Oranjestad, Aruba; Nassau, Bahamas; and Montego Bay, Jamaica have been announced as the first international destinations served by Southwest Airlines effective as of July 1, 2014 — and you are now able to book reservations for these flights at the official Internet web site of Southwest Airlines.
Some FlyerTalk members are especially excited that companion passes can now be used for international travel on flights operated by Southwest Airlines…
…but FlyerTalk member chuckworth posted that “Maybe it’s just me but this announcement kind of underwhelms. In my mind, this is simply more transitioning of FL routes/stations over to WN which was expected as the FL brand goes away this year. I guess this technically marks the first true int’l destination for WN itself. It will be interesting to see what they do on the int’l front going forward from here.”
It is not just you, chuckworth, as my initial thoughts were similar to yours.
The following flights currently served by AirTran Airways which will initially be served by Southwest Airlines are shown below:
- Atlanta and Aruba; and Montego Bay
- Baltimore and Aruba and Nassau; and Montego Bay twice per day
- Orlando and Aruba on Saturdays only; and Montego Bay
In fact — as part of the official press release from Southwest Airlines — additional international locations are expected to be announced over the next few months. However, all of those international destinations are currently served by AirTran Airways.
Perhaps I am missing something here; but if you count AirTran Airways as having been a part of Southwest Airlines since the merger between the two airlines was finalized in May of 2011, then technically international flights to seven destinations — such as Cancùn, Mexico City and Punta Cana — have already been served by Southwest Airlines for almost three years.
Unless I am reading the details incorrectly, this announcement is really about the final phase of the integration of AirTran Airways as part of Southwest Airlines — not so much as about Southwest Airlines finally serving international destinations…
…but then again — before now — you were unable to book flight reservations to international destinations at the official Internet web site of Southwest Airlines and use companion passes for travel to international destinations.
Do not expect to travel in business class on aircraft operated by Southwest Airlines as is possible on AirTran Airways. There has been no announcement of that changing anytime soon — if ever.
While I believe that the official announcement released from Southwest Airlines is certainly good news, I believe it is overrated at best. When I learned of this news, I originally thought that new international destinations — those not already served by AirTran Airways — would have been announced; which is why this announcement is underwhelming to me. Even some popular destinations not considered international — such as to Hawaii as an example — would have excited FlyerTalk members more.
What are your thoughts?