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DING! March--and Minneapolis/St. Paul--is now for sale!

Employee
Employee

We’ve just published the March, 2009 schedule, so Southwest is now accepting reservations all the way out until May 8, 2009.   Whether you want some Florida sun to chase away the late Winter chill, or feel like some early Spring slaloming down the slopes in the Rockies or the Cascades, you can book your trip now at southwest.com.

As usual in any new schedule, we’ve got some exciting things in this schedule that I want to tell you about.  Exciting thing number one:  MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL!   Southwest starts service to “the T.C.” (the Twin Cities, to those not in the “know!”) on March 8, 2009, with eight weekday roundtrips between the Hubert Humphrey Terminal at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l. Airport and Chicago’s close-in, uncongested Midway Airport.  Not only will we be bringing convenient schedules and the best Customer Service in the skies to the Minneapolis/St. Paul-Chicago market, we’re celebrating our arrival with a fare sale!  Besides our nonstop service to Chicago out of MSP, we’re leveraging our extensive service from Chicago and offering direct and/or connecting service to a whopping 56 other Southwest destinations.  As always, you can get all the details on schedules, fares, and fare rules by visiting southwest.com!

Exciting thing number two:  we’ve re-optimized the schedule again, and we’re using our new ability to respond to seasonal traffic shifts by changing in market frequencies.  We’re making changes in a lot of markets, in fact—out of the more than 400 roundtrip, nonstop markets Southwest serves, the March 2009 schedule contains changes in over a quarter of  them.  Besides the new service to MSP, we’re re-introducing nonstop service between Birmingham and Phoenix, and adding more flights in 62 other nonstop markets around our network.  Of course, with schedule additions come schedule reductions.  Thirty-three markets will see relatively minor schedule reductions, while we will eliminate nonstop service in two roundtrip markets (Albuquerque-Amarillo and El Paso-Lubbock).  However, even in those two markets, we’ll still offer connecting service so that our Customers can stay…well…”connected!”  To see the entire list of frequency changes by market, click on the link at the bottom of this blog post (under attachments).

Exciting thing number three:  this is the first schedule co-written by one of Schedule Planning’s newest colleagues, Sara.  Sara’s been with Southwest for more than a decade, first serving as a Customer Service Agent in Baltimore/Washington and Las Vegas before making the move to the Technology Department in 2006—and then moving to Schedule Planning in March of this year.  Sara is also one of the more than 2,300 Southwest Employees who is married to another Southwest Employee (her husband, Lin, is a Southwest Airlines Dispatcher).  Great job on the schedule, Sara—and, I’m sure, the first of many!

Happy booking, everyone—and stay tuned.  We’ve got some other exciting developments in upcoming schedules I’ll be blogging about.  You never know what we have up our sleeve!

