For the longest time, Southwest Airlines was known as just a domestic carrier, and the largest domestic carrier at that. Now, however, it appears that the borders of the United States can no longer hold back Southwest Airlines. It announced on Tuesday, July 1, that it will start international flights. Its first stop is the Caribbean.
These plans do no shock anyone. In fact, Southwest Airlines has hinting for years that it would like to start international flights. Then, the carrier announced that it plans to take over some of the most profitable routes from its subsidiary, AirTran Airways. As it turns out, most of the routes that Southwest Airlines is going to take over are international flights.
In a statement, Southwest said that it will take over the Jamaica, Aruba and Bahamas routes from AirTran as of July 1. These flights will leave cites such as Pittsburgh, Boston, Orlando, Baltimore and Atlanta.
It is likely that Southwest hopes these new routes will take some pressure off its customer satisfaction rating. As of late, the carrier hasn’t been trending high in satisfaction. In fact, it only averages a 69 on a 100-point scale. This ranks below fast food restaurants, banks, utility companies and even insurance companies. The scale is based on the American Customers’ Satisfaction Index.
Of course, Southwest Airlines is not done adding flights just yet. It said that it has plans to continue to expand its international operations. The next routes that the airline plans to add will be flights to Cabos, Mexico. These flights will start on August 10. Then, on November 2, it plans to add flights to Mexico City and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
For more details about Southwest Airlines’ international services, flight information can be found on its website. There passengers can find out more information not only about routes but also about bag fees. The weight and size restrictions that Southwest Airlines implements for bags differs between domestic and international flights.
In the end, Southwest Airlines said that its plan is to have flights to 95 different destinations in at least six countries. This includes all of the nonstop international flights that are now currently served by AirTran.
Of course, making the jump to international flights wasn’t easy for Southwest Airlines. The company said that it had to train all of its cabin crew members through a brand new program. It also had to get new equipment on its planes. For example, the airlines now have to have flotation devices on their planes. This is because federal regulations require any flight that flies long distance over water to be equipped with these devices.