Southwest Continues Its March on St Louis, Boosts Baltimore

Schedule Changes, Southwest

After American walked away from its St Louis hub, Southwest came in with additional flights. Now, the onslaught continues. Looks like Southwest is making its move on the Gateway City.

Southwest’s May schedule is now out (PDF) and there are some interesting moves. I’ll start with St Louis. The following flights are being added.

  • St Louis to Los Angeles starts with 2 daily flights
  • St Louis to Nashville starts with 2 daily flights
  • St Louis to New Orleans starts with 1 daily flight
  • St Louis to Raleigh/Durham starts with 1 daily flight
  • St Louis to San Diego starts with 1 daily flight
  • St Louis to Seattle starts with 1 daily flight
  • St Louis to Houston goes from 3 to 4 daily
  • St Louis to Minneapolis goes from 2 to 3 daily

The LAX and Seattle flights are interesting because those are both still flown by American. I believe Southwest Southwest Grows St Louis Againactually used to fly the LAX route before, but now it’s apparently the right time to come back in. While I doubt they’ll push American off the LA route just yet, I bet we see American walk away from Seattle one of these days. Speaking of LAX routes that Southwest is re-entering . . .

Long haul is making a comeback. Southwest is bringing back the Baltimore to LAX nonstop flight that it cut awhile back. The single daily flight, along with a Baltimore to Seattle run, will mark one of the first times we’ve seen Southwest go back into coast to coast flying after severely cutting back in recent years. Baltimore is also seeing an additional daily flight to Albuquerque, Buffalo, Denver, Vegas, Manchester, Norfolk, Phoenix, and Raleigh/Durham. Only the Florida markets of West Palm and Ft Myers lose a flight – going into the slower summer season that makes sense.

By the way, those LA and Seattle flights? Those are currently flown by AirTran. Looks like Southwest is making a little run at them to reassert their position in Baltimore.

Southwest also put out its Panama City schedule. They’ll run twice daily to Baltimore, Houston, Nashville, and Orlando. Looks like they’re spreading the wealth around so they can maximize connectivity. Seems like a smart way to go into that airport. I’m sure Nashville is happy to see service to a new airport from the get go. They seem to have been neglected down there for awhile.

Overall, the moves look good. We should thank Southwest for continuing to be very transparent with these changes.

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22 comments on “Southwest Continues Its March on St Louis, Boosts Baltimore

  1. I’m not sure how much of the Panama City move is to maximize connectivity – the agreement was at least 2 flights to 4 cities, I believe, so I looks like WN is doing exactly what they agreed to, no more.

  2. The BWI–LAX flight sure looks like a stab at AirTran. My wife’s family are Southwest loyalists who constantly fly that route, and while my wife’s mom remains with Southwest because of the flexibility (no change fees), other family members are gradually switching to AirTran because of the convenience.

    Now if Southwest added a non-stop to the Bay Area, that would make my wife’s mom really happy, because she often makes a triangle trip Baltimore–Los Angeles–Bay Area (or the other way around).

    Interestingly, United also has a twice-daily BWI–LAX flight, which is often priced the same as AirTran (typically on Saturdays and mid-week). This has been around for a long time — before AirTran entered the market, and before Southwest exited it (which was fall 2007, if I remember correctly). With the Southwest reentry this looks like it might be a bit too much, I wonder who’s going to lose out.

  3. Cranky, while I always enjoy your commentary, the grammar on this post is horrible! You might want to read through it an additional time and see what can be improved. The first sentence is a good start :).

    Great post in terms of the summary of what is going on with WN!

  4. Ryan wrote:

    Cranky, while I always enjoy your commentary, the grammar on this post is horrible!

    Ugh, you’re right. I apologize. I’ve gone in and cleaned it up somewhat. Thanks for pointing that out.

  5. Airtran has coexisted head to head with Southwest far longer than I expected at BWI.

    One more very interesting thing from Bill Owen’s post about the changes: “And we’re not done yet–we’ll be adding even more Denver service later in the summer…..and you’ll hear about it first here at “Nuts About Southwest!” ” Since their schedule now goes through August 13, I’m guessing that means DEN will get another schedule increase in August.

  6. Southwest is going for the jugular in its moves at St. Louis to hit American. Also, those trans-cons from BWI to LAX & SEA are a hit to AirTran.

  7. Mark Brown wrote:

    Can their 737s make a trans-con flight?

    Yes. As noted above, AirTran is already flying these same routes with the same aircraft (737-700), and Southwest also currently flies BWI-SAN.

  8. At least when WN talks about new service they actually tell you they are cutting flights somewhere else. Other carriers will tell you about new service, but don’t tell you it’s because they are dropping service somewhere else. You have to have more respect for a carriers who tells you both sides of the story.

    So where was service cut?

  9. David SFeastbay wrote:

    So where was service cut?

