Southwest Airlines (LUV) announced that it is expanding its service in both Chicago and Houston.

The airline said it will now fly out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport, adding to its existing service at Midway International Airport – also in Chicago. Midway has been Southwest’s busiest airport since it first arrived at the terminal in 1985, the company said.

Southwest is also returning to Houston in celebration of 50 years of flying. The company will add flights to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, expanding its service to the city, which also includes service from Houston’s William P. Hobby International Airport.

Intercontinental Airport was one of the first three airports that Southwest serviced back in 1971. The airline continued to offer service between both Houston Hobby and Intercontinental from 1980 to 2005.

Southwest is expected to begin service at both airports in the first half of 2021. The company said more details on schedules and fares will be available soon.

“Southwest owes decades of success to our employees and customers who have supported our business in Chicago and Houston,” Gary Kelly, CEO and chairman at Southwest, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement furthers our commitment to both cities as we add service to share Southwest’s value and hospitality with more leisure and business travelers.”

The announcement by Southwest comes as major airlines alter their flight schedules as the coronavirus caused a drop in airline passengers. Airlines have also announced mass layoffs as travel demand continues to decline.

Kelly said on Oct. 5 that the airline plans to avoid furloughs and layoffs through 2021.

Shares of Southwest were trading at $39.40 as of 2:22 p.m. EDT, down 33 cents of 0.82%.

Southwest Airlines A Southwest Airlines jet waits on the tarmac at Denver International Airport in Denver on Jan. 22, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking

Oakland International Airport announced Thursday that Southwest Airlines will begin nonstop service between San Francisco’s East Bay and Palm Springs, California (PSP) twice per day starting Nov. 15.

Southbound flights will depart Oakland at 9:05 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. Return flights depart PSP at 8:30 a.m. and 4:25 p.m. for the hour-or-so trip.

Fares are for sale on Southwest.com starting Thursday, and a quick check shows the cheapest OAK-PSP roundtrips at a remarkably low $79 roundtrip. That’s super cheap, and I expect we will soon see United, Alaska Air and Sun Country match those fares from the Bay Area.

Only Southwest will serve the Oakland-Palm Springs route, and will use Boeing 737s. Alaska, United and Sun Country fly nonstop between San Francisco and PSP. Alaska will soon add a nonstop from San Jose. United and Alaska fly a combination of various jets on the route, but primarily use smaller Embraer or CRJ aircraft.

RELATED: Why Palm Springs is so hot these days


What’s best about Southwest fares is that you can go ahead and make reservations now, then make changes later with no penalties. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, most other carriers have also eliminated those frustrating fees, which is going to make a getting to and from the Coachella Valley this winter quicker, easier and less expensive.

Southwest will also fly to Denver and Phoenix from Palm Springs.

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“Palm Springs is an often requested yet unserved destination from the East Bay,” said Port of Oakland Director of Aviation Bryant L. Francis. “So, we’re especially pleased that the new service will allow over 4 million East Bay residents to use their home airport when they fly to Palm Springs.”

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Earlier this month, WiNGS announced Tameka Cass as the organization’s new chief development officer. In January, Kate Rose Marquez became chief executive officer. The 112-year-old nonprofit provides a range critical resources for women in need, including those who are first-time mothers and small business owners. It focuses on vulnerable populations such as communities of color and those with limited English proficiency, single-income households, and women at risk of intimate-partner violence and financial insecurity.

With Cass new to the nonprofit and Marquez nearly nine months into her role — which has held challenges she didn’t bargain for — we asked the women a few questions about the ongoing impact WiNGS has on women in Dallas-Fort Worth, how it’s managed through the pandemic and what 2021 might hold.

FWD>DFW: Tameka, as the new chief development officer, what’s the first big thing you want to accomplish? What do you see as the biggest hurdle to accomplishing that?

TC: The first big thing I want to accomplish is increased awareness of WiNGS and the impact our services provide to women and families, specifically women of color, in our community. The global pandemic exposed the layers of inequities that exist for women and their families. My goal is to focus on ways to address the increased need for support and resources through our fund development strategies. Like many nonprofits, WiNGS has been impacted by the shift in funding from the philanthropic community, as they respond to the growing needs of nonprofits providing critical services to the community.

My biggest hurdle to accomplishing these goals is identifying creative ways to meet the growing needs of the women we serve with so much uncertainty about the future.

FWD>DFW: Give us a specific example of a woman whose life has been deeply impacted for the better in 2020.