With American and Delta airlines announcing new changes to routes effective next spring, Southwest Airlines has followed suit by unveiling its latest scheduling roster in late August. Unlike the route changes announced by its competitors, which focus mostly on trans-Atlantic flights, Southwest's focus is primarily on Caribbean destinations.
St. Louis will benefit the most from the latest seasonal announcement (most airlines announce changes annually) with the addition of Saturday flights destined to Jamaica's Montego Bay and the Dominican Republic's Punta Cana.
Texas was recently given a busier schedule with state-wide and national flights slated to start March 10th. Besides a route connecting Houston and Lubbock as well as Dallas and Harlingen, Texas, Southwest has also added a route between Dallas and West Palm Beach. Ohio cities received extra attention with the addition of a Saturday flight between Cleveland and Tampa as well as Cincinnati and Orlando.
Southwest also announced the return of its winter international flight roster that includes junkets involving Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham and San Antonio directly flying to Cancun. An additional Mexico flight between Baltimore and Cabo San Lucas is also returning. These Saturday-only flights are slated to begin March 9th.
One destination that's been hotly anticipated from Southwest, but wasn't announced was Hawaii. Since 2017, the airline has been doggedly pursuing an opportunity to add the Aloha state to its schedule. However, the company is still waiting for its certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will allow Southwest to include extended flights over water.
Still, the larger schedule will certainly boost its weekly flight tally well past 4,000 with a fleet going back and forth between nearly 100 U.S. destinations as well as stops in 10 other countries. Southwest became the country's largest domestic airline in 2003, based on domestic boarding statistics kept by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Regardless of where people fly to with Southwest, one thing that will be consistent will be the need for passengers to pay extra for early boarding on flights. The new variable pricing scheme, introduced on August 29th, eliminates the flat rate of $15 per customer. Instead, a tier-oriented rate scale of $15, $20 and $25 will be assessed, based on flight length.