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NEWS FLASH--NEW SERVICE COMING NEXT MAY!!!

Employee
Employee
It's Media Day at Southwest's Galactic Headquarters here in Dallas, and we have a LOT of news to share.  2010's first new city....expansion at a long-time Southwest destination....once again Southwest is getting creative to respond to demand for our service!

The biggest news of the day is that Southwest intends to begin service at the brand-new International Airport being built near Panama City, Florida next May.  We're bringing low fares and GREAT service to the land of sugar-white-sand beaches, incredibly gentle blue waters, and an amazing variety of visitor accommodations just in time for vacation season, Summer, 2010!  Up until Southwest's arrival, this part of Northwest Florida has been plagued by high fares and a lack of full-sized airline service.  We're going to change that.  Southwest's entry into the Panama City market will make it possible for all of America to experience the incredible beauty of Northwest Florida!

While we're not ready to announce specific service plans just yet (we'll announce all the specifics this December, so stay tuned!), the "how" of our entry into the Florida Panhandle is as interesting as the "why."  For the first time ever, we've formed a strategic alliance with a corporate partner to enable Southwest to bring a new airport onto our network.  The corporate ally in this venture is our friends at the St. Joe Corporation, with whom we've been talking for over a decade.  Even if the St. Joe name isn't familiar, trust me, you know them.  They are the largest landowner in the State of Florida, owning over a 600,000 acres of prime Florida Panhandle woodlands and beaches.  They're also developing world-class resort communities in the area including the award-winning, jaw-droppingly-beautiful "Watercolor" complex. 

Lots of other local groups are also actively helping Northwest Florida launch its new international airport.  Both the Bay County Tourism Development Council and the South Walton Tourism Development Council have stepped up to the plate to make the new airport a success, as has Coastal Vision 3000.  If you've never visited the Panama City area, believe me, you have an incredible treat in store.  I'm already planning my family's vacation there next summer (whale watchers, take note....*gr*)! 

In other big news about our May 2010 schedule, today Gary announced our intent to grow our St. Louis operation by adding new nonstop service in six markets, and additional flights in two others.  We'll be adding two new nonstop, roundtrip flights each weekday between St. Louis and both Los Angeles and Nashville; and one daily roundtrip between St. Louis and New Orleans; Raleigh/Durham; Seattle; and San Diego.  (Sidebar to all of you nascent "schedule geeks" out there--St. Louis-Nashville service may be the single most frequently requested new market between existing Southwest airports during my 16 years in Schedule Planning.  So, to all of you that have asked for this service through the years, this one's for you--NOW KINDLY GO BUY A TICKET!!!!) 

These additions come on the heels of our other recent St. Louis announcement that we're adding new nonstop service between Lambert and both Boston and Minneapolis/St. Paul this coming January.  In fact, we're so pumped about our growth in St. Louis that we'll add a third St. Louis-Minneapolis/St. Paul flight with all of the other new service in May.  All told, by next may, we plan to be operating 83 weekday departures from our gates in Lambert-St. Louis International's East Terminal (which is the newest and most modern terminal at Lambert!).

Again, all of this awesome new service in St. Louis and Panama City will begin next May, and will be available for sale this December.  But don't wait until December to check out this blog again--you never know what other surprises we've got in store for you!

 