32 Comments
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We LUV that New City Smell!!!!!!! Congrats Bill, and all of Schedule Planning, for all you do to keep us profitable, and the choice for Customer travel. Every time you talk about the balancing act of scheduling over 500 aircraft to our 60+ cities, I remember the guy on the Ed Sullivan show, spinning plates on the top of wooden dowels. WHEW!!
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OK I gotta admit I am a DIE HARD Southwest Fan...for many reasons (great customer service, great fares, great cabin crews, great on time performance, great frequent flier program, etc). I love you guys! But I am EXTREMELY unhappy about what just happened when the new fares were released. I have been on the site constantly this mornnig, waiting for the fares to be released for Spring Break. My DD and I are taking the 3 kids (14, 17, 18) on their first ever cruise and first vacation in 5 years)! So for the past 2 months I have been waiting and watching UA/AA/DL and all the others as their fares went higher and higher...But I was smug in knowing that when the fares were relased I would be ready and would get a great fare. we are going from Chicago to Ft Lauderdale. Given the current state of the economy we really were not sure if we were even going to go, but we are going to try to cut back on other things to give this to my kids and my mom. We are celebrating my 50th, my mom's 75th, my son's 18th and HS graduation. I flew thru the first page, putting in the destinaton / dates / and number of passengers. So imagine my surprise when the fare page came up...NO $89 each way fare, NO cheaper fares...nope...I am paying $493 each for 5 tickets. I could absolutely cry. Where there even any seats at the lowest fare or even the next lowest fare? Now before anyone flames me, please understand that I work in travel. A loooong time ago I even owned my own agency. Now I am a Travel Coordinator for a college. And I use Southwest for about 70% of our air travel. I bought the tickets very reluctantly...knowing that I could have saved $750 to $1200 if I had not been a loyal passenger. I won't make that mistake again. I truly do feel like maybe those cheaper fares were not ever even there or if they were, then they were in a newly limited capacity...infact 3 flights showed completely sold out at the 'wanna get a way' rate. (remember this was less than 20 seconds from the flights being available) I am very very sad. j
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I see that Nashville is seeing further cuts in its long time west coast service and in fact not re-gaining any that will be lost in January while Birmingham is getting back Phoenix. That's disappointing. Don't understand why we're increasingly losing our nonstop options and frequencies for places like those and New York in favor of connections in Baltimore, Midway, and Denver which had already with everyone else. I realize that everybody wants to deny that our schedule has stopped growing in the last two or three years and started to shrink but that's what it looks like to me. This is strange considering that Nashville is attracting new business and growing.
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Hey Bill, Southwest Cities does not have MSP on it and it doesn't show up in the Interactive Route Map on southwest.com. I was just at the Mall of America meeting Southwest just had this morning and have some pictures if you want them.
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I must say that I am a little disappointed that Pittsburgh - Philadelphia is losing yet another frequency. I really don't want to have to fly US Airways when I need to stay in town later than the Southwest 5:50 p.m. return.
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Great news to see expansion into the MSP market and DEN market. Please start service to Dayton, OH (DAY). Hey, don't laugh! We need low fares out west. I'm sure this is high on your list....LOL Please continue your careful, thought out expansion so we may enjoy your service and low fares for many years to come.
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I recall reading more than once that Southwest will only serve a city if it can support at least six departures per day. Otherwise it can’t be profitable. Looking over the changes per market I notice that Corpus Christie will have only five flights. Has the formula changed? Also even with the reductions it appears that you will be adding aircraft. How many?
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I have been so jealous of cities with access to Southwest Airlines after reading and hearing about your amazing Brand and Purpose (Democratize the Skies) during a presentation from Haley Rushing last week at the Society for Word of Mouth conference (Austin, TX). And now you announce you're coming to the Twin Cities! Halleluiah! Thank you for helping relieve us from (the Wicked Witch of the) Northwest!!!
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Janet, what you experienced is not at all unusual. When it comes to peak holiday flights, Southwest knows they are going to sell out at relatively high fares, so you will almost never see a deep discount. Spring Break to Florida, probably flying on Friday and Sunday although you don't specify, certainly qualifies as peak. Those flights WILL sell out. Legacy airlines often sell cheap fares months ahead for these peak holidy flights. This seems to be foolish on the part of the legacy airlines, but you might as well take advantage of it. But don't blame Southwest. The apparent fact that legacy airlines are making a bad business decision doesn't mean Southwest should copy them. The moral of this story is to buy your Wednesday and Sunday Thanksgiving tickets from a legacy airline if you are certain you won't need to change anything or cancel the trip. Since you have bought Southwest tickets, I strongly suggest that you re-price your itinerary 12 weeks before travel, then 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 weeks, and 3 weeks. You won't ever get a Ding fare for a peak holiday date like this, but if sales are slower than expected the lower-fare "buckets" may open up. Also: be sure to check availability for one seat only! If you ask for 4 tickets and the lower bucket has only 3 left, you won't get any of those 3. You'll get all 4 at the higher price. It's a system limitation. Buy one seat at a time if the price is better that way. Southwest gives you a 24-hour period during which you can cancel for a full refund if you used a credit card to pay. So if you find a cheaper seat or two, you can just rebook today and cancel the old reservation and request the refund. The FAQ on FlyerTalk has all this information and much, much more: http://flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Category:Southwest_Rapid_Rewards nsx at flyertalk.com's Southwest forum
Active Member
Bill and Sara, Great job, y'all! I can't even imagine the enormity of what you folks do, or how you manage to do it, but one thing I know for sure is that y'all are AWESOME!! (inside scoop for Will -- I've looked through the doors into Bill's domain, and in fact, they ARE spinning 65 plates on the end of a buncha sticks!!) The phones were so busy in Res with the new release that people were calling CR to book flights, and the CR phone reps were so busy, they asked the CR writers to pitch in and help. Wow, folks were excited! Thanks for all that you do, Kim :-) Customer Relations Blog Boy
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I am so excited about MSP service! I hope WN continues to show a thoughtful expansion and hope that you will look at Anchorage, AK as a potential market to serve. A lot of potential for growth in Alaska including ANC, FAI and JNU.
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Bill: I am a long term LUV stockholder and frequent flyer. I needed to book a trip mid March and waited and waited for the schedule to open i could use a standard reward. The second it opened I went on line and found no standard rewards available on Sundays. Big dissapointment. Then I went to just buy 2 seats and found Delta for 25% less and non stop to boot. I always thought no one could beat southwest but I'm not sure anymore. I think I'm falling out of LUV. Bob
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Horray! Oh happy day! We can get the fuss over with, and know what to expect here in a few months! Let the good Luvin' times roll into the Twin Cities!

