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The average traveler is only going to glance at signage around a boarding gate a few times before heading out onto a flight. These signs flash information about connections, upgrades, reminders about rules and regulations, and where you might be on the standby list. Most airlines have had digital flatscreens for years and years, but that hasn’t been the case for Southwest Airlines.
Things are finally changing, and it's all positive for departing passengers. Up first for installations and improvements is Chicago-Midway, as the new gate displays have already started to arrive at the airport.
It seems like Southwest has been thinking about this for years and years, and that was especially the case when it decided to gobble up operations over at AirTran. Now things are a reality, as Southwest Airlines is planning to cross the border for the very first time.
This summer will be when the flights first take to the skies, as the initial international flights are scheduled to begin on July 1. Do not expect long haul journeys across continents and oceans, but if you’re looking for the warm waters of the Caribbean, Southwest will have you more than covered.
The landing of the plane, a Boeing 737-700 carrying 124 passengers and five crew members, was uneventful. It was a normal flight, with a normal, non-emergency landing, with the only difference being the 737 landed at the wrong airport.
Originally set to fly Chicago-Midway to Branson, MO, and on to Dallas-Love Field, Southwest flight 4013 instead touched down on the 3700' runway at a tiny general aviation field, M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport (PLK), just outside Branson. While the crew expected the 7100' runway at Branson and a regular terminal to park and offload passengers, there was some hard braking and some tarmac wait time.
Thankfully, that was the extent of the discomfort for the 124 flyers and 5 crew, who were speedily bussed over to the correct airport to board another Southwest 737 the airline had rapidly dispatched for them.
The story can actually be seen, abridged, in the tweets of passenger Scott Schieffer (@scottdallastx):
New Routes / Airlines / Airline News / Delta / ANA / Southwest / Aerolineas Argentinas / American Airlines / → All Tags
Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so we’ve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
· All Nippon Airways:
Plenty of Boeing 787s are now circling around the globe, and this week is no exception with another new route announcement. The folks over at All Nippon Airways will be adding a new daily nonstop option between Tokyo-Haneda and Munich, and they’re also adding a new flight between Tokyo-Narita and Düsseldorf. It looks like the flights will take to the skies for the first time on March 30, and it will be Boeing 787s doing all of the up in the air stuff back and forth between the different cities and countries. It’s just another option to get aboard one of these new planes—and to check out some new spots—so we’re not complaining.
· Southwest Airlines:
The planes and people over at Southwest Airlines have opened up their schedule well into 2014, as flights are now bookable through June. That means there’s also some new options to check out, as the carrier has added some new flights to get you to where you need to be. Out of New York-LaGuardia Southwest will be doing the nonstop thing to new spots like Nashville, Houston-Hobby, Chicago-Midway, and Akron-Canton over in Ohio. It should be around May 11 when these flights start cruising at 35,000-feet. They’re also mixing things up down in San Diego, as Southwest Airlines will also be connecting the California coast with spots like Orlando, Seattle, New Orleans, and Portland—the one in Oregon.
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The way in which Southwest Airlines does the in-flight WiFi thing means that the internet waves can operate from gate to gate. That’s pretty slick, as it sets them apart from competition. Things are about to get even better, as the carrier just announced that some in-flight messaging will be arriving soon to an airline seat near you.
Those who prefer the flavor of Apple when it comes to their mobile device are welcome to utilize the iMessage feature on their iPod, iPhone, or iPad. Users with iOS 5 or later can now keep things powered up, switched on, and stay connected.
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We’ve known for quite some time that Southwest Airlines has visions of international destinations dancing in their head, and now it looks as if that they might have picked out exactly where they want to start things up. The lucky recipients of this kind of attention are the residents of the Sunshine State, as Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is scoring quite an airport upgrade.
All in all Southwest is spending more than $300 million on terminal and concourse improvements, as they try to get things ready to go for an influx of international departures and arrivals. Things should kick off at some point next year, and the construction equipment will head offset when 2017 rolls around.
