Even the travelers who didn't know about the expiration of the Wright Amendment on Monday quickly realized it was not a business-as-usual morning at Dallas Love Field.
A rock band played loudly above the security checkpoint. Free donuts and coffee tempted passersby.
Southwest Airlines chief executive officer Gary Kelly scanned boarding passes and passed out hugs to passengers boarding the inaugural nonstop flight to Denver, the first flight to leave Love Field for one of Southwest's seven new destinations.
The Dapper Dans from Disney World serenaded the waiting crowds with, "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" and other Disney favorites, before boarding the first nonstop flight from Dallas Love Field to Orlando.
Tom Stevens, a businessman from Farmersville, has been flying Southwest for about 30 years and took a quick stroll through the Frontiers of Flight Museum in the main terminal to honor the day.
"We are happy campers," Stevens said, adding that the new nonstop flights will save both him and his company time.
Bill de Haas, a Dallas businessman, said he started flying Southwest in their first few months, when flight attendants still wore "hot pants" and you could buy tickets to Houston for $19 round trip.
"Now we can fly it all over the United States, and this really makes it much easier," said de Haas of the expiration of the Wright Amendment. "I want to get on the plane and go."
Kate McNamara interned for Southwest in college five years ago. Now a flight attendant, McNamara, based in Baltimore, was so excited about the expiration of the Wright Amendment that she flew to Dallas and bought a hotel on her own dime to work one of the inaugural flights.
"I remember back then that the Wright Amendment felt so far away," McNamara said of being an intern. "It restricted our service and it restricted our growth as a company. It seemed this day would never get here, and here it is five years later and I'm a flight attendant working one of the inaugural flights."
She also showed up to the airport early to wave goodbye to the first flight of the day.
“There it goes!” she said, as she watched Flight 1013 taxi away. "It represents an enormous opportunity for us," she said. "It makes us more efficient."
Southwest executives and city leaders held a press conference early Monday morning to celebrate the lifting of the Wright Amendment restrictions.
"It is such a great day for us, this beautiful gateway to the City of Dallas. We have a wonderful, convenient, efficient airport, which is a great asset for Dallas and all we needed was a little good legislation," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, praising the airport as a job creator and economic driver for the region. "Today we get to celebrate what is changing the City of Dallas and changing Love Field."
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who worked on the legislation to terminate the Wright Amendment and co-founder, Chairman Emeritus, and former CEO of Southwest Airlines Herb Kelleher were also at the celebration.
"This literally took an act of Congress," Kelly joked. "Do you all know what that is like?"
Despite the severe early-morning thunderstorm and flooding, the flights leaving Love Field were all on time.
"We launched new flights right on time. I had a little bit to do with that at 6:40,” Kelly said, mentioning that he scanned the boarding passes for the first flight to Denver.
On Sunday, Southwest Airlines had 118 departures out of Love Field. On Monday, with the added destinations, the daily departures increased to 140, a 19 percent increase in flight activity.
In November that number will increase to 149 departures each day, Kelly said, with eight more nonstop destinations added. The flights will increase yet again In January to 153 daily departures, as Southwest adds two more nonstop flights.
"After 43 years, when it comes to Southwest and Love, we ain’t no virgin," Kelly said referring to Virgin America who is also launching flights out of Love Field on Monday.
Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright may be 91 years old but he still recalls the importance of the amendment that bears his name. Wright says the amendment has fulfilled its purpose in giving Dallas/Fort Worth Airport the time it needed to grow into the international hub it has become today.