A Tale of Two Planes: Our First Boeing 737-800s Take Flight


Below is a chronicle of the day’s events on April 11, 2012: the twin maiden voyages of Southwest’s first Boeing 737-800 aircraft.  Brooks provided updates from Warrior One, traveling from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale.  Whitney led efforts from Baltimore, where the second -800 began its journey, bound for Fort Myers.

What happened next… was a tale of two planes.

Warrior one Instagram

737-800 Maiden Voyages: MDW to FLL on Flight #1717, Warrior One (Brooks)

4:30 a.m. CST: My hotel alarm goes off.  I’d normally call it a rude awakening, but when you wake up with butterflies, disposition is hard to locate.  On this particular flight, we hosted five travel bloggers from around the nation.  Our 5:00 a.m. hotel lobby call time came fast, but as it was the main event, there were no frowns. 

6:00 a.m. CST: Passengers started to trickle in.  Our bloggers took full advantage of the “-800 Premiere” atmosphere created by our MDW Employees, complete with Spirit. Jr. See Chicago’s awesome Facebook page here.

800 Premiere


6:30 a.m. CST: Our Passengers begin boarding, and receive a Boeing hat (worn by Spirit Jr. above), and a certificate that identifies each person as a participant in the maiden commercial voyage of Warrior One!


7:00 a.m. CST: Just before wheels up in MDW, several of our bloggers admired the new cabin, complete with Evolve and Boeing Sky Interior.

Warrior One PAX

7:30 a.m. CST: Our flight gets into gear.  I could go on and on about how much I love this plane, but I’d rather you hear from one of the aviation bloggers, Stephanie Gehman, about her experience. You can find that here, complete with photos.

9:00 a.m. CST: Things get really silly when the inflight giveaways start to happen.  Look no further than Rich Matthews’ video below, to see how that “shook out.” Yes, that is a pun related to the video… Enjoy that ticket, Albert.

11:00 a.m. EST: Yep, we switched time zones when we touched down in beautiful, sunny Fort Lauderdale.  We were met with a water cannon salute.

11:45 a.m. EST: To round out a great day, we got the best seat in the house to watch pushback of Warrior One (of course, this picture was taken well before that moment!).


1:00 p.m. EST: After an overwhelming amount of hospitality from our buddies in Fort Lauderdale, we parted ways.  But not before devouring a Warrior One cake (which was delicious!).

Warrior One Cake

We’ll have many more “new arrivals” this year. By the end of the year, 33 new 737-800s will have been added to the mix!

The first video is from our inflight giveaway on Warrior One, and the second video is an artful short done by Stephen M. Keller, of BWI – RSW.

737-800 Maiden Voyages: BWI to RSW on Flight #653 (Whitney)

7:30 a.m. EST: Sprits were high in the Baltimore A terminal this morning as Customer and Employees celebrated the inaugural 737-800 flight from Baltimore to Fort Myers. Cheers erupted as the beautiful new plan pulled up to the gate, ready for the eager passengers to board.

BWI Gate Cheering

8:00 a.m. EST: Travelers filed into the jet way, excited to catch a glimpse of the new plane. “Oohs” and “aahs” filled the cabin as lucky passengers boarded the brand-new 737-800. Sleek interior, plush seats, and even mood lighting, the LUV jet immediately brightened bleary-eyed morning travelers. One Customer noted that the new interior felt like a completely new experience, while another said he felt like he was traveling first class.
Welcome Aboard

8:30 a.m. EST: Complete with a water cannon salute for its first flight, WN802 took to the runway for the first time. The excitement became tangible as the wheels lifted from the ground, and the entire cabin erupted in applause.

9:10 a.m. EST: Today is a big day for Southwest, but we couldn’t have done it without our Customers! We decided to show our LUV for our Customers with an inflight giveaway. Passengers were delighted at the opportunity to show off their knowledge of Southwest history with a game of trivia for a Boeing 737-800 hat as a prize. And congratulations to John Sullivan in row D5, who took home a free roundtrip ticket on Southwest!

Plane in RSW

11:20 a.m. EST:  Thanks to our Captains of Flight #653 who guided us safely and smoothly into Fort Myers right on time! The flight was welcomed into Fort Myers with another water cannon salute, balloons, and more cheers, as another flight of passengers eagerly awaited their chance to board the new aircraft.

  • Our -800 series service has only just begun to make its mark on Southwest Airlines’ history. As Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, and CEO, Gary Kelly put it, “The 737-800 series is a game changer.” After witnessing our Customers’ and Employees’ enthusiasm today, I’d say we have a lot to look forward to in the coming years!

You can see more -800 updates here. Find Whitney’s Twitter updates here.  Brooks’ can be found here.


  1. Is the spacing distance between the seat rows still the same? SWA has always had plenty of legroom, which I need since I am 6’4″. Looking forward to seeing the new planes. Hope they all have WIFI. That’s a really nice feature!

  2. Wish myself and my granddaughter had been on this flight. It would have made her year. Besides the new plane the peanuts you give out are her favorite. I think she would buy a ticket just to get a package of those peanuts. SW is the only airline we fly. We love the airline and it’s service. Thank you.

  3. I thought Southwest only flies one kind of plane! What happened???