A new flight in Des Moines gives Iowans a direct connection to the west coast. Sunday, Southwest Airlines marked one year of flying in the metro and to celebrate, the carrier added a new destination. For the inaugural flight, the airline brought a little bit of Vegas to Des Moines.
“I am a die-hard Elvis fan,” says Sandi Tompkins.
An Elvis impersonator serenaded the more than 120 passengers waiting to make the trip to Sin City.
“It’s my birthday and my daughter and her friend, we’re going out there for the week and we’re just going to have a good time,” says Tompkins.
While she wouldn’t tell us how old she is, Tompkins was more than happy to share another number. She booked her round trip ticket on Southwest for $120.
“It gives me more money to play with out there,” she says.
“It creates that element of competition that we’ve been looking for for so long. And we have it. Our fares are reducing dramatically,” says Des Moines International Executive Director Don Smithey.
Vegas is the second largest destination out of Des Moines just behind Denver. Southwest’s new daily non-stop flight to Vegas won’t be the last stop for some passengers.
“Las Vegas is the largest connecting point to Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Tuscan, Phoenix. there are 16 cities you can access through there,” says Smithey.
Elvis wasn’t the only act. Southwest flew in two Vegas show girls.
“This is great. We were at a wedding last night and I said another party. This is fabulous. What fun,” says Mary Lloyd of Montana.
“We’re hoping they do this at every departure in the future,” says Richard Harding, also of Montana.
Southwest began flying to Chicago Midway last year. Airport officials say during the first quarter this year, average airfare in Des Moines went down by nearly 9%.