MIAMI — Travelers who like to plan ahead got their wish Thursday as Southwest Airlines announced its schedule for the winter holiday season, extending it through Thanksgiving and Christmas.
America’s largest domestic air carrier, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, usually opens its schedule incrementally instead of yearly like most major airlines.
Southwest extended its bookable flight schedule through January 5, 2020, making it easier for customers to book for their favorite winter getaways sooner than later.
After a disconcerting few months of pared-down stock prices, mostly due in part to Southwest’s exposure to Boeing’s 737 MAX, which the airline is heavily reliant upon and making up nearly 9% of its fleet capacity – the carrier managed to hold onto gains this year with the help of a long-anticipated push into the Hawaiian market in March, a new contract approval with the airline’s mechanics union in May and the construction of a new hangar to begin this summer at Denver International Airport.
For passengers partial to holidays on the beach, Southwest also announced the renewal of several popular seasonal routes to the Caribbean and Latin American for the upcoming winter season, including daily flights between Austin and Cancun starting November 1, an increase to its existing Long Beach service effective October 1 and a new weekly service on Saturdays between Boston and Ft. Lauderdale on November 9.
Despite any downturns in the airline industry this year, Southwest maintains a stronghold in popularity among its competitors with its long legion of loyal customers and was recently energized Wednesday when J.D. Power released its findings from their annual North American Airline Satisfaction Study which saw Southwest and JetBlue tying for first place in overall passenger experience in the category of low-cost carriers, rounding out Southwest’s top rating for a third consecutive year in a row.
“While low-cost carriers have historically had the highest levels of customer satisfaction in our study, due to a strong sense of value for money among customers, that line is starting to blur as traditional carriers improve their services and operations,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, in the press release.
“The one area where both traditional and low-cost carriers can still improve, however, is in in-flight services. It continues to be the lowest-ranked factor in the study, as many airlines still struggle with in-flight entertainment, connectivity, in-seat power, and food service.”
During peak travel seasons, Southwest operates more than 4,000-weekday departures among a network of 101 destinations in the United States and 10 additional countries. Travelers can currently book holiday season flights on Southwest through January 5, 2020, through the airline’s official website.