Southwest Airlines to Announce the Destination Cities

by December 16, 2009 • 42 comments

Southwest Airlines will announce the four to and fro flight locations from the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport on Wednesday moring.The ceremony will be held at the Breakers Restaurant in Panama City Beach at 10.00 AM. Bob Montgomery, Southwest vice president of properties will make the announcement during a press conference. He will also announce the new special introductory fares for the eight non stop flights from the new international airport.

We’ve been running a poll on which destinations were more favored by our readers to come to Panama City Beach.  The top five respectively were Chicago, New York, Nashville, Dallas, and Baltimore.

The new international airport is expected to be opened on May 18th 2010 with the Southwest flights to operate daily. The Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill said that it was exciting news and everybody would be delighted when southwest announces the low fares.

In the meantime, Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) officials will start a public relations campaign in the cities after the announcement is officially made, using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  According to Dan Rowe,TDC executive director, the announcement and selling of the flight tickets would bring energy to the whole project.

The TDC has made an agreement with Southwest, the largest domestic airlines in USA to bring its service to the new airport with daily non stop flights from the four cities. The airline reached an agreement previously with The St. Joe Co., the Panhandle’s largest landowner, that guarantees any losses from its new operations into Northwest Florida for the initial two years. Many experts see the deal as a boost for the economic development of the region.

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1 Chris December 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

If you read the article the News Herald wrote on this topic, at, they mention the New airport code is ECP. Now what could the EC stand for…Emerald Coast??? I hope this means their still discussing naming the new airport Emerald Coast International of Panama City Beach.

Copied from News Herald article:
New airport code

Travelers flying into Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport will need to remember ECP. That’s the new location identifier, also known as an IATA (International Air Transport Association) airport code, that travelers enter when booking a flight. The old code, PFN, will be retired


2 Cara Dee December 16, 2009 at 10:08 am

I always though Emerald Coast Intl sounded so nice. Either way…I dont care.Just GO TO BAWLMER, HONS


3 Cara Dee December 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

From in October…is it accurate? We shall see! Needless to say Im excited!

Panama City, FL non-stop from Nashville and Baltimore:
This is the biggest news of the bunch, since Panama City is not only a huge spring break and beach destination, but its airport is so brand-spanking new that it won’t even open until Southwest begins the service next May. Start planning your northwest Florida vacations now.


4 Angelo December 16, 2009 at 10:49 am

I understand there is a press conference shortly, however, Baltimore has already announced that it is one of the cities.

For what it is worth, I believe I was the first one to indicate BWI in the annitial comment tread right after the inital announcement that Southwest chose PCB over pensacola, etc.


5 Angelo December 16, 2009 at 10:52 am

Orlando looks to be another


6 Cara Dee December 16, 2009 at 11:15 am

Why did I never, ever see that Baltimore had announced? I would have saved myself a lot of stress 🙂


7 Angelo December 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

Nashville the third


8 jordan maynard December 16, 2009 at 10:55 am

looks like the herald scooped everyone.
Houston, Baltimore, Orlando, Nashville


9 Angelo December 16, 2009 at 10:56 am

Houston the Forth. Makes a wholke lotta sense


10 Brian December 16, 2009 at 11:10 am

The cities will be: BWI, Orlando, Nashville, Houston Hobbie.

Just take a look at their website. Thank you SWA!!!!!!!!!!!!!


11 Brian December 16, 2009 at 11:14 am

Looks like the call lettes for the new airport is ECP ????? what the heck is that why not PCI ?????


12 Cara Dee December 16, 2009 at 11:14 am

Yes, these do make sense. Im a little surprised about Orlando, but what the heck, I will probably use that occasionally too.

Im already waiting for introductory fares to purchase. Seriously.


13 Brian December 16, 2009 at 11:29 am

Looks like Orlando is swa hub. Orlando has about 30 non-stop cities.


14 Karen December 16, 2009 at 11:42 am

Thank you SWA! Houston was the best choice! I never understood why everyone was voting for Dallas! Hmmmm, maybe because Jason is from there? lol I don’t get their choice for Orlando, however I would of liked Chicago to have made the list. This is great for PCB!


15 Michele December 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Very disappointed, and surprised actually, that Chicago was not selected. Southwest has a major presence at Chicago’s Midway airport (I think they occupy 3 terminals). Big mistake, and lost opportunity for PCB.


16 jobeibi December 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I think it would have been a mistake to have more distant destinations like Chicago and New York. Imagine flying from Panama City to Chicago and back to Nashville. With the destinations they chose, Southwest can route flights anywhere in the US. You can still get to Chicago, Michele!

On another note, I just got an email from Delta, saying that you can now fly Delta to Atlanta for $69.


