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Old 09-22-2002, 07:32 PM   #1
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Southwest Airlines Initiates Its First Nonstop Transcon

Southwest Airlines Initiates Its First Nonstop Transcontinental Flights

DALLAS, May 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV)continues its expansion plans with a bold move by introducing its first nonstop cross-country flights, accompanied by additional short and medium-length flights along the coasts and in the Midwest.

Southwest will begin its first regularly scheduled nonstop coast-to-coast service Sept. 15 with two daily flights between Baltimore/Washington and Los Angeles.
This is huge news and has to have the major airlines running scared. WN is operating BWI-LAX 2x a day, 7 days a week (9:10am, 6:25pm) and LAX-BWI 2x a day, 7 days a week (9:15am, 12:25pm).

NBC News reported that the first transcon flew this weekend and showed footage of the flight. It arrived on-time and they served a tiny snack service, but Jim Avala (NBC News Reported) didn't look too comfortable in the middle seat that he had to occupy for 2329mi, which probably came out to a little over five hours. The Nightly News footage showed WN employees in shorts serving champagne at the gate in their plastic cups. reports leisure fares as low as $200 on this route and as high as $538 for a fully refundable, round-trip ticket. America West (HP) has matched this unrestricted fare. United and Delta offer this route (unrestricted) for $2250. If you're willing to travel on a restricted ticket, DL and HP offer a $405 fare and UA offers $812.

$1000-$1500 is a lot of money, but there's a sizeable difference between the two airlines. I can't imagine taking a short biz trip and having to spend over 10 hours potentially in the middle seat of a 737 with no meal, no airfone, no power ports, no movies.

If I was traveling on my own dime, I'd probably be willing to book my travel early enough (a few weeks in advance) so that I could fly one of the majors since my leisure travel rarely runs into change fees and other restrictions.

With company travel, it would be a rough decision. It would really come down to if there was a requirement to return overnight for the next business day. Also, the WN flights are a lot more viable for a long trip where you have several days at your destination and aren't expected to do a same-day turnaround or work an entire day after flying in. In the opposite circumstance, it would be extremely suboptimal and could really impair performance.

WN doesn't offer a red-eye LAX-BWI, which is a pretty big blow, too. However, the daytime schedule looks pretty good if you're willing to kill a day as you head east. At least I can rest assured that WN will be clean, safe, and on-time.
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