Part I: PHX-LAX on Southwest Airlines
While I normally wouldn’t review a short flight like PHX-LAX, I think it’s helpful for my Phoenix-based readers to know a few travel tricks of mine to make my travels a little bit better.
Key Tips in this Post:
1. Get the Citi AAdvantage card for free AA Admiral’s Club access, even when flying other airlines.
2. Avoid flying into LAX if you can, as departures are frequently delayed. BUR, LGB, and SNA are better for air traffic control reasons.
We had our flights booked on Singapore all the way to Malé, but because Phoenix didn’t have a Star Alliance partner with direct flights to Los Angeles on miles, we decided to pay with points for a Southwest Airlines flight. Normally, we’d try to tack on a free flight under the same award from Phoenix to our gateway city, but that’s not always possible. At less than $50 worth of points each way, it wasn’t a major expense either way.
Southwest Airlines operates out of Terminal 4, which is also where American Airlines and a number of international airlines (like British Airways) operates their flights as well. Southwest, as you’re aware, doesn’t have first class seating or lounges, but it’s not impossible to make your stay in Phoenix’s airport uncomfortable.
For me, I use the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite credit card to access American Airlines’ Admiral’s Club lounges when traveling. They’re not the best lounges out there, but I’ve liked the newly-redesigned ones, and I always appreciate their liberal olive spread on the buffet. That, and free well drinks, saves me money on food I’d otherwise buy in the airport. The Citi card is actually an additional card from my mother’s account, which is free (the master account is $450 a year). By having the card, you can get yourself and immediate family or up to two guests in for free into any Admiral’s Club lounge, and you don’t have to be flying American!
Phoenix has three Admiral’s Club lounges at PHX, with two in the A concourses and one in the Bs. It’s not super convenient for Southwest flights, which depart out of the other side of the airport, but if you don’t mind a long walk for some free food, it can kill some time during a longer layover.
We had a few glasses of red wine to get the trip started, and some delicious carrot soup (seriously, American’s soup game is strong in the lounge!). While more substantial food items, as well as name-brand liquors and international beers have a cost, if you’re not too picky you can make a nice stay of it in Phoenix.
We made our way about 20 minutes before boarding to our departure gate in the D Concourse. Our flight, we found out, was a bit delayed coming in, and we boarded about 10 minutes late. Since we had A boarding group, we had 8th row aisle and middle seats for our short 1 hour 15 minute flight.
Unfortunately, LAX’s air traffic control struck again, and we were trapped waiting at their mercy for about 30 minutes. Thankfully, we managed to squeeze in a new landing time, and we were off. While this trip, it made sense for us to fly into LAX, I would avoid it if possible. Burbank (BUR) is just as convenient for those visiting parts of LA not on the coast, and don’t have the ATC issues I’ve seen. Same goes for Long Beach and John Wayne, though those are less convenient for LA visitors. I have had only two on time flights in the last 8 into LAX from Phoenix.
Thankfully, we arrived, and were quickly out of the terminal area with our carry-ons to make our way to the Hyatt Regency LAX.