Southwest 9010: All you need to know

With over 4,000 flights per day during the peak period, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is one of the largest US airlines. The carrier operates scheduled low-cost flights to over 120 domestic and international destinations using a rolling hub and point-to-point network. Southwest planes sporting a Bold Blue livery with bold stripes of Sunrise Yellow and Warm Red are a regular sight in the US skies. The low-cost giant applies strict flight number ranges and rules to identify its services. Southwest uses numbers between 1 and 6999 for scheduled flights per its current flight numbering rules. Likewise, flights covered under the maintenance, dispatch, or charter category are numbered between 7000-9999. From this perspective, Southwest 9010 is not a scheduled service.

737 Max 8 Southwest N8867Q Photo from Suncoast Spotter

Southwest flights use a call sign ‘Southwest’ and flight number (1 to 4 digit) for identification purposes. The two-character IATA airline designator code for Southwest Airlines is WN. In this view, the carrier’s service bearing flight number 9010 is coded as ‘WN9010’.

Since Southwest 9010 is not a scheduled flight, it doesn’t operate regularly. The departure times often vary, and so do the routes (origin and destination cities). Due to variations in flight departure times and final destinations, the flight details of Southwest 9010 aren’t standard.

Southwest 9010: Serving domestic routes

As an unscheduled service, Southwest 9010 doesn’t have a fixed route. The flight radar technology has spotted the WN9010 flight serving different routes. Historically, it has flown routes like:

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)-Hollywood Burbank (BUR); flight duration-1 hour 8 minutes
  • Orlando (MCO)-Memphis (MEM); flight duration-2 hours 14 minutes
  • Los Angeles (LAX)-Kansas City (MCI); fight duration-2 hours 51 minutes
  • Los Angeles (LAX)-Las Vegas (LAS); flight duration-1 hour 3 minutes

Although the flight routes aren’t static, one thing is clear about Southwest 9010. Southwest 9010 is a domestic flight. The Dallas-headquartered airline operates flight WN9010 within the US airspace.

Southwest 9010-Aircraft used

North America’s 3rd largest carrier Southwest utilizes Boeing 737-700 aircraft to operate flight WN9010. Southwest Airlines is an exclusive Boeing jet operator whose entire fleet revolves around the popular Boeing 737 family. The single-type fleet of the discount airline consists of 700 examples of Boeing’s best-selling 737 series. Most Southwest aircraft are examples of the Boeing 737-700 model, comprising 411 of 796 total jets.

Southwest Boeing 737-700 has a seating capacity of 143 customers in an all-economy class. It features single-class economy seating with 17 inches (43cm) of seat width and 31 inches (79cm) of seat pitch.

Photo by Jason H

 The 737-700 New-Generation replaces the 126-seater 737-300 and features more fuel-efficient CFM56 engines. It can fly as far as 3200nm and burn 4,440 lb per hour at Mach 0.785.

The launch customer of the Boeing 737-700 twinjet is Southwest Airlines which received the delivery of the first example in December 1997. The discount airline relies heavily on single-aisle 737-700s for its high-frequency, short-haul operations. But since these aircraft have clocked in more than 18 years, Southwest has set a course for their retirement. Over the next 10-15 years, the Dallas-based LCC will phase out a significant portion of the dominant -700 model to vacate space for new 737 Max 7 jets.

Southwest 9010 engine failure incident

On March 31, 2023, Southwest 9010 encountered an engine failure shortly after departure from Phoenix. A Boeing 737-700, performing Southwest 9010 service, suffered a mechanical issue in the left-hand engine a few minutes after takeoff from Phoenix Sky Harbor. The Burbank-bound flight was carrying 116 passengers and crews onboard. Taking off from PHX runway 07L, the plane flew normally until it countered the left-hand engine failure at 12,000 feet. Responding to the issue, the crew shut the engine down and requested for emergency landing back at Phoenix.

737 Max 8 Southwest

Upon receiving the ATC permission, Southwest 9010 returned to Phoenix and safely landed on runway 08. Some sources reported the falling of metallic debris from the sky about 6.8km southeast of PHX airport and engine oil leakage during the inspection/maintenance review of the aircraft.

