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Here in good old Houston, United has had a bit of a monopoly on flights to many international destinations, including the Caribbean and Latin America. This has meant that prices often have been nuts to destinations that really shouldn’t be that crazy expensive. For example, I’ve had to pay $500+ to fly to Cancun on United for a wedding when that flight is just two hours, and it is what should be a pretty competitive leisure route. I’ve watched flights to Liberia, Costa Rica, for years and they often start in the $500 – $600 range (Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, we’ll get to you eventually!), and other nearby spots aren’t significantly different.
Historically, to get to many locations in the Caribbean we have had to often fly carriers other than United and go through cities like Miami, Charlotte, etc. because of really high fares on United non-stops, or very limited dates of service (ie Saturday only). Well, that is all finally about to change for those of us who live in or fly through Houston!
Beginning this fall Southwest will operate many new international routes out of Houston Hobby. I don’t love going to South Houston and Hobby from our North Houston suburb, but depending on pricing, it is going to likely be a better option than adding on a connection in Miami or Charlotte just to get to the Caribbean!
The new Southwest routes will be:
Houston – Mexico City (10/15/15)
Houston – Belize (10/15/15)
Houston – Cancun (10/15/15)
Houston – Puerto Vallarta (10/15/15)
Houston – Cabo San Lucas (10/15/15)
Houston – San Jose, Costa Rica (10/15/15)
Houston – Liberia, Costa Rica (11/1/15)
Houston – Montego Bay (11/1/15)
Southwest has said that prices for these flights will start at $99 – $199 each way, depending on the route. Just as an example I priced Houston – Puerto Vallarta for a long weekend in October and the cash price came back as $321 round trip, which already isn’t bad. However, if you wanted to use Rapid Reward points it is just 13,860 points + $83.89 in taxes/fees! Remember that best of all if you have the Companion Pass, then that covers the price of flights for you and your companion (in addition to paying the taxes/fees for the companion)! Read more about the Companion Pass here.
To do the very same type of nonstop flight on United those dates it would be $604 or 35,000 United miles + the same amount of taxes/fees (assuming there is saver award availability for your dates, there wasn’t for my test dates). Southwest may certainly raise their prices after the initial launch sale (that lasts through 5/24/15), but they still will likely offer a great alternative to United on many of these routes. I love that all of the new international routes out of Houston will have at least once daily service, something United doesn’t offer from Houston to places like Montego Bay.
I’m thrilled that the day is finally here that these routes are for sale and that we have more options to get to some popular vacation destinations!