Southwest Airlines CEO States “Disney World Needs To Open” For Travel To Resume

Unless you travel for business, if you’re a Disney fan, chances are most of your flights end up at MCO (or LAX), and there’s a reason why the long-standing joke of calling MCO the “Mouse’s Corporate Office” still exists: families and groups traveling to Walt Disney World comprise a huge portion of flights.

The Dapper Dans perform aboard Southwest Airlines Flight #887 at Dallas’ Love Field in 2014.

With passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport down by 97%, companies like Southwest Airlines are scrambling to fill seats inside their airplanes. In a recent article by USA Today, it was revealed that Southwest only filled 6% of its seats in April, a number that isn’t expected to surpass 10% for the month of May.

In an interview with CNBC, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly stated that traffic levels are “next to zero at this point.” He emphasized the need for attractions to reopen and new safety measures to be implemented across airports and inside aircraft.

“They need to have something to be able to do when they get there. So Disney World needs to open back up. Restaurants need to open back up.”

Travelers need to have a substantive reason to travel, plus they need to feel safe. Heightened health and safety protocol, such as wearing face masks, using hand sanitizer, preliminary testing at TSA checkpoints, plexiglass partitions at all service desks, personal protection equipment kits for passengers, and spacing out seating arrangements inside planes all need to be implemented over the next few months in order for airlines to financially recover.

Given the unprecedented rate of trip cancellations, Southwest may be seeing some downsizing if things don’t improve by July. Other airline CEOs like Ed Bastian of Delta claim that financial recovery for airlines may take as long as three years.

Do you use Southwest for your flights to Walt Disney World? When’s your next flight booked for? Let us know in the comments.

For more information on booking your next trip with our official travel agent sponsor, the Vacationeer, visit wdwnt.travel.

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Dani
Dani
5 months ago

Have a Girl Scout trip to WDW scheduled for October. Flights with SW. I haven’t pulled the plug on that trip, but have canceled our family trip in August.

Eldred M Snyder
5 months ago
Reply to  Dani

we will be using Southwest for our Disney plans in June if they are open and if people from WNY wont have to do 14day quarantine other wise we will be canceling

Billystarpip
Billystarpip
5 months ago

We always fly Southwest to MCO. Can’t wait for things to get rolling again, but we are going next week to visit family even with parks closed.

Andrew
Andrew
5 months ago

Southwest CEO: Disney World needs to open right now!
*Disney re-opens; people get sick and die*
Southwest CEO: We take no blame for Disney’s actions.

Auntiegravity
Auntiegravity
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Life is risk. If you can’t handle it, go hide under your covers while the rest of us adults take care of this.

Andrew
Andrew
5 months ago
Reply to  Auntiegravity

You totally missed my point there

looking for pixie dust
looking for pixie dust
5 months ago
Reply to  Auntiegravity

Exactly! I could not agree with you more! We have the freedoms and rights to choose what and where we want to go and do here!

RebeccaMcK
RebeccaMcK
5 months ago

I’m flying in early-to-mid November, but Southwest doesn’t fly out of Colorado Springs, just Denver. Frontier does, but not daily. So I’ll be on American (got a great fare but bought the insurance in case I have to cancel) but I’ve used Southwest before for getting to Santa Ana for DLR visits in the past. If Southwest would have flights to MCO out of my airport that’s just 20 minutes from home, I’d use them more often. November’s trip has no park hopper or party night tickets bought yet, and my DVC room and flight are refundable in case WDW… Read more »

Hannah
Hannah
5 months ago

We were due to fly out from London early this month but was cancelled. We are now due to fly out in mid September! Looks like positive news for WDW, but will be interesting to see what happens with regards to international fights!

Chneiko Ellis
Chneiko Ellis
5 months ago

My family has a flight booked for Orlando on July 11, 2020. We’re hoping to still be able to take this trip! We have faith that Disneyworld will reopen by then, with all precautions and proper safety measures in place of course :)

Jack Black
Jack Black
5 months ago
Reply to  Chneiko Ellis

Moron!

Jack Black Sucks
Jack Black Sucks
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Black

You know what, Screw you Jack Black. If you are the real Jack Black, and you’re not, just wanna say , nothing personal, loved Jumanji. However, you can’t just call someone a moron for having the Disney Spirit

looking for pixie dust
looking for pixie dust
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Black

How about YOU decide how you want to live or in your case subsist locked down with your freedoms taken away!

twentyfeet
twentyfeet
5 months ago

having the public milling around does not affect just the people out milling around.

