Southwest Airlines Launches Fifth Coast-to-Coast Nonstop; Emphasizes Convenience, Low Cost, and Comfort
Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) Flight 2002, bound for Baltimore/Washington, D.C., took off from San Diego Lindbergh Field on Sunday morning, making it the fifth daily nonstop, coast- to-coast flight in Southwest's system. The airline's expanding transcontinental route structure now includes two daily nonstops between Los Angeles and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), two daily nonstops between San Diego and BWI, and one daily nonstop between San Jose and BWI.
"While the majority of our service is still shorthaul, we have had tremendous success in our longhaul markets as well," said Gary Kelly, Southwest's Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. "The longhaul flights complement our shorthaul routes very nicely and offer us tremendous growth opportunities in terms of routes and profits."
Because Southwest caps fares at $299 one-way on all routes, including longhaul flights, even last-minute travelers can get great cross-country deals. Restricted fares are available for as low as $154 each way with a seven day advance purchase for those who can plan ahead.
Convenience and cost may be the two most important factors when selecting a cross-country carrier, but Southwest also places a lot of emphasis on comfort as part of the longhaul package.
So far in 2003, Southwest has welcomed 13 new Boeing 737-700 series aircraft to its fleet. The new planes are part of Southwest's "new look," complete with lush leather seats and a calming canyon blue and saddle tan color scheme. Southwest currently has 142 737-700 aircraft that are scattered throughout its 58-city route system, and concentrated on the longer routes, such as the new transcontinental flights.
"While Customer Service has always been, and continues to be, the most important part of our business, we understand that comfort is a big part of the flying experience -- especially on longhaul flights," said Kelly. "Our updated interiors are very comfortable for long and shorthaul flights, and we look forward to the day when the renovations for all of our existing planes are complete."
Originally scheduled for completion in 2010, the retrofitting program was accelerated in August 2003 to bump up the estimated date of completion to December 2005. To date, approximately a quarter of Southwest's current fleet of 385 737s have been retrofitted with the new interiors.
The seven-day advance fare requires roundtrip purchase with an overnight stay (any night). Tickets must be purchased at least seven days before departure and within one day of making reservations. Travel on the seven-day advance purchase fare must be completed by March 5, 2004. Fares do not include a federal segment tax of $3 per takeoff and landing. Airport-assessed passenger facility charges of up to $18 roundtrip and a federal September 11th Security fee of up to $10 roundtrip are not included. Tickets are nonrefundable but (except for tickets purchased through our Group Tickets program) may be applied toward the purchase of future travel on Southwest Airlines. Seats are limited and may not be available on some flights that operate during peak or holiday travel times. Fares are subject to change until ticketed, and any change in itinerary could result in an increase in the fare. If combining with other fares, the most restrictive fare rules apply. The fares apply to published scheduled service only.
In recent months, Southwest Airlines has become the nation's largest domestic carrier in terms of Customers boarded. The airline currently operates nearly 2,800 daily flights to 59 airports in 58 cities in 30 states. Southwest employs more than 35,000 people nationwide.
SOURCE Southwest Airlines