Southwest Expands Its International Routes

Southwest has begun its expansion into international markets with flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. Next up: Costa Rica. And after that…?

For most of its 44-year history, Southwest was a domestic-only carrier.

It was only in July that the carrier pushed beyond U.S. borders, with flights to Mexico and the Caribbean.

On September 12, Southwest further expanded the scope of its network with the announcement of service from Baltimore/Washington International airport to San Jose, Costa Rica, beginning on March 7, 2015 (subject to government approval).

Looking north, South has recently signaled its interest in flying to Canada, a more likely prospect given the airline’s purchase of longer-range B737-800 jets.

Earlier this year, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly alluded to a list of 50 new destinations under consideration by the airline’s planning department, half of which he expected to see launched within three years. How many of those will be outside the country remains to be seen.

Southwest remains committed to maintaining a B737-only aircraft fleet, which limits the airline’s flying to what it calls “near-international” countries. That presumably rules out Europe and Asia, but leaves plenty of room for expansion to closer-in destinations.

Along with its route map, Southwest will have to update its tagline. No longer “You are now free to move about the country,” it’s now “You are now free to move about the countries.” Soon to be “You are now free to move about North America.”

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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