Joseph R. Meyers

Dallas, Texas

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I like the new schedule and am glad Southwest is opening up a new city, MSP. I hope Southwest can optimize its schedule some more to open up additional cities. The people of Fresno (FAT) have been wanting Southwest service for years. So many of us drive 3 hours to SJC to catch a SWA flight. FAT is a very price sensitive market and the other airlines have continously charged way too much, therefore people drive for low fare. We need a great low cost option to the Bay Area, LA Basin, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Back in the day when PSA and Western charged resonable rates, their flights had good load factors.
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Is Southwest going to add MSP to DING?
Employee
Employee
Greetings, everyone! Here are a few responses to your comments. Will--thanks, buddy! When are you and Jason coming back to Dallas? Janet, and Bob in CT, NSX is right--please check back frequently. Availability by specific fare class, especially the most inexpensive fares and for Rapid Rewards, will frequently change. Even on peak travel days, there is the possiblity that additional availability will be added--and most certaily so on off-peak travel days. Don't despair--just keep checking! Steve C, the issue should be fixed now. Hopefully! Ron, no, the "forumula" hasn't changed--but remember that's for *new* cities. Corpus is anything but new! 5 flights in total is unusual, but you can expect at least #6 to come back as one of our seasonal frequency moves. And you win the "you guys REALLY pay attention" award! While we are adding frequency, we're holding our flying fleet the same at 512. We're able to add flying due to the overall decreased in flying time going from the winter into the March/April time frame. Bryan, part of this round of frequency reductions was flights that were before 7:00 a.m. and after (roughly) 7:00 p.m. Most of the ones cut are not full enough to be profitable. We're hoping to be able to catch most folks with a 5:50 p.m. last departure from PHL back to PIT! Gregg, tim, and Jeff in FAT, we are constantly looking at new city opportunities. Don't despair--as I said, you never know WHAT we have up our sleeves! And Kim....I am *so* glad you're now a proud resident of Ruppelville! Knock 'em dead, buddy!!! Have a GREAT weekend, everyone!!!!
Active Member
I'm not sure about them adding it to DING!, but I always try to avoid places that add MSG to their food. Oh, you said "MSP", sorry, my oops... Kim Flavor Not Added with MSG or MSP 🙂
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We had the same situation last June 26th when the Thanksgiving seats went on sale Janet. I ended up purchasing a competitor's tickets that day when we couldn't get to FLL on SWA at a reasonable price for a previously scheduled cruise. It appears that SWA will not open up cheap buckets on flights they know will sell out. Their recent pricing trend has been to discount seats that haven't sold in the weeks before the flight. The current "Thanksgiving sale" is a case in point; not that I could now get the flights I had needed back in June. I don't blame them for this as they are in business to make a profit. I am sure they think through their pricing strategy carefully. Its my job to comparison shop. But I've learned to appreciate that super hot times won't be cheap just because I book promptly.
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I was so very excited to see that you would be entering MSP, as it is fantastic news that Northworst's stranglehold will be challenged. I must say, though, that I am bitterly disappointed in the result (with the exception of your MSP-MDW fares). I fly back and forth between MSP and Boston often, and routinely pay fares in the low-high $300s for connecting service thru Milwaukee on Midwest and $470+ for direct service on Northworst. Imagine how excited I was to think about flying through MDW to either PVD or MHT yesterday morning for a great lower fare when I first accessed your site. And then the smack in the face I received when I found out that your weekend fares approach $600... What's the point? May as well keep on doing what I've been doing... thanks but no thanks. Your new service doesn't seem to help anyone except for those planning to travel exclusively between MSP and MDW. Oh well...
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To Southwest Flight Schedule Team: PLEASE ADD A NON-STOP FLIGHT FROM JACKSON, MS TO BALTIMORE, MD FROM JANUARY 17, 2009 TO JANUARY 22, 2009 TO ACCOMMODATE THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS! THIS WOULD BE A GUARANTEED LOAD FACTOR BOOST AND WOULD MEAN SIGNIFICANT PROFITS TO SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, MY FAVORITE AIR CARRIER. Thanks so much & God bless all!!
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To Southwest Flight Schedule Team - Please add a non-stop flight from Denver to Dallas. All of us Texans in Denver would be thrilled to be able to fly into Love Field. We were thrilled when we first heard that you were adding Denver to yout schedule and keep hoping that you will add the route to Dallas. We love flying Southwest. Thank you so much for listening. Nancy Reid 11-11-08
