Southwest Airlines Debuts New Airplane

Brand new aircraft in more than a decade

By Andres Gutierrez
|  Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012  |  Updated 6:56 PM CDT
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Southwest Airlines is rolling out the first of a new, larger plane that will start hauling passengers next month. The airline introduced its first Boeing 737-800 today during a launch party for several hundred employees in a hangar at its Dallas headquarters. The plane holds 175 passengers, 38 more seats than the biggest plane now in Southwest's fleet.

Andres Gutierrez and Brian Curtis

Southwest Airlines is rolling out the first of a new, larger plane that will start hauling passengers next month. The airline introduced its first Boeing 737-800 today during a launch party for several hundred employees in a hangar at its Dallas headquarters. The plane holds 175 passengers, 38 more seats than the biggest plane now in Southwest's fleet.

For the first time in 15 years, Southwest Airlines unveiled a new member of its fleet at Dallas Love Field.

Hundreds of employees got their first chance to see the airline's new Boeing 737-800 up close on Wednesday

"I got goose bumps," said Kim Townsend, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant instructor. "I started tearing up. It's so exciting."

It's the second largest plane that the Dallas-based carrier has ever flown.

"It's a game-changer for our customers," said Caleb Fox, Southwest Airlines spokesman. "It's going to be a whole different way for doing business for Southwest Airlines."

On the outside, the aircraft's enhanced twin-engines allow the plane to fly long-distance routes.

"I never thought in a million years that Southwest would be flying possibly to Hawaii," Townsend said.

The Boeing 737-800 is designed to carry 175 passengers, a 30 percent increase in seating capacity.

Passengers will enjoy more leg room, bathrooms and larger overhead compartment space.

Southwest Airlines is expecting get to more than 30 of the same aircraft in 2012.

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