A Southwest flight lands at Long Beach Airport. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Travelers looking to party in the Big Easy for Mardi Gras—or who just have a hankering for a bowl of gumbo and some jazz—will be able to fly nonstop from Long Beach to New Orleans starting next year, officials announced Thursday.

Southwest’s new weekly route from Long Beach Airport to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will operate on a seasonal basis from January 8 through March next year. Mardi Gras 2023 falls on February 21.

The Boeing 737 will leave Long Beach at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, arriving in NOLA at 6 p.m. The return flight, also on Sundays, departs from New Orleans at 4:55 p.m. and arrives at LGB at 7:15 p.m.

“We welcome Southwest adding this Sunday shortcut from our award-winning airport to the Big Easy, giving travelers more convenient options,” Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in a statement.

Tickets for the new service are available now.

Thursday’s announcement comes a little more than a month after Southwest announced nonstop service from Long Beach to Nashville, a flight that continues on to Washington, D.C. The Nashville service begins in November.

Since the departure of JetBlue in October 2020, Southwest has become the dominant carrier at LGB, holding 38 of the 53 daily flight slots at the noise-controlled airport. Including New Orleans, the Texas-based airline flies nonstop to 16 cities from Long Beach.

The remaining flight slots are held by Delta Air Lines (7), American Airlines (4), Hawaiian Airlines (2) and Breeze Airways (1). UPS also holds one daily flight slot for cargo deliveries.

New routes and more flights are welcome at the small, municipal airport, which is continuing to recover from the decimation of travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the airport was within 4% of pre-pandemic passenger volumes, pacing well ahead of the industry nationwide.

“Long Beach Airport offers one of the best travel experiences around the country,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement, “and I’m so glad to see the expansion of our operations.”

Southwest announces nonstop service from Long Beach to Nashville, one-stop to D.C.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Business Journal.