Being a part of the Pittsburgh Station (PIT) Opening was an unforgettable experience–one to which I had been looking forward since my early days with Southwest Airlines. I started with the Company in Omaha in August of 2000 and had always wanted to take part in a new station opening. Making the move to PIT was the biggest leap of faith of my life–I had never even visited the city before. A good friend was making the move, though, so I was in! Final answer!
We opened the PIT station on May 4, 2005, with ten daily departures. It was a modest start at an airport the size of the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport; we operated out of two of the 100 gates in the main terminal, yet EVERYONE knew that we were the new kids in town! The degree to which our competitors had scaled back their service in PIT was staggering at the time (not to mention what has occurred since 2005), and everyone welcomed their new neighbors in the A Concourse.
Most of us feel a strong sense of pride when we see our red-bellied aircraft flying whether we’re on the job or enjoying a day off. Well take that feeling and multiply it by 100 for the moment that first ferry flight lands in a brand-new city, pulls off on a taxiway, and is greeted by the firetrucks providing a water-arch celebratory welcome before it makes its way to the gate. That was a moment I will never forget.
PIT got off to a rockin’ start. In the fall of 2005 we doubled our flight count to 20, added new nonstop service to Tampa Bay, and then in 2006 we won Station of the Year – our first year eligible (since we had missed out on the first four months of 2005)! Then, before long, we added new service to Baltimore/Washington, and by 2008 we found ourselves at our highest flight count to date with 24 daily departures.
SWA has been the number one carrier in PIT in terms of passengers boarded for a month here and a couple of months there – maybe the next five years will see us add more service to the point where we can claim that top spot once and for all! Grab your bag – it’s ON in PIT!