In two weeks, on October 17, my 60th birthday, I will turn in my Employee ID badge and retire. Now don’t misunderstand, I will always be Southwest Airlines, and Southwest Airlines will always be a big part of me and my Heart. I’ll just have a lot of great memories and a Retiree card. (And TSA PreCheck. BEST. THING. EVER.)
I’ve had so much fun at Southwest. I started my Southwest career in Revenue Management in 1990, then moved to Schedule Planning (now Network Planning) in 1993—this has been the ride of a lifetime. Being a part of the Culture of our awesome airline was a bonus I never could have expected. We worked hard to “Keep the Faith” but the payoff was that we had soooo much fun serving our Cohearts (Fellow Employees to those of you that don’t “speak Southwest!”).
I’ve worked under some amazing Leaders, combining the route networks of Morris Air and AirTran into the network we’ve worked so hard to build. We recovered from Boeing strikes, Hurricane Katrina, and even made it through 9/11. Not many people get to be a part of that kind of airline scheduling history, but I got to be in the middle of it all. We have built an AMAZING airline network for one reason: to make flying easier and more fun, for all of our Customers! Just look at our route network now! It’s incredible—just like all of you.
Perhaps the most unexpected gift I received here has been being able to write for this blog. When President Emeritus Colleen Barrett first reached out to a few of us in 2006, her direction was clear: this is on your own time, and you’ve got to speak in your own voice and remember that we are an airline of People, first and foremost.
First as “NUTS!”, then here on The Southwest Airlines Community, I’ve been privileged to share schedule openings, new city announcements, stories about my son The Officer, colonoscopies, the transition to Altea, days of inventory (I’m still in therapy from that one!), the solar eclipse last year, and even the passing of my sweet Mom. I’m the last of the original bloggers but that’s not as important as what all the Southwest bloggers did, which was create a fresh, personal, and innovative method of communicating with our Customers and our Cohearts. But it was all really about bringing some from-the-Heart humanity to the already People-centric Southwest story. We are an awesome Company of incredible People, and that story of Southwest-style humanity needed to be shared. I loved sharing parts of my life, and our Company stories, with you guys. Thanks for being part of my extended family!
Y’all have always been so responsive and it just would not have been right not to respond in kind, and I hope you know I heard you all and conveyed your comments and then responded as fully as I could. I’ve loved responding to your comments. Together, we found a way to turn an essay into a dialogue and a community! You will all be in my heart forever for your support and for how you all live the Southwest Way. I bless all of you, and our Company, forever.
This Company has such a bright future ahead because of our Employees and our Customers. The Leaders and the People of Southwest Airlines will keep this Company flying high, but our jet-fuel—our very reason for being here—will always be our Customers! I won’t miss you because I’ll be traveling more than ever so you will see me around (I’ll probably be the big guy in the middle seat!). Keep being real. Keep taking care of yourselves and of others. Keep communicating with us, good, bad, or whatever! And never stop KEEPING THE FAITH!
I’ll be busy, never fear. Between spoiling the grandkids, volunteering, and writing, I’ll have more than enough to do! Look for me online and I’ll certainly be following the continuing story of Southwest Airlines in the coming years. I’ll see you all on the ground and in the air. Blue skies, miles of smiles, and LUV forever to all of you!
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Ah, summertime. Three things are guaranteed each summer: one, HEAT! Two,full flights. And three, Network Planning publishes the January schedule. That happened this morning, extending our schedule out through March 6, 2019.
Some interesting changes to our schedule always await as we move from the holiday season schedule into the heart of winter of the new year, and this one’s no exception. Let’s discuss!
As always, this is a re-optimized schedule, and as our unique optimization system is improved and enhanced, it allows us to implement significant changes to our network. This in turn enables Southwest to better utilize our assets and serve our Customers. A few notable call-outs are:
New nonstop service daily to:
Ft. Myers/Naples (RSW)
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)
Panama City Beach (ECP)
Increased service to eight existing destinations nonstop from Dallas (DAL)
Replacing Newark (EWR)to Indianapolis (IND) nonstop flights with returning Newark (EWR) to Nashville (BNA) service
Returning seasonal, Saturday or Sunday service to six destinations
The seasonal additions to Ft. Myers and the rest of Florida reflect an interesting and long-standing pattern. For decades, the annual “snowbird” migration has allowed people to escape the cold of Northern winters for Florida’s warm winters and sunshine. It’s interesting to note that our seasonal additions to the January and February schedules may help to facilitate this common winter migratory pattern!
With these changes to our winter schedule, we look forward to the upcoming opportunities to connect our Customers to what’s important in their lives in 2019.
As always, if you have questions, please leave a comment and we’ll respond. Have a great weekend, everyone!
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Today, Southwest announced our intent to serve Paine Field in Everett, Washington where a new two-gate facility is currently under construction. Paine Field is about 30 miles north of downtown Seattle and 40 miles north of our existing operation at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. An airport seldom first allows commercial service so close to a major metropolitan area—so Southwest wants to bring some Heart to Paine!
Service to Paine Field solves a very clear need for Southwest. It provides a welcome and much needed alternative for our Customers in Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties, whose 1.1 million residents previously had to fight the extreme congestion on I-5 to get past downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac. This doesn’t even count the residents in northern King County that will find Paine Field an easy alternative.
