Photos of the Week: The Love Airline

Southwest pairs its lauded customer service with stylish aircraft

By BlueSkyStaff

Published April 29, 2024

Read Time: 2 mins


It is common practice for airlines to group their leased gates at an airport — those that are reserved strictly for them and feature their branding in the gate areas — whenever possible.

Among other benefits, this arrangement helps streamline operations. It also creates the cool visuals of identical aircraft all lined up together next to the terminal.

Or, even cooler, not quite identical aircraft, in some cases.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, Southwest operates at several gates in Concourse A that stay pretty busy, as the carrier is responsible for about 25 percent of the passenger traffic here.

That means it’s not uncommon to see several of their Boeing 737s parked on the ramp on the western side of that concourse with their familiar blue fuselages and yellow and red tails.

On April 20, however, network scheduling quirks resulted in three of Southwest’s unique liveries pulling up to PIT simultaneously, a boon for avgeeks and even casual observers.

Photographer Ryan McManus captured all three of them at once. The eye-catching 737 MAX 8 with a “Desert Gold Retro” livery in honor of late airline founder and longtime CEO Herb Kelleher — with the special registration number of N871HK — arrived from Las Vegas at 4:25 p.m. and parked at Gate A7.

A couple doors down, at Gate A3, was the 737-700 dubbed “Louisiana One,” the 12th state-themed aircraft in Southwest’s fleet, with an artist’s take on the Pelican State’s flag emblazoned on the fuselage. It had arrived just a few minutes earlier from Atlanta.

And just prior to that, the 737-800 honoring the Silver State and known as “Nevada One” had arrived at Gate A1 carrying passengers from Phoenix to Pittsburgh.

The angle of Ryan’s shot made it difficult to get all three full liveries in the frame; in fact, you can only see Nevada One’s tail in the foreground and none of its unique paint job.

Luckily, Ethan Roebuck was also at PIT that day and got a phenomenal shot of Nevada One on approach against a clear blue sky.

Thanks, Ryan and Ethan, and a special thanks to our good friends at Southwest for their phenomenal service and creative liveries!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming — you can click here for submission guidelines.

Southwest’s Nevada One livery comes in to land at PIT from Phoenix. (Photo submitted by Ethan Roebuck)

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