SouthWest Airlines Preparing For Houston-Belize Route & Marketing Belize…How Would You Do It?

Southwest Airlines is flying to Belize in October 2015.  And the more I learn about the newest announced carrier to our country, the more impressed I am becoming.   Not only do they allow FREE baggage on your flight (up to 2- 50lb bags) but there are no additional fees for changing your tickets.  NO ADDITIONAL FEES.

American and United, two of the bigger carriers flying daily into Belize charge for both bags and ticket adjustments.  Both companies – $25 for the first checked bag, $40 for the second.  Reservation change fee: $150 to $200.    That ain’t cheap.

Southwest also provides Wi-Fi in all of the planes, free live TV and now country specific music playlists with their partnership with Beats.

Yesterday, some of the media in San Pedro met with (wildly photogenic) Brad Hawkins of Southwest Airlines, Anthony Hunt of Tropic Air & The Chairman of the Belize Aviation Development Committee and Julie Kee of Tropic Air.


A Southwest team is in Belize working on the logistics and the security but Brad, who is a Senior Advisor in Communications, is here to meet with the local media and tourism board to work on the launch.  The first flight from Houston to Belize in October of 2015 and will be daily, 147 seat flights.

Southwest likes to make a splash at their arrival!  Look at the party in Cancun late last year.

compliment snorkel gear southwest

Complimentary snorkel gear…Mayan dancers…good times.

Brad answered some questions for us.  And filled us in on some more interesting facts about Southwest.

  • They have the second largest travel site in the world  You can ONLY book Southwest flights on their website.  They do this to keep costs low and to handle the customers experience from booking to deboarding.  Since they also have free baggage and change fees, comparison sites like Expedia or Kayak or Orbitz wouldn’t really work.  Comparing say United’s and Southwest’s prices would be like apples and oranges.
  • They have a different model than other airlines, focusing on employees first and letting that trickle down.  Though I’ve never flown Southwest YET, I LOVE IT.  Miserable airline employees coupled with already miserable fliers is a rough combo and we two miserable groups feed off each other.  A downward misery shit spiral (please excuse my language.)  Southwest wants happy employees with spunk and personality and a bit of wiggle room with the rules.   And they are good at it – they have appeared on many “Best Companies to Work For” lists.
  • People really despise paying baggage fees.  Having to pay for my only checked bag when I fly internationally REALLY makes my blood boil.  And then when you jam on the plane and there is no overhead space – FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  With no fees on SW Airlines, that’s extra money to spend on your vacation.  And you’ve arrived without a stress hangover.
  • Southwest is the number one carrier in the US.  So it’s not just budget travelers or last minute travelers, it’s travelers of all kinds that will be coming to Belize.
  • Southwest Airlines likes to participate (with both money and employee manpower) in the communities where it flies.  In Denver, where the environment is a top priority, Southwest sponsors a park & recreation center.   They have a section of their website about charitable giving.
  • Southwest is definitely interested in having a big launch event for their first flight in October.  Party at Philip Goldson Airport.  Woohoo!
  • OH…and most importantly….what we all want to know.  THE SOUTHWEST EFFECT.   Brad gave an example of when Southwest first entered the Atlanta market and prices dropped about 40% for flights to that city.  I am waiting with breath that is baited.  Lower prices is what we really REALLY want.
  • AND, if this route works for them, they are ready to expand…to fly from Florida and perhaps the Western US.

He also said something very important –  that was MAGIC to my ears.    Brad first visited Ambergris Caye in 2000 and recognized how unique it is.  He said that it is important to him to “Keep It Special”.

I arrived at the lunch meeting with some ideas about how I would market Belize…and we didn’t really discuss that but I was wondering what you think.  How would you market this pretty amazing and certainly unique country.


If you were Southwest Airlines and you wanted to get people down to Belize, how would you do it?

The free bags part is huge.  We carry your whale sharking- scuba gear free!  Your Maya ruins climbing gear free!  Or just your towel, bathing suit and suntan lotion free…

And Belize has sun and beaches, sure…but so do lots of places…Aruba, Cancun, Jamaica…what makes Belize’s sunshine different?

Well…you can get that sun while dangling your feet off a catamaran over nurse sharks at Shark-Ray Alley…


or in some inner tubes at the Palapa Bar while sipping a Belikin.

palapa bar 2

or on a sand bar on the leeward side of the caye.


So many things make Belize special…the people, the festivals, the wildlife (from whale sharks to toucans and jaguars), the food, the music, the Maya, the ruins, the history and the current culture, the caves, the fly fishing, the barrier reef…the very fact that you can travel from one of these places to the next in a matter of hours.

It’s tough to sum up.  Impossible to convey in one line or a photo.

A tiny country packed with possibilities.

go slow lamanai



How would you do it?

  • Jjwstalker

    Great article Rebecca! Of course I’m opinionated ……..Conrad ( retired southwest captain)….

    • Belize Blog

      And you love (sorry…LUV) the company still? That’s great. I really got a good feel about them 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  • Erik Terdal

    I’m so excited! Well, for marketing by SWA & Tropic Air I’d focus on surf&turf vacations. With two free bags, you can bring your scuba gear in one and your jungle stuff in the other. Years ago I remember a vacation where I dove for a week, then rode horses in Cayo for a week and brought my own saddle and helmet. Not practical now but will be next year.

    • Belize Blog

      Love it. Yes. You can even do both in a week…rushed but can be done. Adventure gear in one bag…chill out gear in the other…FREE! Wait!!!!!!!!!! Your own saddle? Ha!

  • Monique

    Here’s how I would market: “Southwest Airlines, ‘Yu Betta Belize It!’ Not only will your flight on Southwest Airlines to Belize be fun and exciting, but when you land with your 2 free bags, scuba gear, adventure and jungle gear, the rest of your vacation begins. From beaches to jungle, Maya ruins to caves, Belize has a taste of everything. Friendly people, delicious local food, something for everyone! The fun doesn’t end when your vacation ends, it’s just the beginning of sharing your story and we can’t wait to hear all about it on your return trip! So let us be the beginning of your story and start those memories of Belize.”

    • Belize Blog

      Nice Monique! Sign me up!

    • Randall

      Hey Monique. I would love to connect with you the next time I get down to Belize. I will certainly be flying Southwest when the flights become available. I hope they start flying from Dallas soon.

  • kittykat

    If Southwest can undercut the prices of the other airlines significantly, then everyone who is already coming to Belize will switch to Southwest. Belize is quickly becoming a popular American vacation destination; and with reasonable airline costs, even more people will come. And the people who live in Belize will have the opportunity to travel out of the country more if they can afford the airfare.

  • marysaunders

    Chocolate! Nurse sharks! Lobster! Chocolate! Maybe chocolate nurse sharks as mascots? Oh, and coconuts–good and good for you!

    • Belize Blog

      YES! Chocolate nurse sharks. Done. No more suggestions needed! 🙂

  • Jen Bryan

    I wish they were starting earlier! I’ll be down in April. Guess I’ll have to come back in October. 😉

    • Belize Blog

      Precisely 😉

  • Dale

    Southwest is an awesome airline. Free luggage makes a ticket a minimum of $50 cheaper. I will fly with them for sure. This is a win win situation. I get lower prices to Belize and Belize gets more tourists.

    • Belize Blog

      Right? I can’t wait for the kick-off. Mid-October isn’t SO far away.

  • Beth

    The best news I’ve heard in a long time. Love SWA and Belize! Oh and love your blog too!

    • Belize Blog

      Awwww shucks. Thank you! And agree…great news.