Southwest Airlines adds Sarasota, makes it 10 new cities in coronavirus expansion

Nov 12, 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 has added Sarasota, Florida, to its coronavirus pandemic expansion. The move comes even as the carrier sees the recovery in air travel slow during the final months of 2020.

The Dallas-based discounter will begin flights to Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ) in the first quarter of 2021, Southwest revealed in an investor update on Thursday. The Florida city joins Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Colorado Springs (COS), Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH), Jackson, Mississippi (JAN), and Savannah, Georgia (SAV), as additions that will join the airline’s map in the first half of the new year.

Southwest did not say what cities it will serve from the city on Florida’s Gulf Coast. However, precedent suggests it will connect Sarasota to one of its “hubs,” such as Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Chicago Midway (MDW) and Houston Hobby (HOU).

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

The airline is on a growth tear in what CEO Gary Kelly has described as an opportunity to “gain share” in the U.S. market. While every carrier has slashed schedules due to COVID, Southwest is the only one to both cut flying and add numerous new cities to its map. Others, including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines, have added one or two destinations whereas Southwest has added 10 to date.

Southwest begins flights to Miami (MIA) and Palm Springs (PSP) this Sunday, Nov. 15. Seasonal winter flights to Montrose (MTJ) and Steamboat Springs (HDN) in Colorado begins Dec. 19.

The additions come even as U.S. air travel remains far below 2019 levels. Domestic passenger numbers were down 64% compared to last year during the week ending Nov. 10 — a four point increase compared to the prior week — according to the latest data from trade group Airlines for America (A4A).

However, U.S. airlines continue to fly roughly 54% of what they flew a year ago during the same week. This translates into attractive discounts for willing flyers.

Related: Does Southwest Airlines have hubs? Yes, but don’t call them that.

“There are more seats chasing customers,” Dave Harvey, vice president of Southwest’s corporate travel division Southwest Business, told TPG during a tour of its safety procedures at Baltimore/Washington airport on Wednesday (Nov. 11).

In its investor update Thursday, Southwest noted that it sees a “deceleration in improving revenue trends” in November and December. However, it maintained its forecasts for the period.

Southwest will end artificial caps on the number of seats it sells on its flights on Dec. 1. Executives say that the combination of air filtration, enhanced cleaning procedures and mandating masks minimize the chance of COVID infection onboard an aircraft.

Related: Colorado braces to wave of new winter flights as Americans flock to ‘snow and sun’ destinations

Featured image by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images.

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.