An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX.

An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX. Southwest does not have any 787s.

A few weeks ago, my esteemed colleague JL Johnson penned a piece extolling the virtues of his favorite carrier, Southwest Airlines. He laid out nine reasons why Southwest was tops in his mind, and quite honestly I didn’t disagree with any of the facts he laid out on why the airline is so immensely popular with so many people.

However, with all the positives Southwest has under its belt, I personally can’t remember the last time I stepped foot on a Southwest 737… at least seven-to-eight years, I think. So if Southwest isn’t so bad, and I think it’s a perfectly fine airline, why have I clocked about 800,000 miles without a single Southwest flight?

First, let’s get one thing clear: This piece isn’t meant to be a hostile response to JL or his story, or even as a “Southwest is bad” take-down rant. Like I said, he has valid points, and Southwest is a fine airline, one that I even recommend others to fly. The goal of this piece is to give those who are wondering some insight into why someone might choose not to fly Southwest.

A Southwest Boeing 737-800 - Photo: Woodyaeroimages | FlickrCC

A Southwest Boeing 737-800 – Photo: Woodyaeroimages | FlickrCC

For myself, I stick to the one-two punch of American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, dabbling in a few other carriers as the need arises. I have mid-tier elite status with both (lifetime status with American), but that being said there are of course issues that pop up here and there.  However, though I would earn A-List status with Southwest if I shifted all my flying over, I would still choose to fly with American/Alaska. Even when neither of those are reasonable options, I actually will still actively avoid Southwest and take other competitors.

Below are nine reasons why I don’t feel the LUV…

#1: Southwest’s Culture

JL says, “I can’t tell you how often I catch Southwest folks having a good time while simultaneously entertaining and engaging flyers.”

Welcome message on a British Airways Airbus A320.

Welcome message on a British Airways Airbus A320. Southwest doesn’t have the screens to do such things.

I will happily concede that Southwest employees are usually genuinely helpful and happy to be at their jobs, and I’ve never had a customer service issue when I did fly with them. But what may be endearing to some passengers could be off-putting to others, myself included.

Take, for example, the oft-cited stories of Southwest flight attendants and their funny flight safety announcements, many of which you can find on YouTube (like this one). Comedy is in the eye of the beholder, and I don’t find most of the “off kilter” announcements that funny (and didn’t find that video funny). Call me a square, but I’d rather get regular, even-keeled announcements for a couple of reasons: a) I enjoy a nice, quiet, peaceful journey; b) it gives non-native English speakers a chance to understand the safety briefing; and c) it keeps the crew from inadvertently making comments they thought were funny but ended up being awkward (like all those flight attendants who liked to joke to passengers about their airline’s bankruptcy).

What I would like even more is if the safety demos were played over screens, either on the seat-back or at the very least on overhead flip-down screens. Southwest has neither.

I would love to have happy, outgoing crew members all the time… I just don’t want them to be so in-your-face, or blasting their voices over the PA, about it.

#2: The Fleet

JL says: “Southwest Airlines operates the world’s largest fleet of [all] Boeing 737s… Why is the fleet a selling point for prospective customers? Consistency… From a plane-spotter perspective, Southwest has one of the most exciting fleets in the North American skies, thanks to ten state heritage planes, three planes sporting the original Desert Gold livery, and many others sporting unique paint or decals.”

I do love me some 737s, and I can appreciate that it’s easier and less expensive to maintain a single-aircraft fleet, so the savings are theoretically passed onto the passenger. I can also see how it’s nice to know that your favorite seat will likely be in the same spot on every plane, regardless of flight or changes (though the introduction of the larger 737-800 might have made things a bit more complicated).

Ground crews at LAX prep an American 777-300ER for its flight to SYD.

Ground crews at LAX prep an American 777-300ER for its flight to SYD. Southwest doesn’t have any 777s.

But to me, an all-737 fleet means one thing: There are no other aircraft in the fleet! As both a passenger and an #AvGeek, I like the variety of manufacturers and types. While domestically I’m pretty likely to still fly 737s and Airbus A320-type equipment, I still have shots at flying wide-bodies on some American routes, like the 767s, 777s, and 787s… or even regional jets. And lest we forget, American’s and Alaska’s partners fly everything from Airbus A380s to Saab 340Bs.

