We've "re-loaded the pipeline!" Today Southwest extended our booking inventory out to May 9, 2008. Take heart, Spring Breakers and Easter Hoppers--you are now free to move around the Country!!!!
As usual, we have a few surprises in store for you in the March - May 2008 Schedule. We're increasing our service in a good number of city pairs in March and April, with a number of brand-new nonstop markets. We'll add new service between Phoenix and San Francisco on March 8, a threesome of new nonstop destinations for Philadelphia (Austin, San Antonio, and St. Louis) on March 17, and brand new nonstops between Denver and San Diego effective April 4. In addition, thirteen other markets will receive additional departures during the March - May time period. To view the entire new service press release, click here.
However, a more interesting story (well...from a Schedule Planning perspective, anyway!) about the March Schedule is our Saturday schedule. It's different than Saturday schedules in the past--really, really different. In fact, it is a completely different animal than the schedule that will operate the other six days of each week, with many Saturday flights operating at a different time than the rest of the week, and with a different flight number. I've blogged about our Schedule Optimization progress over the years, but up until now our schedule has been more or less the same across all seven days of the week. Sure, we've cut back some on Saturday morning and Saturday night flights, and again on Sunday mornings--but the rest of the week looked like seven peas in a pod. However, effective with Saturdays in the March Schedule, we've implemented our first reoptimization within the week. Saturday now has a completely different, and more optimal, set of schedule assumptions than the rest of the week.
How will this impact, and benefit, our Customers? Plenty. Travel patterns are significantly different on weekends, particularly on Saturdays, than they are during the rest of the week--yet because of time constraints we weren't able to "rejigger" the schedule sufficiently to give you a Saturday schedule that closely met your specific travel needs. The new March 2008 Saturday schedule, has been designed, as a whole, to do just that: to get you where you want to go, when you want to go, as conveniently as possible. So, besides better Saturday departure times, we're actually adding a number of new, Saturday-only nonstop markets--between Dallas and Harlingen; Manchester and Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood; Reno and Ontario; San Diego and Salt Lake City; and the big winner in the Saturday-only nonstop free-for-all, is Orlando, which gets Saturday service to Omaha, Salt Lake, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. In addition, we've added extra Saturday departures in over 50 existing nonstop markets--making it easier for you to get to the weekend destinations you want to visit. You could say that starting next March, Southwest's Saturday schedule will be a real "departure!"
We intend to make this twice-weekly optimization strategy a feature of every published schedule, and as our Company gets used to operating a waaaay different schedule on Saturdays, we might make crank up the volume of Saturday-only nonstop markets to better meet the travel needs of our Customers. And who knows....as we more deeply imbed optimization technology into our scheduling processes, we eventually might be able to optimize each day of the week individually to better match Customer need. Of course, we'll need a LOT more experience to make that work....but we'll keep trying!
Happy booking, everyone....and thanks for reading "Nuts About Southwest!"