Why Southwest? Southwest's Heart One - Photo: Stephen M. Keller for Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s Heart One – Photo: Stephen M. Keller for Southwest Airlines

I frequently find myself explaining why Southwest is my favorite airline for personal and business travel. I get this question so often that last year I decided to create a list in my favorite note-taking app to help organize my thoughts. As a self-anointed brand ambassador, frequent flyer, and card-carrying A-Lister, I take this opportunity to educate curious travelers (and future Southwest loyalists) very seriously. Last week, I again had this question pop up and, upon opening my note, I realized I had more than enough content for a full-length AirlineReporter piece. So, without further ado, here are my top nine reasons why Southwest is the best domestic airline.

Why Southwest? The culture! - Photo: Stephen M. Keller for Southwest Airlines

Why Southwest? The culture! – Photo: Stephen M. Keller for Southwest Airlines

#1: Why Southwest? The culture.

This company gets it. They pick only the best people and invest heavily in them. Purpose, vision, mission, and values at most companies are words and concepts typically cobbled together by an outside entity. The result is that all but the most dedicated employees don’t pay attention to them. And why would they? At any typical employer, these tenants of culture are not only dictated, but they change with each regime update.

BONUS: A Tour of Southwest’s Culture-centric HQ

Southwest is different. They not only put thought into their culture, but their employees live it, and quite literally LUV it. The next time you are on a Southwest flight, ask the cabin crew to recite the vision, purpose, or values. You’ll not only be surprised that they can, but that they take it seriously. Fun-LUVing attitude anyone? I can’t tell you how often I catch Southwest folks having a good time while simultaneously entertaining and engaging flyers.

A Fun-LUVing flight attendant celebrates her 12-year anniversary with Southwest. - Photo: JL Johnson

A Fun-LUVing flight attendant celebrates her 12-year anniversary with Southwest – Photo: JL Johnson

BONUS: Southwest Throws a Party for their Dallas-based Employees Every Monday

Southwest is known around the world for their culture. Or, as Southwest President Emeritus Colleen Barrett calls it, their “secret sauce.” The company is so famous for their culture, in fact, that a quick search of Amazon’s book category for “Southwest Airlines” yields literally thousands of results. Amazingly enough, my favorite book about Southwest, Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success by management sage Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett doesn’t even make the front page.

Another thing special about Southwest’s culture? They give coupons known as “Kick Tails” to their frequent flyers. The coupons aren’t necessarily for the customers. Instead, they are for the customers to act on behalf of the company in helping to reward employees by “catching them doing something right.” What are “Kick Tails” good for? I’m told employees can redeem the codes on the back for raffles and prizes. Pretty cool!

Note for Southwest management: I’m fresh out of “Kick Tales,” send me a refill, please? You know they will be put to good use!

Missouri One, the best livery in the entire Southwest fleet.

Missouri One, the best livery in the entire Southwest fleet (Editor’s note: JL might live there…)

#2: The fleet

Southwest Airlines operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 737s. As of December 31, 2015, the airline had over 700 737s in active service, with many more new and used planes in the pipeline. Southwest has been the launch partner for many of the 737 variants, including the brand-new 737 MAX. The majority of the fleet is comprised of “next generation” -700 and -800s. Around 130 -300 and -500 “classic” variants still remain in the fleet, but they are very quickly being retired. At my last count, the airline had less than 10 -500s left, and I’m told they’ll be gone in just over two months, with all -300s retired by the close of 2017. Fly them while you can!

Why is the fleet a selling point for prospective customers? Consistency. Have you ever intentionally avoided booking a flight serviced by one or more plane types? I have. But this is not a concern with Southwest. Even though the airline operates four distinct variants, there is very little difference in passenger experience between them. The interiors are the same across all but a few outliers (under two dozen) which still sport the pre-evolve interior. Every -700 and -800 comes equipped with Row 44 (Global Eagle) bring your own device entertainment, as well as on-board in-flight connectivity.

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. Also of note, the Southwest fleet is currently being transitioned from the Canyon Blue livery to the newer Southwest Heart paint. It’s an exciting time to be a spotter.

BONUS: Airline Special Liveries of the Week – Southwest Airlines

Arizona One: Southwest's second-best looking bird in the fleet spotted at STL. - Photo: JL Johnson

Arizona One: Southwest’s second-best-looking bird in the fleet spotted at STL – Photo: JL Johnson

#3: Reliability

I have flown Southwest Airlines regularly for over a decade. Not once has the airline canceled a flight on me for a reason other than weather, and even that has only happened once. Additionally, I have never had a mishandled or damaged bag. Never.

Delays happen with Southwest, just like every other airline, but they are never what I would consider extreme. I would guess around 15% of my flights experience a delay of 30 minutes or less, nothing to write home about. Upon checking the BTS data for the most recent month of data available, I see their on-time performance is right around 85%, assurance that my estimation is in line with reality. I cannot recall a time that I was delayed over an hour.

A future A-Lister gets LUV from dad's favorite airline. - Photo: JL Johnson

A future A-Lister gets LUV from dad’s favorite airline – Photo: JL Johnson

#4: Surprises and delights

I never ask for special treatment. I don’t deserve it. Nonetheless, a few times a year the people of Southwest offer unexpected surprises and delights. Typically it isn’t “the company” per-say, but the people, acting on behalf of the company. This is what’s refreshing about the airline. They give their employees leeway to surprise customers and brighten their day. I’ll offer four examples to drive the point home:

i: Not long ago, a ramper from New York, whom I have never met in person, reached out on social media and offered two 20% off discount codes “for being a loyal customer.” It turns out these codes are occasionally given to employees as job perk. This employee had no need for the codes and decided to pass them along. How cool (and selfless) is that?

ii: Last year, I found myself on an American Airlines flight and ordered a coffee. It was terrible so I tweeted @SouthwestAir telling them how much better their coffee was. A week later, a case of Southwest’s proprietary LIFT coffee arrived on my doorstep.

iii: My kiddo’s (4th) birthday: I follow and interact with a lot of Southwest employees on Instagram. Typically all I post there is photos of planes, but occasionally some personal stuff gets posted too. For his 4th birthday, my son asked for dinner at the airport. As an AvGeek dad I thought was pretty cool, so it resulted in an Instagram post. A week later a package came from Southwest addressed not to me, but to my kiddo. Inside was a card signed by dozens of Southwest employees, a shirt, and a package of drink cups. Drink cups? Interestingly enough, weeks prior I posted about how my kiddo has a thing for the drink cups and demands I bring them home. Some smart WN’er caught on and totally made my kid’s day.

Natural born pilot? It does run in the family...

Natural born pilot? It does run in the family…

iv: My kiddo’s 5th birthday: A local Southwest employee caught wind that my son had recently turned five and invited us out for a ramp tour on a quiet Saturday evening. I don’t know who was more excited for the tour, me or the kid. In any case, this was a major milestone for my son and something that he still talks about to this day. I later learned, it turns out the Southwest Airlines team here in KC has a history of making birthdays for young fans extra special.

I am not special, and my experiences are not unique; I’ve had these kinds of experiences way before my involvement with AirlineReporter. Surprises and delights like this happen every day thanks to the people of Southwest. Don’t believe me? Thumb through the Southwest magazine on your next flight to find many examples of WN’ers (my nickname for Southwest employees) going above and beyond for their customers. Or simply ask around or check social media. Chances are you can easily find stories from friends and family about how a Southwest flight attendant returned a lost library book, or a pilot who helped a mom by carrying her child through the airport. It’s good business, and it creates and sustains loyalty and admiration while also earning some positive PR. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Southwest gets it.

Checked bags are free on Southwest, in case you forgot. - Photo: Harrison Earl (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Checked bags are free on Southwest, in case you forgot – Photo: Harrison Earl (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

#5: No Fees

Fees, they are nasty, right? Ok, I’m actually okay with some fees, so long as I know what to expect. One fee I really hate? Change fees. Stuff happens, and sometimes plans change. Why penalize me when you can sell my seat to someone else for a higher price? I digress. Thankfully, Southwest is the airline where #FeesDontFly. Better yet, Southwest is the only domestic airline to offer up to two free checked bags. Meanwhile, some of the other guys are charging more for a carry-on than the actual fare. I’m looking at you, Spirit and Frontier.

Pick a seat, any seat. Don't like it? Pick another. - Photo: Southwest Airlines

Pick a seat, any seat. Don’t like it? Pick another. – Photo: Southwest Airlines

#6: Freedom to move about the cabin

BONUS: How to Get a Good Seat on Southwest Airlines

Southwest doesn’t have seat assignments. Understandably, this worries some people. But for me, it’s liberating. Have you ever gotten to your assigned seat and wished you could pick another instead? I have. Just recently I chose what I thought would be the perfect seat only to have the row in front of me claimed by a group of young, loud, energetic soccer kids. With any other airline I’d be stuck, but thanks to Southwest’s open seating policy I was able to quickly claim a seat a few rows back and enjoy some peace and quiet.

And for you single flyers out there… there are many stories of LUV connections sparked at 30k feet. In fact, the airline gets a few letters each year from newly minted couples who met thanks to the open seating policy. Think you’ve spotted your soulmate? Grab the seat next to them and give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

Flying in a window seat on a Southwest 737

Flying in a window seat on Southwest – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

#7: Award-winning rewards program

Southwest has the best rewards program, and I’m not alone in thinking so. In fact, Rapid Rewards recently won “Airline Program of the Year” at the 26th annual Freddie awards. So, how good is the program? Consider this: Each revenue dollar spent on the cheapest fare class (“Wanna Get Away”) earns six rapid rewards points. On the other side, to redeem at the lowest fare class, 70 points equal one dollar. Said another way, each Rapid Rewards point is worth 1.43 cents when redeemed at the lowest fare class. Earnings potential increases with fare class — 10 points per revenue dollar for “Anytime” fares, and 12 points per dollar for “Business Select” fares. With no blackout dates and points that don’t expire, it’s crazy easy to earn free flights.

For the most loyal customers (100 one-way flights or 110,000 TQPs) Southwest even offers a companion pass. Designate a friend and any time you fly, they fly for the price of taxes only. Unlimited companion flights, even when you fly on points or internationally. It’s the best deal in the airline industry. I had a companion pass a few years ago and let me tell you, it was amazing.

Departing MCI's 19R at sunrise. - Photo: JL Johnson

Departing MCI’s 19R at sunrise – Photo: JL Johnson

#8: Routes

Southwest is the dominant carrier at most domestic airports and, until recently, was the world’s largest carrier (by passengers). Delta, which has a large international presence, recently claimed that title. In any case, combine Southwest’s ubiquity with their decentralized route network, and chances are Southwest can get most flyers from point A to point B quicker than most of the other guys, most of the time. Southwest is the dominant carrier here in the Kansas City metro area, offering non-stop flights to 29 of the 43 cities our airport has service to. Put simply, Southwest is best positioned to connect me what’s important in my life, whether it’s business or pleasure.

#9: Shareholder return

The first few years for Southwest were tough. But once they posted a profit they never looked back. Since that first quarterly profit, the airline has never once had a quarterly loss. While other airlines failed, merged, and declared bankruptcy (some more than once) Southwest remained profitable. I can think of no better way to illustrate this than to quote from Leading with Luv by Colleen Barrett and Ken Blanchard: “In a business so fraught with economic peril that the entire domestic airline industry has compiled a net loss since its inception, Southwest’s People have produced an unprecedented and unparalleled record of job security, Customer satisfaction, and Shareholder return.”

And this success is not limited to just the shareholders and executives. Southwest constantly rewards its employees with profit sharing. In fact, as the New York Times reported in 2006, on some flights, millionaires serve the drinks.

A Southwest 737 departing John Wayne Airport. Southwest is the dominant carrier for intra-California flights. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

A Southwest 737 departing John Wayne Airport. Southwest is the dominant carrier for intra-California flights. – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Conclusion: Why Southwest?

I don’t always fly Southwest, but they are always my first choice when shopping for business or personal travel. More often than not they are cheaper or at least in-line with the “Big 3.” Consider the free bags and absence of fees, and Southwest almost always wins. Today I have offered nine reasons why Southwest is the best. But truly, I think it all boils down to one thing: The People.

Related AirlineReporter Posts

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT – LEE’S SUMMIT, MO. JL is a self described “medium shot” at a non-aviation industry Fortune-500. He’s a semi-frequent traveler, social media addict and avid planespotter. A proud Midwesterner, he’s based in Lee’s Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City. Email: jl@airlinereporter.com

http://www.airlinereporter.com
My First Time Flying Ryanair — In Business
51 Comments
Lew Tripp

Nice and I agree with you 100%.

Larry Dingman

I avoid SWA for many of the reasons listed above as assets. After having paid extra for early boarding, I watched as over 50–yes 50– pre-boards were boarded for PHX before the first boarding group was called. I find their rules regarding reroutes in weather delays inconsistent, and interpretations vary from agent to agent, station to station. While I DO find many of their employees delightful (yes, I’m looking askance at you, United) Southwest has their fair share of unpleasant people too. Finally, they are almost never the low fare option…often more expensive than what I find on DL, AA, UA.
Sorry, but just don’t feel the LUV.

Thanks for reading and for your insight, Larry. I agree, pre-boards can sometimes gum up the works. Particularly when traveling on snowbird routes with season changes.

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

Mark Small

It’s a shame that Southwest doesn’t serve Canada. Westjet had tried to mimic Southwest’s model with some success, but now is on the baggage fee bandwagon. Maybe Porter is the closest thing we have here.

I would need to drive 700 km to get to the nearest airport that Southwest serves. It is not a reasonable option.

JL Johnson

Every time I’m at a Southwest event someone brings it up, and the airline always says something along the lines of regulatory environment there making it too tough to pursue. That said, I think that’s a canned response. I have to think there is some opportunity there…

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

Phoenix

It’s true. We do not have any sort of open skies environment (ie. no liberalization whatsoever), and the Canadian government, let’s just say they’re very cosy with Air Canada. The government also makes obscene amounts of money off airport rents.

Westjet and Porter are the only successful major Canadian airline startups, and it’s been tough sledding for both at times. A US or European-like marketplace of U/LCCs? Forget about it.

Donna

Mark, I do believe Canada is on our future list of routes. Just stay tuned and next year we’ll be down in South America ✈️

Ryan M

I happen to agree with you on most of the points made. However, I feel, as a consumer and as an airline professional, that WN misleads its customers with it’s “Transfarency” marketing campaign. And it seems that you have bought into that marketing scheme as well.

WN charges fees, just like all other airlines. It is built into the ticket. I know this because when I am booking a ticket (which I do multiple times a month) I compare WN to other airlines. They are generally more expensive, even more expensive than Legacy Carriers. It is nice to have all those fees bundled together; you don’t have to worry about a thing if you need amenities or changes. However, what about those passengers, like myself, who do not make itinerary changes, check a bag, or care about seat assignments? I can easily fly AA or UN and avoid those fees, and typically pay a lesser fare. If I end up having to make a change to my ticket, or add on amenities, fine. At least I know I am paying for a product that I want. With WN, I have to pay for those products, whether or not I am going to take advantage of them.

All that being said, I do believe WN runs a great airline. And more importantly, I know they foster a culture of “love” for their passengers and employees. That is very important and they do an excellent job of ensuring everyone is happy. I just wish they were more honest with how they earn their revenue.

Ryan, you are not alone in the observation that it’s all bundled, and as a result there is extra cost incurred. In fact, Spirit has launched an “unbundlers” marketing campaign that directly targets airlines who bundle, with their sights firmly locked on Southwest.

The one observation I will make with regard to your logic, though. When an airline decides to “unbundle” they rarely update their base fares to reflect stripped out bits. Or if they do, they drop the base fare ever-so-slightly, while charging far more to obtain the same “bundled” experience via add-ons.

Frontier is a great recent example of this where they indeed dropped base fares by a few dozen dollars. But here’s the catch, the added fees to get to the same level of pre-ULCC experience far exceeds the pre-ULCC cost. This isn’t a zero sum game, it’s sneaky and many consumers don’t pay attention to the fact that they can very well pay more for add-ons than the base fare.

In conclusion, are you paying extra for the “frills?” Absolutely. But it’s not nearly as bad as the ULCCs would make it seem. I’m not joking when I say I’ve paid more for my carry-on to join me, than my actual seat on multiple occasions across Spirit and Frontier.

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

James Enright

I live in Phoenix now, but I am from Minneapolis previously so I have largely experienced two airports that have a heavy presence from a legacy carrier. At least at MSP and Sky Harbor, Southwest is always at least the same price if not usually cheaper than Delta and American respectively. I travel relatively frequently or I am booking travel for co-workers and see this quite often for these two markets at least. I really have no dog in the fight, I do have quite a few miles with Delta, but personally now, based upon service and price, I select Southwest for travel when I can. I used to work for Mesaba Airlines back in the day, I am a Northwest loyalist, and I do like Delta, but as I said above, for overall price and service I try to now fly Southwest when possible. Delta has really seemed to jack up their rates since they “merged” with NWA. Flying out of MSP has seemed to have gotten more expensive since Delta took over. Luckily, Southwest finally got into MSP and what they offer for price and product makes it the current smart buy in my eyes.

Alfred T

I’ve flown Southwest since 1993 when I first started college and probably have racked up about 100 round trips over the past 20 years flying. I am by no means a leisure flier but do not fly so frequent to be a “frequent flier.” While I do agree with most of the assessment from the author and very much appreciate that they don’t charge baggage fees and change fees, what really annoys me is obtaining the boarding number. If I want to obtain a good boarding position, I literally have to set my alarm 24 hours and 5 minutes before check in and even then there have been occasions that I’m in the B boarding group. If I end up forgetting to set my alarm or preoccupied with doing other things, I’m pretty much doomed. I know I can pay for the service to get a favorable boarding position but it really shouldn’t be like this. Even over on Crankyflier, this topic is one of the most discussed ever on their website.

Over the past 20 years I’ve seen the airline evolve and for the most part their service has been consistent and on-time. But lately within the past few years, perhaps it was just a coincidence, their service hasn’t been so “friendly” and they seem to be just another carrier. As such rather than choosing Southwest as my first choice when I fly, I now will explore carriers including Alaska which recently provided exemplary service on my last flight with them.

There are two options for you Alfred; Early Bird Check-In and Business Select. The first does not guarantee an A Boarding Pass but automatically checks you in 36 hours in advance of your scheduled departure time (12 hours ahead of most other Customers) for $15 one way. The second does guarantee an A Boarding Pass, checks you in automatically, as well gives you priority lane security screening, free alcohol beverages and bonus Rapid Reward points all for an additional cost depending on the route.

Alfred T

I’ve used Early Bird Check In but felt this feature was not worth it as like you mentioned, doesn’t even guarantee me A boarding.

Yes it does. Early Bird is A1 to A15.

Not quite. 1-15 is reserved for passengers who pay for Business Select. General boarding is A16 and on.

If you aren’t checking in exactly 24 hours prior then it’s no wonder you aren’t getting a better boarding group. Waiting 5 minutes blows your chances.

fosin

Never flow them, but always enjoyed seeing their fleet. I don’t know if it’s just on the new livery…but, putting the heart by the door is brilliant IMO.

I saw one of the gold livery’s last wed at ATL. I thought it had gotten caught in a time warp or something. If there’s only 3, I guess that was a pretty rare spot. Couldn’t get a good pic due to the darkly tinted windows in that particular terminal.

WNallthetime

Great post! Each of your 9 points is spot on. I’m a loyal WN customer and long-time Rapid Rewards member.

You mentioned that they’ve never had a “quarterly loss”. I believe you are mistaken. They’ve never had an unprofitable year, but I do believe they have had unprofitable quarters. I’m splitting hairs I know, but it’s still impressive no matter how you look at it, esp. compared with the US3.

Curt S.

Nice article, thanks for sharing. Curious… how did you obtain the photo captioned “Departing MCI’s 19R at sunrise” during this phase of the flight. Conventional thinking is use of electronic devices would be prohibited at the time it appears the photo was taken.

Alfred T

The rules were revised several years ago. You can now use portable electronic devices in airplane mode.

JL Johnson

Hi, Curt.

The photo in question was taken just two months ago, well after the FAA revised their rules regarding PEDs. But even when those rules were in force, the FAA allowed crews to make approvals on a case-by-case basis. Here’s a link to a post we authored in 2012 surrounding those now out-dated rules: http://www.airlinereporter.com/2012/03/rant-simmer-down-folks-it-is-just-a-camera-used-with-permission/

Thanks for reading!

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

The old adage still applies — you only get what you pay for, irrespective of the provider.

Phoenix

As much as I’m a fan of WN, I sure wish they would do something about that Islamophobia.

http://www.dailycal.org/2016/04/14/uc-berkeley-student-questioned-refused-service-speaking-arabic-flight/
http://loyaltylobby.com/2016/04/17/southwest-airlines-ejects-muslim-passenger-again-after-she-request-set-change-due-to-religious-reasons/

(please don’t ban me, I’m not concern-trolling, simply highlighting another aspect of WN’s operations that needs to be addressed)

Hey Phoenix,

Always good to have conversation. With quite a few of these “passengers booted off plane” incidents, it is more the passenger’s reaction that gets them booted vs the initial incident. I don’t know the details of these stories, but they are both presented by the people directly (and LoyatlyLobby seems to eat up the conflict). Most people want to paint themselves in the best light possible, as the victim, and the airline as evil. It is also a sexy headline, so many writers/editors will add to that story-line. I don’t want to be punishing legit victims here, but often there is (much) more to the story.

There are hundreds of thousands of airline employees in the US (Southwest has about 50,000). With that many, you will get bad apples, you will get racists, etc. When that stuff comes up — TOTALLY NOT OKAY and those people need to be fired. It could have been the case of racism by some crew and the passengers did nothing wrong. Even still there are some checks and balances. Other flight attendants, other passengers, and of course, the captain has the final say if someone gets kicked off. What you read on the internet might not be entirely true (except AirlineReporter of course).

I think that MANY more people will relate to JL’s stories than the other two — which is good. There is always more than enough hate out there for airlines… they deserve some LUV sometimes too :)!

David | AirlineReporter

Phoenix

Well said David.

Yes there may be more to the story, but from what I can tell, those passengers did not pose a threat, and were simply guilty of “flying while brown.” I would appreciate WN’s leadership stepping up and speaking out, but given the backlash Target is receiving over their opposition to NC’s bathroom law I can also understand how WN would be an even bigger lightning rod given they’re based in Texas (one of the most conservative states.)

I guess this is why the ACLU exists…..

Scott

The moment WN offers First Class I’ll start flying. 🙂 Until then it’s all DL for me (you know- SkyPesos).

JL Johnson

Thanks for reading, Scott. For what it’s worth, it seems DL takes all of the money they save in having a terrible rewards program and funnel it into an otherwise solid experience. DL is (by far) my favorite legacy.

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

Dianne Davis

Agree, JL. Although I get mad at them from time to time, (because face it. It’s a pretty sucky industry overall) I keep coming back. In the race to the bottom that is airline service, they stand head and shoulders above the Big Three. Great article. I posted on my FB!

JL Johnson

Dianne, thanks for sharing on FB! You are spot on, it’s a tough industry for sure. I think it was AA CEO Bob Crandall who called it a “nasty, rotten business.” Ha. Loved that guy for his quotability.

First of all, like you, I am an aviation geek, and damn proud of it! Your article was excellent! It only begs the question- “Why have a waited so long to try Southwest? ” Actually, the reason I didn’t try Southwest was because I despised Air Tran. No leg room whatsoever! I love to fly so a two hour flight is not near enough for me! However, things were so uncomfortable I could not wait to get off the plane! And I was thin then! So I wrongly, as it turned out, thought that Southwest would be more of the same! Also, there was a series on Southwest, and it looked way too campy for me! I need O2. to fly, so have been using Amtrak for my travel needs. My next vacation, I think I will go somewhere two hours away, and try Southwest!

JL Johnson

Awesome! AirTran and Southwest were very different and I haven’t seen any of AirTran’s legacy influence Southwest negatively. Let us know how it goes. Be sure to read our piece (linked above) on how to score a good boarding position so you don’t end up with a middle all the way in the back 😉

Patrick

If they started flying into MFR I would probably book with them exclusively.

Trevor B.

As a companion pass holder for a number of years I have serious LUV for WN too. The changes to qualifying miles transfers over the years and loss of Amex a few years back was disappointing, it has made it more difficult to obtain the CP. Even though I do LUV WN, the merger with FL has been terrible for my home airport JAX. Non-Stop destinations have dwindled and fares have skyrocketed so much that the 2hr drive to MCO has become a much more reasonable proposition. For example MCO-MCI (NS) is half as many points as JAX-MCI (1 stop) for a trip I have planned in July . Multiplied by 5 and it’s a no brainer to make the drive.

Peggy Collins

Fabulous article. I agree with everything you said. I am A Southwest Flight Attendant 10years, and I must tell you that 99% of all us SWA employees feel we won the lottery when we got hired into the SWA Family. I love my job and thank God and SWA everyday for my good fortune. Thank you again for “Feeling the LUV”

Hi, Dianne. I consider myself well versed on many things Southwest. Heck, I have even dedicated much of my undergrad and now graduate study on Southwest. But there are a few topics I avoid, and this is one of them. I make it a rule to not opine on topics I know little or nothing about. When it comes to the labor issues, I see only what’s public and we both know there is much more going on with either side. Contract negotiation is at its core a divisive topic, so I stay away. I look forward to both sides finding common ground. Hopefully sooner than later.

W.stan.

When I feel southwest I feel like I’m getting on a bus with wings. I’m 6’2″, not way tall by any means, but tall enough that the seats are incredibly undcomfortable. If Southwest would at least offer an economy plus seating I would pay for that. What good does it do you to pay to board early if 99% of the seats offer the same comfort. Most of the time I can book economy plus on United for less than a Southwest flight. I have even found first class seats to Costa Rica cheaper than Southwest. Why would I choose Southwest in that circumstance.

blair kooistra

It’s great to have WN as an option in the DFW area and appreciate what it does for the local economy. As an avgeek, I like the occasional special livery that can appear while out watching planes. Many of my co-workers and friends are ga-ga about Southwest, but I’ve never chosen them, as frankly, I’ve never been able to come up with a combination of trip segments where the price isn’t considerably higher than the competition–by that, I’m usually referring to AA. Living in the FW side of DFW, there’s the additional 30″ drive to Love Field vs. DFW to consider as well. But WN’s presence no doubt keeps AA’s prices down, so might I add that as a #10 to JL’s list?

Josh Homer

Fort Worthian here. Completely agree. AA has cheaper prices and a better overall product. DFW is much closer.I flew Southwest a few times on a buddy pass, and it just feels like a Greyhound bus.

JL Johnson

Hi, Blair.

The “Southwest effect” is still alive and strong so you are right, it really should have made my list. I think it didn’t cross my mind simply because they are my #1 choice and I don’t really see the effect. That said, I see the effect that NK, G4 and F9 have on select routes in my own market and it’s profound.

We accept all fans here at AR. And personally, I love all airlines, just some more than others. Thanks for making it all the way through the piece even though it wasn’t about your preferred one. Open minds are rare these days.

Cheers!

JL Johnson | AirlineReporter

William Polk

I can say one thing about this posting… it sure gets people talking?! Whether you’re an SWA fan or not it sure garners many postings and in short order to?! WOW!
I for one have followed SWA’s happening for 30+ years that they’ve been in business. I fly them regularly and seek them out when I travel. For me it’s worth any extra monies they may be charging to know that your chances of getting to your destination, on time, are REALLY good. Thanks for the article JL, I’m an SWA fan as well!

JL Johnson

I agree, the engagement here has been incredible. Thanks for reading, William 🙂

-JL

I always find it stupidly funny how you travel journalists think you never get any special treatment but I promise you if I post I hate another airlines coffee Southwest will not send me a box of coffee. Your article is a good read, but you are not in touch with reality on somethings. I think the most glaring is that Southwest probably knows who you are when you book a flight and they are going out of their way to get a good article out of you. Yes their crews are nice and their company has a good culture, and they have a great fleet of all Boeing 737s but some of the things you described only happen to “special” customers.

Rob,

It is about seeing the more positive sides of things mostly. Are there things that will go wrong with a flight experience? Of course. We just try to look on the brighter side. I don’t think many of us consider ourselves “travel journalists,” but more of airline journalists or airline bloggers.

When we are doing a media event, of course they know we are on the flight and we realize that. But often, we are just traveling on our own and they do not know we are on board and we experience what it is really like. With so many flights each day, of course you are going to run into some bad apples at Southwest, but when you look at the bigger picture, even though I am not a fan of the open seating, I have positive experiences on the airline. I don’t LUV them as much as JL, but I think they do a great job.

David | AirlineReporter

Funny how pieces like this can bring out deep-seated convictions among airline flyers regarding their favorite airline. I totally get your “luv” for Southwest, as you make your view pretty clear in this and other articles that WN stands out above the rest. For me, I just can’t see myself ever embracing WN or few other airlines than, believe it or not, United, for personal and sentimental reasons, really.

Just as truth is in the eye of the beholder, so it goes for airlines, too, I guess. Again, this article – as another commenter pointed out – really did bring out the masses!

Listening to these stories of airlines nickel and diming passengers, keep in mind that most of these fees came at a time of high fuel prices. With prices historically low, do we hear anybody consider dropping fees or just plain ticket prices with such high profits being reported. NOPE!!! Not even WN, Call me cynical but it is much easy to be friendly to employees and customers when raking in the dollars.

As it should be easier! With any business, of course it would be harder to keep a profit AND keep employees happy. But some airlines don’t see to be as concerned about keeping their employees happy IMHO.

David | AirlineReporter

The unlimited Companion Pass has to be the best loyalty benefit of any airline. If you fly domestically (and now to a few locations internationally) on a regular basis, you can save thousands… or extend the utility of your points, since you can even use the Companion Pass on points redemptions. Other programs that offer a companion pass, such as Alaska, the old US Airways, and British Airways, only allow one per year and generally involve a credit card.

Which reminds me that you can earn the Companion Pass without having flown first! Whether it’s from the co-branded credit cards and spend on those cards or the transfer of points from certain hotel programs (just not from Ultimate Rewards), you can easily earn the Companion Pass before you sit on a plane.

I’ve had the Companion Pass for the last 10 years, and it has been an epic journey. I look forward to continuing to use it for years to come!

Crystal A. Gonzales

SWA is a nightmare. They are expensive, they lose your luggage, the seating arrangement is terrible and you got to be kidding about there being room to move around!

A few things. 1. Share holder value. Are we buying their stock or buying an airline ticket? Why should we care? Companies that make that a number one priority are notorious for treating their customers like dollar signs. 2. They ask their passengers to do a lot. They love asking things from their passengers all the time. If you could do this for us or that for us. Who is the customer? Additionally, their flight attendants don’t seem as nice on average. They seem more like a teacher telling their third grade students what they need to do to make their life easier. Does this sound familiar, we appreciate you business. We have open seating at Southwest Airlines. Please take you seat as quickly as possible, so we can be on our way. I do hear that maybe a couple of times on other airlines. On Southwest you will hear that about 10 times. Maybe they do that because they have less time between stops to preserve shareholder value because their ticket prices are not cheaper. I will say they have a small percentage of flight attendant that are exceptionally funny/helpful/good natured. However, I find this the exception and not the rule. The company must realize that they are not a budget airline. Their ticket prices are no cheaper than most, and they are not regional airline anymore either. They are a huge airline.

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