While Southwest Airlines is the largest domestic carrier in the US, its international service is typically overlooked. This is because its network is not as extensive as some of the other US carriers.
Southwest Serves 14 International Destinations in 10 Countries Outside of America
Although Southwest has been in operation for almost 50 years, its international division only started operating in 2014. Following the merger of AirTran and Southwest, the latter gained rights to operate in several countries.
The low-cost carrier has been aggressively expanding its international network by adding new destinations such as Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. It has been doing this almost yearly since 2014.
Belize City (BZE)
In 2015, Southwest added Belize to its international network. With its beautiful beaches and numerous scuba and snorkeling resorts, this destination is a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience a relaxing and peaceful vacation.
United Airlines often matches the price of Southwest on the Houston to Belize City route.
As the largest carrier in Mexico, Southwest offers flights to several popular leisure destinations in the country. These include Los Cabos, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos. With more flights to more than 20 Mexican cities, Southwest’s unbeatable prices can be found in many US airports.
Nonstop from: Baltimore/Washington, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego.
Nonstop from: Austin (AUS), Atlanta (ATL), Baltimore/Washington, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Nashville, and St. Louis.
In 2017, Southwest added daily service from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Cayman. This new route was also launched along with a limited seasonal service from its other cities in Houston and Baltimore.
The following year, the carrier added a daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Cayman. Following the successful launch of that route, Southwest also introduced seasonal service from its focus cities to the island.
After the air travel restrictions to Cuba were lifted in 2016, Southwest and several other US airlines started offering service to the island. However, due to the lack of passenger traffic, the carrier ended its service to Varadero and Santa Clara.
Despite having direct flights from several airports in Florida, Southwest is the only carrier that can provide nonstop service to Cuba.
In 2015, Southwest added Costa Rica to its growing international network. The country has two international airports with Stateside service from Dallas/Ft. Lauderdale and Houston-Hobby.
Flights from Houston to Costa Rica can be found daily with average prices of around $400.
In 2014, Southwest launched its international operations with the acquisition of AirTran Airways’ route to Aruba. The Caribbean Island is a popular destination for East Coast travelers.
Unfortunately, departure taxes are required to keep airfares low. While there are plenty of options from Houston and Baltimore, the most affordable flights are usually found in Florida.
Southwest was one of the first airlines to put on sale flights to Jamaica when it launched in 2014. The island is often referred to as the Rock’s Beach. Although it can be costly, there are plenty of deals available from Southwest.
If you’re a frequent flier, Southwest has flights to Nassau from Baltimore and Ft. Lauderdale. The flights are available on Saturdays and can be purchased at the $345 RT range. If you’re flexible, daily service from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau can be purchased for $235 roundtrip.
Southwest added service to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic in 2014. As part of its international expansion, the company also launched a portal that lets users save on hotel packages and flight accommodations. These savings can be found on Southwest’s site.
Turks and Caicos
In 2017, Southwest launched service from Miami to the Turks and Caicos Islands. The new route became its 11th international destination. While sales typically drop below $200, the average price is still quite low.
Unfortunately, the government of Turks and Caicos levies taxes and fees that keep the price from dropping further. American Airlines also has a similar route from Miami.
Flying Internationally with Southwest
Southwest Airlines has added new international routes to many exciting destinations.
These new routes include Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Before you book, check out these details to get a better idea of what to expect.
Out of this list, I’ve traveled to various Caribbean and Latin American destinations. Some of my favorites include Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Turks & Caicos.
This month, I’m planning on visiting Belize. There are so many great things to see and do in this beautiful country.
Sometimes, travel plans change, and Southwest can accommodate those. Its flexible pricing makes it super easy to get changed.
Having flown with Southwest, I can tell you that they never charged me any last-minute fees. Also, since they do free checked bags, it’s rare that airlines offer this service nowadays.
If you’re a frequent flier, then you should sign up for the airline’s rewards program. It doesn’t have blackout dates, and it gives you free flights when you use it.
Southwest Airlines is a great option for people who prefer to book all of their travel requirements in one fell swoop.
Regardless of where you go, you’ll need a passport. You may also need to bring other documentation such as vaccinations and additional Visas. Use Southwest’s international travel tool to get all of these details organized.
Due to the country-specific regulations, pets cannot be allowed in the cabin.
If your travel dates are flexible, then use Southwest’s Low Fare Calendar to see which dates are the cheapest to fly.
When Did Southwest Start Flying Internationally?
Southwest Airlines started selling tickets for international flights on Monday, marking a major shift in strategy for the company.
Starting July 1, Southwest will be able to fly to some Caribbean and Latin American destinations, which were previously only served by regional airlines.
The company noted that it was the first major carrier to offer international flights since it was created to serve domestic markets.
Gary Kelly, the company’s president and CEO, said that the company’s decision to enter international markets was a major step for the company.
Southwest will also have non-stop flights to various Caribbean destinations, such as Jamaica and Aruba. It also has weekly flights between Baltimore and Jamaica, and between Orlando and Puntarena.
In 2011, Southwest bought AirTran, which was its former rival. The acquisition helped the company expand its international reach.
AirTran will still continue to operate international flights until the end of the year, but all of its services will be taken over by Southwest by then.
International travel is outpacing the growth of the US economy. This is prompting US carriers to focus on international markets in order to boost their profits.
Bob Jordan, a senior executive of Southwest Airlines, noted that international travel was a huge opportunity for the company.
Henry Harteveldt, a travel consultant, noted that Southwest might be able to take on larger rivals in the international market by offering cheaper fares.
Jordan noted that Southwest’s low prices and attractive rewards package would appeal to international customers. He also mentioned that the company has a strong base of loyal customers.
Harteveldt said that he was interested to see how Southwest would expand its international reach beyond the existing destinations served by AirTran. He mentioned that the company might also add new flights to other countries.
Officials of Southwest said that they would focus on completing the integration of AirTran’s operations and eventually launching international flights