Southwest Airlines Co., typically referred to as Southwest, is one of the major airlines of the United States and the world's largest low-cost carrier airline. It is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and has scheduled service to 121 destinations in the United States and ten additional countries. As of 2018, Southwest carried more domestic passengers than any other United States airline.
The airline was established on March 15, 1967, by Herb Kelleher as Air Southwest Co. and adopted its current name, Southwest Airlines Co., in 1971, when it began operating as an intrastate airline wholly within the state of Texas, first flying between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. It began regional interstate service in 1979 and began expanding nationwide in the decades that followed. Southwest currently serves airports in 45 states and multiple Central American destinations.
Southwest's business model is distinct from other US airlines, as it uses a rolling hub and point-to-point network, allows free checked baggage, and does not charge change fees. It uses exclusively Boeing 737 jets in its fleet.
The airline has nearly 60,000 employees and operates about 4,000 departures a day during peak travel season.
Southwest Airlines was founded in 1966 by Herbert Kelleher and Rollin King, and in 1967 it was incorporated as Air Southwest Co. Three other airlines took legal action to try to prevent the company from its planned strategy of undercutting their prices by flying only within Texas and thus being exempt from various regulations. The lawsuits were resolved in 1970, and in 1971 the airline began operating regularly scheduled flights between Dallas Love Field and Houston and between Love Field and San Antonio, and adopted the name Southwest Airlines Co. In 1975, Southwest began operating flights to various additional cities within Texas, and in 1979 it began flying to adjacent states. Service to the East and the Southeast started in the 1990s. Southwest turned a profit for 47 consecutive fiscal years from 1973 through 2019.