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.
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.
Southwest Airlines tail at Oshkosh 2010
Southwest Airlines is at it again, doing some innovative things. This time they are announcing a new and improved rewards program for frequent fliers. Their Rapid Rewards plan was already a bit different. Most airlines you collect miles. The longer the route you fly, the more miles you get. The old Southwest Rapid Rewards program was based on flights. You fly eight round trip flights, no matter the amount of miles and you get a free trip. Now, the new Rapid Rewards program will be dependent on the amount of money you spend on your ticket. Hmm, interesting.
If you decide to buy a Business Select ticket, you get more rewards. If the cheapest tickets are all sold out and you have to pay more, at least you can feel a bit better knowing you will get more rewards. This is not a bad idea at all.
“This year we enter our fifth decade of giving Americans the Freedom to fly, and what better way to kick off the year than to introduce a new frequent flyer program that our Customers are going to LUV,” said Southwest’s Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Kelly.
If you already have an account and awards, do not worry, you will not lose them when the new program goes live on March 1, 2011. There are no black out dates and every seat can be a rewards seat. So if you have earned a free ticket and there is a seat left on the flight — it is yours.
To learn more, check out Southwest’s site that is dedicated to the changes: NewRapidRewards.com.