151 Comments
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I am with the otha guy. Its about time for the Queen City
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Airtran is pulling out of Charleston, SC AFB in December 2009 and the AFB welcomes 737's. Over the past years Airtran has pulled out of both Myrtle Beach and Savannah-Hilton Head. The coastal low-country void could be a great opportunity and SWA has nothing inside the RDU-JAX-BHM triangle. That drive from Raleigh or Jacksonville gets old.
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"But don't wait until December to check out this blog again--you never know what other surprises we've got in store for you!" We'll be waiting!!! : )
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Thank you SWA for picking Panama City over Pensacola. To the person that said there would be no outbound traffic, exactly how do you think all the inbound vacationers are going to get home??? The decision by SWA is a great one, it will be tremendous for our area. To the person that said it is 1.5 hour from Destin to PCB, it's only 45 minutes. I am a Destin resident who often travels to Nashville on business and hope the rumors of a direct flight to BNA are true. WAY TO GO SOUTHWEST!!!
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Why don't you serve BNA-IND?!?!?!?! That is a huge gaping hole in your network from here and once AA's STL hub closes and DL finishes off CVG I will either have to go up to Chicago and back or out to Kansas City and back to get there which is insane. We had service to IND for years before US dropped it last(because their hub closed not because we were a bad market) and it is a no brainer for Nashville. It is also time to start to looking at how to serve CVG(maybe Terminal 1 or 2) and prepare to fill the hole there that Delta is getting ready to leave. That hub is basically the only way that Nashvillians can get to the majority of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky without driving or flying so far out of our way that the drive is faster. What is this? The 40's? We can't even get on a train. I think a city that could fill the coach cabin of AA's 767 London-Gatwick flight can at least serve up one daily 737 flight to Indianapolis. That would be a business traveler heaven if you would ever jump in there. Atlanta & Charlotte would be too but we'll hit on that one later.
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Thank you for choosing PFN!! Many, many from Chicago are hoping MDW will be one of the four destinations chosen for non stop flights!! joanne
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You didn't add NW Florida to your route map, you added Panama City. Nobody in the panhandle is going to drive hours over bad roads and a hundred stop lights to a place 50 miles from the nearest interstate just to fly your airline. May you and St. Joe live happilly after... why don't you stencil their name on your aircraft while you're at it.
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I hate how all of us who pledged $$$$$ in hopes of getting Southwest to Pensacola were duped into thinking we had a chance. Why didn't Southwest just say NO PENSACOLA you don't have chance in this! We already picked Panama City because St Joe bought us as a charter airline. I think the way this played out will lead the surrounding communities to have sore feeling toward Southwest! Read the article below! LUV is gone for Southwest Carlton Proctor • cproctor@pnj.com • October 25, 2009 Read Comments(16)Recommend(4)Print this page E-mail this article Share Del.icio.us Facebook Digg Reddit Newsvine Buzz up!Twitter Still in LUV with Southwest Airlines? Not me. Anybody buying that disingenuous "we're-still-in-the-running" line? The outcome of this so-called campaign among the three Panhandle airports to win Southwest service was never in doubt. The mega-deal between Southwest and the Panama City folks was locked down months ago, thanks to the deep and cavernous pockets of The St. Joe Co. Owner of some 600,000 acres surrounding the new $330 million Panama City-Bay County International Airport, St. Joe engineered a monster $65 million deal that simply overwhelmed its late-starting competition. While Pensacola folks were busily and enthusiastically mounting their Pledge LUV campaign, Southwest's CEO Gary Kelly was putting the finishing touches on the too-sweet-to-refuse deal worked out with St. Joe. Pensacola never had a chance, and Southwest executives should have said so months ago. And when the dust settled last week, the harsh reality that stunned local officials the most was that Southwest would lead them — right up to the morning of the announcement — to believe that they were still in the game. In effect, Southwest ignored its long-standing and highly successful business plan and agreed to be bought by St. Joe. As one well-connected Pensacola official said, "St. Joe paid Southwest tens of millions of dollars to become a charter airline for their new airport." Another told me Southwest's behavior was "very disturbing" given Pensacola's determined and decade-long efforts to build good will with the Dallas-based airline. So, where does all this leave Pensacola's Gulf Coast Regional Airport? If you read the details of the Southwest deal, it's apparent the carrier has no intention of starting service to Pensacola before 2013, and perhaps many years beyond that. Southwest is not going to do anything that would jeopardize its efforts to build a new market in Bay County, and Kelly said as much in a news conference last week. All of the above raises the question of whether Pensacola should even bother sending a hat-in-hand delegation to Dallas in mid-November to make nice with Southwest executives, as if the steamroller Panama City-Bay County deal never happened. That same delegation might better spend its time and money promoting the airlines we do have here, not the ones we don't. The Southwest dance is over for now; it's time to move on.
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I think the new airport in Panama City, with it's larger runways, and ability to service larger planes, will finally bring in some airfare competition. Delta has been taking advantage of people in that area for way too long. I am definitely looking forward to RDU to PFN flights. Thanks Southwest, for seeing the possibilities in the Florida panhandle.
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I think having MSY as one of the nonstop destinations from Panama City does make some sense, for the simple reason that there is a large amount of people who drive from the MSY area to the PFN (and nearby Destin, Seaside, Santa Rosa, etc.) area for quick trips. With WN coming in with $39 fares each way (just making a guess based on the flight duration), I think they could capture a good chunk of the drive market. A one hour flight would sure beat a five hour+ drive. If they did PFN-HOU nonstop they'd miss out on feed from MSY which I think could end up being fairly large over time...plus, there would still be connections via MSY...DAL, LAS, PHX, DEN, MDW, soon STL, depending on the flight times. So there's a definite upside into having MSY as one of the cities flying nonstop to PFN. Whether it happens or not is another thing. I'll go with MSY, BNA, BWI, and either TPA or MCO. Anyway, congrats to WN and to Panama City!
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For everyone crying that SW didn't come to PNS instead, maybe you can lobby SW for a PFN-PNS flight....if you can find a local company with $20,000,000 to cover the huge losses than maybe it will happen.
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I wish you would fly Tampa to Greensboro, NC or Charlotte, NC...my daughter just had a baby and I have to fly another airline to get there. I have been to Raleigh but the drive from the airport to my daughters home is too long.
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Panama City to BWI, PLEASE. thanks
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Great news that you will fly into Northwest Florida! Hope to see SDF in the mix of direct and/or non-stop flights. The I-65 corridor has lots of traffic that goes to this area of Florida. MDW, IND, SDF, BNA, BHM. MDW-SDF-BNA-PFN IND-SDF-BHM-PFN
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TPA or RDU to PFN, please!!! There is no other airline doing it and the demand is there. For those bad mouthing the fact that their closest airport did not win SW service - Drive to PFN. I live in Sarasota and since we don't have SW here, I drive to Tampa. Smile and be positive about more SW service in Florida! I love it.
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There is an INTERSTATE system between Tampa and Sarasota!!! Obviously you don't know where Panama City is (along US HWY 98). It won't happen.
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I just mapped out Sarasota to Tampa 1 hr 3 mins or 61 miles on I75! (Google Maps) Pensacola to Panama City 110 miles or 2 hrs and 44 mins on US Hwy 98! So don't tell me or anyone else to drive to Panama City! Pensacola to New Orleans : 201 miles or 3 hrs 9 mins on a safer non stop highway! Somebody say FOUL!
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Thank you Southwest! You have made a great decision to go to Panama City Florida. We have been hoping and praying for this day for years! We always had a feeling it would be you, and now it's true! We welcome you with open arms Southwest! Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!
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The people in Mobile missed the boat on this move. Instead of geting SWA in our town or P'Cola, it went to St. Joe. Now we have a choice of which 3 to 4 hour trip to make. West to MSY (3 hrs), North to B'ham 4 (hrs), and now East to St. Joe (3 hrs). Thanks SWA!!! P.S. I am happy, however, to see that you are expanding and hope to land a contract with you someday to move in closer to the Mobile area to save us some much needed time and money.
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rd looking forward to swa's service to panama city. really hope one of the routes is from panama city to bwi. with all the military in this area and with all the defense contractors it seems to me that it would be a busy run. also, it would connect me to family.
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Thats great news about Panama City but what about Mobile to Chicago? There are no direct flights!
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We have waited for this for more then 30 years. Thanks Southwest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Dear SWA, BRAVO! on the new Panama city service. Please make Raleigh /Durham one of the 4 cities...it would also provide some feed from the NE ....plz consider RDU to PFN as one of the 4 routes. thanks.
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I am thrilled to hear about SW arriving in the Panama City, FL area! We have waited way too long for SW to arrive and help keep the fares down in that area. I hope SW has non-stop flights from BWI to Panama City, FL! My family lives in eastern Alabama, so if SW could arrive in the Columbus, GA; Atlanta, GA; or Montgomery, AL areas, I would be really pleased.
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My girl friends and I just returned from Florida's gulf coast ( a 14-hour drive). We are so excited about the plan for a new Southwest destination "Panama City". It is only going to be a 1.5-hour drive from Panama City to our favorite beach hideaway. Thank you Southwest! Kay
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I have been a SWA flyer for over 30 years and at this point in my life I am living in Panama City Beach, FL.....this is indeed wonderful news and now I can put my frequent flyer card to use again. Hopefully, this new service will include a direct flight to Ft. Lauderdale International; Nashville, TN and New Orleans....this would be the ultimate but more importantly thanks SWA for choosing Panama City Beach's new International Airport as one of your destimations.....Happy Flying!
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I agree with Tom's comment above that AA bought TWA just to use the people in STL and bolster it's Chicago hub. Bill, if there is an opportunity for Southwest to grow, it's at STL. It is now the ONLY one of the top 20 largest US metro areas without a hub, save for a few cities in the geographical corners of the US, where a hub doesn't make sense. I hope Southwest considers adding STL>IND, STL>LGA, STL>SAN, STL>AUS, STL>SFO (and/or STL>OAK). Also, a personal favorite of mine: please consider adding a second daily nonstop on your STL>RSW route. AA is about to end its non-stop service on that route, and the only other airline with nonstop service on that route, USA3000, has been pulling back service on all its routes (including STL>RSW) in order to serve more cities with a thinner schedule. I don't think there is a bigger example of an airline being literally hated by millions of local residents as you have with the hatred of AA by St. Louisans. AA came into STL when they bought TWA and promised us they'd preserve the hub. They lied to us, and immediately began dismantling the hub. Had they not had problems with their first try at shifting flights from STL to ORD (due to the traffic problems at ORD at the time...since then, traffic at ORD has fallen), AA would have shut down its hub at STL even sooner. Bottom line, at STL there is a large, loyal customer base in the largest metro area in the geographic center of the US that is simply ripe for the picking! I love LUV!!!
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Hope you'll fly from Chicago to Panama City. We fly SWA from Midway to Las Vegas and Orlando regularly & would love to add the Panhandle! Thanks
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Thanks to Southwest for coming to Panama City, but in all honesty, there are about 10 - 15 commercial flights out of PFN. There is one airline ( Delta, and Northwest... which is now Delta as well). Northwest only has about 2 or 3 of those fights per day. There are currently 6 or 8 gates at the current airport and only 2 are used. US Air showed up for a second time not too long ago to take some business from DL, they only lasted a couple of months before they packed up and left again. Panama City is a cash cow for about 2 months out of the year (Spring Break) so I would guess the high fares are to make up for the rest of the year. I don't know why we need that giant new airport, but as the blog mentioned earlier, the operative word in all of this is "St. Joe". They run everything. And those of you complaining about Tallahassee service, the new airport is about halfway there anyway. The new airport is in the middle of nowhere and will double, if not triple, the time it takes most people to get to the airport. I admit, Delta's fares for PFN are astronomical, so hopefully Southwest will help with this. I am skeptical though. Panama City has to pay for that big brand new airport and I can't help but to think that they will jack fees, taxes, and other airline expenses which will in turn keep the PFN fares rather high. But, maybe St. Joe will continue it's influence in this adventure and absorb some of those expenses. Whatever happens, I'm glad DL wont have the monopoly in Panama City and a little competition is good for the consumer. Good luck Southwest!
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thank you, thank you, thank you. I see a lot of sand and sea in my near future. I;ve been doing the happy dance. sister in law lives in mexico beach and will be so easy to go down and use her beach house..........YEAH
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I am hopping up and down anxiously waiting to find out where the new flights from Panama City will go. Ever since I moved 30 miles north of PC a few years ago, I have felt like I have been out of touch with the world. I can't wait to get out of town! My vote is for Nashville, New York, a midwest and a west coast destination. I am thrilled at the thought of seeing my family and friends again.
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What cities will you fly out of to go to Panama City? Please consider flying into MONROE LA. WE LOVE YOUR AIRLINE AND WANT TO DRIVE ONLY 1 H OUR TO TAKE IT INSTEAD OF 3 HOURS TO JACKSON, MS, OR LITTLE ROCK AR, THANKS!!!!
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your site is very nice and useful for me, I Bookmarked your blog
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Chicago to FSU (Tallahasse) just got a whole lot easier. ...and driving through the Troy highway was not a treat either. Go' Noles!
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I am happy to see that you will be opening up Panama City. Please make Louisville, KY (SDF) one of your destinations. There are a tremendous number of people from Louisville that travel to Destin/Panama City. This would be extremely helpful Thanks.
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SO HAPPY!!!! NOW I CAN VISIT MY FAMILY MORE OFTEN AND SAVE MONEY. DELTA HAS HAD A MONOPOLY.
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I seems to me that Charleston, SC would be a great fit for SW. I can guarantee that the BNA-CHS flight would be very popular!
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Please, oh please, pick Philadelphia as a one of the premier flights to PCB!!!
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Thank you soooooo much SWA for coming to Panama City, FL. This is the best thing that could happen to this area. We have the most beautiful beaches in the world but with littlle and expensive access to it from other area airports and airlines. Thank you, hopefully one of the areas you'll service will be Chicago. Lot's of snow birds and spring breakers there and I fly there at least twice a year. Thanks again!
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I love reading the comments about how everyone wants SW to fly from their town to NW Florida Beaches Airport (Panama City). I gotta a feeling SW is smart enough to figure out which cities will generate the most passenger traffic w/out us novices getting involved. I will go out on the limb and predict, let's see how close I come... Nashville, probably Orlando. probably Then I'll hedge a little and guess it will be two of the following three cities..... Baltimore, Houston, Chicago..... SW it's December, when are you going to announce and quit holding us in suspense??? Thanks to you and St. Joe Co for coming to NW Florida!!! Gerald Bradley
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I luv SWA and am a loyal A-lister but I am disappointed that SWA dropped its direct flights between STL and Salt Lake City (SLC). I go skiing/summer hiking several times a year in Park City and every flight between the two cities was always packed. Please bring back STL - SLC route. I don't want to use Delta!!
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I'm glad SWA has considered St. Louis. The St. Louis market is a strong base and has maintained several airlines in years past by being loyal customers. AA is in financial trouble and they are trying to survive; time will tell what the tongue won't. In the meantime we welcome Southwest to our area. With 2.8 million people in our metropolitan area we can sustain the added flights and definitely welcome more!!! I think St. Louis serves as a perfect HUB to the nation at large. We are centrally located even to the point that Air China is close to closing a deal with State officials to make St. Louis it's North American Air Cargo HUB. The deal is not sealed but it's beyond 50% complete and looks very favorable. We have a new billion dollar runway that rarely gets used due to American bailing out, and an entire B concourse terminal that has been "raped" by American Airlines. Aeromexico has added new service as well to St. Louis which is a good thing. St. Louis will bounce back and I'm glad Southwest sees our potential.
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Charleston, SC would be a fantastic destination for SWA! On the "where we fly" map on your website, there is a large, gaping hole surrounding the lowcountry - and with AirTran pulling out of Charleston, the time is ripe for a low-cost carrier! Charleston consistently wins Top Destination awards from travel industry experts and publications, and tourists would go nuts over increased opportunities to visit Charleston by flying Soutwest. PHL-CHS would be an insanely popular route, as would BOS-CHS, MDW-CHS, DAL-CHS, MAF-CHS, and SAN-CHS. Please come to Charleston, SC!
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We could really use some SWA relief in Charlotte NC. I'm positive you would be greeted in Charlotte as the great liberators.
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Quote: >We could really use some SWA relief in Charlotte NC. >I'm positive you would be greeted in Charlotte as the great liberators. I second that! Free us from the tyranny of US Airways!
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So dissapointed that Southwest didn't choose Pensacola! It's a better location from a business support and sustainability standpoint, since so many business professionals like myself choose to live here, but travel elsewhere for our work week. I travel at least 90% of my time, work out of my home the remainder, and have to travel Delta and other airlines I'm not thrilled about to support that travel. I have a number of free tickets due to my Southwest card and have to drive 4 hrs+ to take advantage of them. With the add to Panama City I will likely go there instead of New Orleans, but I think Pensacola would have been a much smarter choice. This is an active business, military and tourist destination. Panama City cannot make the same claim. Please consider Pensacola in the future!
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Please come to Charlotte asap!! I will buy at least 12 roundtrip tix per year!!
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Charlotte, NC should be your next location
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PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, I'm begging you! Please come to Charlotte, NC! We are the biggest Southwest Airlines fans, and we are trapped paying ridiculous high prices with US Air's monopoly! Please work out whatever you need to work out with the city for the sake of the residents of Charlotte. You would have more business than you could handle, and we would be so grateful! A loyal customer who has to drive to Raleigh to fly Southwest!!!
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Now if SWA would only come to Charlotte, North Carolina!!!!!! There is a huge need to be able to fly from CLT to DFW!!!!!