Paine Field has a long history, having been built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in 1936. While the field has been around for decades, it’s always been a corporate, industrial, and private airport—and before that a military base. In 1966, Boeing announced plans to build what remains the world’s largest building by interior volume where they would build their futuristic new “jumbo” jet—the Boeing 747—which really put Paine on the map. Since then, the plant has been the birthplace of every Boeing wide-body aircraft (except some 787 Dreamliners).
The onsite Future of Flight Aviation Center is almost worth the trip alone to Everett, but there is so much more that the area has to offer. Mukilteo, the town adjacent to Everett, is the easiest and most scenic gateway to the northern Puget Sound Islands using the Washington State Ferry, including the San Juan and the Orcas Islands. A quick 30-minute crossing to Clinton on Whidbey Island transports you to places as unique as they are beautiful. And Everett’s Paine Field is the closest airport to the beauty of the region!
There are a multitude of regulatory and governmental approvals to obtain, so we’re not ready to announce service patterns or dates yet. However, we’re hopeful that our intent to serve will yield new service for Everett with friendly smiles, free bags, and no change fees! Keep watching here, and we’ll keep you informed.
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As Southwest prepares to wave goodbye to our very last 737-300s next week, I've been thinking about everything the -300s allowed us to do as a Company—we've grown, prospered, and spread LUV from sea to shining sea. Our last planned 737-300 revenue flight will be from HOU to DAL on Friday, September 29. After that, we can usher in a new era with the 737 MAX.
As our Company looks forward, it's also important to remember our history. Southwest's first 737-300 took to the Texas skies on December 17, 1984, which was the 81st anniversary of the Wright Brother's first flight in Kitty Hawk, NC, and flew our original Texas Triangle: Dallas-Houston-San Antonio-Dallas. I would have loved to attend Southwest's party the night before—special guests Bob Hope and Chuck Yeager were both present! The 737-300 had better economics, more seats, less noise, and greater range than our older, venerable 737-200. Southwest had big plans for our shiny, new flagships.
Consider this: when our first 737-300, dubbed "The Spirit of Kitty Hawk" (N300WN), flew the triangle, we served 23 cities, flew around 60 nonstop routes, and extended from California to Chicago.
Looking at it now, our 1985 route map seems so small—nobody was satisfied with it. Southwest had much more LUV to share, places to go, and routes to fly. With the -300's fully-loaded range of 2,100 nautical miles trumping the -200's max range of 1,100 nautical miles, we clearly had the ammunition to support that growth. While our -200s put Southwest on the map, the -300s enabled us to make that map wow-worthy.
And wow, did we grow! New markets like BNA-PHX, DTW-PHX, and STL-PHX became possible with the -300's capabilities. We added new Stations to the east and west of our Texas home almost every year and added noise-sensitive airports like BUR and OAK because of the quieter engines. We even flew east to establish the "Beast of the East," which is BWI, in 1993. All of that expansion was due to the influx of shiny new -300s with lower noise footprints, impressive economics, and greater range.
In 1994, we acquired Morris Air. This brought us a number of former Morris -300s and new cities in the west like TUS, SNA, PDX, SEA, GEG, BOI, and SLC. Over half of these destinations were not -200 friendly. After the acquisition, we began to connect Morris' former network with the Southwest Network.
As time went on, Southwest's route map quickly became quite impressive. If you look at our network for year-end 1995 and compare it to early 1985, it's clear that the -300s allowed our Company to grow. We even became a "major" airline as defined by the Department of Transportation!
Our (then) Golden Girls kept coming, and we kept growing. Herb Kelleher once said the -300s came new from the factory at Boeing already full, and, as always, he was right! Every day, we flew more Customers. At one point, we accepted deliveries of 30 or more -300s per year—this allowed some impressive growth spurts, many of which could not have been flown with a -200. For example, Florida began in 1996, and the big Nashville expansion to the West Coast occurred in 1997. We connected many other dots across our network during this time too.
By the end of 1997, Southwest had one of the largest fleets of 737-300s on the planet. Yet, something new was on the horizon. The "Next Generation" 737 series, beginning with the 737-700, was delivered to Southwest at the end of 1997. As the -700s, and later the -800s, received many of the new routes and glamour, the -300s continued to perform their duties perfectly. Even though they were no longer the newest, they were perfect for short and medium-haul markets and connected our east and west coast transcons.
Recently, I flew DAL-HOU on a -300 to connect to CUN, and 85 people from our flight were connecting to international destinations on a -700 or -800 aircraft. The beautiful -300 airplanes work in perfect harmony with the rest of the Southwest fleet and have enabled us to have a route map that, on the -300 fleet's retirement day, will look like the map pictured here. And, yes, I work in Network Planning, but it still takes my breath away!
After the Classics officially retire on September 29, we will introduce the Southwest 737-MAX 8 to the world on October 1 by flying our original Texas Triange, DAL-HOU-SAT-DAL, exactly as N300WN, The Spirit of Kitty Hawk did almost 33 years earlier.
It will be a sunrise, sunset moment for the 737-300s and the MAX. At Southwest, we will remember the -300 fleet for providing us reliability and revenue, but I will add one more descriptor: respect. I respect that the Classics enabled us to evolve from the 1985 route map to our map today.
We LUV our retiring Golden Girls, and we are so excited welcome the MAX into our Southwest Family.
