Southwest Airlines just announced:
Southwest Airlines today celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its first flight by thanking Employees by offering a gift of 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards® points. The Nation’s largest domestic carrier also unveiled Freedom One, a Boeing 737-800 (Boeing 737-8H4 N500WR, msn 36898) emblazoned with a stylized flag of the United States of America.
“The word ‘freedom’ has significant meaning to the People and history of Southwest Airlines,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. “We’re eternally grateful to those who have served and are currently serving in our Armed Forces— including the more than 7,400 veterans and 1,500 military spouses in our Southwest Family. Our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. We simply couldn’t fulfill our Purpose if not for the sacrifices and dedication of our military men and women. We appreciate their service and bravery in providing a blanket of freedom for our country.”
Freedom One was unveiled to Southwest® Employees during a Company celebration at the Southwest Airlines® Technical Operations Hangar at William P. Hobby International Airport in Houston, where attendees included Southwest Military Ambassadors, Military Council, winners of the Company’s prestigious President’s Award, and others. Military Ambassadors are Southwest Employees who are veterans and military spouses. They serve as a resource for the Company to foster inclusion for veterans and service members.
The specialty plane features 50 stars and 13 stripes and becomes a high-flying tribute to 50 years of Southwest Airlines service with a symbol of unwavering pride for our Nation and its heroes. It is the first Boeing 737-800 to join the airline’s unique paint schemes. Other special paint schemes on Southwest Boeing 737-700s include: Arizona One, California One, Colorado One, Florida One, Illinois One, Lone Star One (Texas), Louisiana One, Maryland One, Missouri One, Nevada One, New Mexico One, and Tennessee One.
Before unveiling Freedom One, Kelly announced Southwest is offering an Employee gift to recognize and appreciate active Southwest Employees in the milestone moment for Southwest Airlines: 50,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points deposited later this year into the account of each Employee who chooses to accept the gift.
“Southwest revolutionized the travel industry since our very first flight on June 18, 1971—a time when less than 15% of Americans ever had traveled by air,” said Kelly at the Employee celebration. “The People of Southwest democratized the skies with friendly, reliable, and affordable air travel, and what better way to honor you, our Employees, on our 50th Anniversary than by offering a gift of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points.”
Southwest’s first flights operated on what was known as the Texas Triangle, between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Throughout the next fifty years, Southwest grew to become the nation’s largest domestic airline, carrying up to 1 in the 4 travelers in the United States. Today, Southwest operates one of the world’s largest fleets of Boeing 737s, serves 121 destinations throughout North America, Employs more than 56,000 People, and is consistently ranked among the best airlines and best employers in the world.
|June 18, 1971||Southwest Airlines begins service to DAL, SAT, and IAH. Our flight schedule starts with six roundtrips DAL-SAT and 12 roundtrips DAL-IAH with $20 one-way fares.|
The early intrastate routes in Texas:
Following the Southwest Employee celebration, Freedom One departed Houston, headed for Dallas. Pilots and Flight Attendants onboard are Southwest Employees who served in the military or in the reserves. Additionally, a military veteran dispatched the flight from Southwest’s Network Operations Control facility in Dallas. As the aircraft approached Dallas, it followed the Federal Aviation Administration’s HERBZ navigational flight path to the airport, recently named in honor of Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher.
Video: The painting of N500WR: