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Past, Present, and Future
On a hot summer day in Dallas, 42 years ago this month, Southwest Airlines officially took flight, forever changing the way Americans fly. The history of Southwest is a fascinating one. From the early days of hot pants, go-go boots, and handing out free whiskey onboard to bold expansion and the evolution of low-fare travel, Southwest has democratized the skies. In honor of our Anniversary, I thought I’d take a look at our past, our present, and our future.
Southwest was conceived on a cocktail napkin when San Antonio businessman Rollin King and his attorney, Herb Kelleher, met at the St. Anthony Club and etched out what would become the “Texas Triangle,” charting a path for low-fare travel between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The vision was simple: offer business people a faster, more efficient way to travel at a lower cost and do it with warm, personable service and a smile.
Southwest carries more originating domestic Passengers than any other airline in the U.S.—but even as we’ve grown and evolved over the years, we’ve never lost sight of our original vision. It is still who we are 42 years later: low fares, a convenient flight schedule, and Legendary Customer Service. The only real change is in how we serve our Customers. We’ve added a few bells and whistles (not to mention quite a few destinations) along the way.
Today, shorthaul travel is declining, and the travel habits of our Customers have evolved. That’s why we’ve updated our fleet with newly refreshed cabins, installed WiFi and live TV access onboard, and introduced the sleek, new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft into the fleet for longer flights. We acquired Air-Tran Airways and are in the process of integrating our two airlines to be a bigger, stronger Company, and we’ve revamped our Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer program. Additionally, we’re equipping Southwest for international service, and AirTran is providing a running start with service to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. We will continue to look for ways to give our Customers more choices and more value.
Southwest has always been a maverick and a pioneer, looking for new and better ways to fly. But through it all, we’ve never lost sight of our purpose: to connect you, our valued Customer, to the moments that are most important in your life through friendly, reliable, and low-cost travel. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
Chairman, President, and CEO
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