Ouch. Inc. magazine pulls no punches criticizing Southwest Airlines....

bhawk24bob

HR Legend
Jul 8, 2001
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There are so many things wrong with this airline right now that you can't pinpoint just one. It's remarkable that anybody books with them for what they cost
 

HawkRCID

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Nov 7, 2018
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Literally I have always heard from SWA fans how amazing they were….but every time I checked into them they were at least as expensive as any other carrier. Then stuff like this makes it even more clear, they’re a budget carrier charging big airline rates…this article is 100% right too, small airlines lack the capacity to absorb operational issues and limit customer impact

Southwest Airlines….Spirit/Frontier/allegiant service….at a United price point…
 
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abby97

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Sep 16, 2010
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I'm one of those fans of SWA. I live in St. Louis and after TWA went under, SWA became our biggest carrier. They have more direct flights than anyone else from StL and the prices are extremely competitive. And you know what your paying upfront, none of this $30 for a bag, $15 for a seat, $10 for a carry-on nonsense. They are friendly and usually on time. I can't speak to what the article references because I don't fly near as often as I once did but I'm still a fan. When I used to fly dozens of times a month for work my usual go to airline was SWA.
 

abby97

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Sep 16, 2010
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Literally I have always heard from SWA fans how amazing they were….but every time I checked into them they were at least as expensive as any other carrier. Then stuff like this makes it even more clear, they’re a budget carrier charging big airline rates…this article is 100% right too, small airlines lack the capacity to absorb operational issues and limit customer impact

Southwest Airlines….Spirit/Frontier/allegiant service….at a United price point…
I suppose it is where you are flying to and more importantly from. From StL they are usually the cheapest.
 

NoleATL

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Jul 11, 2007
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I've stayed away from the discount carriers (SW isn't discount) for the very reason they mention. When something goes wrong, they don't have the planes to recover more quickly.
 
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St. Louis Hawk

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I used to fly SWA a lot, but for their prices now, I can sometimes catch a first class fare on Delta (my favorite) or American (meh).
 

B1GDeal

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Jan 21, 2005
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I've used them 5 times in the past 16 months and haven't been canceled once. Only been delayed once by 10 minutes this past week.
 

artradley

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Apr 26, 2013
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In the 80's, as a young guy living in Texas, I flew a lot on my own dime for business and pleasure. SWA was a great option, and they helped exert downward pressure on other airline prices. Herb Kelleher was a genius and a fantastic CEO with a number of creative ideas.
  • One of his signature MOs was from time to time working other jobs at the airline, such as flight attendant, baggage handler, or working the ticket counter.
  • He was the first airline CEO who seemed to recognize that his planes only made money while they were in the air, so he found ways to land, disembark, load, and takeoff in a fraction of the time of other airlines.
  • When a plane was stuck on the ground for any reason, the pilot would immediately announce "free beer" and the hot-pant-wearing young lasses would start rolling the beer cart up and down the aisle - so unlike the prison atmosphere on other airlines, a flight delay on SWA meant party time.
  • Pricing was simple. Any flight had two prices: week day pricing and weekend & evening prices. They had hardcopies of the flight prices available at the ticket counter, because they did not engage in "dynamic pricing" back then.
Yes, the cattle-call boarding because of no assigned seating was pretty uncivilized. But the simplicity of the entire process, and the emphasis on creating a positive atmosphere, not to mention the low prices, made it worth it.
 
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bhawk24bob

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Jul 8, 2001
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The no additional charges on bags (you're still paying for them) and the open seating policy has made their process inefficient both from an operational perspective of loading the plane to the type of customer it draws

This isn't a covid problem imo, their issues started before the pandemic. I used to fly them enough for business to get the companion pass but even that wasn't worth the headache
 

Funky Bunch

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Mar 30, 2011
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Main Inc.com Logo

Inc.com is experiencing difficulties at the moment, but our team is hard at work fixing the issue. Please check back soon.
 

NoleATL

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The couple times I have flown SW, I did enjoy the way they line you up for boarding so its not mass chaos. That is about the only thing I like about them.
 

NoleATL

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I just did a very unscientific sample booking for a possible upcoming flight... June 3 - 6, Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, non-stop flights, I get free bags on DL but for the sake of comparison I'll include bag fees. Delta is $377 ($317 without bag fees) and SW is $391. We also get automatic upgrades to DL Comfort at time of booking if its available. For both carriers I didn't consider the oh-dark-thirty (am or pm) flights because we won't take them unless its the absolutely only option. I'd say our flight selection these days is based on 75% convenience, 25% fare. For people who travel a lot, we enjoy the little extras that we can get, even if we have to pay for it, to make the trip more enjoyable.
 
