Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular airlines in the United States, known for its low fares and extensive domestic route network. But does Southwest fly to Chattanooga, Tennessee?
The short answer is yes, Southwest Airlines does offer flights to Chattanooga. However, there are some important details travelers should know about Southwest’s service to this mid-sized Tennessee city.
This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about flying Southwest to Chattanooga, including:
- An overview of Southwest Airlines and its route network
- Information on Southwest’s service to Chattanooga Airport
- Details on booking Southwest flights to Chattanooga
- Tips for finding the best fares and deals on Southwest to CHA
- What to expect when flying Southwest to Tennessee
- Other transportation options for getting to Chattanooga
Whether you’re looking to visit Chattanooga for business or pleasure, read on for the complete guide to taking Southwest Airlines to this scenic Tennessee destination!
Overview of Southwest Airlines
For travelers not familiar with Southwest Airlines, here is a quick introduction to the carrier:
- Southwest is a major US airline based in Dallas, Texas.
- It operates an extensive domestic route network serving over 100 destinations in the United States and near international routes to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
- Southwest uses a fleet of over 700 Boeing 737 aircraft and is the largest operator of 737s worldwide.
- It utilizes a unique boarding process based on numbered groups rather than assigned seats. Passengers get a boarding pass with a letter and number combination indicating their place in line.
- Southwest is known for its friendly service, flexible policies, reliable operations, and low fares. Taxes and fees are included in advertised prices.
- The airline offers an easy, no frills experience with open seating first-come, first-served boarding. Southwest does not serve meals but offers snacks and drinks for purchase.
- Southwest has a reputation for good customer service and solid on-time performance.
- The airline operates a point-to-point route network rather than a traditional hub-and-spoke system. This allows for direct nonstop flights between many city pairs.
Southwest serves destinations across the United States, from major hubs like Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Orlando to smaller cities like Chattanooga. It’s route map covers most of the country.
The airline has grown considerably since its early days as a regional carrier in the 1970s. Today, Southwest Airlines is one of the “big four” US airlines together with American, Delta, and United in terms of passengers carried annually.
Southwest Airlines Service to Chattanooga
Southwest Airlines launched service to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA) back in March 2011 with multiple daily flights to Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Orlando, and Tampa.
Over the past decade, Southwest has continued to expand its presence in Chattanooga. As of 2023, Southwest offers nonstop flights to 7 destinations from CHA:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Chicago Midway (MDW)
- Denver (DEN)
- Houston Hobby (HOU)
- Orlando (MCO)
- St. Louis (STL)
Southwest has increased flight frequency on certain routes like Atlanta and Baltimore to offer customers more travel flexibility. The airline also occasionally offers seasonal flights to popular leisure destinations like Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.
Southwest is now the largest airline operating at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, accounting for over half of all departing seats according to 2022 data. This makes Southwest the most convenient option for travelers flying to or from Chattanooga.
The airline offers multiple flights per day to many of its destinations from CHA. Its schedule provides a good mix of early morning, mid-day, and evening departures to fit different travel plans. Flight times are generally under 2 hours from Chattanooga to most Southwest cities.
In addition to scheduled passenger service, Southwest also operates a maintenance base at Chattanooga Airport where aircraft undergo regular overhaul and repairs. This maintenance facility represents a major investment and jobs for the region.
Overall, Southwest offers an extensive schedule of flights between Chattanooga and major business and leisure destinations across the U.S. Its large presence makes Southwest the go-to airline option when traveling to or from this mid-sized Tennessee city.
Booking Southwest Flights to Chattanooga
Booking Southwest Airlines flights to Chattanooga is easy and similar to booking any other Southwest itinerary. Here are some key tips for reserving flights on Southwest to CHA:
- Use the Southwest website or app – This is the best place to book directly as it will show all available fares and flight options. You can also call Southwest reservations. Avoidthird party sites as Southwest does not allow them to display its lowest “Wanna Get Away” fares.
- Be flexible with dates – Southwest’s lowest fares are almost always on weekdays. Flying on peak days like Fridays and Sundays is more expensive. Being flexible with your travel dates can save a lot on airfare.
- Book early – Southwest doesn’t use the traditional “first class, business class, economy” fare buckets. Instead it has Anytime, Business Select, and Wanna Get Away fares. In general, the earlier you book the lower the fare, as cheaper Wanna Get Away fares sell out sooner.
- Consider connecting flights – While direct flights are most convenient, you can sometimes get much lower fares on one-stop routings vs. nonstop flights to CHA. Connecting through another Southwest city like Atlanta, Baltimore, or Chicago opens up more fare options.
- Monitor sales – Southwest frequently runs network-wide fare sales that can drop prices by 20%, 30% or more. Sign up for email alerts and check Southwest’s website for sales. Being ready to jump on low fares when they are announced is key to scoring deals.
- Use points – If you have Southwest Rapid Rewards points, you can redeem them for flights to Chattanooga for very low taxes and fees. This stretches your points further as CHA is a smaller market destination.
- Consider other airports – If visiting Chattanooga, check alternate airports including Nashville (BNA) and Atlanta (ATL) which have more competition and may offer lower fares on some routes. You’d need to rent a car or take a shuttle to Chattanooga.
- Read fare rules – Wanna Get Away fares allow changes for a fee. Business Select and Anytime fares are more flexible. Check Southwest’s website for specifics at time of booking.
Using some of these tips can help you find the best deals on Southwest to Chattanooga. Being flexible and booking early are generally key to scoring low fares.
What to Expect When Flying Southwest to Chattanooga
Once you’ve booked your Southwest flight to Chattanooga, here’s a rundown of what to expect during your travel experience:
- Southwest encourages online check-in 24 hours prior to departure to secure your boarding position. You’ll be issued a digital boarding pass.
- If you need to check bags, you can do so at the airport. Baggage fees apply unless you hold certain Southwest credit cards.
- You can also check-in at the airport at designated counters or self-serve kiosks.
- Southwest boards passengers in groups A1-A60, B1-B60 and so on based on check-in time. Your boarding pass will have a letter + number indicating when you can board.
- Passengers line up by groups at the boarding gate. Unassigned seating allows you to pick any open seat once onboard. Bulkhead and exit row seats have a higher boarding priority.
- Carry-on bags must fit size limits to bring onboard. Gate agents will check bag sizes.
- Southwest maintains an easygoing, friendly atmosphere on flights. Crews deliver courteous service with a bit of humor. Passengers are allowed to move around the cabin during flight.
- Southwest offers a buy-on-board menu with snacks, fresh food, alcoholic drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase with credit/debit card. Prices are reasonable.
- Free in-flight entertainment includes Southwest’s own content plus movies, TV shows, music and games streamed to personal devices. Southwest does not offer seatback screens.
- Free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are served on longer flights.
- Wi-Fi internet access is available for a fee to stay connected.
- Southwest planes have leather seats arranged 3×3 without middle seats. There is generally ample legroom and overhead bin space.
- Southwest flies into Chattanooga’s newer Terminal with easy connections to ground transportation like taxis, shuttles, and rental cars. The airport is 8 miles from downtown.
- Chattanooga is on Eastern time zone, so adjust any clocks/watches if traveling from other time zones.
- The city has a mild climate year round. Summers are warm and humid while winters are generally mild with some rain possible any time of year.
Bags and Changing Flights
- Checked bags are allowed with fees based on bag size, itinerary, and Southwest fare type. Gate agents strictly enforce size limits for carry-ons.
- Wanna Get Away fares allow flight changes/cancellations for a $100 fee. More flexibility with Business Select and Anytime fares.
- Pay close attention to proper name spellings when booking. Name changes are not allowed on Southwest tickets after purchase.
Overall, Southwest provides an efficient, affordable flight experience to Chattanooga with the carrier’s trademark hospitality and flexible policies.
Alternate Transportation Options to Chattanooga
In addition to flying, travelers can also consider these ground transportation options to reach Chattanooga from other parts of the country:
- Driving – Chattanooga is conveniently located off I-75 and other major highways like I-24. Its approximately 2 hour drive from Atlanta, 3.5 hours from Nashville, and 5 hours from Birmingham. Driving allows flexibility in trip planning.
- Bus – Greyhound, Megabus and other bus lines serve Chattanooga from hubs like Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and Charlotte with fares starting around $20 one-way. Cheaper but much longer trip than flying.
- Train – Amtrak runs trains with stops in Chattanooga as part of its Crescent line between New York and New Orleans. The train station is downtown with connections to local transit.
- Shuttle Services – Shared shuttle van services like Groome Transport offer an affordable option to/from airports like Atlanta Hartsfield, Nashville, Knoxville and Birmingham. Door-to-door scheduled service, with rides from $55 one-way to Atlanta.
- Ride Sharing – Services like Uber are available to and from Chattanooga. Prices fluctuate but are typically cheaper than taxis. Great option for shorter trips from surrounding regions.
Depending on where you’re traveling from, flying Southwest or opting to drive directly can be the fastest and most affordable ways to reach Chattanooga. But for those on tight budgets or wanting to see sights along the way, buses, trains and shuttles remain viable ground transportation choices.
Key Takeaways – Flying Southwest to Chattanooga
To summarize the key points for travelers planning to fly Southwest Airlines to Chattanooga Airport:
- Southwest offers multiple daily nonstop flights from Chattanooga to 7 major U.S. cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Orlando, and St. Louis.
- Southwest has an extensive presence at Chattanooga Airport as its largest carrier accounting for over 50% of flights.
- Booking early, being flexible with dates, and monitoring sales can help find lower fares on Southwest to CHA. Nonstop flights typically start around $150+ roundtrip.
- The onboard experience is friendly and casual with buy-on-board food/drinks plus streaming entertainment on personal devices. Bags fly free with Southwest credit cards.
- Beyond flying, driving, buses, trains and shuttles are alternative transportation options to consider for getting to Chattanooga economically.
- Chattanooga has a mild 4-season climate. The airport is just 8 miles from downtown attractions.
For affordable and convenient flights to Chattanooga, it’s hard to beat booking directly on Southwest Airlines’ website. The carrier offers multiple flights to many major U.S. cities from CHA along with its signature friendly service and flexible, no frills approach to air travel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Flying Southwest to Chattanooga
Does Southwest Airlines have flights from Chattanooga to Florida?
Yes, Southwest offers nonstop flights from Chattanooga to Orlando and seasonal service to other Florida cities like Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and Ft. Myers. Flights from CHA to Florida take under 2 hours.
How early should I arrive before a Southwest flight from Chattanooga?
Southwest recommends arriving at the airport about 90 minutes before your scheduled departure when flying within the U.S. This ensures you have plenty of time to check bags and pass through security.
Can I request a seat assignment on my Southwest flight to/from Chattanooga?
No, Southwest does not assign seats. Its open seating policy lets you pick any open seat on the plane once your boarding group is called. You can pay extra for EarlyBird check-in to get an earlier boarding position. Exit rows and bulkheads are loaded first for extra legroom.
What kind of aircraft does Southwest fly between Chattanooga and Chicago?
Southwest uses Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft on the CHA to Chicago Midway route. Both planes offer a 3×3 one-class seating layout with no middle seats. Overhead bins provide ample room for carry-on bags.
Does Southwest Airlines serve Chattanooga with any international flights?
No. Southwest only flies domestically within the United States plus short hops to Caribbean/Latin America destinations. To reach Europe or other international destinations from CHA, you will need to connect through another airport like Atlanta or Chicago.
What COVID-19 entry requirements and masking policies does Southwest have?
Southwest follows all U.S. federal regulations related to COVID-19 travel restrictions and masking. Passengers are recommended to check current government guidance prior to flying to ensure they meet any vaccination, testing, or masking rules for their destination.