Here’s some big news that’s somewhat tempered by the time frame: Southwest will begin selling seats through its partner ATA Airlines to fly international routes, but not until 2009.
According to an article in the International Herald Tribune, the airline will branch out from Baltimore-Washington International Airport first to Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico, and then to Europe at some point after that.
This is just another way the face of international air travel is going to change in the coming years. With the recent agreements between the U.S. and Europe and China, and the trend of other low-cost carriers branching out into international service (I’m thinking of airlines such as Spirit, which now serves points in Central and South America), passengers can look forward to more choices and most likely lower prices as well.
In many ways, it’s the silver lining of a big, gray cloud. The airline industry may continue to underperform in service, comfort, and customer satisfaction, but at least air passengers will have more choices about where they go and how they get there.