It felt like flying in its heyday, passengers were greeted by airport officials and Southwest executives with a gift bag. It was the first inaugural flight from Panama City to St. Louis out of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The first non stop flight from St. Louis was full. Passengers took up all one hundred thirty seven seats. This is Southwest Airlines' fifth non stop market served by the new airport.
"It is wonderful for us its a brand new flight from St. Louis," said Airport Executive Director John Wheat. "It opens up another market for us into the Midwest."
The executive director says the new flight also provides new options
"As long as you've got a good price on the ticket which I think they do I think its just going to open up the market," said Wheat.
And saving time and money is important to the Lamb and Burke families as well.
"Well now that gas has gone up so much and the convenience of it outweighs the cost by far," said mother Lori Burke.
The families are making their way to Panama City to meet friends and are headed for a special final destination.
"I will be getting married to Michael Lamb," said Burke. "We are going to be flying to the Bahamas and this is the first flight that we've ever been able to fly directly to Panama City."
Burke says the one hour forty minute flight was well worth the experience.
"When they were on the plane getting to be able to see the clouds and just seeing everything was just fabulous for us," said Burke. "So it was definitely worth it."
For two of the boys flying with the Lamb and Burke families it was their first flight ever. Their favorite part? Watching the world shrink as they took off from St. Louis.
Southwest Airlines is hoping to make this a season flight. Lasting until the end of summer.