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artradley

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Apr 26, 2013
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The couple times I have flown SW, I did enjoy the way they line you up for boarding so its not mass chaos. That is about the only thing I like about them.

I haven't flow SWA in decades. I assume prior to COVID they had already dispensed of these plastic group boarding passes?

capsule_2-5_bps.jpg
 

The Tradition

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Apr 23, 2002
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I just did a very unscientific sample booking for a possible upcoming flight... June 3 - 6, Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, non-stop flights, I get free bags on DL but for the sake of comparison I'll include bag fees. Delta is $377 ($317 without bag fees) and SW is $391. We also get automatic upgrades to DL Comfort at time of booking if its available. For both carriers I didn't consider the oh-dark-thirty (am or pm) flights because we won't take them unless its the absolutely only option. I'd say our flight selection these days is based on 75% convenience, 25% fare. For people who travel a lot, we enjoy the little extras that we can get, even if we have to pay for it, to make the trip more enjoyable.

I just did the same thing. SW came out to $197 round trip to Raleigh from Orlando.

The lowest Delta fare was $237. Didn't even look at the bag fees.
 

bhawk24bob

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Jul 8, 2001
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If you're paying bag fees on other airlines, and i'm not judging if you do, southwest is a good airline for you. It means that you're flying infrequently, typically for leisure, or flying with family for the open seat policy
 
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artradley

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This thread is making me nostalgic. In my 20's I lived in Amarillo, Texas, about ten minutes from their tiny airport. SWA had a 6:45am flight to Dallas. On more than one occasion I set my alarm for 6:00, took a quick shower, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and left the house by 6:15. Arrive at the airport at 6:25, park about 100 feet from the door, stick my credit card in the machine below and pushed the "Dallas" button, breezed through security (no removing shoes or laptops back then) arrive at the gate by 6:30. Land in Dallas just after 7:30 - an hour and a half after waking up.

quicket.JPG
 

runkpanole

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Nov 17, 2002
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Granted we are pretty limited in Tallahassee on airlines, but I prefer Delta to them all, then I’d have to say American. American is less reliable, but I can fly more places direct. The problem with the direct flights for American are most of the routes are Dallas, Charlotte and Miami. All airports I’m not a fan of. The direct to Reagan is nice though.
 

runkpanole

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Nov 17, 2002
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This thread is making me nostalgic. In my 20's I lived in Amarillo, Texas, about ten minutes from their tiny airport. SWA had a 6:45am flight to Dallas. On more than one occasion I set my alarm for 6:00, took a quick shower, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and left the house by 6:15. Arrive at the airport at 6:25, park about 100 feet from the door, stick my credit card in the machine below and pushed the "Dallas" button, breezed through security (no removing shoes or laptops back then) arrive at the gate by 6:30. Land in Dallas just after 7:30 - an hour and a half after waking up.

quicket.JPG
I’d be happy to give her a quickie.
 

95Hawk

HR Heisman
Nov 21, 2001
7,200
16,336
113
I’ve enjoyed flying Southwest in the past. I live in the Chicago area so the benefit of having a lot of nonstop options out of Midway is a nice perk.

Agree with others that airfares on SW are no more competitive these days than United or American out of O’Hare. And one personal pet peeve: the unassigned seating sucks. You know every flight is crowded these days so you’re almost forced to purchase Early Bird seating to get a high A or low B boarding pass.

For me, it causes additional undue stress.
 

hawkiniowacity

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Gold Member
Jun 16, 2002
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New Orleans
I'm one of those fans of SWA. I live in St. Louis and after TWA went under, SWA became our biggest carrier. They have more direct flights than anyone else from StL and the prices are extremely competitive. And you know what your paying upfront, none of this $30 for a bag, $15 for a seat, $10 for a carry-on nonsense. They are friendly and usually on time. I can't speak to what the article references because I don't fly near as often as I once did but I'm still a fan. When I used to fly dozens of times a month for work my usual go to airline was SWA.
Ill take that 'nonsense' you speak of. Im flying for sub $250 round trip from New Orleans to Medellin this weekend. Going in Friday, coming back Sunday. I dont need a bag, I dont need to pick my seat, i just need a plane to get me there and back.

Southwest is typically $150-200 higher on just about every flight i take. Hell, i find Delta/United many times are quite a bit less expensive
 

LuciousBDragon

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Gold Member
Aug 31, 2017
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The American Southwest
Herb made some extremely bold, and in hindsight, genius decisions.

- Sticking with point-to-point (O&D focus) vs the popular hub & spoke model. This helped keep costs low by not having to support expensive hub operations. It kept their network more flexible during extreme weather.

