On Sunday, May 24, 2021, local and state officials joined Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) staff in welcoming the inaugural flight of Southwest Airlines opening up The Beach as a year-round destination.
Speakers at the ceremony included U.S. Congressman Tom Rice, Lt. Governor Pamela Evette, Rep. Thomas “Case” Brittain Jr., Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, Bill Golden and Charlie Rymer of Golf Tourism Solutions (GTS), MBACC’s Karen Riordan, MYR’s Scott Van Moppes and Adam Decaire of Southwest Airlines.
“Today we celebrate the great partnership between Southwest Airlines, the Myrtle Beach International Airport and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and CVB,” Riordan said.
Southwest now offers nonstop service from Myrtle Beach to Baltimore, Chicago Midway and Nashville, and will launch nonstop service to Dallas Love Field and Pittsburgh on May 29, followed by Atlanta, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kansas City and St. Louis on June 6.
Southwest will accept the first two checked bags for free provided that the bags do not exceed 50 pounds and 62 inches. More flexible ticket policies with no extra fees and open seating assignments are other reasons why customers give Southwest high reviews.
“My hometown airport, which is already awesome, just got so much better. Now I’m a golf professional and I estimate that I’ve traveled two and a half, maybe three million commercial airlines all around the world and nearly every one of those miles dragging a golf bag. Can you imagine how many checked-bag dollars I’ve spent dragging that golf bag around the world, but not anymore because with Southwest, golf bags fly free,” said Rymer, who is a former PGA Tour golfer and former Golf Channel analyst and now a GTS golf ambassador.
Following remarks from the speakers, the first Southwest Airlines aircraft landed and rolled into the tarmac under a water cannon salute from airport fire engines. After deplaning, the first Southwest passengers were greeted by applause and welcome bags from Visit Myrtle Beach.
Riordan emphasized that the year-round Southwest flights are opening up the region to new opportunities. “Today does mark a pivotal point in our region’s growth and our evolution. We are now nationally recognized as a year-long leisure and group travel destination. No longer are we considered a summertime place to come. And the 10 markets now serviced through Southwest Airlines are very important feeder markets that will open new access and opportunity for travel to our beautiful coastal communities up and down the Grand Strand. This also gives our business community and our residents new, affordable options to travel for business as well as to go out and see friends and family by air.”
“With the start of service, Southwest will have 54 full-time employees based in MYR and will contract approximately eight additional vendor employees for cleaning of our aircraft and offices,” said Rob Ford, Southwest’s MYR Station Manager.