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Ober, please NEVER stop advocating for the Twin Cities! It's been such a great little market for us--but these adds are desigined to help further cement our position in California, which we have owned for YEARS and will continue to serve, proudly, and with SPF50 and cool shades. 🙂 Be patient with us--but I do love your comments. Keep it up and they'll put a statue of you in front of T2 at MSP. Maybe ala Mary Tyler Moore--got a Tam o'Shanter? 🙂 Bill
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Hi Hari and MrMagoo! Bill from Southwest's Network Planning group here. We hear you--and trust me, you're not alone. We get TONS of mail, emails, calls, and everything but skywriting about people's opinions of our schedule. In a very real way we have 56,000 schedule writers (our fellow Employees) and 110,000,000 other vested opinions (the number of Customers we serve in a year!). But when we're writing a schedule, have to write the best schedule for our network as a whole, not just the best for individual markets and then try to stitch them together. In ops research terms it's called solving for the "global optimal" vs. the "local optimal". In terms that I can actually understand, we have to schedule for the many, not the few. (Star Trek reference there.) But we do all of this based on when people have actually flown in the past--and how many airplanes we have available--so we're not scheduling blindly but we have tight and sometimes severe constraints on what we can do!! I hope this explanation helps. It you want or need to, just call our Customer Relations folks Monday and they can chat with you about it and forward your comments to us. *OR* just continue the conversation here at southwest.com!!! Have a GREAT weekend! ///Bill Owen
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Watching a total eclipse of the sun is, typically, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was lucky enough to see one once before, in 1970, from Eastern North Carolina. But watching the eclipse on August 21, 2017 from an altitude of 37,000 feet above Western Idaho along with 173 others equally excited was truly a “who gets to do something like THIS???” moment! Between Southwest's flights up, down, and across the continent, we actually had several regularly scheduled flights within the path of totality—best of all, there were seats available for anyone that wanted to buy a ticket to witness the show in the sky. My Coheart David and I were onboard Flight 1368, Portland to St. Louis, which followed the path of totality perfectly. We're here to tell you what it was like, with as many pictures as we can.
Monday, 8/31—5:30 a.m. PDT
Arrived at the Portland International Airport after a 3-hour drive from Seattle. Was expecting heavy traffic. There was none. The only notable thing about the trip was some random guy at a (totally packed) Rest Area off of the I-5 dressed in a Poo Emoji costume. (???)
6:00 a.m. PDT
Southwest ticket counters and kiosks are busy, not crazed. Chatted with a few Friends in Customer Service working the counter, had some (badly needed) coffee, and proceeded through TSA Checkpoint for Concourse C.
At gate C12, there were a few enthusiasts already in the waiting area for our 9:00 a.m. flight. We began chatting with them as the crowd of enthusiasts grew—people had actually flown TO Portland to take this specific flight! We had Customers from Manchester, NH, NYC, Las Vegas, and a father/son duo that traveled from their homes in Denver and San Diego (respectively) that were all there and flying for the same reason—to join One Team: All Eclipse!
7:30 a.m PDT
Our inbound aircraft, N8306H—a 737-800—was operating about 30 minutes behind schedule due to air traffic getting out of the Bay Area in Northern California. Everything indicated we would still be fine, we’d just meet Eclipse 2017 a little quicker than we’d planned. We’d still be high into the stratosphere!
8:15 a.m. PDT
We begin our announcements about the special flight, for which we received applause, cheers, whoops and loud shouts of “YES!!!!” It was clear we had a “boat” full of fliers eager to see the eclipse from the heavens. About that time our ride to the skies pulled into our gate to even more whoops and cheers.
9:00 a. m. PDT
Preboarding begins, followed by general boarding. All Customers and Crew aboard all of our Eclipse2017 flights received certified Southwest Eclipse Glasses and a commemorative card outlining the events AND the “cosmic drinks” to be offered aboard!
9:30 a.m. PDT
Pushback from gate C12! On our way—we’re airborne and wheels-up just minutes later. Everyone aboard immediately hit the Free TV available on Southwest to watch either CBS News or NBC News, both of which were broadcasting the eclipse live, starting about 75 miles Southeast of Portland in Madras, OR. We were closing in on Madras along our line of flight and actually watching the progress of the eclipse approaching us from the back via Free TV!
9:50 a.m. PDT
The sunlight starts to become less intense as we cross the Columbia River heading to the Southeast. Our Captain has told us he will fly our aircraft through a series of curves to give Customers on both sides of the plane a great view, which would be taking place almost directly above us, and practices just to let us know what it felt like.
11:20 a.m. MDT
We just crossed the line into Idaho (and the Mountain Time Zone) and it’s getting very dark. Captain gives us a three-minute warning of near-totality, with totality expected at approximately 11:27 a.m. for about three minutes (one minute longer than on the ground because of our speed). Excitement among everyone, Customers and Crew alike, is growing as the land and skies darken!
11:27 a.m. MDT
TOTALITY!! Our Captain begins S-turns to give everyone a view Photo Courtesy of Jim—and WHAT a sight! The cabin is dark but more excited than a Friday night flight to Las Vegas. You can hear People all over the cabin in window seats are saying “Come on! Lean over here! Get this shot! LOOK AT THIS!” Here’s the photo my new Friend Jim from New Hampshire in the row in front of me took, as well as one my colleague David took of the horizon during totality. Note the corona of the sun in Jim’s and how you can see past the moon’s shadow in David’s out into where the sun is still shining!
