm guessing you've already bought these tickets, perhaps because SYD-SFO was competitively priced and SYD-LAS was not. In that case, you'll have to leave security at SFO, gather bags, and then take them to recheck at WN. There is no way to interline bags from CO to WN.

As others have pointed out, you don't need to do a customs clearance on HNL-SFO - although some people see the agriculture checks and canine units in Hawaii and think it's "customs". But all of that is in Hawaii: when you land at SFO it's just like any other domestic U.S. flight. 2.5 hrs should be enough time to deal with the bags, recheck, and reentry of security. Irrops risk on this one is probably low, but if it happens you'll find lots of SFO-LAS flights and you'll end up on a later one.

WN coach is about 1-2 inches better than either UA or CO normal economy. UA also has E+, which is 2-3 inches better than WN.

If you're on the ground with data access at 24 hours prior to the WN flight, you can get a boarding pass that is *almost* as good as EBCI. Good enough to get your desired seat type onboard. If you're traveling that whole day before with no access to the Internet and really can't stand the thought of sitting in a middle seat for the short flight to Vegas, then EBCI might be a good $10 investment.
pinniped is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 2:14 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Programs: Hilton Diamond, Marriott Titanium, Radisson Gold, Hyatt Globalist, M life Gold, IHG Spire
Posts: 810
One thing I couldn't find is the _return_ flight. Is it LAS-SFO on WN? If so, I would definitely pay for EBCI. To say that WN at LAS is a zoo is being kind. It's a mess. That is really the one airport I would never want to try WN w/o paying for EBCI.

EBCI is non-refundable, and you mentioned you bought WN because of no change fees. However, I think in your case, where you may be in transit at exactly 24 hours before takeoff, paying for the EBCI is worth it.
jn in ca is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 2:20 pm
  #11  
2020 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: TUS/PDX
Programs: WN CP/A-List, AS MVPG75K
Posts: 5,706
If your inbound is late, there are two later nonstops to LAS, plus you can connect to LAS through LAX, SAN, or SNA.

Just remember you will have to reclear security at SFO. UACO is down in T3, WN is in T1. It's about a 10 minute walk or 10 minute train ride (since you go around to parking then one of the the intl terminals).
tusphotog is offline  
Old Nov 1, 11, 4:17 pm
  #12  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,149
Originally Posted by jn in ca View Post
One thing I couldn't find is the _return_ flight. Is it LAS-SFO on WN? If so, I would definitely pay for EBCI. To say that WN at LAS is a zoo is being kind. It's a mess. That is really the one airport I would never want to try WN w/o paying for EBCI.

EBCI is non-refundable, and you mentioned you bought WN because of no change fees. However, I think in your case, where you may be in transit at exactly 24 hours before takeoff, paying for the EBCI is worth it.
I could be wrong, but I don't think EBCI really buys you out of the airport nuttiness. It just buys you early boarding, which if you're already in Vegas at T-24 you can get easily enough anyway.

I think you need a Business Select ticket to use expedited check-in and security.

Totally agree that LAS is a zoo but there isn't a whole lot you can do about it short of buying a much more expensive ticket. I actually find that the airline process itself is sometimes okay...it's the craziness of getting a cab or getting into the rental car bus that make this such a dreadful place IMHO.
pinniped is offline  
Old Nov 2, 11, 5:53 pm
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: SYD, and not PKC
Programs: VA Gold, QF OWS Gold, HH Diamond, Marriott/IHG Gold
Posts: 1,417
Thank you everyone for your response. They are all very helpful.

Certainly I do not need to clear immigation as my itinerary is SYD-AKL-LAX-KOA, then KOA-HNL, then HNL-SFO. I would have already cleared immigation at LAX.

CO HNL-SFO is actually part of BD award where next flight is SFO-ICN with SFO. I did not separate the bookings out because ironically it is cheaper for me to book HNL-SFO-ICN (18750 miles + cash) then SFO-ICN (30K miles + cash) BD award not even including the HNL-SFO leg.

You are correct that I could have flown CO between SFO-LAS, especially that I am a BD *G. However the next CO flight is at 15:48 and costs like $170 + tax each person. So it is very expensive as well as the transit time is only 1 hour with different PNRs. So any late flight from HNL and I would be in trouble, and then the next flight departs at 19:20pm which is very late not to mention all the change fees involved.

VX has next flight at 16:35pm (ie transit of 1:40) about and only $59 + tax so it is cheaper than WN even with luggage included (we most likely have 1 check-in each person), and I can actually earn points on virgin Australia (DJ) Velocity using VX as well, not to mention cabin layout for both VX and DJ is similar and I had no problems with DJ. But then the change fee really put me off ($75), and also I will definitely need to recheck my bags at VX, which recommends me to check in at 90 minutes before departure. This leaves me with not much room, and will practically throw my ticket away and buy a new ticket if HNL-SFO is late as the change fee costs more than the original ticket. And someone in forum mention about delays at SFO is quite common due to fog.

Hence with all these consideration I have decided to fly WN the first time as I think the transit time is big enough for some delays, and the no change fee was the real differnce between WN and VX. In a way I want to try WN to see what all the fuss is about given that they seemed to be the only profitable airline in USA. I have tried JQ/TT/DD/FD as LCC.

Finally, I am planning to hire a car at Vegas and drive to LAX and then to SFO, visiting all those Premium Outlets along the way, before my flight of SFO-ICN. Hence there is no return flight as such. Not sure if LAS being a zoo means much to me as I am arriving but then I went to SYD-LAX/SFO-ORD Y on QF/AA/UA on regular basis on 2002-3 and I always think LAX/ORD has lot of people, but it did not faze me as I was born and grew up in Asia. Not sure how LAS compares with ORD though.

I will certainly think about EBCI as I will be at HNL and not sure if those HNL hotels have free internet so that I can do online checkin at T-24.
kamchatsky is offline  
Old Nov 2, 11, 6:05 pm
  #14  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,149
With 2 people going into Vegas, we've split up in the past: one person fights the entire rental car shuttle crowd and the other person waits for the bags. Rental car retriever then loops back to fetch the bag collector.

It's not that Vegas is any more crowded that any other world airport. It's just that it's amateur hour there - total chaos and a lot of inexperienced travelers combined with a general lack of enough cabs and rental car shuttles.

I'd rather fly into CAI. Dead serious. At least there I can quickly find a bandit cab if I need one.
pinniped is offline  
Old Nov 2, 11, 6:11 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: SJC and ONT
Programs: WN A-List/CP, HHonors Diamond, CX J with AA miles, US Gold/*G
Posts: 2,082
Originally Posted by edison View Post
....In a way I want to try WN to see what all the fuss is about given that they seemed to be the only profitable airline in USA....
Keep the bar low and do not expect much of anything. Some might find their commercials and cabin crew hilarious (if you like Leno)......but most of the fuss this year is in how they brutally slashed and burned the Rapid Rewards program.

Originally Posted by edison View Post
......I will certainly think about EBCI as I will be at HNL and not sure if those HNL hotels have free internet so that I can do online checkin at T-24.
Do you have a smartphone? If you're not in the air at T-24, check-in on your phone. But another equally valid perspective is given the scope of your trip, EBCI fees are inconsequential if they result in one less thing to worry about.
jrpaguia is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: