A milestone event happened today at Southwest!  Today, we changed our schedule by introducing aircraft with the new “Evolve” interior that we unveiled on Jan. 17, and the 737-800.  The new equipment types were planned in advance, so these are equipment changes on existing flights with no “net-new” flying.  This particular milestone comes from a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes preparation work, and takes us a giant step down the path towards the future of Southwest Airlines. 

The first new type added to the schedule today is our 737-700s with the innovative eco-friendly “Evolve” interior.  Southwest’s Maintenance Crews are preparing to install the interiors on our -700s in March, and the first few aircraft sporting the new interior until April. 

Beginning on April 11, we will start assigning “Evolve” aircraft to specific lines of flying, starting with 10 aircraft and increasing the number of planes almost weekly. In fact, the number of “Evolve” aircraft will be going up as fast as a car’s odometer zipping up the interstate, reaching 100 aircraft by June.  For those of you with access to industry schedule feeds, we’re using the equipment code “73W” for the “Evolve” -700s, instead of the industry-standard equipment code 73G. 

The second new equipment change (and the “bigger” news with nearly 30 percent increased capacity than the -700!) is the introduction of our brand-new 737-800s, which also will enter service on April 11.    Our newest Boeing planes will come equipped with the “Sky Interior,” which has larger window treatments, cool variable lighting, and larger overhead bins for a little change to your flying experience.  The aircraft will seat 175 Passengers and will give us the capability of long-range overwater flights (which involves a lengthy yet interesting certification process that I’ll blog about later).  

Our -800 adventure starts small, with just two aircraft overnighting at Chicago Midway and Baltimore/Washington and flying to and from Florida.  After that, the -800 fleet will grow gradually, adding two more on April 22, two more on May 13, and by the August schedule, we’ll have more than 20 -800s flying longer-haul routes like between Chicago Midway and the West Coast, between Baltimore/Washington and California, and between Florida and Las Vegas.  These flights will carry the code “73H.”

For anyone out there (and I’m one of you!) who tracks “first flights,” our first 737-800 flight is scheduled to be flight #1717, Chicago Midway to Ft. Lauderdale, leaving Wednesday, April 11 at 7:00 a.m. CST.

This is just one of a number of steps in Southwest’s evolution in 2012.  It’s going to be a phenomenal year, folks—come join us and fasten your seat belts, because it’s going to be a GREAT ride!


  1. Bill, how about landing those birds in SYR? Excellent infrastructure and catchment area.

  2. Why not use 738 for the -800’s? Seems like that would be easier.

  3. I hate to rain on this parade, but I’m skeptical that the new seats will be as comfortable as the older ones. One of the reasons I fly Southwest is that the old configuration had a lot more legroom than United’s Economy class and the seats were an inch wider (per seat) than United’s narrow seats. Southwest has figured out how to increase their bottom line by adding another row of seats and are trying to spin it as eco-friendly. Not looking forward to my first flight with an “Evolve” interior.

  4. will there be any promos to get on the first flight?

  5. airplanegeek,
    Sorry for the confusion. Bill has updated the post to read Wednesday April 11.

  6. “our first 737-800 flight is scheduled to be flight #1717, Chicago Midway to Ft. Lauderdale, leaving Tuesday, April 11”

    4/11 is Wednesday. Please clarify if it’s 4/11 or Tuesday.
    Thank you!

  7. Can’t wait to see both types, particularly the 738s, transit through HOU.

  8. I have to admit, i’m pretty excited about the potential with the new 800s. Looking forward to seeing them in service.

  9. Can’t wait to fly on an Evolve -700. Will probably have to wait for bye-bye Wright Amendment to get an -800 from DAL.