N8733M, a Southwest MAX departs LAX in September, 2021
Did you hear Southwest somewhat recently enriched their A-List perks by adding a long-desired feature? You might not have. I reached out to our friends at Southwest PR and it turns out there was no big announcement or PR campaign. They just sort of rolled it out and let folks discover it on their own. This latest benefit is something I had personally been wanting for years; problem is, now that they’ve rolled it out, I’m not sure that I still want it.
What’s this mysterious new perk? Click through to see for yourself…
What’s next for Southwest Airlines? – Original Photo: Stephen M. Keller for Southwest Airlines
In 2016, I wrote a piece titled Nine Reasons Why I Think Southwest is the Best. For me, those nine reasons stand, even today. I still fly Southwest enough to renew my A-List elite flyer status annually. They are still my first choice when booking travel. There was a time not long ago that I would go out of my way to fly Southwest, and the overwhelming majority of my 20-30 trips a year were with the LUV airline. However, I would be remiss not to recognize that my mix of airlines flown is increasingly more diverse.
The airline’s piece of my overall business has been shrinking. This is a trend that I’ve been cognizant of on the periphery for a few years now. It is something I have long ignored because so much of what makes me an AvGeek is tied to my love, study, and ridership of Southwest. Many of my best aviation memories are linked to the airline. In December of 2017, I finished my most recent academic pursuit and received an M.A. in Organizational Leadership. My academic team and I frequently joked I minored in “Southwest Airlines” because so many of my projects focused on the company, their culture, and leadership philosophy. All of this, plus gobs of friends who are Southwest employees, I honestly feel as if I’m an honorary part of the family.
Here’s the tough question: If Southwest is always my first choice when picking a flight, why am I riding the other guys with more frequency? I have given this a lot of thought and I don’t think that this trend is because Southwest is doing anything particularly wrong. Rather, I think the competition has, in some cases, become way more competitive.
I have long kept a wishlist for the airline. Perhaps the implementation of a few of these would help the airline pull ahead of the competition where, in my mind, they have historically always been. Without further ado, my wishlist, presented in David Letterman-reverse countdown style.
Southwest’s A-List Same-day standby perk: Will I get a seat on an early flight home? – Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter
In late 2016, Southwest Airlines announced an additional perk for their elite A-List and A-List Preferred flyers. While other airlines were busy devaluing their own programs, Southwest was, in what has become very “Southwest” bucking the trend and enriching their own. At the time the stipulations were that A-List members could fly standby on any same-day flight between the same city pair. The perk came with a major limitation, however. The earlier flight had to be within two hours of the confirmed flight. This proved to be a major limitation for me with my home airport being in Kansas City, Missouri. I wasn’t alone in being unable to make much use of the perk. Many elite flyers based in the mid-sized cities Southwest dominates expressed dissatisfaction.
E-mail to Southwest elite flyers announcing a favorable revision to the A-List Same-Day Standby perk
In a surprise revision, just six months later the airline announced the two-hour restriction would be lifted. In doing so, Southwest opened the opportunity for a more equitable exploration of the benefit while also signaling that they take customer feedback seriously. This update was big news for the business flyers (self-included!) the airline has increasingly built its business reliance on.
Now, to find an opportunity to use the new benefit…