Southwest Airlines unveils Steamboat Springs routes, adds new destination during pandemic
Southwest Airlines is hitting the slopes this winter with new service to Steamboat Springs in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado this December.
The Dallas-based low-cost carrier will connect Steamboat Springs (HDN) to Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Denver (DEN), Southwest said Thursday. The seasonal flights begin on Dec. 19 and operate through April 5, 2021.
Travelers who want to hit the slopes this winter can take advantage of introductory fares as low as $49 one-way between Denver and Steamboat, and as low as $69 between Dallas and Steamboat. Tickets are available on Southwest's website.
Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!
Southwest's new Steamboat Springs service marks a departure for the airline. It is the carrier's first seasonal destination — or one that it flies to for only part of the year — in its nearly 50 year history. It serves every other airport on its map year-round, though many see seasonal additions and reductions in flights.
“This year, customers are looking to experience more of the nation’s great outdoors," Southwest commercial chief Andrew Watterson said in a statement. "By linking both Denver and Dallas nonstop to Steamboat Springs, customers across a majority of our network will be able to reach the Rocky Mountains."
While Steamboat flights were first planned prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it fits within the travel trends that have emerged amid COVID-19. Flyers want to go places where there is outdoor space, for example beaches or mountains, where they can social distance from others.
Related: Southwest Airlines adds Steamboat Springs as first-ever seasonal destination
Southwest, however, noted that its winter schedule remains in flux due to the pandemic. In July, CEO Gary Kelly said the airline anticipates being roughly a quarter smaller in December than it was at the end of 2019.
"While we have fewer flights, we do still have itineraries," Kelly told The Texas Tribune on Aug. 12. "We're trying to maintain the integrity of our network. So when you're ready to fly, there's a way to get to Portland [Oregon] or a way to get to Boston."
That network involves a number of connecting airports across Southwest's route map. These include places like Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Dallas Love Field, Denver — where the airline will add 16 additional gates to its footprint by 2022 — and Phoenix (PHX).
Related: Southwest Airlines backtracks on a full schedule by year-end as recovery stalls
Southwest will offer three daily flights between Denver and Steamboat this winter. Service between Dallas and the Colorado ski town will only operate on Saturdays and Sundays.
In addition, the airline has extended its full schedule to April 11, 2021.
Related: Southwest Airlines inaugurates a new ‘very Portland’ concourse at PDX