Southwest Airlines Fires A Shot At American Airlines In Miami

Southwest Airlines is going to start flying to Miami and to Palm Springs, adding two destinations to their route map.

Miami is, I think, the interesting one. They haven’t announced where they’ll fly but it’ll likely be several destinations. There’s more opportunity to grow in Miami than Palm Springs.

What makes Miami surprising is that it’s the type of market the ‘old Southwest’ would never have entered. They already have a huge operation in Fort Lauderdale, and a smaller one at West Palm Beach and while they aren’t exactly the same markets there’s huge overlap. Southwest always favored the less expensive airports, and avoided congested business hubs.

That changed after the AirTran acquisition when they got major positions at big, expensive Northeast airports although this didn’t always work out well for them (see, for instance, New York).

Miami is one of the more expensive airports to operate from in the U.S. This was, if not an explicit policy of pre-merger American Airlines to drive up airport costs, something that their management sat by and was ok with happening – because it chased all the low cost carriers to Fort Lauderdale. Miami was expensive, but it was all theirs.

Delta had to come into Miami to support its LATAM partnership – feed that American had previously provided when the South American carrier was part of oneworld. Now we’re getting Southwest looking to expand there too.

Miami is important for American because of its Latin route network, and Florida travel is ‘hot’ right now (to the extent any markets are). But it’ll be interesting to see whether American can defend it in the long term. They announced new service in response to Delta back in the fall but at some point additional capacity will mean less full flights and lower fares and American will exit Covid in the weakest financial position of the major carriers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. yes we have always flown to Ft. Lauderdale when flying to the Miami area, especially since we stayed in Ft. Lauderdale anyway (but did go to Miami), so would not be any difference to me except going to a busier airport would be a negative…

  2. As a frequent CVG to PSP traveler, it was frustrating to read about Southwest adding Palm Springs to their route map, without knowing where the flight(s) will originate from. Any educated guesses?

  3. MIA offer big discounts to other carriers to fly into MIA. The airport doesn’t want to be 90% dependent on AA for money so getting southwest to join Frontier helps

  4. I don’t think that’s really firing shots.. Southwest caters to a VERY different crowd. They can keep the partiers and trashy people.

  5. @RandyO

    As I’ve spent a LOT of time in Palm Springs, I think SJC/OAK and DEN would be a pretty good guess.

    PSP just isn’t a big enough destination to justify too much new traffic, even after a Covid vaccine comes along.

  6. We fly Southwest frequently and we are not partiers or trashy people as stated by “plane Jane”. My family members are Very decent people with high morales ! Plane Jane should not classify people who she does not know.

  7. “Southwest Airlines” has it going On in Everyway! They in my opinion are the “Neiman-Marcus” of All Airlines.

  8. @plane-jane
    You really don’t know that Southwest is not a Spirit or Allegiant.
    One of the best run airlines in the world. No they don’t feature first class or global alliancesbut are very popular with business as well as leisure customers. Multiple daily frequencies, free checked luggage, no change fees (even before covid-19), easy to use frequent flyer program. Cancel any flight up to 10 minutes before departure and a credit for every dollar. If booked using points and you cancel the points go instantly back into your account. No fees period.

  9. @RandyO and @Joseph N.
    I would second @Joseph N. prediction about SJC/OAK, DEN, I would also throw in PHX, possible LAS, and/or maybe even DAL or MDW?

    Others have thoughts? Also why is WN so interested in PSP all of the sudden, it’s like less than an hour drive to ONT and WN recently has been trying to consolidate regions, not serve every airport.

  10. @planejane i think AA crowd lately is way worse that Southwest. I have been an EXP with AA for years and I prefer Southwest: better crews, easier boarding, the wifi works and they are blocking middle seats!

  11. I prefer SW but I have to drive 2 hrs from MYR to CHS to get to Denver. My last flight was on AA and it was terrible. It was jam packed. I was in a middle seat because I didn’t want to pay extra to choose a seat. In the future I will drive happily To have a better travel experience

  12. I prefer SW but I have to drive 2 hrs from MYR to CHS to get to Denver. My last flight was on AA and it was terrible. It was jam packed. I was in a middle seat because I didn’t want to pay extra to choose a seat. In the future I will drive happily To have a better travel experience

  13. Once service begins to MIA, Southwest will now bring cruise passengers to both of South Florida’s cruise ports.

    And, yes, cruises will come back. But not likely until the late 2nd Q or early 3rd Q of 2021.