- Pioneered fuel hedging - this singular item kept them afloat after 9/11 and positioned them for growth while all the other carriers suffered through bankruptcy.

- Single model fleet (B737’s) - Herb resisted pressure to grow and he really stuck with what worked. Maintenance and pilot training costs were some of the lowest in the world for a fleet their size because of this.

All this being said, flash forward to today and SW has some true legacy carrier problems. Seniority and union issues primarily are what makes them almost similar to UAL and AA.
 

abby97

HR All-American
Sep 16, 2010
3,669
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Ill take that 'nonsense' you speak of. Im flying for sub $250 round trip from New Orleans to Medellin this weekend. Going in Friday, coming back Sunday. I dont need a bag, I dont need to pick my seat, i just need a plane to get me there and back.

Southwest is typically $150-200 higher on just about every flight i take. Hell, i find Delta/United many times are quite a bit less expensive
congrats
 

Fijimn

HR Legend
May 7, 2008
11,231
18,494
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Herb made some extremely bold, and in hindsight, genius decisions.

- Sticking with point-to-point (O&D focus) vs the popular hub & spoke model. This helped keep costs low by not having to support expensive hub operations. It kept their network more flexible during extreme weather.

- Pioneered fuel hedging - this singular item kept them afloat after 9/11 and positioned them for growth while all the other carriers suffered through bankruptcy.

- Single model fleet (B737’s) - Herb resisted pressure to grow and he really stuck with what worked. Maintenance and pilot training costs were some of the lowest in the world for a fleet their size because of this.

All this being said, flash forward to today and SW has some true legacy carrier problems. Seniority and union issues primarily are what makes them almost similar to UAL and AA.
This. I was going to point out their success at hedging. SW is no longer the cheapest and is often one of the more expensive. I live near Houston Hobby which is like a SW hub and easy airport to get in and out of. The best thing SW has going for it is the ease of changing flights. That is the best for business travel. My schedule and get wonky so I usually book the last direct flight home knowing that I can grab an earlier flight without extra charge if I need it. Also, its rewards program is one of the best in the business.
 

golfinghawkeye

HR All-American
Gold Member
May 14, 2004
4,614
3,613
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Alabama
Currently I fly out of ABQ. Flying to the western US I use Southwest. It is the largest carrier here and has decent option for nonstop service. Flying to the midwest and east it is usually American while connecting in Dallas. Baggage fees are a non issue as the wife, who has no pictures, is active duty and gets free checked bags when flying with her

I had my first issue with Southwest last fall. We booked nonstop flights last July for a trip to San Diego at the end of September. Three weeks before departure they canceled the flight and had us connecting in Vegas on the way out with a 2130 arrival instead of 1400. On the return flight they had us leaving at 0800 with a connection in Phoenix and a 3 hour layover. With two kids under four at the time that was going to be an issue but we were able to change them with better times and shorter layovers.

My upcoming home airport is Montgomery, Alabama and it is only serviced by Delta and American. I will most likely be going with Delta and just connecting in Atlanta. I could make the drive to Birmingham or Atlanta but with two young kids on family trips I will go with the small airport for ease of getting all of the shit out of the van. Using the Amex Platinum also gets access to Delta Sky Club Lounges as well without having status with Delta or flying business/first class.
 

jberesford

HR MVP
Dec 1, 2001
1,753
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In the 80's, as a young guy living in Texas, I flew a lot on my own dime for business and pleasure. SWA was a great option, and they helped exert downward pressure on other airline prices. Herb Kelleher was a genius and a fantastic CEO with a number of creative ideas.
  • One of his signature MOs was from time to time working other jobs at the airline, such as flight attendant, baggage handler, or working the ticket counter.
  • He was the first airline CEO who seemed to recognize that his planes only made money while they were in the air, so he found ways to land, disembark, load, and takeoff in a fraction of the time of other airlines.
  • When a plane was stuck on the ground for any reason, the pilot would immediately announce "free beer" and the hot-pant-wearing young lasses would start rolling the beer cart up and down the aisle - so unlike the prison atmosphere on other airlines, a flight delay on SWA meant party time.
  • Pricing was simple. Any flight had two prices: week day pricing and weekend & evening prices. They had hardcopies of the flight prices available at the ticket counter, because they did not engage in "dynamic pricing" back then.
Yes, the cattle-call boarding because of no assigned seating was pretty uncivilized. But the simplicity of the entire process, and the emphasis on creating a positive atmosphere, not to mention the low prices, made it worth it.
Herb Kelleher also challenged the leader of a commuter airline to an arm wrestling match to settle a trademark dispute over the phrase 'Just Plane Smart.'
 
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