Eclipse Across the Horizon, Courtesy of David
11:31 a.m. MDT
And just like that ... totality is over, and the sun seems to increase in intensity far quicker than it faded. I guess it’s like a concert you’ve waited to see—the run-up seems interminable, the event seems to flash by, and before you know it, you’re looking for the after party—which we got! Our awesome Flight Attendants came through with drinks. Then, with more than two-and-a-half hours left, for many of us, it was nap time!
As someone that remembers People more than sights or things, the excitement of the Customers and Crew on board flight 1368 is what I’ll remember most. We thought we’d be the only geeked-out people aboard. Wow were we wrong! A close second would be the incredible views, majesty, and sheer humbling beauty of watching a total eclipse of the sun, 37,000 feet in the sky inside and aircraft with their Heart on the entry door. It’s totally worth it, everyone. So ... see you again in April of 2024?
Eclipse 2024 Path of Totality
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While we’re all still sweating through summer 2017, let’s talk about March 2018. Southwest Airlines’ new schedule debuted today effective March 8 through April 6. With 4,012 weekday flights, an increase of nearly 260 a day over February of 2018, you have to think we have some surprises in store. And you would be right! Such interesting surprises, in fact, that we need to chat. Pour yourself a glass of lemonade and let’s dive in.
Indianapolis will take its place as our 17th international gateway next March with Saturday nonstops to and from beautiful Cancun! It turns out that when Hoosiers aren’t enjoying basketball, football or auto racing, they love a trip down to the tip of the Yucatan.
Cancun continues to be a great Southwest success story—in March of ’18 we’ll offer nonstops between 12 U.S. gateways and Cancun with up to 21 operations a day. I think that’s cause for a fiesta!
Beautiful Aruba also gets some attention in March, when we shift our Aruba-Orlando nonstop to our digs in the new Ft. Lauderdale International Terminal! The new Aruba-Ft. Lauderdale daily roundtrip will not only offer South Florida a new way to get to the Netherland Antilles, it offers a consolidated, single-terminal international experience for Southwest Customers from elsewhere in the U.S. And Southwest is growing our international footprint from Ft. Lauderdale quickly—Aruba will be the 10th international destination served from this gateway. Aruba also has a PreClear set up thanks to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection so it makes connecting back in the states a breeze since you arrive as if you’re a domestic traveler.
Domestically, we will permanently shift our Dallas/Love-Milwaukee nonstop to Houston/Hobby-Milwaukee service. And to accommodate March’s Spring Break traffic surge, we’re continuing to seasonally tweak markets and frequencies, adding a few new ones, bringing many back, and ending a few. As with most March schedules, beach cities and ski destinations figure prominently on the list. All of the details are in the chart below.
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steve, those dates keep shifting, and even if we had all the gates we could want in MSP we're still airplane constrained. But for an airport that twenty years ago we were told that we'd *never* serve, I'm happy with what we got and will accept baby steps in growth there! Besides, any airport that has a train that goes directly to one of the largest shopping malls in the world is okay in my book!! 🙂 Bill
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Hey Ober7212!!! We're a little constrained in the Humphreys Terminal, with only 4 gates. Still, we could add more, we just have to pace ourselves, with aircraft retirements being balanced with new 737-MAX8 deliveries. Trust me, we love the Twin Cities, and our Co-Hearts there at the airport are both excellent and loving as a casserole full of hotdish in February. 🙂 (I have dear friends there and up in Tracy, MN, so I know Minnesota well!) Bill
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Ho-ho-ho and pass me a turkey leg! Southwest is now accepting reservations through January 7, 2018, as the November/December schedules were made available this morning. And, as usual, we have holiday presents to share!
Let’s talk International
It may still be only a little less than three percent of our departures, but international service is still the “newest news” for Southwest!
We will add two new international gateways in November with the addition of new nonstop service between beautiful Cancun and both Nashville and St. Louis, both operating each Saturday.
Seasonal service between Austin and Cancun will also resume with a daily roundtrip.
In Denver, our nonstop will become daily to both Cabo and Puerto Vallarta further solidifying Southwest as the airline offering the most flights and destinations to Mexico from Denver. Hey, 303! Feel like going to Mexico? We’re your airline!
Mexico City is also getting a bit of a re-work, thanks to an increase in our Mexico City slot allocation. While this is your first glimpse at the changes, they actually both happen earlier than November.
We’re able to move our Houston/Hobby to Mexico City late flight and Mexico City to Houston/Hobby early flight to times that are more convenient for local and connecting Customers. Effective July 5, the late Houston/Hobby to Mexico City flight will move earlier to a 6:35 p.m. departure time, which is much more palatable than the current departure time of 9:20 p.m.
The morning Mexico City to Houston/Hobby flight will move later from its current 5:30 a.m. departure to a more "civilized" departure time of 7:05 a.m.
As of October 29, we’ll add a fourth roundtrip between Houston/Hobby and Mexico City.
As always schedules and fares are available at southwest.com but we are SO happy to expand and improve our service to Mexico’s capital city (and one of the largest cities in the world!).
Meanwhile, in South Florida, we’re continuing to expand our international service in Ft. Lauderdale by adding new nonstop service to both San Jose, CR and Punta Cana, DR. Both are super popular destinations and we know these new flights enable even more of our Customers to find Caribbean paradise. (We’ve got numbers!!)