British Airways BA85 rolls out on YVR's Rwy 26L - the first scheduled A380 in Vancouver. Photo: Leighton Matthews | Pacific Air Photo

British Airways BA85 rolls out on YVR’s Rwy 26L – the first scheduled A380 in Vancouver. Southwest does not have any A380s – Photo: Leighton Matthews | Pacific Air Photo

I will grant that Southwest has some of the best looking, most vibrant special liveries out there, but special liveries still abound at the other carriers. There’s definitely something for everyone… sports fans, kids, history buffs, etc. And the liveries are on the outside… I can see planes like Texas One just fine from my seat… that I pre-selected… likely near the front… on American or Alaska.

A classic TWA livery on an American Airlines Boeing 737 - Photo: American Airlines

A classic TWA livery on an American Airlines Boeing 737 – Photo: American Airlines

#3: Reliability

Using JL’s source, Southwest indeed came in at an 84.1% on-time year-to-date average through March 2016 (the latest available data), while American came in at 81.1% (national average was 82.1%). Here’s the shocker… these are the on-time percentages for 2015:

  • American = 80.3%
  • Southwest = 79.7%
  • All airlines = 79.9%

Yes indeed, American had a better on-time performance than Southwest (albeit by a slight margin) last year. Bear in mind, this was also in the midst of their merger with US Airways, with a single operating certificate issued in April 2015, and the official decommissioning of the US Airways brand the following October.

Now, to be fair, I’ve had flight issues pop up, but American has never failed to aim for the best possible outcome, including rebooking me onto another carrier if needed. This is not an option at Southwest; it can only rebook you on one of its own flights, as Southwest is not connected to any other airline through their proprietary reservation system.

American has the reliability that Southwest has, backed up by connectivity that Southwest does NOT have.

#4: Surprises and Delights

While I don’t get birthday cards and cases of coffee (and I would love to… can someone send me some Biscoffs or Stroopwafels?), I do enjoy the more mundane things in life that are available on American/Alaska, especially as an elite.

  • A Chance at Upgrades:
    Southwest’s egalitarian tendencies are quaint, but I’ve tasted the good life of bigger and better seats. While upgrades are on a space-available basis on my preferred carriers, my chances of upgrading into first class on Southwest, A-Lister or not, are exactly ZERO. And going back to the variety of aircraft at AA’s disposal, I have a chance of getting an internationally-configured premium cabin with lie-flat seats on a domestic trip.

    Business class seats onboard American's Boeing 787-8.

    Business class seats onboard American’s Boeing 787-8. Southwest does not have business class. Or 787s.

  • Airport Lounges:
    Again, the chances of visiting a Southwest lounge during my travels are exactly ZERO, while I have the opportunity to do so (under certain circumstances) when flying my preferred carriers. Being able to refresh, relax, and recharge before and/or after a long flight is a huge benefit.

    Inside the American Airlines Admirals Club at LAX. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

    Inside the American Airlines Admirals Club at LAX. Southwest does not have any lounges. – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

#5: No Fees

I share JL’s aversion to fees, and I likewise throw shade at the likes of Spirit and Frontier. Southwest’s “No Fees” policy is pretty outstanding and customer-friendly, a strong competitive advantage, and marketing gold in today’s world. While I’m fortunate to avoid most fees by virtue of my status (checked baggage, standby, seat selection), I am stuck with change/cancellation fees on American per my fare rules (Alaska waives these for me). For me though, the pain of change fees is mitigated by my ability to standby for free for earlier or later flights, allowing my ticket to be semi-flexible when I need it on the day of departure.

Anecdotally, I have been the beneficiary of courtesy customer service gestures (definitely because of status) of fee waivers for date changes and cancellations with reason. While I don’t rely on this being the norm, I do feel taken care of, and the rare change fee I do have to pay is small in comparison to all the benefits I’ve had over the past several years.

As for baggage fees, as an elite I get these waived as well, yet another reason I remain loyal… but it’s pretty sweet to the regular passenger that Southwest gives two free checked baggage to everyone (for now, at least).

#6: Freedom to Move About the Cabin

“Southwest doesn’t have seat assignments… for me, it’s liberating.” – JL Johnson

The economy cabin onboard American's Boeing 787-8.

The economy cabin on board American’s Boeing 787-8, with Main Cabin Extra in the front section. Southwest does not have a “Main Cabin Extra” section.

To be honest, I don’t like the mad boarding rush to grab a seat; I prefer the freedom to pick my seat beforehand. I don’t like that the availability of a preferred seat (and overhead space!) is dictated in large part by how much time before departure I check in, and is made even more difficult if there’s a through-flight and there are already passengers on board (plus Southwest’s non-policy allowing passengers to save whole rows of seats, either for people at the end of boarding or even just themselves). And really, there are only a few seats that are preferable on the Southwest seat map; the bulkhead and exit rows. On American or Alaska, even if I don’t get upgraded, I will have already selected my preferred seat, guaranteeing more legroom (in either bulkhead, exit, or in AA’s extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra section), being closer to the front of the cabin, my preferred window seat, or some/all of the above.