On a fateful day, the Southwest 9010 flight was scheduled as follows:

Depart PHX at 12:15 and arrive in BUR at 15:33; flight duration-1 hour 8 minutes

Due to the engine incident, passengers were re-accommodated on another WN9010 flight. The next flight left Phoenix Sky Harbor at 14:35 and touched down in Hollywood Burbank at 15:45 local time.

Southwest 9010 engine incident-Aircraft involved

The aircraft involved in the Southwest 9010 engine incident was a 16-year-old Boeing 737-700 aircraft bearing registration N264LV. After the incident, the twin jet spent three days and 18 hours on the ground before returning to regular service on April 3. The aircraft returned to the skies with the operation of flight WN3031 from Phoenix Sky Harbor to John Wayne Airport Santa Ana.

Southwest flight numbering rules

Southwest makes and follows the flight numbering rules as decided by its operating and scheduling systems. Besides, history also dictates the numero-uno flight numbering methods work for Southwest. The carrier doesn’t use flight numbers 13, 1313, or 666 simply due to superstitions and cultural beliefs associated with those numbers.

The complex automated algorithm prevents Southwest from using any flight number ending in 000 to avoid confusion between the cockpit and ATC. The LCC doesn’t designate the similar-sounding numeric code to flights arriving and/or departing at the same airport at similar times.

As mentioned, the carrier reserves numbers between 1 and 6999 for scheduled operations. Other operations covering maintenance, dispatch, and charter flights use flight numbers between 7000 and 9999 in specific ranges. Southwest 9010 code falls within the 7000-9999 flight numbering system. So, one can speculate that Southwest 9010 doesn’t operate scheduled services.

Southwest Airlines’ scheduled services

Southwest Airlines is a prominent carrier with a sizeable scheduled presence in the US and beyond. As a low-cost carrier, it pivots to scheduled passenger flights primarily on domestic routes. It offers a robust flight schedule to a prolific range of destinations nationwide via its operating bases in 11 US airports.

Southwest adopts a ‘rolling hub’ model, dispersing flight arrivals and departures in its base cities throughout the day. The five largest Southwest operating bases are in Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), Chicago Midway (MDW), Baltimore-Washington (BWI), and Dallas Love Field (DAL). DEN Airport sees a total of 210 Southwest flights daily. Similarly, LAS, CHI, BWI, and DAL airports handle 284, 260, 234, and 208 daily departures.

On the home front, Southwest Airlines offers affordable air services to 42 states. The carrier’s most-served states in terms of no. of destinations are California (13), Florida (11), Texas (10), and New York (6). The carrier serves one destination each in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Lowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The no-frills airline maintains its international footprint outside American airspace in 10 countries/territories. These include Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico. Customers traveling to/from these countries can benefit from Southwest’s basic economy fares. Regarding no. of international destinations served, Mexico claims a spot atop the most-served country list by Southwest. The low-cost leader touts a considerable presence in the neighboring country with regularly scheduled flights to Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo.

Fleet of Southwest Airlines

The efficient and effective use of the fleet is instrumental to Southwest’s financial stability and resilience, consistent profitability, and positive cash flow. Southwest maintains a systemwide fleet of over 700 Boeing 737 jets dominated by the B737-700 Next Gen model. The carrier touts a well-structured and environmentally compatible fleet of 411 B737-700, 207 Boeing 737-800, and 178 B737 Max 8 models.

Southwest’s unwavering loyalty to Boeing aircraft is driven by the carrier’s successful model of operating a single aircraft type. The uniform fleet has enabled the LCC leader to simplify operations, maintenance, and training and easily adjust routes a/c to market demand.

Southwest serves a mix of domestic and international destinations using the uniform fleet of Boeing aircraft. The Dallas-headquartered LCC operates scheduled and non-scheduled (e.g., charter) flights with B737 jets.

About Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is a standard bearer of low-cost flying. The Dallas-based carrier pioneered low-cost philosophy, which was soon emulated by other airlines. The discount airline builds success on a simple business model that minimizes operating expenses while offering essential services to air customers. The airline’s customer-centric approach and efficient operations have contributed to the good reputation and financial success.

Founded on March 9, 1967, Southwest Airlines is the world’s largest LCC with an industry-leading network, fleet, and balance sheet. It is the third-largest carrier of passengers in North America, behind American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. In 2022, the carrier served more than 156 million passengers across the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

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