Big Rick Stuart
Southwest Airlines begins long awaited Santa Barbara service to three cities
It has been a wish from Santa Barbara area travelers for years.
Travelers hoped for a low cost airline with multiple flights to many cities and now it's happening.
Southwest Airlines now has service to and from Las Vegas, Oakland and Denver from Santa Barbara.
Travelers will have access to multiple other cities, and continue to find lower cost airfares. Some flights will be $39 one-way.
Some passengers said they found $29 introductory fares.
Santa Barbara tourism and hospitality leaders also say it will be a heavily marketed addition to the area and should be an economic stimulus on its own.
This could lead to more corporate meeting plans in-person and also weddings or special events.
The first flight, coming from Las Vegas touched down about 10:35 a.m.
Passengers coming off the plane were greeted with Santa Barbara gift bags and a ring of balloons to walk through.
Mayor Cathy Murillo personally spoke to dozens of passengers coming to Santa Barbara and taking off.
Some of the departing passengers were cheering and screaming to show their enthusiasm for the new service.
The first plane was called California One in the Southwest fleet. It has the Golden Bear and California design painted on the side.
The Santa Barbara City Fire Department has its airport engines positioned to spray a shower of water on the plane as it made its way to Gate 3 in a picture perfect arrival out of the morning overcast.
Southwest is flying the 737 planes and recently announced it has a new order in to Boeing to upgrade to the new 150-seat 737 MAX 7.
In addition to Santa Barbara, Southwest is also beginning new service in Fresno.
stock Wix photo