17 Cara Dee December 16, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Thats what everone was counting on. Its only a matter of time, too. Let us not forget, SW was only the FIRST non-stop carrier to sign on. This will bring competition, which is healthy


18 Bearabull December 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Looks like it will still be expensive to fly from Chicago


19 Michele December 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm


Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in my post. I live in Chicago and the only way to get from Chicago to PCB has been flying from Chicago to Atlanta or Memphis then to PCB. Not very convenient and it is at minimum a 5-6 hour flight day (take off in Chicago to landing in PCB). Otherwise, we can drive 16-17 hours. PCB is missing out on opening up this opportunity because Chicagoans love to vacation on the Gulf Coast. It is mass exodus the end of March/April spring break time (long winters – it is 11 degrees here today). But we can fly direct farther south (Southwest flies direct from Chicago to Ft. Myers). Therefore, people here choose to go to Naples, Sanibel, Marco Island & Ft. Myers instead largely based on ease of travel.

So, the new airport and Southwest are not providing Chicago (and surrounding areas) any better travel choices than we have had for years by flying Delta/Northwest into PFN. The only thing we can hope for is better pricing.


20 Chris December 16, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I agree with Michele’s comment. Very disappointing a HUGE city (i.e. Chicago and/or New York) was not selected. The HYPE surrounding this decision by Southwest was not met by the list of cities selected. An opportunity to entice people from a couple high cost of living areas with low-cost non-stop/direct flights has been missed. The people from these high-cost areas would think the property/accomodations in PCB were a bargain. There are many different ways someone can fly from Chicago or New York to PCB on Southwest but they won’t be as cheap as a direct flight.

Bottom Line – opportunity missed.


21 Ray December 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm

I am sure next year when the airport opens, United (based in Chicago ) will probably offer direct flights if not non stop to PCB. After all, the new airport will be going to be handling more than just Southwest and Delta. It’s all good.


22 Ted December 16, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I also live near Chicago and have a condo in PCB. Let me tell you, while it is a difficult drive from Chicago to PCB, it is my preferred means to get to PCB versus dealing with the hassel of trying to book a flight into PCB. Airfare is generally outrageous and no direct flight is offered. I swear I’ve had more delayed/cancelled flights than routine on schedule arrivals. While I don’t wish to knock the awarded cities, i.e., Nashville, Orlando, etc., I would die to have such a short distance to PCB from either! Are that many people going to jump on a Southwest flight from Nashville/Orlando vs. drive? I sincerely doubt it! I think Southwest was off the mark here big time!


23 Justin December 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm


They didn’t pick a huge city? Houston is the 4th largest city( right behind Chicago) and the 6th largest metropolitan are in the nation.

While they may not be direct flights, I doubt many would complain about that over a 2, 3, even 4 times longer drive. Also keep in mind that this is just the first set of direct destinations and they can’t please everybody at this moment, it wouldn’t be cost-effective from day one to have too many destinations. SWA will track where these people are originating from, whether it be a direct or connecting flight and will expand as needed over the next couple of years. People need to give this time and patience, this will not be an overnight success and expansion to more markets.

We know Delta and Southwest are coming in, now we have to wait and see if United, Continental, and/or American jump on board as well.


24 Chicagoian December 16, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Houston may be right behind Chicago, but Chicago and it’s surrounding area are way more populated than any of the other cities on the chosen list. I just flew into PCB in November, it took me ten hours from the time I left my house until I pulled up at the resort in PCB. I could drive that in sixteen hours. The point is, the people up north (where it’s well below freezing) are always looking to go somewhere warm — just for the h#ll of it. A ten hour, one way flight, doesn’t seem worthwhile for a weekend trip. I think SWA and PCB are missing a huge market here.


25 Bearabull December 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm

American use to do a non stop from Chicago to Fort Walton. They stopped that a couple years back when the economy started to tank. I’m hoping they will fly non stop to the new airport. I’m from Chicago also and it is a big hassle with ALWAYS having to change planes. I go twice a year. In April I drive with my sisters and we take turns driving so we get there in one day and this way we have our car. In October when it is my husband and I, we drive.
I have to say there is no way I would fly into Panama City and then have to rent a car when I can drive it under 8 hours if I lived in the southern states. Who would??? You can pack all your gear, have your own car. Makes no sense to me.


26 Bearabull December 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Chicagoian is so true. You can fly into all the major Florida cities in the Peninsula non stop for a lot less than it takes to get to PCB.


27 jobeibi December 16, 2009 at 8:07 pm

The Nashville destination doesn’t serve only the Nashville market. With a hub-spoke system, Southwest can gather people from other areas and fly one plane in to ECP. I believe this is what Southwest’s planners were thinking of when they decided not to fly direct to New York and Chicago.

Would Southwest be able to fill two planes a day to and from Chicago all year long?

Give them time. This is just the first stage.


28 jordan maynard December 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Ok whiners do some research before crying and complaining.
Southwest has one stop ( no plane change) flights that will get you here in 3 and half hours.
So you stay on the same plane. Cost 99.00 each way


29 Gail December 16, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I was very disappointed to learn that SW Airlines did not include the New York and Chicago market in their direct flight plans. A huge opportunity has been missed. Hopefully another airline (Delta) will pick up the money that SW is leaving on the floor.


30 jobeibi December 16, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I found this comment on Southwest’s blog. “There are actually TWO direct flights from MDW to ECP almost every day! Direct means one or more stops and both flights from MDW to ECP make a brief stop in BNA.”

I see Jordan Maynard said basically the same thing.


31 jordan December 16, 2009 at 9:05 pm

and for you Gail : New Yorkers can be here in 4 hours with one stop for 114 each way.
Please check Southwests schedules and prices rather than get bummed about what you think you arent getting.
According to the schedules SW seems to be able to get people to or from Chicago in 3-4 hours and the NY options at 4-6 hours. For west coasters flights have great schedules and pricing as well. After looking over the flight options on the website I have no complaints.


32 Justin December 16, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I don’t see why people keep sayin Chicago or NYC are missed opportunites. This is their first step, and all 4 cities are SWA “focus cities” and serve as mainly short stop destinations before continuing on. This is the first of likely many more destinations, you can’t please everybody, but by using four hub cities, you can serve a broader area.

Sit back, relax, and be thankful Southwest is even here.


33 Kim December 17, 2009 at 9:19 am

Can not believe Chicago was not picked for at least one non-stop per day.


34 jobeibi December 17, 2009 at 10:25 am

Oh my god. You can get to Panama City from Chicago in 3 hours and 20 minutes, with one stop to pick up a few more folks in Nashville. You don’t even have to get out of your seat.

Justin, have you seen the Conan O’Brien video clip “Life is amazing and nobody is happy”? I think you’d like it.


35 Chicagoian December 17, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I think you’re missing the point. I can easily get to PCB anyway I like — fly, drive, rail, or whatever. However, for PCB to attract a larger audience, SWA or someone else will have to fly nonstop. For a three or a three and a half hour flight, I can spend my winter in the Miami area, or Ft. Meyer, or even LA. It’s a little warmer there in the winter months. It’s called competition and either you’re not getting that concept or you’re a little too full of yourselves.


36 Justin December 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I’m hardly full of myself and understand the concept they’re using right now. You should email SWA and ask why they didn’t choose Chicago since you sound displeased. It really isn’t a big deal, this is the first of hopefully many waves of destinations. As been said before, you can’t please everybody at once and can’t ever. They may have not been ready to use Chicago yet, reasons we don’t know right now unless they give us a statement or someone emails them.

It isn’t a big deal though, they didn’t have to come here at all, or the new airport may not have ever happened and you’d have to connect through ATL or MEM and pay an arm and a leg to get to Panama City. If they wouldn’t have picked Baltimore or Houston, people there would say it is a missed opportunity, however, you’re paying MUCH lower fares by them even coming to ECP than not at all.

Just my opinion here, but if you’re going to pick a destination over the fact an airline doesn’t have a direct flight, but has a connecting flight, then that is kinda sad/weird.


37 Chicagoian December 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I apologize if I’m coming across “displeased”. I’m not. It really doesn’t affect me. I think that if you want to entertain a new (large) market, and a new “crowd”, the time gate-to-gate has to be lowered. I don’t think that people will rush to a new destination that’s three and half hours away — I hope they will. As someone else mentioned earlier, “it’s a hassle”. BTW, weird/sad, whatever you want to call it, I just think that it’s a reality from the prospective of someone living nine hundred miles away in below freezing weather, looking to get away for a long weekend.


38 Bearabull December 17, 2009 at 5:00 pm

I’m disappointed, but will hold judgement until the flights start coming in and see what all the airlines are doing.


39 Chris December 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I don’t see any issues with any of the selections except for Orlando. Why not start with a MUCH LARGER metropolis such as Chicago or New York and then add Orlando later? Are more people going to fly to PCB via Orlando rather than via a HUGE area like Chicago or New York? I’d have to believe there are going to be a lot of empty seats on the Orlando to/from PCB flights.

Is the price of a direct flight (same plane with one stop) the same price as a non-stop flight? My guess is the direct flight is more expensive.


40 jordan December 18, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I will add my 2 cents to the Chicago discussion. If you flew to Miami rather than PCB you would fly one more hour each way and spend hundreds more in lodging, food and entertainment as Miami cannot compare in pricing. If you were bringing a family or group of people for a week the savings would be thousands not hundreds. So for a comparably priced flight you spend less time in the air and save money on the rest of your vacation costs. PCB is marketing itself as an affordable beachside vacation spot, now we are also easy access at very reasonable flight pricing. We are also a place you can buy a gulf front condo for less than half of most any other part of the USA. I see those interested in Miami as looking for a different experience, more trendy, nightlife, urban with a beach and way more expensive than PCB. PCB is about the beach, airboats, charter boats mixed in with some cheesy ( mini golf and go-cart) down home fun.


41 dolly anderson December 22, 2009 at 10:17 am

just wish , there was a non-stop flight to little rock , arkansas, maybe in the future!


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