Historically, tumultuous times offer some of the best opportunities to buy stocks, and the market's recent mess surely qualifies. And though low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) has been flying higher since the recession, many investors expect even better times ahead.

In our Motley Fool CAPS community, about 84% of the 1,424 investors rating the company are bullish, so there's no shortage of reasons why Southwest Airlines will thrive, three of which I've highlighted below.

But here at the Motley Fool, we're all for looking at both the good and bad sides of an investment. Once you're done with this article, you can read the case against the stock, weigh in with your own comments below or rate Southwest Airlines yourself in CAPS.

1. Signs of recovery
In addition to Southwest's first-quarter profit, some other positive signs are fueling hopes of a recovery. Rival Delta (NYSE: DAL) expects to turn profitable in the second quarter as it sees solid advanced bookings and rising business contract revenues, while discount carrier JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU) said it's seeing improvement in the industry, as it ramps up some flight schedules. And airplane manufacturer Boeing (NYSE: BA) sees an improving financial outlook for the airlines and looks for a possible increase in orders.

2. Seeking profitable growth
Some airlines may be looking at a merger as a way to improve their financials in this difficult time, and it has been reported that UAL's (Nasdaq: UAUA) United Airlines and Continental (NYSE: CAL) have made progress on merger talks. While Southwest is open to a merger or acquisition for growth, it also sees some strong opportunities to grow organically, like the addition of new routes and cities. But regardless of how it grows, the company is keeping its profit targets as a top priority.

3. Top airline
Some CAPS members see Southwest as one of the best bets among airlines. Contrasted with AMR (NYSE: AMR), which posted a huge first-quarter loss and couldn't manage to generate positive net income last year, Southwest generated positive operating cash flow in 2009. With a relatively stronger balance sheet and a strong brand, some investors think Southwest has better potential for recovery.

To see details of what CAPS members are saying now about Southwest Airlines, just click on over to Motley Fool CAPS and have a look -- or add your own thoughts in the comments box below.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock has more than three reasons why he doesn't like air travel that much, and paying for bags just added another. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. The Fool's disclosure policy once made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live.