Southwest just announced 12 new routes to leisure destinations like Hawaii and Mexico as it prepares to fly the Boeing 737 Max again — here's the full list

  • Southwest Airlines is expanding with 12 new leisure routes across the United States and Mexico. 
  • Savannah, Georgia and Sarasota, Florida are the focus of the expansion, with nine new routes to those cities.
  • Hawaii and Mexico will see three new routes as Americans seek vacations in tropical locales.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Southwest Airlines is continuing a nationwide expansion with the addition of 12 new routes that were announced Thursday.

The carrier will enter two new markets that it didn't serve prior to the pandemic: Savannah, Georgia and Sarasota, Florida. Sun destinations have always been the backbone of Southwest's route network, but a push for increased leisure flying has seen the airline enter new markets at a rapid pace.

Mexico and Hawaii will also see more of the low-cost airline as Americans seek tropical escapes to any place that will have them. Pre-departure testing is required for travel to the Hawaiian islands but not for Mexico. 

The announcement comes one day after the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the Boeing 737 Max to return to the skies. Southwest was an early adopter of the aircraft, which fits well into its all-Boeing 737 fleet because the new model didn't require too much additional training for pilots and provided the airline with fuel savings.

Read more: Leaked announcement: Southwest plans to furlough workers for the first time in its 53-year history

Southwest previously intended to use the 737 Max for Hawaii service, but the plane's March 2019 grounding delayed its debut to the region. With the Max now cleared for service, Southwest will soon be at full capacity as it restores those aircraft back into flying condition. The airline reportedly plans to acquire more from Boeing, though it hasn't been announced whether the Max will fly on any of these new routes

Here's where Southwest Airlines is flying in 2021. 

Between Savannah, Georgia and Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland.David Shvartsman/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines will begin flying between Savannah, Georgia and Baltimore, Maryland starting March 11, 2021.  The twice-daily service will see one flight will depart Baltimore in the morning and another in the late afternoon with return flights from Savannah departing in the late morning and early evening. 

The only competition Southwest will have on the route is from Allegiant Air. The ultra-low-cost carrier offers twice-weekly service between the two cities on Sundays and Thursdays. 

Between Savannah, Georgia and Chicago

Chicago, IllinoisKen Ilio/Getty

Southwest will begin flying between Savannah, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will depart Chicago's Midway International Airport in the morning with a return flight in the afternoon.

Competing with Southwest on the route will be United Airlines and American Airlines, offering service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Southwest, however, has the size advantage in offering Boeing 737 aircraft instead of the regional jet service offered by its competitors. 

Between Savannah, Georgia and Dallas

Dallas, Texas.Shutterstock.com

Southwest will begin flying between Savannah, Georgia and Dallas, Texas starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will depart Dallas Love Field in the morning with a return flight in the afternoon.

The only competition Southwest will have on the route is from American Airlines, offering three-times-daily flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. 

Between Savannah, Georgia and Houston

Houston, Texas.Duy Do

Southwest will begin flying between Savannah, Georgia and Houston, Texas starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will depart Houston's William P. Hobby Airport in the afternoon with a return flight in the late afternoon.

The only competition Southwest will have on the route is from United Airlines, offering twice-daily flights to Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Southwest, however, will have the size advantage using the Boeing 737 aircraft over United's Embraer E175 regional jets operated by Mesa Airlines.

Between Savannah, Georgia and Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee.ohn Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Southwest will begin flying between Savannah, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will depart Nashville in the afternoon with a return flight in the early evening.

No other airlines currently serve the 363-mile route, giving Southwest an advantage as it expands its presence in the Music City.

Between Sarasota, Florida and Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland.Cyndi Monaghan/Getty Images

Southwest will begin flying between Sarasota, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland starting February 14, 2021.  The three-times-daily service will see mornings, afternoon, and evening flights departing from Baltimore and early morning, afternoon, and late afternoon flights return flights from Sarasota. 

The only competition Southwest will have on the route is from Allegiant Air. The ultra-low-cost carrier offers twice-weekly service between the two cities on Mondays and Fridays. 

Between Sarasota, Florida and Chicago

Chicago, Illinois.Joe Daniel Price/Getty Images

Southwest will begin flying between Sarasota, Florida and Chicago starting February 14, 2021.  The twice-daily service will see a morning and afternoon flight from Chicago and two afternoon return flights from Sarasota. 

Competing with Southwest on the route will be American Airlines and United Airlines, both offering daily service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Frontier Airlines also offers Saturday-only service from O'Hare International.

Between Sarasota, Florida and Houston

Houston, Texas.IrinaK/Shutterstock

Southwest Airlines will begin flying between Sarasota, Florida and Houston starting February 14, 2021.  The once-daily service will see a late morning or early afternoon flight, depending on the day, departing from Houston's William P. Hobby Airport and a late afternoon return flight from Sarasota. 

No other airlines serve the route, leaving Southwest as the sole non-stop operator.

Between Sarasota, Florida and Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee.Dan Reynolds Photography/Getty Images

Southwest will begin flying between Sarasota, Florida and Nashville starting February 14, 2021.  The twice-daily service will see either a morning or afternoon flight, depending on the day, and an evening flight departing from Nashville. Return flights from Sarasota will be operated in the morning and, depending on the day,  in the afternoon or evening.

The only competition Southwest will have on the route is from Allegiant Air. The ultra-low-cost carrier offers twice-weekly service between the two cities on Mondays and Fridays. 

Between Long Beach, California and Honolulu

Honolulu, Hawaii.emperorcosar/Shutterstock

Southwest will begin flying between Long Beach, California and Honolulu starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will see a morning departure from Long Beach and an afternoon return flight from Honolulu. 

The only competition Southwest will have on the route is from Hawaiian Airlines. The unofficial Hawaiian flag carrier similarly offers daily service between the two cities on its new Airbus A321neo aircraft. 

Between Orange County, California and Los Cabos, Mexico

Los Cabos, Mexico.Shutterstock.com

Southwest will begin flying between Orange County, California and Los Cabos, Mexico starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will see a morning departure from Long Beach and an afternoon return flight from Los Cabos. 

No other airlines currently serve mile route, giving Southwest an advantage as it expands its presence at John Wayne Airport, providing an alternative to Los Angeles International Airport. Orange County is growing in popularity with low-cost carriers as both Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air have announced new service to the airport. 

Between Orange County, California and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

Southwest will begin flying between Orange County, California and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico starting March 11, 2021.  The once-daily service will see a morning departure from Long Beach and a late afternoon return flight from Puerto Vallarta. 

No other airlines currently serve the route, giving Southwest an advantage as it expands its presence at John Wayne Airport. 

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