Domestic Travel Changes
Domestically we’ve got a few tweaks in store, as well!
In Milwaukee, we’re “moving some cheese” by reworking our schedule. We’ll add new nonstop service between Milwaukee and both Nashville and Cleveland (both with two daily roundtrips) and bring back seasonal nonstop between Brew City and Ft. Lauderdale and Ft. Meyers. At the same time we’ll discontinue nonstop between Milwaukee and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and discontinue seasonal service between Milwaukee and San Diego and San Francisco.
Seasonally, we’ve got some old friends returning for our winter travelers, such as: Ft. Lauderdale to Columbus, Milwaukee, and Albany; and Ft. Myers to Hartford.
Weekend additions (both domestic and international) include: Dallas/Love to Reno/Tahoe, Baltimore to both San Jose and Liberia, and Aruba to Houston/Hobby.
Lots more cool info in the chart attached!
Have a GREAT weekend, everyone and if you have a question just post a comment. I’ll “have my ears on!”
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Effective August 1, Southwest is adding fast, easy nonstop flights between the Long Beach Airport and California’s capital city, Sacramento. Our new Long Beach-Sacramento service, operating twice each weekday, not only adds another link between Southern and Northern California—it also adds another convenient way to connect Long Beach with the rest of the large Southwest network from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast, and everywhere in between!
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly met this afternoon with Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to share the new service we’ll be starting as a result of the city’s allocation of two additional slot pairings.
Our new nonstops between Long Beach and Sacramento bring the total number of nonstop markets Southwest serves within the Golden State to 46. That’s a far cry from our initial intra-California offering of just two markets thirty-five years ago in 1983! And with almost 175,000 seats now offered within California every week aboard Southwest’s fleet of Boeing 737—far more than any other airline— it’s no wonder that we carry more passengers between California airports than all other airlines combined. That’s a huge commitment to staying California Strong!
Southwest Airlines is very grateful to the Long Beach Airport for granting the slots to enable us to operate this new Long Beach-Sacramento service. We appreciate the slot award—and hope California travelers enjoy the new service!
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Today we opened our schedule from Sept. 30 through Nov. 3. While there are always cool things about every new schedule, this one is special—special to the MAX!
The 737 MAX 8 joins the Southwest fleet in the schedule effective October 1! And (of course!) we’re not wasting the arrival of our future without a loving nod to our past. So, on that Sunday morning, the very first 737 MAX 8 revenue flight will fly the routes that gave us our start— Dallas to Houston, Houston to San Antonio, and San Antonio back home to Dallas. The schedule for the first three flights will be as follows:
Of course, this is only three flights on the introduction of one MAX aircraft. On October 1, Southwest will launch nine of these beauties, which will be followed about a week later by number 10, ending the year with 14 MAX 8 aircrafts in our fleet. They will be, for the most part, dedicated to longer-haul flights, and for the time being their overnights will be confined to Maintenance Bases or Crew Bases. The MAX 8 will have the amazing Boeing Sky Interior with the same large pivoting overhead bins as our 737-800,the Heart Interior layout, and will fly farther with better economics than the already wonderful 737-800. ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE? I sure am!!
This means the 737-300, our expansion vehicle for so many years, will be retiring from scheduled service on September 30. More about our retirement plan for the 737-300s in a later blog post!
And, of course, we DO have a new schedule to talk about! We totally re-optimized the October schedule with Monday through Friday almost identical, while individually optimizing both Saturday and Sunday. Besides the normal parameter changes (gates, fleet counts, block times, etc.,) we have several other changes to tell you about. Three markets see changes to their day-of-week operations, while we'll say ,“see you next year!” to sixteen seasonal markets.
Look for more about the retirement of the Classics (the 737-300 and 737-500 airplanes, not ME!) in an upcoming blog post. Get out the sunshades because our future with the 737 MAX 8 is so bright you’re going to need ‘em! Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!!
Boeing MAX 8
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Cruiser, I think we're all wanting MSP-LAS to come back eventually. And the rest of your suggestions all of have merit--they just have to bubble to the top of the "next best opportunity" list. And eventually they will!! Bill
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I realize it is crazy cold in most of America, but it’s summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime! At least for the Southwest published schedule, anyway . This morning we published the June 3 through August 14, 2017, schedule, including a completely re-optimized summer schedule which will begin on June 4. Lots of seasonial frequency and block time changes will reflect the movement into summer (see attachements), with quite a few permanent market entries. Let’s discuss!
FT. LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL ADDITIONS! The construction of our new international Concourse A at Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) is expected to be finished by summer 2017, and as promised, Southwest will expand our footprint with added new domestic AND international service. We will add new nonstop daily service between FLL and Washington/Dulles and Philadelphia as well as five returning roundtrips each weekday between Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando. We’ll also add new daily international roundtrips between Ft. Lauderdale and Belize, Cancun, and Montego Bay. Additionally, we’ve filed our intent with the DOT to serve Grand Cayman from Ft. Lauderdale! These new flights join existing international service between FLL and Nassau, Bahamas, and Varadero, Santa Clara, and Havana, Cuba. TAKE THE I-5 NORTH…. Our first-ever nonstops between San Francisco International and the Pacific Northwest will begin next summer with three daily roundtrips between San Francisco and Portland. Besides linking two of the most beautiful cities on the Pacific, I like to say we’re providing a link between San Francisco’s City Lights bookstore on Columbus Avenue with Portland’s Powell City of Books downtown on Burnside. Both have to be seen to be believed—but fair warning, you can easily spend a whole day in either of them! We will also add new permanent nonstop service between San Diego and both Boise and Salt Lake City as well as seasonal nonstops between San Diego and both Spokane and Indianapolis. At San Jose, we will reinstate daily nonstop to/from Reno-Tahoe. This will be Reno’s second route to the Bay Area, complementing our existing three daily nonstops to Oakland.
