Southwest Airlines rolls out 8 new routes in schedule extension heavy on Texas

Sep 16, 2021

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Austin, Texas, is the big winner in Southwest’s latest expansion, landing six of eight new routes announced by the airline on Thursday.

The move is the latest boost for Austin, which has become one of the hottest aviation markets in the nation. A number of carriers have boosted their presence there during the past year, including American and Allegiant.

Southwest’s expansion comes as rivals have looked to grow in Austin, where a booming economy and rapid population growth have made it an attractive market for new service. Southwest previously announced another new route from Austin in July and seven in March.

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With the latest additions announced Thursday, Southwest will offer nonstop service from Austin to 46 destinations on up to 105 departures a day. Southwest was already the top carrier in Austin in June, accounting for about 35% of passenger traffic there, according to figures from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Among Southwest’s Austin additions are new routes to each coast – Charleston, South Carolina, in the East and Ontario, California, in the West – as well as new international service to the Mexican resort destination of Puerto Vallarta.

Elsewhere, Southwest will add two other new routes. One will connect Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Burbank, California, while the other will feature Saturday-only service between Denver and Cozumel, Mexico.

Additionally, Southwest said it will ramp up its schedule to Hawaii by restoring service or adding flights on several routes it had previously announced.

Doubling down: American is expanding – again – in Austin with 14 new routes

More broadly, the addition of new routes to Southwest’s map comes as the airline moved to extend its booking schedule through April 24.

The new schedule presents an opportunity for bargain seekers, opening up a new batch of the carrier’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” advance-purchase fares on routes across its network – including for most spring break dates.

A search for March 17 flights from Baltimore (BWI) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), for example, showed one-way nonstop fares for as little as $168 or 11,859 Rapid Rewards points.

Earlier this year: Southwest unveils major summer expansion with a whopping 36 routes

Similarly, a one-way March 17 flight from Phoenix (PHX) to Honolulu (HNL) was pricing at $204 one-way (14,799 Rapid Rewards points).

Travelers who book with Rapid Rewards points can redeposit them with no penalty should plans change.

A Sept. 16, 2021, screenshot of fares on Southwest’s website. (Screenshot courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

A complete list of Southwest’s new routes is below.

Southwest’s new routes from Austin (AUS)

  • Amarillo, Texas (AMA): Daily service begins March 10.
  • Charleston, South Carolina (CHS): Daily service begins March 10.
  • Columbus, Ohio (CMH)*: Daily service begins March 10.
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas (MAF): Daily service begins March 10.
  • Ontario, California (ONT): Daily service begins March 10.
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PVR): Seasonal, Saturday-only service begins March 12.

Establishing a stronghold: Allegiant opening base in Austin, becomes latest to double down on Texas capital

* Southwest will fly nonstop between Austin and Columbus on certain peak-travel dates in 2021. Regular nonstop service begins March 10.

Southwest’s other new routes

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ)-Burbank, California (BUR): Daily service begins Jan. 17.
  • Denver (DEN)-Cozumel, Mexico (CZM): Saturday-only service begins March 12.

Featured photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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