Southwest Airlines Adds International Flights

Southwest Airlines has announced plans to add several international flights before the end of the year. The airline will begin with flights from Atlanta, Baltimore-Washington D.C, and Orlando, to Aruba, Jamaica, and Nassau. International service will grow to include nearly 100 destinations in six countries by the end of 2015.

The international flights will require plane modifications and additional training. For example, planes traveling within the United States rarely include floatation devices, as they do not travel over large bodies of water. Southwest Airlines’ will be required to include the safety equipment on all international flights.

As reported by NBC News, Southwest recently acquired AirTran, which provided international service to several destinations, several planes are already equipped and ready for overseas travel.

Southwest Airlines president and CEO Gary Kelly said adding international flights will enable the airline to “reach new territory, new customers, and build upon a four-decade foundation of doing right by the travelers who trust our value and our people.”

AirTran president Bob Jordan said international flights are often “overfared.” By adding the new flights, Southwest will have an opportunity to offer consumers the same flights at significantly reduced fares.

It is unclear how much of an impact the reduced fares will have on the industry as a whole. Jay Sorensen specializes in researching airline fare trends. He said the impact will likely be insignificant. Sorensen said discount airlines like Allegiant and Spirit are more likely to make a substantial impact by changing their routes.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Southwest Airlines has been in business for 43 years. The airline has grown to include more than 45,000 employees nationwide. Serving more than 100 million passengers every year, the airline is well known for their exemplary customer service.

Although many airlines now charge for extra luggage, Southwest continues to allow two pieces of checked baggage at no additional charge. The airline also allows passenger to change tickets without additional fees.

The airline is also known for offering reasonable fares, which are often well below their competitors. Although the fares are reduced, their planes boast leather seats, larger cabins, and available Wi-Fi.

Southwest Airlines has not been without controversy and complaints. However, as a whole, the airline strives to provide exceptional customer service. Their reputation and historically reasonable fares will certainly add to the popularity of their new flights.

Southwest Airlines’ international flights to the Caribbean will begin on July 1. Tickets are now available through customer service or online.

[Image via Flickr]