A Guide to Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800

Southwest Airlines, or simply Southwest, is one of United States’ significant airlines. It is one of the most budget-friendly airlines, having the lowest flying rates. Therefore, it is also the airline many Americans opt for when traveling. This airline’s headquarters is located in Dallas, and operates flights to 121 destinations across the United States. Southwest Airlines also handles overseas flights from 10 different countries. 

This airline carries more domestic passengers than any other airline in the United States, which is why it has a large fleet of 737 aircraft. Many of these are Boeing jetliners, including the Boeing 737-800, of which they are the largest owners. All the planes under them are incredibly comfortable and offer many facilities. Southwest is known to allow passengers multiple checked bags per person, sitting with children who have been upgraded to first class, etc. 

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is one of the major Airlines in the United States. It has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, and is hailed as one of the world’s largest low-cost airlines. The airline operates to 121 destinations in the United States and ten countries.

The airline was established by Herb Kelleher and Rollin King in March 1967. Initially, they named it Air Southwest Co. but changed it to Southwest Airlines in 1971. This change came when the airline began to operate as an intrastate airline within Texas. At first, the route took passengers between Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. 

Later, it expanded and became a regional interstate airline in 1979, and in the following decades, it became a national airline. Currently, Southwest Airlines serves 42 states and many Central American destinations. 

Southwest Airlines operates differently from other US airlines because it uses a rolling hub and point-to-point network. It also allows free checked baggage, a facility you may not find in any other airline. As the airline is one of the largest, it employs 60,000 employees and operates over 4000 departures per day during the peak travel season. 

The headquarters for the airline is located in the Love Field neighborhood, on the grounds of Dallas Love Field. 

Southwest Airlines has a large fleet as it operates over 735 planes. Throughout its history, Southwest Airlines has exclusively used Boeing 737s. However, from 1979 to 1980 and 1983 to 1985, the airline leased and operated a few Boeing 727-200s. Due to their enormous fleet, they are the largest operator of Boeing 737s worldwide. 

Southwest Airlines uses a single aircraft type so their pilots and flight attendants can crew any aircraft in the fleet without restrictions. 

History of the Boeing 737-800

The Boeing 737-800 is a variant of the Boeing 737-700. The Boeing 737 was the original version from which these two variants strung. It is a narrow-body aircraft produced at Boeing’s Renton Factory located in Washington. 

The Boeing 737 was developed to supplement its predecessor, the 727, and take on flights that were on short and thin routes. These planes were powered by Pratt and Whitney JT8D low-bypass engines and had enough space to transport 85 to 130 passengers. 

The Boeing 737-800, based on the 737-700, is the first variant of the Next Generation and was launched in November 1993. These planes had enough space to seat 126 passengers in two classes. It had room for 23 extra passengers in a one-class layout and could carry 149 passengers. 

The first customer for these planes was Southwest airlines, which received the aircraft in December 1997. When Boeing brought forth their new model, the Boeing 737-800, they were once again the first to purchase these aircraft. 

The prototype of the 737-800 was released on June 30, 1997. It flew its first flight on July 31, 1997, by Jim McRoberts. There was also a second flight that was piloted by Hewett. 

About Boeing 737-800

The Boeing 737-800 is a stretched version of the Boeing 737-700 and replaces the older Boeing 737-400. It was designed to be a competitor of the Airbus A320. The Boeing 737-800 has two variations, including a one-class layout and a two-class layout. The one-class structure can seat 189 passengers, while the two-class design can only seat 162 passengers. 

Boeing officially launched the Boeing 737-800 on September 5, 1994. The first plane was purchased and received by Hapag-Lloyd, now known as TUI fly Deutschland, in April 1998. 

After Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas, the Boeing 737-800 replaced the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and the MD-90 planes that Boeing decided to discontinue. Furthermore, many airlines also replaced their older Boeing 727-200 trijets in favor of the new Boeing 737-800s. 

This aircraft is known to burn 850 gallons of fuel per hour. An MD-80 uses around 80% of the fuel in a flight of equal distance with more passengers. Hence, the Boeing 737-800 is much more efficient in terms of fuel consumption. 

The Boeing 737-800 is a popular type of Boeing airplane model, as almost 4979 planes have been delivered as of May 2019, with many outstanding orders.

The 737NG line of Boeing includes Boeing 737-600, -700, -800, and 900. All of these planes have improved performance in many aspects. For example, the engine, wings, and fuel capacities have been enhanced. As a result, these planes can fly an extra 900nmi to 3000nmi. Therefore, they can also be used for transcontinental flights. 

All the planes in the 737NG received new interior options in 2010, including the 787-style Boeing Sky Interior. One of the main features included new pivoting overhead bins, which was a first for Boeing’s narrow-body aircraft. The improvements included LED mood lighting, new sidewalls, and passenger service units. 

The upgrades meant that Boeing 737-800 could carry up to 175 carry-on bags because of the newer Space Bins. These bins allowed the plane to carry 50% more than pivoting bins. 

Specifications of the Boeing 737-800


The average cost of Boeing 737-800 is estimated at around 106.1 million dollars.

Passenger Seats

The Boeing 737-800 has 162 seats and a maximum of 189 for passengers with two classes. The plane’s seats are well cushioned and traditional without having any monitors in economy class. They have specially designed headrests which are very comfortable. 

Range Nautical Mile

It can travel to about a range of 3,115 nautical miles, which is about 5,765 km per trip.


The length of this model is 39.5 meters or 129 feet 6 inches.


The length of its wings is 35.8 m or 117 feet 5 inches from one wingtip to another.


The height of the Boeing 737-800 is 12.5 meters or 41 feet 3 inches.


