July 29, 2021

Cayman Islands celebrates inaugural Southwest Airlines flight

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The Cayman Islands Celebrates Inaugural Southwest Airlines Flight

from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Cayman with Festive Gate Party & In-Flight Fun

Special Guests, Exciting Giveaways and Live Entertainment Surprise & Delight Passengers

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, 5 June 2017 – On Sunday, 4 June 2017, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) proudly celebrated the start of Southwest Airlines’ daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale—Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) with a surprise flight gate party at the southern Florida airport, followed by continued festivities in Grand Cayman upon the inaugural flight’s arrival.

Southwest Airlines’ Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Mark Shaw, together with Miss Cayman Islands, Anika Conolly, kicked off the celebrations with an honorary ribbon cutting ceremony at the gate at FLL, signifying the start of the new daily flight service. Unsuspecting travellers were showered with Cayman’s vibrant island spirit and rich local heritage as elements of the destination’s two most beloved on-island events, Pirates Week and Carnival Batabano, came to life right before their eyes with live entertainment and dancing. Rounding out the festivities were destination-inspired giveaways and refreshments for passengers to enjoy prior to the inaugural flight, including Blackbeards Rum Cakes and miniature stingray plush toys.

During the flight, guests were given the special “Caymankind” treatment as they travelled to Grand Cayman, soaking up everything from energetic Cayman Carnival dancers to enticing gifts and giveaways such as complimentary admission to various on-island attractions and even free return two-night stays. But the revelry didn’t end there, as key Southwest Airlines executives and local island performers, along with Ms. Conolly, warmly greeted the passengers immediately after deplaning on the GCM airport tarmac. Exemplifying the destination’s unmatched hospitality, travellers were delighted as they were escorted into the Cayman Islands’ airport with a parade of excitement and high energy surrounding them, providing an unforgettable beginning to their Cayman adventure.

We are so thrilled to welcome Southwest Airlines as our newest airline partner and introduce daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Cayman, a key U.S. market for us,” said Mrs. Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism. “We couldn’t imagine a more fitting way to celebrate this exciting new alliance and enhanced accessibility to our destination than with a special ‘Caymankind’ tribute to our loyal guests. This launch helped to set the stage for what we can only hope will be the first of many more memorable visits to our shores.”

The airline with heart now brings our world-famous hospitality with wide-reaching smiles to the limitless sand and sea horizon of Grand Cayman,” said Mark Shaw, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Southwest Airlines. “A Caymankind journey on Southwest® brings the compounded value of excellent customer service on comfortable planes coupled with low fares, alongside our industry-unique combination of bags fly free and no change fees for everyone. We are honored to make the Cayman Islands the tenth country served by Southwest, America’s largest airline.”

The new route, effective immediately, provides a convenient vacation escape for discerning travellers in the South Florida area. Utilizing a Boeing 737-700 aircraft, flight WN 1215 departs FLL daily at 11:45 a.m. and arrives to Grand Cayman at 12:20 p.m. The return flight, WN 1216 leaves GCM at 1:15 p.m. and arrives to Fort Lauderdale at 4:00 p.m.


Executives and flight crew from Southwest along with Cayman Islands Tourism and Aviation officials celebrate the arrival of the first flight to Grand Cayman.

L-R) Southwest Senior Director of International Planning, Steven Swan and Southwest General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Mark Shaw were presented a token of appreciation by Chief Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Stran Bodden and Director of Tourism, Mrs Rosa Harris. The Southwest team were presented a Caymanite stingray statue created by local artist Horacio Esteban.

Tom Ludington, U.S. General Manager, Department of Tourism (Center), Melanie McField, Executive Director of the Pirates Week Festival and Anika Conolly, Miss Cayman Islands 2017, along with Batabano dancer and pirates helped welcome guests in Fort Lauderdale for the inaugural Southwest flight to Grand Cayman.

Passengers on the inaugural Southwest flight to Grand Cayman pose with Batabano Carnival dancer and Pirates Week Festival representatives


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