Southwest B737 Economy Class Flight Review WN 531 MSY-ATL

Elite status: none

Aircraft: Boeing 737-700

Seat: 11D (aisle)

Padding: good. No hard spots

Recline: None in this row. I was in front of the exit row. Seats do not recline for safety.

Pitch: 1 inch to spare for me.
Got lucky with empty middle seat as flight was not full. 

Route: MSY-ATL

December 3, 2018

Distance: 425 miles


Depart: 11:50AM
Arrive: 2:15PM


Push back: 11:51AM (1 minute late)
Touch down: 1:53PM (22 minutes early)

Actual duration: 1h 2m

Arrived at gate 5 minutes later.


Paid with: Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Prices at time of booking:

Miles: 6152 Rapid Rewards Points + $5.60 (miles are worth approximately 1.4 cents each for cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares)
Cash: $91.20

Payment method reasoning: I don’t chase airline status. I had southwest points already in my account to cover this flight. A Southwest gift card covered the taxes. 

Note: Southwest travel credits and gift cards can be used to pay award ticket taxes. This is rare in the airline world! You can only book southwest flights at 


I got boarding position B16 at 23 hours and 57 minutes before departure using the Southwest app. I boarded after roughly one third of the plane was already on. Southwest doesn’t have assigned seats. This makes boarding quick, efficient, and there are no seat fees!

Boarding started slightly late at 11:25AM. Everyone lines up by boarding position. It goes in groups of 30. A1-A30, A31-A60, B1-B30 and so on until C30. 

You can pay extra for “Early Bird” priority boarding. The most expensive “Business” fares automatically get to board first. 


Friendly flight attendants helped passengers board quickly and also helped stow bags to keep the line moving. 

Drink and snack service was fast and good. Southwest uses trays instead of carts to keep aisles clear. They take orders on a sheet and come back with the drinks all at once. 

They served everyone drinks and snacks very quickly and with a smile. I was given my snack and drink at the same time. 

IFE and power:

IFE comes over onboard WiFi for free using your browser and the Southwest App. 

Free options include Live TV from certain channels, movies, TV series, and music on demand. 

They do make you watch ads from time to time while using the IFE. 

Video quality looked great on my iPhone. 

No power ports of any sort on board. 


Available. Required for free IFE. Free messaging with WhatsApp and iMessage available. 

Free messaging and IFE both worked well and was usable gate to gate. 


Simple bagged snacks only. Option was pretzels only on my flight. Sometimes peanuts also offered as a second choice.

Long Southwest haul flights have a wider selection of free bagged snacks available. 


Coke products, coffee, tea, and juices are all complimentary. 

I had a Dr. Pepper. 

Full Alcohol menu available for purchase. 

Certain holidays year around they have free alcohol available. They are listed in the onboard menus which are seasonal. 

The most expensive “Business” fares get a free alcoholic drink on board (coupon is part of the printed boarding pass). Be sure to print a physical boarding pass if you have a business fare to get your free drink!

Best seats:

Best seats in order of my preference:

Bulkhead Row 1
Exit Row 11-12 especially 12A
Closer to front (deplane faster) if all extra legroom seats are taken. 

Would I fly again?

Yes! Southwest service is always friendly, prompt, and consistent. Especially for short cheap hops using points. 

Pros: competitive pricing, free checked bags, fast boarding, and usually happy crew. No change fees on cash and award tickets. If price drops you can cancel and rebook to save points or cash for future flight credit valid for one year from booking date. 

Cons: Later boarding positions usually mean a less desirable seat, having to check in as close to 24 hours as you can, and more limited flight schedules with fewer destinations than bigger airlines. Expensive WiFi for short flights. Early bird check in a bit expensive for not a lot of gain.