The Boeing 737-800 contains dual turbofan CFM56 engines manufactured by CFM. 

Maximum Weight Capacity

Its maximum take-off weight is about 155,500 lbs. 

Fuel Capacity

The Boeing 737-800 can store 26,020 liters of fuel, about 6,875 US gallons.

Accidents and Incidents

Southwest Airlines has a long history, including some accidents and incidents. A total of nine accidents have occurred, including two hull losses.

B738, Amsterdam Netherlands, 2018

On June 10, 2018, a Boeing 737-800 from the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines fleet was scheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Munich. The flight was being used for line training alongside a Safety pilot. When the plane took off from Amsterdam, it became airborne just before the end of the runway during a reduced thrust takeoff. 

The event was not reported and was discovered three months later during a routine analysis of operational flight data. It was then determined to be a severe incident and was reported to the Dutch Safety Board. 

B738, Vicinity Hyakuri Japan, 2019

On August 22, 2019, a Boeing 737-800 was positioned downwards and accepted clearance to land on the 03L runway at Hyakuri. Instead, the plane lined up at the 03R runway, which was temporarily closed. The pilot failed to commence a go-around until the aircraft was 100 feet above ground level. Then, he saw a vehicle and painted runway threshold identification. 

After an investigation, it was concluded that the captain did not thoroughly perform a visual recognition of the runway. Furthermore, the FO did not adequately monitor the flight status of the aircraft. This resulted in the failure to correct the captain about the runway misidentification. 

B738, Sochi Russia, 2018

On September 1, 2018, Boeing 737-800 entered Sochi under a large convective storm. The wind shear levels were low, and the plane floated halfway across the wet runway and overran it by approximately 400 meters. It also breached the perimeter fence before stopping. 

There was a small fire, but all the occupants safely evacuated, and no one was hurt. After an investigation, it was concluded that the accident occurred to the crew, disregarding the number of wind shears, which resulted in a late touchdown.

A318 – B738, Switzerland, 2009

An Airbus A318, operated by AirFrance, was coming to Paris from Belgium when it came into contact with a Boeing B737-800 of Ryan Air. The RyanAir plane craft was on its way to the UK from Italy. The matter was resolved with proper preventive measures without any injuries to anyone. 

B738, Jamaica, 2009

A Boeing airplane, B738, used by American Airlines, got into an accident due to heavy rain and wind. The landing process took longer than expected, and overran the end of the runway with great speed. The plane was totaled, and 14 of the passengers attained severe injuries, but no fatalities occurred. The whole mess was blamed on the crew’s negligence and severe aircraft damage.  

A320, B738 UAE, 2012

An Airbus A320 and a Boeing B738 came into close contact while following the same frequency and instructions in 2012. The issue was blamed on the negligence of the STCA department. They were in charge of providing an alert to prevent airplanes from getting too close and avoiding collisions. Thankfully a collision was avoided, and nobody got hurt. 

Things to Know Before Travelling on Southwest Airlines

Boarding Process

Southwest Airlines starts with the boarding process 30 minutes before a scheduled flight for departure. The similarities end there because Southwest Airlines’ boarding process differs from the rest of the airlines. 

They include an “open boarding” policy for the economy class, meaning that you can sit anywhere you want; front, back, or in the middle. The airline doesn’t have any assigned seats, not even at the front of the plane. You can get seats on the airline on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Safety Precautions

Nowadays, it is essential to stay away from other passengers. If you are a group of three or multiple of three, you should take the entire row as all Southwest seat arrangements are three by three in a row. That ensures that no one is sitting next to you. 

Getting Your Hands on the Best Seats

If you are new to Southwest Airlines, you may wonder how to get the airline’s best seat. Here are some tactics that you can follow to get the best seats:

  • Make sure to check in early.
  • Have a first-class ticket.
  • Buy early bird check-in, upgraded boarding, or a business class ticket.
  • Book the first flight of the day.

Hence the best way to get a seat of your choice is to board as fast as possible without having a Group A boarding pass. And if you are someone who doesn’t fall in the number category, you should pick a window seat. 

This seat will give you enough privacy and ensure that no one is climbing over you to get in or out of your seat. You will also not have any cabin crew or other passengers bothering you by walking up and down.

Passenger Experience

Southwest Airlines treats all its passengers equally and has only economy class seats. No first-class or business-class seats are available on any of Southwest Airlines’ planes. However, they do offer a lot of amenities. 

One of the biggest perks that Southwest Airlines offers is the ability to check in two bags per passenger free of charge. Passengers can also change their flight up to 10 minutes before it departs without extra cost. If you decide to cancel the flight, you will receive a refund in the form of travel credits for the amount you spent on the ticket.

You can use these credits to purchase a Southwest Airline or a Southwest Vacations flight. This credit does not expire, and you can use it at any time in the future. 

All Southwest Airlines planes are equipped with Wi-Fi. You can also watch television, and movies, stream music and use app messaging free of cost. These entertainment systems completed their testing in February 2009. In August 2009, the airline announced that it would offer in-flight Wi-Fi. 

The option to watch live television was offered to passengers in the summer of 2012. A few years later, in 2018, Southwest Airlines also started offering live in-flight movies, messaging, TV, and real-time flight tracking information. 


The Boeing 737-800 is one of Boeing’s most successful and popular planes after its predecessor, the Boeing 737-700, because of its efficient engine and enlarged space. Airlines such as Southwest Airlines have purchased many of these planes and put them to good use.

Boeing 737-800 is used by Southwest Airlines almost daily. They are currently the owners of the largest fleet of 737-800s because they operate multiple flights within the US and overseas. 


Exit mobile version