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It’s the season to celebrate the release of the latest and greatest in video games, and there’s one carrier getting in on the fun. Unfortunately they’re not giving away the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, but we can’t complain if an airline just hands us one of those Nintendo Wii U things. That’s the case over at Southwest Airlines, as they’re partnering up with Nintendo to bring Mario, Luigi, and all their friends to 35,000 feet.
Just the other day, Southwest passed out a brand new Wii U console to around 100 or so of their passengers, and Flight 1883 from New Orleans to Dallas-Love Field was the lucky recipient. Apparently Mario was even there to welcome the flight to the terminal, and he jumped onto the intercom to confirm that everyone would be scoring some freebies.
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Happy Cyber Monday!
Hopefully you're not burnt out from turkey-eating and Black Friday shopping, because today really is quite the happy day for travelers looking for bargain, with at least nine airlines offering "book today" deals, and four other booking website joining the fun with their own promotions. Some require a code, others only book from a special Cyber Monday site, so pay attention if you're set on saving money.
Here's the current listing of travel Cyber Monday deals, and their fine print:
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Good news for frequent flyers, as another carrier has joined in on the TSA PreCheck fun. In case you’re not familiar with the system, basically you consent for the airlines and TSA to know a little bit more about you through your frequent flyer number. Then at the airport—if selected—you can go through an expedited screening line. Here you usually get to leave your shoes on and keep your laptop in its bag, so it’s win-win for frequent travelers.
Now things are a go for the flyers over at Southwest Airlines, as the carrier is the latest to adopt the TSA PreCheck procedures. This is kind of big news, as Southwest is the country’s biggest domestic carrier. All those travelers should go along well with the system, as TSA PreCheck has made its way to around 100 airports. Those lucky enough to get the go ahead for the better security line will get confirmation within their boarding pass, as the text "TSA PRE" will appear in the upper left corner the paperwork.
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If the battery is dead on your iPad or you left it behind—no problem—as Southwest Airlines is getting ready to pass the gadgets around on a few of their upcoming flights. As you probably know, the carrier is busy expanding their WiFi connectivity and streaming content, and they’re eager to show it off to travelers.
Don’t expect the latest and greatest in Apple technology here, as the carrier hasn’t gotten around to ordering up some of those new iPad Air things just yet. As part of the program, Southwest will be passing out iPad2 devices on flights between spots like Chicago-Midway, Denver, and Oakland.
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There’s nothing we enjoy better than a little new airplane smell, and if you’re getting aboard a Delta flight anytime soon you might be enjoying exactly that—well, kind of. You see Delta kind of has a whole bunch of new planes, but the catch is that they’re really only new to them. They’ve all had quite the life before flying with the Delta livery and logo, as many of them are just being shipped over from their former life at AirTran.
Just last week the first of Delta’s Boeing 717s took to the skies, as one of the planes departed from Newark-Liberty on its way to the home base down in Atlanta. Right now there’s a total of two planes in their Boeing 717 fleet, but they hope to boost those numbers to around ten before the end of the year.
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If getting back into the workweek is a little hard this morning—no problem—as we’ve got some daydream destinations to get you through the day. Sure the odds aren’t exactly in your favor when it comes to winning a contest, but you can’t win if you don’t play. So here’s a couple contests going on this week, so take a few minutes and throw your name into the hat for a chance to win.
Amtrak Eats Sweepstakes
Take things easy and travel by train, as Amtrak is offering the chance to score some tickets and spending cash. The contest ends tomorrow, so just head over to the site. The big prize is round-trip sleeping car accommodations for four on Amtrak, $2,500 cash, and even a seven-piece cookware set from Cooking Channel.
Southwest Visit Florida Sweepstakes
A free ride in one of those blue-bellied planes always sounds like a good idea to us, and now through the end of the month Southwest Airlines is giving away some free flights. Head here to enter a few things like your name and email address, and you’ll be ready to go. Big winners will score two round-trip tickets to Florida and three nights at TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach.