always seems weird to talk about our schedule for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New
Years, and the end of the year when the calendar hasn’t even hit Memorial
Day. But that’s life for an airline scheduler—well, for everyone,
really. After all—you have to plan ahead to “make the Season bright!”
OPEN! Bookings are now being accepted through January 6, 2012. I
know how eager you guys are to get your reservations for this Holiday
Season. You can now book that holiday trip on southwest.com, or through our CS&S Centers by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA, whether you’re planning Thanksgiving with the family, Christmas in the Rockies,
or NYE in the NYC!
And talk about the whole “Tale Of Two Cities” thing—this schedule really includes the best of times and the worst of times. It’s got the deep traffic valleys of early November and the ‘tween-Holiday weeks, and it’s also got the high traffic peaks of the Holidays, including the “Mount Everest” of them all, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. So we’re varying the schedule more than ever, thanks to enhancements to our Schedule Optimizer as well as the hard work of our Current Schedules Team. We’ve got three separate flavors of schedules in this release—one, our standard November base schedule, which is written for the traffic “valleys.” Two, the peaks, which are individually optimized to the individual traffic characteristics of the highest-of-the-high traffic days. And three, those days in the middle, where we are busier than normal with more families and infrequent travelers, so we’re tweaking the schedule on those days to improve on-time performance.
As for the specifics: for *most* of the November-January schedule, Southwest is planning for a network of 3,182 flights per standard weekday (meaning, those days in the “valley”). Compared to the September/October schedule, we’re eliminating two nonstop markets—Nashville to Providence and Hartford—as well as two that will be taking a seasonal “vacation,” Nashville-Seattle and Las Vegas-Norfolk. A fifth market, Birmingham-Phoenix, is eliminated on non-Peak days in this period. There are many other markets with slight increases (7 roundtrip markets) and decreases (90 roundtrip markets). These are all pretty standard seasonal capacity changes. Please see the attached .PDF for a market-by-market description of frequency changes. On the “peak” days, we’re planning between 3,398 and 3,471 daily departures. And where is AirTran’s schedule? Not here…not yet. For now, the two networks are scheduled separately. After all—it takes 9 months to have a baby, and it’s been less than a month since our “wedding!”