Setting up the party for an inaugural flight takes a decent amount of work on the part of an airline and the host airport. Running four such events at the same time is borderline crazy, especially from adjacent gates. Or, if you’re Southwest Airlines and set to grow international operations at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport you might just call that Sunday morning. The carrier launched service to Cancun, Belize City, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay today from its South Florida hub and all within a couple hours. I wasn’t ticketed on any of these flights or even on a Southwest departure but I was at the airport so I dropped by to join in the celebrations.
Terminal B was packed with passengers, as is typical for the morning bank of departures even without special events set up inside. As I made my way towards the far end of the concourse the noise and crowds grew, as did the special events staged for the inaugurals.
One gate (pretty sure it was Belize City) hosted a painter putting together a portrait of a Southwest plane arriving at the tropical destination.
Grand Cayman had its representative from the Miss Universe pageant on hand for photos as well as a pirate and Carnival dancers dressed to impress.
Jamaica had several dignitaries milling about and a small buffet of local snacks available for passengers.
And in the midst of it all were the few hundred passengers trying to board the inaugurals and other flights in the concourse. It was controlled chaos but, for the most part, it was controlled which is the important part.
Also worth noting that Fort Lauderdale was not the only Southwest city hosting new flights today. Cincinnati started operations with flights moving over from Dayton.