DALLAS—In what the company is calling a "bold new leap" in comfort, convenience and overall quality of travel, Southwest Airlines announced Monday that it would be replacing its entire fleet of passenger jets and planes with daily shuttle buses.
The shuttle buses, which will depart from airport runways to over 200 destinations nationwide, represent a major breakthrough in commercial aviation.
"The future is now," announced Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, gesturing to a 30-foot bus painted in the company's signature red, yellow, and blue. "With these amazing new buses, traveling from New York to Los Angeles takes as little as three days. That's less than half the time it took passengers to get there on our old planes."
Equipped with a 70-gallon tank and a four-stroke engine capable of speeds up to 60 miles per hour, the innovative buses will reportedly reduce travel time by 75 percent on average. In addition, cushioned plastic seats and easy-to-hold metal poles will present passengers with a level of comfort never before experienced on Southwest flights.
After checking their luggage and going through normal security procedures, passengers line up at their gates and board the new Southwest craft by walking through the connecting jetway to an awaiting bus. Once a runway opens up, the shuttles then prepare for departure by taxiing down a designated airstrip, activating their turn signals, and maneuvering onto an adjoining highway ramp.
Southwest also guarantees that the buses will take off and arrive within two minutes of their scheduled time—a feat of precision many had long thought impossible.
"Traveling across the country is more convenient than ever before," Southwest spokeswoman Catherine Miller said. "Just step onto one of our state-of-the-art buses, sit down for take off, read for a while, stand up and wander around the shuttle to help pass the time, sit back down for a few hours, read some more, look out the window at an empty corn field, wander around the shuttle once more—and before you know it, you've arrived."
Said Miller, "You'll never travel on an outmoded airborne vehicle again."
In addition to the added convenience, the shuttle buses offer improved dining and meal service, with passengers getting a choice between Arby's, Roy Rogers and Dunkin' Donuts, at more than 500 rest areas across the country. Complimentary snacks and beverages are also be distributed to all travelers, depending on when and where the shuttle bus stops for gas.
The buses are capable of making emergency breaks by the side of the highway if required—a feature Southwest officials say passengers will prefer to cramped airplane toilets. According to Miller, exciting new entertainment options—such as asking the shuttle's captain to change the radio station—will replace in-flight films.
Each bus will also come equipped with a high-powered steering-wheel horn, providing superior communication between the shuttle's captain and his surroundings.
"For as little as $199, customers can travel to dozens of exciting tourist and business destinations," Miller said. "And if they choose to upgrade to Executive Class, not only will they ride in style, but we'll also drop them off right at their front door."
A number of passengers who had previously vowed never to fly commercially again said that Southwest's new ground service is a welcome change.
"The turbulence wasn't so bad except for a few potholes, and it was nice being able to step out and have a cigarette every once in a while," said Houston resident Michael Dworkin, who participated in a test trip last month. "Still, it seems like no matter how I choose to travel, I always end up getting seated next to a crying child."
As of press time, Southwest's inaugural shuttle-bus trip, from Dallas to Phoenix, is reportedly stuck in a traffic jam on I-10, because some asshole rear-ended a minivan and won't move his car off the road.