Bob Gillespie



Come fly with me: Southwest Airlines has golf website, might add Myrtle Beach flights

Posted 5/16/2013 10:46:00 PM

With daily flights from around the country to Greenville and Charleston – and, perhaps on the horizon, Myrtle Beach – Southwest Airlines has become a discounted-flights favorite for golf fans heading to South Carolina. Now the Dallas-based carrier is capitalizing on those links, teaming with Adams Golf to offer a number of special deals.

Billing itself as “The Official Airline of Golf Lovers,” Southwest – “where golf bags fly free” – has launched a dedicated golf Internet page, where it will offer golf vacation packages, the ability to book tee times at more than 5,000 courses nationwide, and a Rapid Rewards program that will offer golf merchandise and experiences in exchange for points.

In March, the airline celebrated the site’s debut with a golf-themed fare sale. Southwest also now sponsors a number of Adams-backed PGA Tour players.

Recent news reports suggest the Grand Strand could be the next area to receive service from the discount airline. Southwest began serving Greenville and Charleston in 2011 and boosted its traffic to those cities in 2012, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News. The airline will begin flights into Charlotte from Baltimore, Chicago, Orlando and Houston in mid-April, the newspaper said.

A spokesman last October told the newspaper, “We don’t have any news on Myrtle Beach,” but noted Southwest remains busy with its 2010 merger with AirTran. “We have a full plate (now),” Brad Hawkins said, “(but) we continue to have conversations with airports that Southwest doesn’t serve.”

While Hawkins and Myrtle Beach International marketing director Kirk Lovell declined comment, the Grand Strand’s airport has begun a $118 million expansion, adding a new terminal, parking areas and rental car building. The newspaper noted that airlines traditionally announce new service plans early in the year.

Southwest, in its 42nd year, carries more than 100 million passengers annually, and is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating passengers boarded. It flies to 97 destinations in 41 states and Washington, D.C., as well as Puerto Rico and six countries.