    AA can’t afford to lose its captive passengers, and opening the MIA market to a competitor like Southwest should (and I emphasize ‘should’) make AA up their game. The question is…will they? Nah!

  14. We love Southwest. Sure wish they’d fly into Springfield, Mo. we took AA because they do felt to Springfield. Like so many others, we flew home to Jax and the plane was jammed packed from Charlotte to Jax. It was disgusting as the attendants walked up and down the aisles telling folks to adjust their masks when they’re not abiding by the CDC guidelines. I’ll not take AA airlines again. I’ll take SW to to from Jax to KCI and drive. I even paid xtra for our seats and still was tight all the way across.

  15. I fly down there a lot, mainly as a gateway to the Florida Keys, which I often visit multiple times a year. Miami and FLL are interchangeable to me. Whatever offers the better time/price is where I go. I remember one time, where I was visiting Miami proper, yet still flew into FLL, because the flight was 50$ cheaper, and more importantly – The rental car I needed was 200$ cheaper for the week. There’s really no point in Southwest servicing both.

    Side Note: Flights from Newark to both airports are running 19-36$ each way. It costs me more in tolls to drive to JFK, then it does for an airplane flight……. I just find that amusing.

  16. SWA Booking site easy to navigate, credit or changing plans “no problem”, generous SWA points.

    all ditto to Tom’s comments.
    I prefer my 2 hrs to catch SWA over 29 min. to fly AA. Pease come back to XNA…..ur’re missing a fast growing area with thriving business & “friendly”, not trashy travelors.
    We miss you!

  17. For the record, Southwest entered the New York market (LGA) pre-merger on June 28, 2009. — The merger was announced in 2010. This service continues to this day.

    They tried served Newark from 2011 until last year, stopping due to the 737max groundings. Further, AirTran pulled out of Newark before the merger was announced in 2010.

    Merger:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/business/28air.html

    AirTran at Newark:
    https://www.nj.com/news/2009/08/airtran_airways_plans_to_stop.html

    Southwest At Newark:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2019/07/25/southwest-will-no-longer-fly-out-newark-because-boeing-max-groundings/

    Southwest at LaGuardia:
    http://investors.southwest.com/news-and-events/news-releases/2009/28-06-2009

    Perhaps the writer should have done a little research before stating the expansion into was because of the merger.

  18. @gary. See interview with Gary Kelly in today’s Dallas Morning News. Explains the rationale for adding MIA and PSP. Doesn’t contradict what you said, but informative.

  19. I am a frequent flyer 5-7 times per month.In my opinion SW is a much more pleasant experience all around…and the passengers are not “trashy” as plane Jane described perhaps she’s”bad -lucky ”
    Plane Jane’s negative attitude
    about people she doesn’t even know..please stay away from SW
    I don’t want to be exposed to such negativity! SW #1 in my book

  20. AA is not worried about Southwest. Southwest will have maybe 10 flights a day. AA already matches FLL domestic fares from MIA so it is not going to make a big difference there. Southwest has struggled with capturing foreign point-of-sale traffic (see why Southwest could not make Mexico City work) and that is essential for being relevant internationally in MIA. MIA will just be another spoke city like Detroit or Charlotte for Southwest not some type of significant operation AA should be concerned about.

  21. Regarding PlaneJane’s comments about WN having “partiers and trashy people.” That has not been my experience. By the way, let’s look at some facts:
    1) In 2017 the NAACP urged African Americans to exercise caution when traveling with the airline.
    2) American Airlines came in at the bottom for the Airline Quality Ratings.
    3) Some people feel that Southwest’s boarding method is a cattle call. Personally, I think it’s the most efficient. If I’m in boarding position A27, I know exactly who is in front of me and who is behind me. So much better than the shapeless ameoba I had to deal with when I flew American Airlines. And… people trying to scam the system and board ahead of their boarding group. And… the GA did absolutely nothing.
    WN is still #1 in my book.

  22. Clarification regarding “the airline” (#1 in my previous post)
    In 2017 the NAACP urged African Americans to exercise caution when traveling with *American Airlines*

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