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Nancy, As much as we would like to add that non stop, the wright amendment will not allow it at this time. However, it expires in 2014. Preapproval is required before preadmission to the preamble party. Ding! boy Joe
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Kansas City - Tulsa is also losing nonstop service in addition to ABQ-AMA and LBB-ELP.
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Cutting non-stop service in favor of connections is not cool. That's not very SWA-like. Can we expect the routes where it is replaced with one-stop no plane change service to remain like that or will it eventually phase out to all connection service as the days of non-stop move farther and farther into the past? I still like Southwest alot! I just want to get a better understanding of these things and why you're doing them. Sorry to come in so late on a topic by the way.
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To Southwest Flight Schedule Team how about adding NEW cities to an existing DULLES AIRPORT!!! I am disapointed and don't understand why WA went there if they wont grow.
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I am very disappointed that Southwest is discontinuing service between Tulsa and Kansas City in March. At one time there were 5 fights each way daily, then 2 scheduled for the business traveler. I used to fly several times a year to see family and every flight was pretty much full. Looks like I will have to drive now and take fewer trips. I look forward to the day when Southwest flies between the 2 cities again.
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OMG, I can't believe that the Kansas City Tulsa route is being cancelled. My company's main offices are in Tulsa & KC and we fly between the offices EVERY week! This is going to kill us. Thanks Southwest....
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I've yet to see an explanation why the service between KC and Tulsa is being discontinued. This is VERY disappointing...
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Losing service between Tulsa and Kansas City is a HUGE disappointment. This was a frequent weekend trip which is nearly impossible on other airlines. Guess my companion pass just lost much of it's value! I hope that this is just a short term disruption in what always appeared to be a busy route!
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I too am very disappointed to see the Tulsa to KC flights cancelled. My company has a regional office in KC as well as many other facilities and offices within driving distance of the airport. We take SWA to go to Des Moines, Lincoln, and other Midwest sites because we cannot get there via any other airline quickly or cheaply and we cannot get to Omaha from Tulsa. I am now looking to book flights from Tulsa to Des Moines on Delta and will start racking up their frequent flyer miles and this will in turn lead me to think long and hard about booking Delta over SWA on competing routes since I am now forced to use another airline because of this decision by Southwest. Our company also has offices in Minneapolis and I was excited to hear that SWA is flying there also. But the flight time is very lengthy from Tulsa and since Delta and Northwest are merging and Northwest flies from Tulsa to Minneapolis direct, I will definitely book them and start looking to Delta for many other flights. Southwest, you desperately need to reconsider this move to cancel flights between Tulsa and Kansas City; even if your profits were small or nil, you could lose many loyal Southwest fliers from Tulsa who are forced to look to other airlines and will not look to Southwest from Tulsa for those more profitable routes you have from here.
New Arrival
I have to join the crowd that thinks this was a bad move. Unfortunately I didn't know until a week ago when I went to book my monthly flight that it was no longer available. I am in a long distance relationship right now and this is how I get there because of the cheap price and it only takes an hour versus driving the 4-5 hours and gas. I loved the fact that I could get there non-stop in an hour at such a cheap price! I've been able to get there for $120 before. But now I have to go to another airline, American, and it's going to cost me $270 and take about 5 hours because of the layover in Dallas. This just seems absurd considering most of the time when I was on a flight to Tulsa the flight was sold out.. Please explain to us why you done this and when will it be brought back?? Seems as though alot of people were loyal customers be it for business or otherwise..
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I cannot believe that Southwest would cancel the Kansas City to Tulsa flight segment. As a loyal Southwest Rapid Rewards member who flys across the country every week this is disapointing. I will be looking to other airlines for my flights instead of Southwest.