    Most of the flights are seasonal reductions in Florida. Here’s the list. (Only Islip to Ft Myers disappears completely)
    *Albany – Orlando from 3 to 2 daily
    *Baltimore – Ft Myers from 3 to 2 daily
    *Baltimore – West Palm from 4 to 3 daily
    *Buffalo – Orlando from 4 to 3 daily
    *Chicago – Ft Lauderdale from 5 to 4 daily
    *Chicago – Ft Myers from 3 to 2 daily
    *Chicago – Orlando from 7 to 6 daily
    *Chicago – Tamps from 6 to 5 daily
    *Islip – Ft Lauderdale from 3 to 2 daily
    **Islip – Ft Myers from 1 to 0 daily
    *Indianapolis – Tampa from 2 to 1 daily
    *Manchester – Tampa from 3 to 2 daily
    *Nashville – Tampa from 5 to 4 daily
    *Orlando – Philly from 6 to 5 daily
    *Philly – West Palm from 2 to 1 daily
    *Providence – Tampa from 3 to 2 daily

    The rest are single frequency cuts in the west:
    *Burbank – Sacramento from 10 to 9 daily
    *Burbank – San Jose from 10 to 9 daily
    *Dallas – Houston from 28 to 27 daily
    *Houston – San Antonio from 6 to 5 daily
    *Las Vegas – Phoenix from 15 to 14 daily
    *Las Vegas – San Jose from 9 to 8 daily
    *Oakland – Ontario from 10 to 9 daily
    *Ontario – Phoenix from 9 to 8 daily

  10. @ CF:

    Thanks Brett for the ‘delete’ list. Does make you wonder when you see something going from 10 to 9 flights (or 28 to 27) does it really make a difference. I don’t mean in freeing up an airplane to be used somewhere else, but a difference in the travel needs of people who fly between those city pairs. Was there really a need to have that many flights in the first place? Was every flight full each day or was it just to have a number of flights so one carrier looks good but all flights weren’t full and that many was never needed in the first place even before a slow down in air travel.

  11. @David SFeastbay

    Yes, it really does. It’s more of a convenience factor for a lot of us business travelers who fly intra-CA. Perhaps losing one of the 27 DAL-HOU flights isn’t that bad, but one of the main attractions of WN is a robust schedule in California. I was a huge fan of the 6:00 am SFO-SAN flight since I could connect home to TUS in San Diego and make it in early enough in the day to still get stuff done. That was cut a while back.

    Another attractive factor is that if you’re stuck in traffic and miss your flight (ever sit on the Maze and move 1/2 mile in 45 minutes?) there’s another flight to So Cal so you don’t have to wait long. In the grand scheme of things it’s probably not a huge deal, but for those of us with our “favorite” flights, it can be a minor annoyance.

  12. American Airlines has a corporate travel contract for SEA-STL with Boeing. As long as its there, STL-SEA will survive.

  13. I’ve heard that people that used to fly on the BWI-LAX on Southwest had trouble staying comfortable. With Southwest’s lack of in-flight entertainment, passengers say they get board and hungry since there is no meal service. Plus, seats can get uncomfortable because of the single fleet type aircraft that can be used on 20 minute flights to 6 hour flights. These aircraft aren’t really configured to fly 6 hours non-stop with no entertainment, business or first class. Its ridiculous. At least configure 8 or so DEDICATED aircraft for the BWI:SAN, LAX, and SEA routes. They should at least install some over head tvs and put some cushier seats. WI-FI might even be a good idea just for those aircraft. This would make people WANT to fly with them on transcontinental flights. At least AirTran and United have first/business class with some sort of in-flight entertainment and meal service.

  14. I think it’s interesting that WN brought back these transcons. I thought that WN wanted to maximize short & medium hops to boost revenue. So for example WN can hypothetically make money on both a BWI-MDW flight and a MDW-LAX flight, instead of just one BWI-LAX flight. Is there substantial data showing that lots of passengers fly WN on BWI-LAX and BWI-SEA?

  15. @ Oliver:
    We’ll, WN has never done BWI-SEA, so I assume they are going off of AirTran’s numbers on that route (which are probably good)

  16. I’ve heard Southwest is expanding WIFI to their entire fleet. With ~525 airplanes, it’s going to take a while, but I’ve heard it’s coming.

  17. The reduction in flights to/from Chicago may be due to the introduction of service to/from Milwaukee.

    As for in-flight entertainment, free WiFi is much more attractive than free XM. Heck, you could even partner with XM to provide a selection of channels free through a customer’s web-enabled device or laptop. AC outlets are also necessary because no laptop stays charged for the duration of a transcontinental flight.

  18. Kudos to Southwest for realizing the need for the STL-BNA route. For years I have been waiting for what seemed an obvious Southwest route. A direct ticket couldn’t be booked until the middle of 2009 (example: had to purchase STL-MDW then MDW to BNA). Finally that long 300+ mile drive can come to an end. Now that American has eliminated the non-stop from STL to SFO, I hope Southwest somehow enters that market as well (even if it is non-stop to Oakland).

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