Auntiegravity
Auntiegravity
5 months ago
Reply to  Chneiko Ellis

You do know that Disney is in deep financial trouble right? Even if they COULD open, I doubt they will for awhile. Universal will be open while Disney stays closed. Watch and see.

looking for pixie dust
looking for pixie dust
5 months ago
Reply to  Auntiegravity

If you think $3 billion or so cash on hand is deep financial trouble maybe you want to adopt me?

Jenny
Jenny
5 months ago

Flights to wdw in July, but on American. Southwest was 3x as much. Southwest has been crazy with the prices out of Chicago. They are also crazy with prices to other places. I found this to be a problem for a few years now. I haven’t moved it yet, as trying to still figure out what to do with it!

Andrew
Andrew
5 months ago
Reply to  Jenny

I’m in the same boat. I don’t understand Chicago prices.

Jenny
Jenny
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

I’m glad I’m not the only one who always has this problem!

Jenniffer
Jenniffer
5 months ago

We always fly Southwest out of St. Louis, and our April runDisney trip got postponed to end of July (replacing Alaskan Cruise not on Disney). We will enjoy our time in the resort even if parks are not open or open on limited basis. I’m sure the CMs will make it even more magical than they already do. I’m scheduled to go at end of September for a conference but sadly don’t anticipate that happening.

Jack Black
Jack Black
5 months ago

Southwest CEO sounds like a greedy scrooge whom doesn’t care about anything other than filling his coffers with gold.

Auntiegravity
Auntiegravity
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Black

Some of us want to get back to the business of living. Sorry that bothers you!

Catie
Catie
5 months ago

My next flight is for my wedding in Disney World! It’s in September and we have our flight already too with Southwest!! That’s all we fly!! I’ve been going almost every year since I was 7, I’m now 29 and my fiancé and his family’s first time will be our wedding!! I’m so excited!! We’re doing pictures the morning of our wedding in front of Cinderella’s Castle for an hour before the park opens!! I’m going to try so hard not to cry!! Fingers crossed this is all gone by then!!

Debra Kay
Debra Kay
5 months ago
Reply to  Catie

I do hope things work out for you. My husband and I will celebrate 30 years this July. Much happiness to you and your fiance. May you live happily ever after with bumps in the road of course.

Jennifer Oney Hooven
Jennifer Oney Hooven
5 months ago

Trying to go in October we have hotel and parks all taken care of but SWA’s prices are currently absurd! Close to $600 one way per person (which puts a nasty dent in ye olde vacation budget which was already pretty inflated). I want my trip to happen but I also want to enjoy myself and not be worried about whether or not Florida reopened too soon. I guess we’ll see how this works and how the numbers are looking after school starts.

Brandon
Brandon
5 months ago

I have a trip in September to Disney and I always fly Southwest to MCO every time I go.

Luis
Luis
5 months ago

Suppose to get married at Disney in June, and our flights are Southwest. Our flights have been changed 2-3 times now. We’re trying to be hopeful

David
David
5 months ago

I just cancelled our Memorial Day flight on southwest because WDW is closed and so is the resort we were going to stay at next to Animal Kingdom. Sucks for people who around the Disney attractions. Looks like we’ll camping for Memorial Day instead.

Diana
Diana
5 months ago

The top place people fly to Orlando from is Newark airport and southwest has such a minute presence there I literally never heard anyone take it on such a short flight, it’s always more expensive than the major affordable names, I do believe this is a publicity stunt, they are not the preferred airline going to Orlando from here, other airlines have more of a claim to these statements

Auntiegravity
Auntiegravity
5 months ago

Who says out of state people will be allowed to even enter Florida for awhile? Even if the parks open, it will probably be for locals for awhile. I can’t imagine letting people from highly infected states reinfect us here in central Florida.

Bree
Bree
5 months ago

Excuse me if I don’t rush to get tickets and travel to the parks just because the airline wants to make money. I love flying Southwest, I love Disney. I do not love greed and prioritizing money over health and safety. Sit back down dude and pretend to have two brain cells to rub together Gary. Now is not the time to push travel. I want to be able to go every year, not just once and then never again.

Frank W
Frank W
5 months ago

We are locals, an hour and half road trip to WDW. Really hate to sound selfish but I can’t wait to go when there is 50% of capacity.

Samantha Maestas
Samantha Maestas
5 months ago

I booked a southwest flight to Disney for October! I really hope we are back to normal by then.

Mac
Mac
5 months ago

My husband and I booked a flight on SW (points!) for LBD week. Just booked a couple weeks ago but if have to reschedule, it’s no big deal to us!