Will Southwest Airlines Fly To Europe?

It took nearly a decade for Southwest Airlines to inaugurate Hawaii service from the time they publicly advertised for someone to manage certification of their planes for long flights over water. When Southwest does something new, it seems to take awhile.

However with Hawaii firmly under their belt, could Europe be next? This spring JetBlue announced they’d fly to Europe in 2021. Could Southwest be next? Their Boeing 737 MAXs could make the trip from the Northeast, and Southwest is formally looking at buying other aircraft.

According to Southwest’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, their pilot agreement allows them to codeshare with another airline flying across the Pond, and they’re certainly discussing it, but nothing is imminent, and codeshares would come before Southwest’s own service.

Southwest shared in August that they’re open to international codeshares, and indeed they’ve had them in the past. Southwest has codeshared with ATA Airlines, WestJet (Canada), Volaris (Mexico), and AirTran (once they acquired the Atlanta-based airline). They’ve also partnered with Icelandair.

I still don’t see Southwest buying JetBlue but if they did that would be one way they’d inherit Europe flights. Europe service would sure make a Companion Pass more valuable, though.

(HT: toomanybooks)

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Southwest should probably do itself a favor and stay out of flying to Europe on its own planes. So many other carriers are already in that game that they wouldn’t make it easy for WN. And in that mix that there are the government-favored US and EU cartel industry kingpins which would unleash their full attack powers against WN TATL flights.

    Southwest’s got a sweet thing going for it with the highly oligopolistic US market and the US airline industry cartel kingpins in it making its financial life a lot easier than it would otherwise be if facing more competition. So why should it now way go out of its comfort zone?

  2. @ John. I agree with you exactly in that order.

    As far as South America, it’s a natural Intl expansion that could be insanely good for them. Much better than the premium heavy European routes that they will struggle with without a premium cabin. Brazil is the natural. They can target secondary markets that are often overlooked with frequency (much like they do in the U.S.) to places like Fortaleza, Recife, Natal, Salvador, etc which are mostly overflown to GRU with hours added from the U.S. in backtracking connections. As well, given the new laws in Brazil, they can also operate internal flights which fits perfectly into their system as it is in the U.S. That is to keep their aircraft moving. It’s also less of a premium market so few will care if they offer good schedules and competitive pricing.

  3. Baltimore would make a great European gateway for Southwest because all the domestic feeder routes are already in place. The harder part would be to find some good European destinations.

  4. If they start flying to Europe… They would most likely use Baltimore as their European Gateway city due to it being a main hub in feeder city for Southwest… But also because Baltimore is a small airport and has international arrivals center. South west with most likely fly to second rate cities… Such as Gatwick… Paris Orly etc. but my bet is on Canada first and truthfully I’m surprised they don’t fly there yet

  5. Codeshare makes more sense, at least initially, especially since they upgraded the reservation software a year or so ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *