Flying nonstop to and from Dallas just got cheaper.
Southwest Airlines' new nonstop flights between Kansas City International Airport and Love Field in Dallas will begin Dec. 13, the company announced Thursday. Customers buying introductory fares could get a round-trip ticket just before Christmas for $154, well below the previous low of $287 offered by American just a day earlier.
Word of Southwest's flight plans -- four nonstops daily out of KCI -- came early Thursday, less than a day after President Bush signed a bill into law lifting a restriction on nonstop flights from Missouri into Love Field.
Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director at Kansas University, hailed the move. He's a frequent flyer to Dallas for meetings at Big 12 Conference headquarters, and looks to be headed there in March for the Big 12's postseason basketball tournaments.
Even more Jayhawks could be headed to Dallas later this month, as the KU football team likely will be chosen to play in the nearby Fort Worth Bowl on Dec. 23.
American Airlines' cheapest nonstop flight from KCI to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport had been $287. Now it's $187, after the airline moved Thursday to match Southwest's base fares.
On Thursday, a KU fan could pay $153.90 for a round-trip ticket on Southwest that would leave KCI at midday Dec. 23, and return to KCI at 2:45 p.m. Christmas Eve.
That would provide plenty of time to make the bowl's 7 p.m. kickoff, enjoy nightlife after the game and recover the next morning.
"It's definitely a positive for us, and anybody, when you go down to Dallas," said Marchiony, in California for the KU volleyball team's matches in the NCAA Tournament. "Nonstop is always better than stopping and changing planes, and even if you don't have to change planes. This certainly would be a positive for us, and it's not just the bowl game that I'm thinking about."
Dorothy Pogge, a travel consultant for Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Lawrence, said Southwest's ability to offer nonstop flights to Love Field would pay off for travelers. American moved to match Southwest's fares to Dallas, but only effective Dec. 13 -- when Southwest's nonstop service begins.
"That's the competition," she said. "They'll hang on to their higher fares to the very day. You only compete when you're going to be matched."
Southwest estimates that the change, which also allows the company to fly nonstop to Love Field from St. Louis, would convince another 500,000 people to fly to and from Missouri during the coming year. Estimated fare savings: $77 million.
That translates to an average savings of $154 per person.
"It's a huge difference," Pogge said. "Any city that Southwest goes into completely changes the fares."