Southwest Airlines Adds More Seasonal Florida Routes

Every airline will at some point disappoint some, if not most, of its customers. Sometimes delays can’t be avoided or flights get canceled for reasons that passengers may be angry about, but deep down understand that even the best-run companies can’t control.

One of the saving graces for the industry is that when you have a bad experience with an airline, you will likely not be able to stop doing business with that company because most airports only have so many carriers. That has benefitted Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Get Free Report which had a terrible holiday season that saw it strand tens of thousands of customers and then sort of bungle the apology.

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Since those ugly days, however, the company has been focused on fixing its reputation with its passengers. That has largely worked as Southwest had a near-perfect 4th of July holiday weekend flying record.

Getting people to their destination on time can quickly help an airline rebuild its reputation. Being part of people’s memories of a fun family vacation can repair those wounds even faster.

Southwest has been adding routes.

Image source: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Florida Has Had a Rough Tourist Summer

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made his state a less desirable place to visit with the NAACP being the biggest-name organization to warn against visiting the state.

“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color,” the organization shared.

Multiple LGBTQ+ groups have issued similar statements due to DeSantis’ legislative agenda and his open war with Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report, the largest single-site employer in Florida and its biggest tourism draw. DeSantis targeted Disney after its former CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the governor’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

That has led to a sort of open war between DeSantis and Disney which some believe has contributed to Disney World having a slow summer. In reality, those woes are not unique to Disney as Comcast’s (CMCSA) – Get Free Report Universal Studios has also seen lower summer attendance and general tourism to the state has been down.

You can blame that on DeSantis and his “woke” war with Disney, but it’s likely a product of broader economic conditions making Americans more wary about taking a pricey theme park vacation. No matter what the reason for the slowdown, Southwest is betting big on the state by expanding flights to Orlando and Florida throughout the rest of the year.    

Southwest Makes a Big Bet On Disney World, Florida

Southwest Airlines added four new direct flights to Orlando as of July 15. The carrier will now fly on Saturdays from Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Long Beach Airport (LGB) to Orlando, The Points Guy reported. A direct Saturday flight from El Paso, Texas to Orlando will also be added starting Sept. 9.

The airline will also be bringing back a number of seasonal Florida routes beginning on Sat., Jan. 13, 2024, between:

Albany and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, 
Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood
Buffalo,  and Fort Myers
Louisville and Fort Myers,
Providence and Fort Myers
Cleveland and Tampa
Cincinnati and Orlando
Detroit and Orlando
Minneapolis/St. Paul and Orlando (offered Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and weekends)

Beginning on the same day, the airline will offer weekly service on Saturdays between:

Hartford and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood 
Grand Rapids and Fort Myers
Washington, D.C. (Reagan National) and Fort Myers,
Minneapolis/St. Paul and Tampa

In addition, on Jan. 14, 2024, the airline will offer nonstop service on Sundays between Louisville and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.

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