Highlighting Southwest’s International Destinations, Part 1: Overview

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you to Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama!  The Beach Boys’ famous song about magnificent tropical destinations starts with those lyrics.  Well, Southwest Airlines flies to three of those four renowned islands and quite a few more.

Though the carrier was for years known as a low-cost, domestic-only airline, with their acquisition of AirTran, Southwest set out on a new path: international flights.

Deserted beach in Puerto Rico
Southwest is no longer a domestic-only airline – it now services many Caribbean locations including Puerto Rico, pictured here. Photo ©The Honeymoon Guy

The airline continued operation of some of AirTran’s routes and also began new routes.  The international expansion has been rapid, with Southwest now flying to 15 international destinations (16 if you include Puerto Rico), with service to Turks and Caicos also slated to begin this November.

An airline which wasn’t really an option for honeymooners and island seekers a few years ago now services some excellent locales of that sort.  Let’s review these destinations and dive into some in detail!

In this first post of this series, I’ll provide an overview of Southwest’s international destinations.  The subsequent posts in the series will cover the following international destinations!

  • The Bahamas
  • Cuba
  • Cayman Islands
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • Aruba
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Mexico (Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico City)
  • Belize City
  • Costa Rica (Liberia, San Jose)

The Islands

Southwest now services nine destinations on seven different islands in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.  From north to south, these are the Bahamas, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Aruba.

Southwest now services many of the Caribbean islands, with countries serviced by the airline shown in yellow.

Interesting Fact of the Day: The Bahamas are not located in the Caribbean Sea.  They are actually situated in the Atlantic Ocean.  Don’t let that be a turnoff though – the Bahamas have some of the clearest waters and best beaches in the world.

The next island destination in the plans for Southwest is the Turks and Caicos, with service slated for Providenciales airport, starting November 5th, 2017.

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Mexico and Central America

Though there is something undeniably magnetic about islands, Southwest also boasts some appealing international continental destinations as well.

These include four spots in Mexico – Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City.  A bit further south lie three other Southwest destinations – Belize City, Belize, and Liberia and San Jose, both in Costa Rico.

Southwest services Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica in addition to many Caribbean islands.
In addition to servicing many Caribbean islands, Southwest flies to and from four airports in Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as Belize City, Belize.

Two Major Reasons You Should Care About Southwest’s International Destinations

  1. Companion Pass works for international flights!  If Southwest’s Companion Pass was only valid for domestic travel it would still be a great perk.  The reality is though that it works exactly the same on international flights as it does for domestic flights, making it the most valuable airline perk around.
  2. You get two free checked bags for flights.  Yes, this is a standard Southwest flight feature.  Years ago that wouldn’t have set them apart from other airlines as free checked bags for international trips was essentially universal.  That has changed to some extent though with many US carriers not offering free checked bags for flights to the Caribbean region.  You’re probably not packing ultra-light for an international trip (think snorkel, sunblock and golf clubs) so that free checked bag allotment on Southwest can really pay off.  When Patty and I traveled to Jamaica we each checked golf clubs.  Given that we were already checking one item each, we went ahead and checked our suitcases too, which made for comfortable cruising around the airport with only a small backpack to weigh us down.

Did Someone Say Hawaii?

Hawaii is a US state of course so even if Southwest flew to the 50th American state it wouldn’t be featured in this series.  However, it’s worth mentioning that there has been much talk of Southwest offering service to the Hawaiian islands, with such banter reaching the official Southwest earnings report conference calls.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see such service from Southwest in the future.

Coming up next…the details on the Bahamas and Cuba!

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Have you flown Southwest to one of its international destinations?  Share a note on your experience in the comments below!

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