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The Eagle Has Landed

Frequent Flyer B

We receive tons of requests and suggestions each year for ”specialty” aircraft, which is what we call any aircraft not painted in our traditional Canyon Blue livery. In fact, just last week, my friend Dave Cynkin suggested we wrap an aircraft with the faces of bloggers and fly it to Las Vegas for this year's BlogWorld Expo. I praised his creativity - I love people who think big - but let him know it was an unlikely proposition.

In addition to the time and effort required, each of the ”specialty” aircraft in our fleet is carefully designed to honor a long-standing and significant relationship with the state, organization, represents. And, today, our CEO, Gary Kelly, and founder, Herb Kelleher, were at Chicago Midway Airport to honor just such a relationship. Say hello to the newest member of our fleet... Illinois One.

This brand new Boeing 737-700 unveiled today at Chicago Midway Airport features a rendering of the Illinois state flag and required 26 people at the Boeing Company working three shifts over the course of six days to paint. More than 93 gallons of paint and 10 different colors make up Illinois One. Check out the aircraft being built and painted in this video.

Illinois One joins twelve other ”specialty” aircraft in our fleet that carry unique paint schemes: Arizona One, California One, Lone Star One (Texas), Nevada One, New Mexico One, Maryland One, three Shamu aircraft (SeaWorld), Silver One (celebrating Southwest's 25th anniversary), Triple Crown One (recognizing Southwest's top rankings for ontime performance, baggage handling, and Customer satisfaction), and Slam Dunk One (tribute to our NBA partnership). That count actually comes to thirteen if you include the ”Classic” paint scheme which will remain on three of our aircraft - N711HK, N714CB, and N792SW.

Illinois One honors a relationship built over 23 years. Since we launched service in 1985, Chicago has grown to become one of our largest operations with 227 daily nonstop departures to 47 cities.  In addition to our airport operations at Midway, we have a Pilot Base, an Inflight Base, a District Marketing Office, a Maintenance Facility, a Provisioning Base, a Reservations Center, and a People Department Office there.   More than 3,700 of our Employees now call Chicago home.

The Eagle has landed at Chicago Midway.  I hope you have the chance to see it landing at an airport near you.  Welcome to the family, Illinois One!