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Southwest Airlines add 6 routes, 2 new cities in latest network expansion

Feb. 25, 2021
4 min read
Southwest Airlines add 6 routes, 2 new cities in latest network expansion
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The route-map adjustments just keep coming.

The latest shake-up comes from Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which just announced six new routes and two brand-new destinations launching in May 2021.

Southwest will begin flying to its eleventh airport in Florida — Destin/Fort Walton Beach (VPS) — from four of its largest bases. Daily nonstop service will commence on May 6 from Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Dallas-Love Field (DAL) and Nashville (BNA) with a total of five flights in each direction.

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Just one month later, on June 6, Southwest will add another daily service to VPS from Chicago/Midway (MDW).

If you'd rather hike and explore national parks than lounge on the Florida beaches, Southwest still has you covered. The carrier will launch its first flight to the state of Montana on May 27, when it touches down in Bozeman (BZN).

The carrier will fly two daily flights each way from both Denver (DEN) and Las Vegas (LAS) when service commences. The carrier will boost the Denver-Bozeman connection to four daily flights each way come June 6, just in time for the peak summer demand.

All the new flights are already on sale, with fares started at $39 to Bozeman and $69 to Destin.

Southwest's expansion to two predominantly leisure destinations follows a mid-pandemic strategy of trying to capture the pandemic-weary traveler looking for an outdoor-friendly escape.

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These so-called "sun-and-fun" cities have seen significant growth in airline service, despite the pandemic. Cirium schedules show that U.S. airlines are slated to operate nearly 30% more flights to the Florida panhandle city in March 2021 compared to the same month in 2019.

Hello, Miami … : Southwest Airlines CEO says Miami push part of long-term strategy, not ‘pandemic play’

All the major U.S. airlines, especially American and United, have recently added or boosted flights to Destin. Flyers seemingly can't get enough of the Florida beaches.

Bozeman is also taking off (literally and figuratively). It's one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., and just keeps getting new airline service. American Airlines recently added a new Phoenix-Bozeman service. During the course of the pandemic, Alaska, Allegiant and United all boosted service or added new flights to Bozeman.

Bozeman is one of the major gateways to Yellowstone National Park and other nearby outdoor areas. Southwest's betting that it can capture its share of flyers looking to experience a mid-pandemic adventure. The carrier is touting that it'll soon offer one-stop service to the southern Montana city from more than 50 airports.

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

Since March 2020, Southwest has been busy adding new pins to its route map and boosting service to airports across the country. Not only has the carrier doubled down on capturing leisure traffic, but it's also pushed into mega-hub airports that it had avoided for so long.

The carrier has added flights to Chicago/O'Hare (ORD), Houston Intercontinental (IAH) and Miami (MIA) to help bolster its position as it looks to recover from the pandemic.

Growth mode: Southwest Airlines is getting more gates at Denver Airport

All told, Thursday's announcement adds two cities to the 14 new destinations that Southwest has added since the outset of the pandemic: Chicago O’Hare (ORD); Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH); Jackson, Mississippi (JAN); Savannah, Georgia (SAV); Miami and Sarasota in Florida; Fresno (FAT), Palm Springs (PSP) and Santa Barbara (SBA) in California; Colorado Springs (COS), Montrose/Telluride (MTJ) and Steamboat Springs (HDN) in Colorado; Hilo, Hawaii (ITO); Cozumel (CZM) in Mexico.

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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  • 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.
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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