As a bonus, most other airlines hold back seats for elites and full-fare tickets, even if the other seats are all taken; this gives late-bookers a chance at a decent seat towards the front of the plane without having to sweat bullets as the timer ticks down to T-24 hours.

#7: Award-Winning Rewards Program

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards won the Freddie Award for “Program of the Year” this year.

Looking at the past 10 years, American’s AAdvantage program won in 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012, while Alaska’s Mileage Plan won in 2009 and 2008, so plenty of accolades to go around. On top of that, American and Alaska have split the last ten years of “Best Elite Program” (six and four years, respectively), while Southwest has never won in that category.

American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Million Miler cards.

American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Million Miler cards

AAdvantage has been my go-to program for award redemptions, with Mileage Plan coming in a very close second. What do both of these programs offer me that Rapids Rewards cannot? International travel. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who was able to turn in all their Rapid Reward points for a first-class ticket to Asia, Europe, South Pacific, Africa, or South America. While awards are based on availability, I’ve rarely had problems finding seats with a little patience and flexibility. (Editor’s Note: This is the single biggest reason I don’t embrace Southwest either-BN)

Scenes from around Amsterdam. Photos: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Scenes from around Amsterdam. Southwest can’t get you to Amsterdam. – Photos: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

JL calculates that “each Rapid Rewards point is worth 1.43 cents when redeemed at the lowest fare class.” One of my personal best redemptions was an AAdvantage award for a round-trip first class seat on Japan Airlines from the U.S. to Southeast Asia. That redemption cost a cool 130,000 miles; purchasing the fare would have cost in the realm of $16,000, making each AAdvantage mile worth about 12.3 cents. Since I aim to earn miles at a rate of about 1.5 cents each, that is a net added value of about 10.8 cents per mile. Even using current figures (after a recent increase in award prices), it would still come out to at least 6.4 cents per mile in redemption value.

A great seat design and a first for Qantas on its domestic routes Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

A great seat design and a first for Qantas on its domestic routes. Southwest does not have any partner airlines. – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

As for super elite status, the magic 100,000-mile threshold on American doesn’t give me a free companion pass, but I would get international upgrades, first class international lounge access, much easier domestic upgrades, 100% bonus on flown miles, and all sorts of other goodies that can be shared with whoever my flying companion is. At 75,000 miles on Alaska, you get top priority for domestic upgrades, 125% bonus on flown miles, and 50,000 bonus miles for crossing the threshold, among other things.

#8: Routes

Southwest has a very strong domestic route network but very little international presence and no partners. American has a strong domestic network and very decent international route map, bolstered by the oneworld alliance for worldwide coverage. Alaska has a good domestic network focused on the U.S. west coast, with a wide gamut of international partners.

The truth is that getting to Paris, Tokyo, or Buenos Aires won’t involve Southwest for the time being.

Cherry blossoms (sakura) bloom in Shinjuku Gardens in Tokyo. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Cherry blossoms (sakura) bloom in Shinjuku Gardens in Tokyo. Southwest does not fly to Tokyo, nor do they have partners that do… or at all. – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

#9: Shareholder Return

Southwest’s financials don’t lie, they have excelled in the industry, bar-none. Passengers want comfort at a lower price, and shareholders want maximum profitability; many times these are mutually exclusive goals, but Southwest managed to deliver to their customers’ satisfaction while keeping their investors smiling all the way to the bank, while the airline industry in the last couple of decades has been fraught with operating losses and littered with dozens of defunct airlines and a series of mergers.

American Airlines hosts a launch party for its new LAX-Haneda flight.

American Airlines hosts a launch party for its new LAX-Haneda flight

American admittedly has had a rough last several years, culminating in declaring bankruptcy and being taken over by smaller rival US Airways. However, the ship seems to have righted itself, with AA reporting a net profit of $6.3 billion in 2015, which was up by 50% from the previous year. Alaska is also operating at a profit, scoring $191 million net in 2015. Things are good throughout the airline accounting world, especially compared to just a few years ago.

Southwest: It’s Not You, It’s Me

To reiterate, I do think Southwest is a great company and runs a great, safe, efficient airline. I have no qualms recommending it to those who don’t fly too often. Given the right conditions, I wouldn’t hesitate to join the boarding queue myself (hopefully with an “A” boarding pass). But my priorities are a bit different, and what I value when I fly are things that Southwest either can’t compete with or doesn’t offer at all. To Southwest: “It’s not you, it’s me… I just don’t LUV you like that.”

An Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from SNA. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

An Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from SNA – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Related AirlineReporter Posts

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT – LOS ANGELES, CA. With LAX serving as a second home, John enjoys being confined to an aluminum (or now carbon composite) cylinder jetting through the air miles above the terra firma. He has logged millions of miles in such conditions and enjoyed it 99% of the time. Email: john@airlinereporter.com. You can also read more about John’s non-AVGeek musings on his personal blog, VNAFlyer.

http://VNAFlyer.blogspot.com
Flying a United Boeing 747 — Domestically on the Upper Deck
55 Comments
William Polk

Here again this will garner lots of responses JN?! Enjoyed reading your article.

Thanks William, I’d love to hear from everyone what their thoughts are, in agreement or disagreement.
John | AirlineReporter

andrea

i just think its you. Your an elitist traveler, u don’t care that 80+%of others on the american flight dont have your perks. southwest people make the difference, they actually enjoy comong to work which satistically will make them more attune and safer.

ORD Flyer

You forgot one….

#10. Southwest is more expensive than legacy carriers most of the time. I live in Chicago and don’t even bother to check Southwest’s prices anymore since they are often $100-200 more than AA or others.

Lew Tripp

I have never seen any so called legacy carriers with lower fares than Southwest period. You better check before you book because that just isn’t the case. Some people have more money than brains or try to make others think so.

ST Pima

I fly out of Phoenix often and try to thoroughly search for the lowest fare. Southwest seems to have some of the lowest fares if you are searching about 75-90 days out. I rarely have that luxury since my schedule is not entirely of my own making. If I am searching for a flight within the next four to six weeks Southwest is almost always the highest fare airline even including another airline’s fee for a checked bag. I fly them when I can but they rarely have the the lowest fare.

lewtripp

Excuse my post, I was out of line.

Lewtripp, just out of curiosity where do you normally depart from? My best guess is that Southwest is competitive on price in some markets, and not so much in others.

John | AirlineReporter

ORD Flyer is correct, Southworst’s fares are not always cheaper than legacies. I recently flew SAN to IAH for 60 dollars less than Southworst’s direct to HOU. And after years and years of weekly flying for BIZ I can confidently say that other carriers frequently have the SAME price..so if you are going to pay X, you may as well fly the other carrier and get seat selection, useful miles, and a chance at upgrades.

ORD Flyer, I’m in the same boat with you in the greater LA market: Rarely is Southwest competitive on price, and I usually book a few weeks out. The few times I’ve booked within 2 weeks, the prices on Southwest has been extraordinarily high. I still check though, out of academic interest (props to their website for making searches pretty quick and easy to read!).

John | AirlineReporter

Well said, JN! You have pretty much nailed all the reasons why I don’t fly low cost carriers. Mainline carriers that are part of global alliances are worthwhile investments for frequent/business flyers who are more interested in making our journeys as fuss-free and comfortable as possible so that we can be productive as soon as we land. Often this means hiding away from the masses in lounges and boarding through the pointier end of the plane without running the gauntlet with the hoards. When it comes time to travel for pleasure on our own dime, the hard earned status/miles help to keep those perks going so that we can arrive at the destination ready to enjoy our well earned break with our love ones. Nothing of the sort I would likely get from investing my loyalty with LCCs. Bottom line, for the frequent flyer, our relationship with mainline/full service carriers/alliances tends to be long term strategic one, whereas LCC-customer relationship is more simply transactional and very much fungible.

JoeChin13, +20 XP for your use of “fungible!” I think you nailed it, there are those who will treat price as king, while others who see their loyalty as a type of investment with a valuable return, both tangible and intangible.

John | AirlineReporter

travelergirl2

I agree!! You forgot to mention that you can use AA aadvantage miles for vacations, hotel and car rentals as well. I also prefer legacy carriers for the diversity in their offering.

TravelerGirl2, indeed it’s nice to have that options. I personally don’t like to use miles for non-flight awards because I don’t think the return is great, but for someone who’s flush with miles or don’t have another use for them, then it’s a fantastic way to subsidize one’s travels.

John | AirlineReporter

JL Johnson

I think this is a fair and level-headed piece. Southwest isn’t for everyone and there are some things they need to address if they want to attract travelers like you. Completely agree. Thanks for a fun, albeit painful piece 🙂

Thanks JL, I was hoping it wasn’t (too) harsh! Honestly, I’m glad that there’s a quality airline in Southwest to serve the needs of their core demographic. Traveling by air is a wonderful thing that everyone should get to experience.

John | AirlineReporter

You guys lost me as a reader for life. Reason: this post and its hate speech.

So sorry to hear that Tony. If you could point out which part of the post elevated to the level of “hate speech” I’d love to hear about it and be able to rectify the situation. If you haven’t already left us, I look forward to hearing from you,

John | AirlineReporter

“hate speech”??? I almost spat wine on my keyboard 🙂

I hope you feel better in your safe space, Tony.

Phoenix

John: well written! My only issue is that you compared a intra-continental LCC to an international FSC that happens to be the 5th-biggest airline in the world (by pax load, http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/06/worlds-largest-airlines). A bit like comparing a housecat to a cheetah, or bowl of noodles to Black Sea caviar, if you get my drift. Their scope and business objectives are so different I question whether or not one can even compare them…..

I think the better framework for this article would be “Why I prefer flying a Full Service Carrier over Southwest”, or alternatively, “Why I fly anybody but Southwest”.

That said, I would choose Southwest (and its distant Canadian relative/clone Westjet) over just about any other North American U/LCC, save maybe JetBlue (proviso: have not flown B6, just heard very good things). My opinion, the overall service justifies the prices these two charge over their immediate competition.

Still, enjoy your writing John, keep at it!

Phoenix, I totally get your point, and I do concede that it’s a classic “apples vs. oranges” comparison. My aim this time around is to say, “I prefer apples!” Now, are all legacy carriers equal? I would say no, which is why I limited my comparison to only certain kids of apples (you know, like Fuji vs. Red Delicious vs. Granny Smith), and I have my favorites there as well.

My preferred carriers’ advantages really shine when taken out of the vacuum of domestic travel, but even within that parameter I do still prefer to fly them over Southwest.

To narrow the scope even further, one has to ponder the so-called basic fares on the legacies (Delta has already introduced them, AA has mentioned them, and United is sure to follow) in comparison to LCCs like Southwest. Fortunately for me, it hasn’t come to that point for me… yet (convenient, I know!).

John | AirlineReporter

Joe Cullen

Thank you John and JL for two great articles. I did not post any sort of reply to JL Johnson’s article because I have flown Southwest many times and mostly agreed with his assessment of Southwest’s virtues. I’ve only had one bad experience with Southwest, and that was just because I though they filled my seat cushion full of rocks on one very long flight. Now we have John’s article and I agree with most of what he writes, too! I love/hate the flight attendants, their monologues, Southwest’s baggage policies, and the get-on-the-plane-without-a seat-assignment deal.

I think I am a little different that most of Airline Reporter’s readers because I don’t care about frequent flyer programs. I am registered for a few of them, have accumulated many miles, but hardly ever bother to check if I have enough to help with a trip. I like to fly lots of different airlines and I have picked Southwest many times because they flew to a particular destination at a time of day that I preferred, and I have paid more for that convenience. I do have a mainline carrier that I like the most and I fly with them when conditions are right, which does not mean the lowest fare or any consideration of accumulated miles. Southwest, however, is an airline I always check when I am planning a trip.

Again, thanks to JL Johnson and John Nguyen for two really nice articles. I really enjoyed their polite, civilized approach and they remind me why I love Airline Reporter’s feature writers. I also enjoyed the comments from most of the people that replied to the articles. JL’s original article, John’s response, and JL’s comment above kind of feels like a proper collegiate debate where both sides politely presented their arguments, shook hands after the debate, and left the audience stuck between them and agreeing with points made by both sides.

Joe Cullen
Denver, CO

Thank you for the kind words, Joe! I’m going to borrow KPCC’s “No Rant, No Slant” catchphrase… I’d like to think that the bunch of us are even-keeled. Of course we all have our preferences, but fair and balanced is our goal (… as I quietly put away my torch and pitchfork…).

John | AirlineReporter

JL Johnson

Thank you, Joe, for being a loyal reader. We appreciate you, and your comments.

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

Andy2

You forgot the big one – if you fly SWA you fly alone. Weather or equipment delay and your flights canceled…no cross airline honoring of tickets so you’re screwed.

ORD Flyer

That was covered in #3.

Scott Z

Seems you were in my head when you wrote this article. WN used to be my go to airline years ago when I needed to get somewhere quick without the wallet breaking price of a legacy carrier. I’ve am a SkyPesos member who came from NWA as a Platinum. I’ve maintained it at DL even with the dollar spend. I feel that for many of the above listed reason my dollar is better spent on DL. I’ve found times when I really am trying to save a few pennies due to budget reasons for work (although my boss is very liberal and generous in allowing my flights solely on DL) where WN is sometimes double that of DL for a similar route. I’m not talking DL’s stripped down basic economy. Talking Economy Comfort and sometimes dang near close to FC. I think WN is a very good airline and they do have an amazing culture. I would fly them in a hot minute if they had an economy comfort product (I can live without domestic first class). But here’s the exact problem. Next time I want to hop to JNB for a short trip…who’s taking me there from ATL non-stop? Yep not WN on a 737.

Thanks for the comments, Scott. I make it a point to find someone who’s not wearing their aluminum foil hat and write about what they’re thinking ;).

John | AirlineReporter

mark pope

I experienced awful treatment from Southwest the first and only time I flew them last year. I am a professional filmmaker and basd on their policies of no extra charges and other perks for my camera gear I chose to fly them. They honored all
their policies on the flights to my destnation but checkng in early fir the way back the Southwest man at the counter for my gate refused to let me have a pre board pass for my large camera as I had done before and as is their policy. The man noticed I was wearing a t-shirt with a gay theme and just stared at me and my shirt after I spoke to him. He refused to give me a preboard pass and told me to ask the gate attendent, who he knew was not there and would not be there until too late. Knowing the gate attendant might not arrive until after the deadline for me to be allowed to get a pre board pass I called Southwest. when I went to another gate and asked for a supervisor as the Southwest people on the phone suggested the supervisor treated me like I was lying and then threatened to make sure I was not allowed to fly anywhere on any airline if I “got snippy with” her. What an abuse of security powers. When I filed a written comlaint with Southwest they refused to give me the name of anyone I did not already have and they clamed that supervisor said I refused to show her my large camera and I was only carrying a thin silver briefcase anyway, all lies. They offered me a $100 coupon which I refused. Southwest has some homophobic and lying staff in Philadephia.

Wow Mark, sorry to hear that happened to you… sounds like quite the power trip by those employees. $100 is a paltry offering. I genuinely hope that nothing like that happens to you again.

John | AirlineReporter

Paul L.

Mark, that’s awful and disgusting Southwest would treat you that way. How uncivil.

I’m lucky I live in Minnesota. I think I’ll consider traveling by SunCountry instead of Southwest out of Terminal 2. At least I can fly non-stop on SunCountry and avoid Southwest’s seat allotment at each subsequent airport with a transfer.

I also avoid the long lines in Terminal 1 (Delta, American, Alaska, United) now due to TSA problems. I’m not a fan of Delta nor American (nor United). Though I like Alaska Airlines. And you won’t get me on Spirit nor Frontier (which fly out of Terminal 1 for budget airlines).

I don’t fly that often and only go to major cities anyway from Minneapolis/St. Paul. Why SunCountry will meet my needs fine as I don’t go overseas any longer and I don’t fly to small cities or towns anymore. If I go overseas in the future, I think I’ll go foreign carrier. Smaller town, I’ll see if Amtrak goes there or considering driving.

I hope what ever airline you fly on in the future is absolutely more civil and less homophobic. Southwest Airlines should have treated you with courtesy and respect.

Mark too

Sounds a little overly-sensitive. You think he was reacting negatively to your shirt, but aren’t really sure.

Steve McCann

I think one of the more annoying things about Southwest is that they don’t offer food for purchase. The food you can get on Alaska is often as fresh and reasonably priced, if not more so, than you can find in the airport.

Fruit and cheese plate (BEECHERS!) FTW.

John | AirlineReporter

Denny

While I understand your stance on why you’d fly American, I’m not sure why you’d include Alaska in your travel. They basically are all the things you didn’t like about Southwest and they even fly an all Boeing 737 fleet.

Thanks for the comments, Denny. Alaska essentially covers the West Coast for AA (until June 2, when AA starts its own flights to the PNW, though not with the same frequency), so Alaska fits into my travel patterns quite nicely.

I don’t see Alaska and Southwest being on the same plane (pun not intended) at all. Even with their all-737 fleet, I can still use Alaska miles to fly all their airline partners (and glorious range of equipment). Southwest RR points are good for… more Southwest flights. As well, they have big seats at the pointy-end of the plane and have real food on board. I haven’t run into any stand-up comedy routines (but I admittedly find the credit card pitches a bit unbecoming).

I could continue on, but suffice it to say Alaska serves me well alongside AA. Fly on!

John | AirlineReporter

Denny

That makes sense, John. Thanks for the additional clarification.

Joe Cullen

I know why John likes Alaska Airlines when he flies the West Coast! I go to Seattle several times a year, mostly for business, and I usually fly Alaska when I do. Seattle is Alaska’s hometown, the Denver-Seattle fares are very competitive, and you can get a really good craft beer on the flight. Old PSA used to be the airline of choice up-and-down the West Coast and they were just about California’s official airline. Southwest took their model from PSA, but being based out of Texas the West Coast has never really been their thing. Back in the 70’s when I worked for Boeing in Renton, Alaska Airlines ran a fleet of 727’s that served the Pacific Northwest really well and I flew them whenever I could. Now Alaska runs up-and-down the West Coast and they kind of remind me of PSA in their glory days. When they started offering service to Denver it had been many years since I had been on one of their planes, but I booked a flight and they then moved up on my own little list of preferred airlines.

John wrote an article about an airline catering trade show he attended which started a little discussion about airborne draft beer carts. I suppose I have wandered away from a discussion about Southwest Airlines, but I think Alaska Airlines should hire a brewmaster and create a craft beer meant to be served at cabin altitude in a short, fat Pilsner-style plastic cup unique to them. John may wish to reiterate his desire for a sausage cart, too.

Joe Cullen
Denver, CO

I really need to file a patent for that sausage cart! I wish Alaska would bring complimentary craft beers onto mainline… when they had the horrid Horizon CR7 running to LGB, the Alaskan brews were something to look forward to. I think the AS co-branded cooperative brew is a great idea… you should submit that to AlaskaListens.com!

John | AirlineReporter

Joe Cullen

Hello John,
Contacting Alaska Listens about a craft beer is a great idea! I guess it is too soon to promote a draft beer cart (this needs some engineering work) but getting a craft brewery to work with them for a special brew is something I hope they will consider.

Joe Cullen
Denver, CO

Harry Flashman

I fail, really fail, to understand all the somewhat petty annoyances that have been experienced (perhaps
just once…) by a some of your readers when they comment unfavorably on Southwest Airlines.
For God’s sake, Southwest carry what? 100+ million, let me repeat that 100 MILLION passengers each year who, apparently, find little or no fault as many of them are repeat passengers. Just like me…
As with many public noticeboards, customer grumblings are often perceived as representative of persistent service/cost issues that their writers would like to have us believe is the norm, not the exception. Who really cares about what’s printed on a T-shirt? Who really cares whether Southwest doesn’t serve French champagne? Who really cares that they don’t have a Rolls Royce for front door pick up? Or that they can’t always match every single airfare from many of their already-failing competitors?
Do they wish us to believe that Southwest is really an apparition from the Dark Side?
Remember too, that Southwest is the best run and most consistently profitable airline. Ever. Let me repeat that – EVER! And they didn’t achieve that status year after year by catering to every single moaner and whiner who often want to inflict their problems on the airline and/or the rest of us.
And please, don’t even think of sitting next to me on any Southwest flight. Otherwise I may have to throw up at your constant need for attention, recognition, whatever… Just go someplace else.
But do count me as one of the 99.9999% of the rest of Southwest’s passengers who are happy with
their service, grateful for their fares, and have absolute confidence in their competence and expertise.

chiflyer1

Great response Harry. i have been a loyal Southwest Customer for years. Flight attendants are in the aisle almost constantly checking on everyone and making sure we have what we need. Last time i flew American to L.A from Chicago, they went through once and disappeared. There is a difference. Southwest isn’t always perfect but they are consistent in their product delivery. A smile and a thank you ( often missing in other carriers’ employees) really go a long way.

You’re right, CHIFlyer – things as simple as a smile and a thank you go a long way to having a great flight. I never had any problems when I did fly Southwest, and a few issues have popped up on my travels since, but I would say that’s to be expected given the sheer number of flights I’ve had. Whether it’s just good luck or something else, overall I myself have not had problems with service levels at Alaska or American, and I’m happy to hear that you’re satisfied with your Southwest experience.

John | AirlineReporter

Harry Flashman

Probably….

But… you and me, we’re good, right Harry?

John | AirlineReporter

Seat assignments are the number one reason I don’t fly Southwest. I like to know that I have a window seat that belongs to me. Price is a close second…as someone above mentioned, Southwest simply isn’t competitive for most flights I take (and yes, I check…I’d suck it up and take Southwest if they were cheap enough). That said, I flew Southwest about 15 months ago with a group (I had no choice), and the onboard experience was great with the free DirecTV streaming.

Live DirecTV is a great enhancement. Wish WN offered power ports, but that’s added weight and cost (actual cost + fuel burn + maintenance).

WN did recently adopt a new reservation system that has the capability of offering seat assignments (as well as a checked-bag fee)… those two particular features aren’t activated. Whether there’s a “yet” in there, I don’t know, but I found that factoid interesting.

John | AirlineReporter

Jim S

Guys – Great pros/cons on both SWA and legacy carriers. Both are thoughtful and well written. We have already turned over a lot of ground on this but one thing we haven’t covered is getting to/from secondary markets. The legacy carriers seem to have written off big chunks of the country with either DBA “rent a planes”, or no service at all. At least SWA is an option to places like ROC, LIT, and GRR on a 737 while keeping the price within reach. There’s no question that SWA isn’t for everyone but thank goodness they are an alternative.

Appreciate the comments Jim. I’m glad you pointed that out; in a Facebook thread with one of my friends, I admitted that WN is great in certain markets that don’t have the legacies’ focus, because of nonstop service (thanks to WN’s point-to-point route map) and that it’s 737 service vs. small RJs and puddlejumpers. Heck, for example AA and UA had an absolute lock on the SFO-SNA market with ERJs until WN stepped in. AA abandoned it completely and UA cut back significantly while offering lower prices. People citing the “Southwest Effect” usually refer to pricing cuts, but the “real-sized” planes are a big attraction as well.

John | AirlineReporter

Chris C

I started off really defensive reading this article, and admittedly had some less than polite replies lined up. However, it really was a fair counter article.

The general subtext of both articles is the same, to each their own. I love Southwest, and even if the fares to fly them are more expensive, I’ll still book WN. I’m not really one for the “amenities” for air travel. SWA’s BYOD in-flight entertainment is more than enough for me. Plus being 6’8, I’ve never had an uncomfortable flight with WN (the same cannot be said for Delta and their way too numerous CRJ’s). But I also have flown quite a few MD-80’s and have a soft spot for them.

After getting past my petty initial reply of “nuh uh you’re stupid”, it’s clear that there isn’t any hate speech as others have claimed. You like what you like. As far as I’m concerned, it just means there will be more peanuts for me if you choose not to fly SWA, but you’re missing out on inflight raps. 🙂

Thanks Chris, your end reaction was what I was hoping for. There are certain carriers I’ll avoid because of genuine dislike, but I bear no animosity towards Southwest… I just don’t mesh well with its ecosystem.

I just wish WN carried honey-roasted peanuts ALL the time… I might be game for that.

John | AirlineReporter

Michael Que

Gary,
I use southwest for domestic flights and sometimes trade in my marriott vacation club points to get 130,000 miles plus a 5 night category 8 hotel certificate travel package.
By doing that my wife gets a companion pass for the whole year so she flies free with me. I also like the fact that if you book a flight with southwest points and the flight goes on sale you can rebook the flight online and get back the mileage difference. This stretches out the point usage so you theoretically reach the 1.45 cents per mile cost when using the miles.
I also love the free 2 bag baggage allowance that they have. Even if you have a companion pass airline mileage ticket.
Having said that I use alaska and aadvantage for my international flights. While I may not have elite status with american or alaska I just redeem premium cabin first or business class flights from Cathay Pacific from these american carriers for my mileage airline tickets which works out great for me in terms of lounge access and priority check in.
I see that some comments have labelled you a snob but thats how it is these days when you have an open blog. Thats free speech for you.

“Mr. Leff… Mr. Gary Leff… please see an agent at the podium for a lost reader… 😉

John | AirlineReporter

UAPhil

Hey, you can have your cake and eat it, too. I almost always fly WN on domestic trips because of Companion Pass, no change fees/de facto refundable points bookings, and “senior” fares (and I actually like “no assigned seats”, gives me somewhat more control over who I sit next to). I have large mile balances with UA, AA, and AS (and million miler status with UA) from prior business travel and credit card earnings; fly primarily Star and OneWorld internationally. And the Citi Prestige card gets me into those Priority Pass lounges around the world. What’s not to like??

Nice system you’ve got there, Phil! I am pretty envious of the CP, that’s a really valuable and unique feature, something I don’t see any of the legacies adopting anytime soon.

John | AirlineReporter

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