NEWS FOR NEW YORK! Southwest will begin our first transcon flights to and from Newark-Liberty by adding daily roundtrip nonstop between Newark and both Oakland and San Diego! Also new next summer will be nonstops between Newark and Indianapolis, replacing our current New York/LaGuardia-Indianapolis service. LaGaurdia will pick up twice daily nonstop service from Tampa. ODDS AND ENDS We’ll take “Odds and Ends” for $1,000, Alex! And the answer is, next summer Southwest Airlines will add new nonstop between Atlanta and Cleveland, and between Nashville and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Please see chart below for those as well as some interesting weekend and seasonal service changes, as well as a handful of seasonal and permanent market eliminations.
Just add a comment and either I or another of our Network Planning bloggers will respond (if needed!). Happy New Year, everyone!
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Seventy-five years ago today, it was a chilly, sunny Sunday morning in Fort Worth, Texas. On the town’s Northside, at Rosen Heights Baptist Church the Pastor was wrapping up his sermon with the choir and congregation singing “Just as I Am” while he closed with the Invitation—just like every other Southern Baptist church was doing that morning. Sitting near the pews were my mom, aunt, uncle, and grandmother. Mom said about halfway through the song one of the church deacons came in with a big radio and whispered in the Pastor’s ear, and from the grave look on both of their faces she knew something was up. He held his hand up and to shush everyone as the deacon plugged in the radio to warm up. “Japan has been bombed by Hawaii this morning,” he said to a hushed and gasping congregation. “The radio says many ships and lives have been lost. Will the congregation please hold hands? We’ll pray for the dead, for the wounded, and for those that lived.” and after clasping hands, everyone bowed their heads and did just that, followed by recitation of the 23rd Psalm—“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil … ”
Four thousand miles away, a beautiful Hawaiian morning was dawning over Pearl Harbor. The trade winds blew softly as the sailors of the Pacific Fleet, anchored in the Harbor, were waking up. Cecil Hollingshead was assigned to the USS Oklahoma but hadn’t yet reported in, staying instead in the barracks. He was just going to breakfast at the PX when the attack started. “I heard loud explosions coming from the hangar area, about 200 feet from me, and saw planes were strafing the buildings first before moving to attack the ships. I’ve never heard noise that loud. I looked out into the distance and I could see them—hundreds, thousands of airplanes zooming down the central valley. They looked like a swarm of angry yellow jackets.” But the airplanes weren’t yellow. They had the red ball of the Empire of Japan on them. “We picked up guns that were so heavy we had to put them on one man’s back then take turns shooting. We ran out of ammo after about thirty minutes and they were still attacking us. We all got hit by shrapnel—I just got grazed but one of the guys alternating doing the shooting got hit right in the throat and died right there. We couldn’t stop his bleeding.” He said several of the other men got minor injuries too, but they were able to carry on.
After the ammunition supply was exhausted and there was nothing more to shoot with, they ran for the harbor to help get men—or bodies—out of the water. When asked if he had thought to run for cover, he laughed and said, “We all knew a war had just started, and we weren’t about to tuck tail and run. We were going to do what we could and help whoever needed it.” Many of the men they pulled from the water were alive; others were injured, some severely; others were dead. “But we must have pulled a hundred ‘live ones’ from the water that morning.” As they pulled their compatriots to safety, he watched the USS Arizona get hit, then sink, followed by the USS Oklahoma—the ship he was to have boarded later that day. Just on those two ships alone over 1,700 lives were lost.
I was lucky enough to talk to Mr. Hollingshead earlier this year, and while it was easy to get him to talk about Pearl Harbor, after he noticed the Southwest logo emblazoned on my shirt, he was more eager to talk about our airline than his past. “You people are just so good and so nice. Always looking to help everybody.” And when he said that, I wanted to reply “Wait, YOU ran into battle to save others despite being shot at, and WE are the ones that help everybody??” But I just smiled and said thank you.
And that’s the part of our conversation that keeps playing in my head. The men and women involved that day showed both Warrior Spirit and Servants’ Hearts by the ton, despite over 3,500 of them either being wounded or killed. They lived, and died, bravely protecting their country and others, ignoring the carnage and mayhem all around them. While it’s not surprising the first reaction of the congregation at Rosen Heights Baptist would be to pray for the soldiers and their safety, it amazes me still that all of those brave soldiers ran into harm’s way to help their fellow soldiers and sailors. And Mr. Hollingshead, after telling many stories and jokes, definitely proved he has a Fun-LUVing Attitude!
At 96, he was a little unsteady on his feet, but his memories were still sharp as a tack. Unfortunately, I’ve heard he fell a while ago and was badly injured. His story-telling days are over. That’s why it’s important to hear the stories of the survivors first-hand while we can, as we’re losing them fast. Of the 60,000 that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, all are in their 90s or above. Only 2,500 to 3,000 remain, and several die each day.
