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

Nov. 12, 2020
3 min read
Southwest Airlines adds Sarasota, makes it 10 new cities in coronavirus expansion
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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).

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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.

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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 AFP via Getty Images

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees