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Southwest Airlines reveals routes, launch dates for 2 newest California cities

Jan. 21, 2021
4 min read
Southwest Airlines reveals routes, launch dates for 2 newest California cities
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Southwest Airlines has revealed its plans for service from its two newest cities in California.

Santa Barbara (SBA) service will begin April 12 while flights from Fresno (FAT) start April 25. Southwest first announced its plan to serve the cities in December, but did not say then when or where it planned to fly from the cities. Now we know.

From Santa Barbara, Southwest will fly nonstop to Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS) and Oakland (OAK). Each is a major base for Southwest, working as de facto hubs to allow connections to more than 50 of the airline’s other destinations.

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Southwest’s Fresno schedule will feature nonstop service to both Denver and Las Vegas, with a similar number of possible onward connections.

The carrier is offering introductory fares as low as $39 on its new nonstop routes from the cities.

The additions of Santa Barbara and Fresno are part of what’s been an extraordinarily aggressive route-map expansion by Southwest during the COVID-19 crisis.

TPG Q&A: Southwest CEO Gary Kelly chats about his legacy, new cities and change fees

Southwest has seized the pandemic as an opportunity to push into new markets as many of its rivals have cut back during a dramatic drop in demand during the COVID-19 crisis.

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"It allows us to play offense," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in December during a webinar with The Wings Club of New York. He said that by plugging new destinations — even smaller ones — into the carrier's unique network, "it really puts us in a different competitive situation compared to the rest of our airline competitors."

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

The addition of Santa Barbara and Fresno also continues another trend seen across all U.S. carriers in recent months.

Leisure travelers — who have made up the bulk of those still flying since March — have increasingly looked to outdoor-oriented destinations that facilitate social distancing. Santa Barbara, nestled along California’s scenic Central Coast, and Fresno — near Yosemite National Park and other outdoor recreation areas — check those boxes.

On the competitive front, it’s also an unmistakable move by Southwest to cement its position in the nation’s most-populous state. Southwest is now selling flights from 13 cities in the California market.

The carrier began flying from Palm Springs (PSP) just last month and has ramped up its presence in Long Beach (LGB) as JetBlue – which had long been that airport’s dominant carrier – abandoned the city in favor of growing its operation at Los Angeles (LAX).

Aggressive growth: Southwest adds another new Colorado ski town, unveils Miami and Palm Springs routes

In announcing the carrier’s plans for Santa Barbara and Fresno in December, Southwest commercial chief Andrew Watterson said: “While other airlines seem to fall in and out of love with the state, we’re focused on increasing the reach of our low fares and flexible policies in places where we expect them to make a difference.”

Southwest’s new California routes at a glance

Santa Barbara

Denver: One daily round-trip flight begins April 12. Fares from $69 one way.

Las Vegas: Three daily round-trip flights begin April 12. Fares from $39 one way.

Oakland: One daily round-trip flight begins April 12. Fares from $39 one way.

Fresno

Denver: One daily round-trip flight begins April 25. Fares from $69 one way.

Las Vegas: Three daily round-trip flights begin April 25. Fares from $39 one way.

Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023