Members of Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards loyalty program who live in and around the Bay Area will soon have access to new international vacation destinations in Mexico
The carrier said this week it has applied for government approvals to start operating the first non-stop flights from Oakland International Airport to Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos, Mexico, targeting a February 2017 launch for both routes. (Fare information not yet available)
Since its merger with AirTran, Southwest has been slowly adding international destinations to its route map, all of them in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. But from California, the transborder route growth so far has all been from Los Angeles and Orange County.
There’s already service to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta from San Francisco International and Mineta San Jose airports offered by United, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, but Bay Area flights there from Southwest are a first for Rapid Rewards members.
Bryant Francis, the Port of Oakland’s aviation director, said that Los Cabos, in particular, “is the most requested international destination from the East Bay and North Bay that does not have a non-stop option.” Southwest’s plan to add Mexico routes from Oakland will dovetail nicely with the airport’s big Terminal 1 renovation, which will bring a new security checkpoint and international check-in and arrivals area to the facility by the second quarter of next year, followed by an expansion of federal inspection services a few months later.
Oakland has been Southwest’s airport of choice for much of its Bay Area growth. Currently, it flies to OAK to: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Burbank, Chicago (Midway), Columbus, Dallas (Love Field), Denver, Houston (Hobby), Kansas City, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles (LAX), Nashville, New Orleans, Ontario, Orange County/Santa Ana, Phoenix, Portland (PDX), Reno/Tahoe, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, Spokane, St. Louis.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare deals | One airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers | First class phase out coming soon