Until now, Southwest Airlines has had its wings spread exclusively over American soil. But starting today, the carrier will start flying outside of the country, adding flights to the Caribbean first and other international destinations later this summer and into the fall.
Southwest had been planning to take over the routes of its new subsidiary, AirTran Airways, so this expansion has been expected.
Starting today, Southwest will fly routes to the Bahamas, Aruba and Jamaica, leaving out of Atlanta, Baltimore, Orlando, Boston and Pittsburgh, reports the Los Angeles Times.
On Aug. 10, it’ll add flights to Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico as well as Mexico City and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic on Nov. 2.
Passengers can check two bags free of charge on those flights, but be sure you check Southwest’s restrictions for size and weight, as they may be different than its domestic flight rules.
The plan eventually is for Southwest to serve 96 destinations in six countries, including all of AirTran’s current international routes.
As for why it took this long for the airline to get into the global game, it had to train crews and install new equipment on some planes, as many didn’t have the flotation devices in passengers seats required by federal law for any planes that fly long distances over water.
Southwest Airlines begins international service to Caribbean [Los Angeles Times]