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Getting Techie: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Southwest's Long Beach Preparations

Explorer C

On June 5, 2016, Southwest Airlines began serving Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, Calf.  As an “Avgeek,” I could not be more excited to help bring Southwest Airlines service into an airport where many aviation advances came to life, but as a Sr. Technical Support Rep, I also knew that there was a lot of work to do behind-the-scenes in order to get our operations up and running. History of Long Beach Airport LGB is home to more than 70 years of aviation history and where many great passenger and military aircraft were birthed.  Aircraft such as the DC-3, DC-9 family (my personal favorite), DC-10, to military transport aircraft such as the C-17, as well as the B-17 bomber, were all manufactured at LGB. On May 29, 2006, two final passenger aircraft were delivered to their respective carriers: Midwest Airlines and AirTran Airways.  After these deliveries,  Boeing C-17s became the only aircraft to be manufactured in LGB.  On November 29, 2015, the last Boeing C-17 military aircraft departed the field, thus ending aircraft production that dated back to the World War II era.   Top (2016): To this day, the iconic “Fly DC Jets” sign remains on top of the old McDonnell Douglas/Boeing plant.  The space is now owned by Mercedes. Bottom (2003): A Midwest Airlines 717-200 is rolled out from the Boeing plant. Southwest and Long Beach Our Southwest story begins in early 2016, when we applied for and were awarded four slots at LGB.  We later determined that we would offer service between LGB and Oakland, Calf., (OAK)--a connection that would give Californians and tourists the opportunity for convenient, flexible, and low-cost air travel options to/from virtually any Southwest Airlines destination. Our Technology story at LGB began on April 6, 2016--the date of our “Kick Off” meeting where Project Partners went over new city details.  These details included project assignments, Facilities and Technology details, timelines, and milestones. The week of May 16, was used to gather and prep all of the equipment to be installed in our new Station. Our equipment list varies from city to city. For LGB, we installed a total of 11 PCs and other Technology equipment.  Much of the equipment was pre-configured and pre-imaged  last week at our Headquarters in Dallas, and we were able to do the rest of the imaging and configuration on-site in LGB. Once everything was prepped, it was staged in our Shipping Department for its journey to Los Angeles (LAX). On May 23, we made our way to LAX and rented a minivan to transport the equipment to LGB.  Who knew how much could fit in a mini-van!  At one point, we joked: “The entire Long Beach Station is right here on the 405!” Good times. Once we arrived in Long Beach, we met with Southwest's LGB Station Manager Larry Pitts (who is also our SNA Station Leader), walked the new areas with him, and unloaded our equipment into a storage room.  Throughout the rest of the week, we worked closely with other Teams completing facility work, pulling network data, and installing power outlets.  As they finished areas, we would then install our equipment at the Ticket Counter, Skycap, and Gate.  Most importantly, we were able to liven up our Comm Room, the Heart of Southwest Technology in LGB.
A view of our completed Comm Room
The following week, we once again made our way West to LAX and another mini van full of equipment that we grabbed from our LAX Cargo facility.  After arriving at LGB, we met with the LGB airport to go over final details regarding our IT network infrastructure.  Throughout the rest of the week, we installed our Lobby Kiosk, Printers, Time Clock, Back Office PCs, and the Air-To-Ground radio (our awesome Pilots need this to communicate with our Ground Teams)! On Wednesday, June 2, we were met by our Technology Project Managers.  They helped finalize the install and ensured all details had been covered and LGB was ready for its first Customers and 737 LUV Jet Service!  Later in the week, we assisted Ground Ops by “Smoke Testing” the Station.  This involved checking in a test Customer on the Kiosk, at the SkyCap, and Ticket Counter.  The testing was a success and LGB was ready for its first flight to OAK!   Left: SkyCap area and front of the LGB Airport.  Right: View of the Ticket Counter.  Photo Credit: Joe Kiszka On June 5, 2016, Southwest Airlines Flight #972 from OAK arrived 10 minutes early.  Our Ground Crew worked to turn this airplane for an on-time departure of Flight #1853 back to OAK.  Long Beach is Southwest’s fifth Greater Los Angeles area airport and 10th California market—we sure do love California and am so proud to have been a part of this great Team effort.
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