Southwest Airlines, which started as a regional carrier within the state of Texas just over 50 years ago, could soon be operating red-eye flights.
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said this week that the low-cost carrier could soon start operating red-eye flights from its hub at Dallas Love Field, a major step that could mark a major evolution for Southwest, which has traditionally been known for its pro-traveler policies (free checked bags and cancellations) and its budget prices.
“It’s a logical evolution for us,” Jordan told the Dallas Morning News this week. Jordan added that Southwest already has the aircraft and the customer demand for red-eye flights, and it’s just a matter of time before the airline expands operations to include red-eyes—Southwest flyers in certain markets, according to Jordan, want a “full day” in their destination.
Jordan didn’t reveal a timeline or a destination for possible future red eyes. The flights could be as short as service from the West Coast into Dallas, which, while only a few hours long, would still be a red-eye. Or, the tease this week could be a nod at a future expansion for Southwest.
Currently, Southwest does not operate any red-eye flights, which are defined as a flight that leaves at night and arrives at a destination the next morning, traditionally traversing time zones, possible both domestically (Los Angeles to New York, for example) and internationally (New York to London) for U.S. carriers.
Southwest does operate some lengthy routes, including from Phoenix to Honolulu, which clocks in at just under 3,000 miles, and routes from the U.S. to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. However, Southwest has not yet expanded operations to Europe, something that another low-cost airline, JetBlue, has leaned into this year with flights to Amsterdam, London, and Paris, and, most recently, Dublin.
When Southwest did expand its route network to Hawaii about five year ago, there was some thought that it was the first step towards a more international schedule—the CEO at the time, Gary Kelly, didn’t dismiss the possibility when asked in 2019.