Southwest Airlines in April will begin twice-a-day nonstop service between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Baltimore, a rare move in the airline's local strategy.

Until now, the Dallas-based carrier has connected all Twin Cities passengers headed to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport through at least one other airport.

Southwest offers MSP passengers a number of destinations, but few are nonstop routes. Baltimore will be added to that premium list that now includes Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City and several Florida cities.

Southwest will compete on the route against MSP behemoth Delta and ultra-low-cost Spirit Airlines. Southwest distinguishes itself among many of its peers by continuing to include two pieces of checked luggage and a carry-on bag with every passenger ticket.

The new service begins mid-April with MSP departure times of 6:35 a.m. and 4:35 p.m., and Baltimore return times of 10:40 a.m. and 8:40 p.m.