Southwest Airlines adds Steamboat Springs as first-ever seasonal destination

Feb 25, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Southwest Airlines will land in the Colorado ski destination of Steamboat Springs later this year, the first-ever seasonal addition to its route map.

The Dallas-based carrier will offer daily service between Steamboat Springs (HDN) and Denver (DEN) starting in late 2020, Southwest said late Monday. The flight schedule and start date will be released later.

The addition of Steamboat, a destination in northwest Colorado known for its winter sports, comes at a time of experimentation for the network planners in Dallas. Southwest has lots of experience flying seasonally popular routes, but it has never added a single destination that it intends to serve for only part of the year – which is what it will try in Steamboat Springs. The carrier also is trying other new scheduling tactics, such as adding a number of “imbalanced” routes to cope with the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. An imbalanced route is one with more flights in one direction than the other, and is uncommon among airline planners.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

Southwest has also trimmed some of its longer routes in favor of more frequent, shorter routes that can connect passengers over its large bases in response to the MAX suspension, the airline’s president, Thomas Nealon, said in January.

The carrier had planned to operate 78 737 MAX jets at the end of 2019. None of those planes are flying today, nor does Southwest expect them in the air before August, as the grounding prepares to enter its second year next month.

The new seasonal service to Steamboat Springs likely targets what Southwest sees as a period of opportunity when it has available aircraft. At just 141 miles from Denver, it also could add the market as utilization flying, which is when an airline puts an otherwise idle aircraft to use on a short route before a longer flight.

Related: Planning your ski trip with points and miles

“We’re looking forward to bringing our world famous hospitality paired with customer-friendly policies like ‘skis and snowboards fly free’ closer to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains later this year,” Adam Decaire, vice president of network planning at Southwest, said in a statement. He called the route a “short, easy flight from Denver.”

The Steamboat route will also bolster Southwest’s large and growing base — the airline does not technically have “hubs” — at Denver International Airport, which is already the third-largest in its network with 214 daily departures. The carrier has a deal with the airport to add 16 gates, for a total of 40 gates, to its facilities there by 2022.

Southwest will compete with United Airlines between Denver and Steamboat, according to Cirium schedules. United operates one of its largest hubs in Denver.

Related: Southwest Airlines is getting more gates at Denver Airport

Related: How to enjoy a ski destination as a non-skier

Featured image courtesy of Denver International Airport.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.