Today, if you can, make some time to think about all of those people in and around Pearl Harbor that were living the Southwest Way 75 years ago, long before there was a Southwest Airlines. They were not only, as Tom Brokaw dubbed them, “the Greatest Generation.” Those at Pearl Harbor and thousands of others went onto save humanity from the tyranny of Japanese Imperialism, Mussolini’s Fascism, and the horrors of Hitler’s Nazi party. And three-quarters of a century later, we—the 54,000 men and women of Southwest Airlines—carry on the characteristics they lived by: Warrior Spirit, Servants’ Hearts, and Fun-LUVing Attitude.
God bless and protect all of those that have, and still do, keep us safe and free. Have a good day, everyone.
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Steve, we'll extend the schedule--thesame schedule--on or about December 6th. We can't get ahead of a technology project that's ongoing. As for MSP-LAS, it was a seasonal, temporary add--hopefully we'll add it back. And yes it may seem as if we are being a little skimpy on our service to the Twin Cities, but we're following seasonal traffic flows. It's not like we're not putting enough ham in our scalloped potato hotdish! (Went to a funeral near St. Cloud recently and that was a big topic of conversation!) We're watching closely to see when, and where, we can add service to MSP. We've been received warmly at the Hubert Humphrey Terminal and really do want to grow more! Bill
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On November 1, we extended our schedule by adding our April Base for 2017, making schedules available through May 8. We’ll extend that schedule even further in about a month. The April Schedule is always our “bridge” going from winter and spring break into summer. This one is no different. With lots of frequency changes and seasonal markets ending, there will be Florida seasonal cuts and a re-distribution of that capacity elsewhere in our big ol’ network. Other than that, there are just a few notable changes we would like to call to your attention. For a complete list, view the “April 2017 Market Changes” attachment below.
We have only two new permanent nonstop markets in this schedule, but they are both VERY promising. We will add daily, permanent Albany-Denver service (which was previously seasonal or weekends-only). For Sundays only, we’ll add nonstop Oklahoma City-Orlando service, timed perfectly to get Oklahomans to Orlando in time to get to their resorts or their families, and departing Orlando not too early but arriving in Oklahoma before sunset.
Thirteen seasonal markets will end next year, and there is one permanent exit—Orange County-Puerto Vallarta. Nine additional daily roundtrip markets will become Saturday- or Sunday-only service.
Our schedules are always changing, and while we’re sad to see some routes go, we’re always happy to welcome new ones into our system. And with this new schedule available, you can get started planning those big spring adventures with Southwest!
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The highly-anticipated new Southwest service to the “Pearl of the Caribbean,” Cuba—easily, our most eagerly awaited new service in many years—is now loaded and available! We’ll begin by adding double-daily service between Ft. Lauderdale and Varadero effective November 13, which will be the 99th airport in Southwest’s Network. Varadero is situated on a peninsula about 100 miles east of Havana. The city is known for its beautiful beaches but also for the many historical museums of colonial days as well as pre-revolutionary, early twentieth-century Cuban culture.
Then, on Monday, December 12, Southwest will begin service to Havana, the “Rome of the Caribbean,” with two daily flights between Havana and our Ft. Lauderdale Gateway and the only nonstop roundtrip between Havana and Tampa Bay. As both the capital and the largest city in Cuba, Havana is unique among its Cuban peers, with more of everything—more beaches, more museums, more history, more culture, and more vintage American cars. Yes, Havana is where 1950s American sedans have been kept running through a combination of loving care and skillful restoration!
Havana will also take a special place on the Southwest route map as our 100th airport served! What a wonderful milestone we’ve reached together—and it’s no coincidence that our 100th airport is part of our new and growing international network. Cheers, everyone, to airport 100—and here is to 100 more!
Schedules and fares for our new nonstop and connecting service to Cuba are now available on southwest.com. Please note that travel on Southwest to Cuba is subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restrictions; please consult the U.S. State Department for quick information on travel to Cuba and check out the OFAC page for Cuba at the U.S. Department of the Treasury for any particulars. But after you do that, come on! Hop on a flight, and I’ll see you in C-U-B-A!!
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Ever notice the few airports in our network that just don’t feel or look like the rest? I have. I’m a big architecture buff, and that includes airport designs. In particular, six U.S. mid-twentieth-century airports are based on three most unusual designs, all of which were incredibly innovative for their time.
The “Drive to Your Plane” Concept
The two current examples of this design are Kansas City’s Mid-Continent International and the Dallas/Fort Worth International airport, which opened within a year of each other in the early ’70s. The goal of their designs was to allow Customers to park close to their departure gate and breeze right through the terminal to the gate podium for their flight, thereby minimizing walk time and maximizing convenience. However, this type of design doesn’t work well for a hub airport reliant on large numbers of Connecting Customers without extensive, expensive modifications to increase the size of the hold rooms and moving much of the passenger concessions into the secure areas.
Both airports eventually made improvements to their designs with mixed results. DFW was the first of the two to blow out the airside wall to create more space back in the 1980s. It is now nearly finished with another multi-billion-dollar upgrade and improvement cycle. Because of the improvements, it’s had great success growing its hub status and long-haul international destination list tremendously, with nonstops available between DFW and over 200 airports on four continents.
Overhead shot of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
MCI, however, never found similar success; several airlines’ attempts to build hubs there have failed—including TWA, United, Braniff One and Two, Eastern, and Vanguard—even though they expanded the terminal footprint nearly a decade ago. Actually, the “Best of Times” is now, with a stable and lengthy list of more than 60 nonstop destinations, mostly on Southwest Airlines. (And now I’ll have everyone singing that song from La Cage aux Folles—high-kicks optional!)
View of Kansas City's Mid-Continent International Airport from above
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Like the “drive to the plane” concept, the goal of this concept was to minimize the amount of walking in the airport for Customers by using elevators, escalators, and trains to move them from their cars through ticketing and to their flights. The first of these opened in Tampa in 1971, followed by a similar but MUCH bigger facility in Orlando in 1981.
Both airports have similar characteristics. You park in a multi-level garage atop the rest of the airport, then take an elevator down to ticketing/check-in (or, if desired, check in at the onsite hotel). The ticketing level is full of shops and services—and at Orlando, retail establishments include outlet shops for all three major area theme parks! From there, you proceed a few hundred feet to an automated train going to the airside structure for your airline.
Overall the TPA and MCO facilities are designed almost identically (except for size) with one exception: at TPA, security is in each airside, after you have taken the train; while at MCO, the security formalities are done in the landside building just before getting onto the train to the airside.
Tampa International Airport
Orlando International Airport
“Pigs at the Trough”
Anyone remember the old Atlanta Hartsfield or Denver Stapleton airports? They typified the old-school airport design of the 1950s. By the 1970s, both airports were severely overcrowded and badly in need of rebuilding.
Atlanta went first and used a radical new design to maximize the ease of making Customer connections as well as effectively operating hub-and-spoke schedules. The main design features a central ticketing building and multiple perpendicular gate concourses reached by an underground high-speed train. The first time my country-bumpkin cousin landed there, she looked out the window and said, “Well lookey there! The airplanes are lined up all up and down the building like pigs at the trough!” (For me, the description was apt and has stuck all these years!) The airport has expanded several times over the years and has strayed a bit from the original design to fit modern needs, but the basic principles remain.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Denver followed Atlanta, opening in 1995 based on a very similar design concept. The facility is definitely not as utilitarian as its sister airport in ATL, with the main ticketing/baggage claim building topped by a peaked fiberglass roof built to evoke images of the distant snow-capped Rockies as well as the Native American teepees that used to dot the land on which the airport now stands.
Denver International Airport
The Next Big Thing
Surprisingly, nothing truly new and innovative in airport design is in progress or planning. The most recent significant trends are hard to track as very few full-scale rebuilds or new airports are on the drawing boards. Probably the most significant current trend for airport terminals is a conscious effort to “right-size” new facilities; not every new terminal is going to be a hub, and with the expense involved, cities realize now you can’t “build the church for Easter Sunday.”
And there is always the question of where new airports go. Due to rampant “not-in-my-backyard” mentality, everyone wants a new airport, but nobody wants it near them. LAX fought this battle for decades, and everyone knows San Diego needs both more space and a bigger terminal. But where should it go? Offshore on a man-made island didn’t work so well for Osaka (although it’s been debated for years), and other options are equally unattractive. But one thing’s for certain: airline design architects will keep dreaming up innovative airport design for the future, hopefully coming up with more hits than misses.
Enjoy your travels—and take a second glance at the airports you visit. There are sure to be a few surprises that you’ve never noticed before!
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Reed, AUS-Cancun may return on a seasonal basis, but Cancun is slot controlled so we have to parcel out the flights we schedule there, and Austin didn't make the top of the list. For now we can offer you great connections via Houston/Hobby! Bill
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Southwest Airlines will begin service in three markets between Los Angeles and Mexico on December 4! Subject to Mexican governmental approvals, Southwest Airlines is adding twice-daily LAX-Cancun flights, twice-daily LAX-Cabo San Lucas trips, and once-daily LAX-Puerto Vallarta service, to carry Customers between Southern California and some of Mexico’s most beautiful beach areas. These three new nonstop markets bring our LAX international portfolio to four cities (joining Liberia, Costa Rica) for a total of six international departures from Los Angeles each day, alongside our established international operation at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana/Orange County.
The approval for these routes from the Department of Transportation is the first under a new international agreement between the US and Mexico to allow for more service between the countries, and how cool is it America’s fastest growing airline in the international space should be the first to utilize a liberalized US-Mexico air agreement. It also raises our Mexico departure count to 25 on peak days—not bad for a relative-newbie in the Mexican air service marketplace!
We’re very excited for the opportunity to connect Los Angeles and Mexico with some Southwest sonrisas along the way. And whether you want to see Los Arcos, Banderas Bay, or sugar-white Yucatan beaches, Southwest is your ride, California! Happy Travels to all!
Our initial schedules between Los Angeles (LAX) and Mexico are:
Note that schedules will vary, refer to Southwest.com for the most up-to-date information.
Southwest international service arrives at LAX at Terminal 2 for Customs/Immigration clearance, so connecting itinerary times via LAX have been adjusted accordingly.
Copyright: tonobalaguer / 123RF Stock Photo
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Howard, I'm confused. I'm looking at every weekday schedule going out through April and we always have an MDW-DCA flight in the 0600-0700 hour. Did I misunderstand you? And, well yes, after going both-feet-in at DCA we had to right-size our MDW-IAD and MDW-BWI frequencies to match capacity with demand. I still think we have a good "bidness" schedule from MDW into the Washington area. Bill
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