Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly about flying Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines suffered a catastrophic meltdown several months ago causing thousands of flight cancellations. Despite the problems I continue to think they run a pretty good airline. Here are my observations of the good, the bad, and the ugly about the airline.
Good – The flights always seem on time. These guys generally seem to run like clockwork.
Bad – Southwest does not offer seat assignments – So you have the famous cattle call and everyone lines up to fight for the best seats.
Ugly – Southwest canceled thousands of flights – The meltdown during the holiday season last year caused the airline to cancel more than 16,700 flights stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers because of weather and technology limitations. This showed people the weakness of their system.
Good – Bags fly free. Southwest has made free baggage a giant branding message that saves travelers $25-$35 for every bag they check in.
Bad – Airfares are often the most expensive compared to other airlines. Years ago Southwest was the low-fare leader. Today that ain’t so. A one-way ticket from Las Vegas to Omaha recently was $535. Wow. Remember when that used to be $49?
Ugly – You are stuck if a flight cancels and all the other flights are full – If you buy a ticket on Southwest and their flight is canceled no other airline will accept your ticket. You are stuck. During the holidays that could mean you are stuck for 3 or four days. Other airlines like United, American, and Delta have reciprocating agreements that let you fly on other airlines if a canceled flight happens.
Good – Southwest has no charge to change your ticket. This was a large competitive advantage Pre-COVID when the other airlines charged you $200 if you had to change your ticket. Since COVID all airlines have dropped the $200 change fee and the competitive advantage Southwest had has lessened.
Bad – Southwest tries to prevent you from comparing their prices to other airlines. Generally speaking, they only allow prices to be found on their website and they are not listed on other online travel sites. Many people just visit southwest.com and assume they have the lowest prices. Not so my friend.
Good – Southwest seems to have the friendliest staff. They seem to be happy and enjoy their jobs.
Bad – Southwest tries to sell me flowers – The marketing department at Southwest is pushing the limit in the number and type of things they are trying to sell members of their frequent flyer programs. Recently they sent me an email selling flowers for Mother’s Day. They risk having their emails pushed into the spam file if they keep this up.
Good – They are rapidly expanding their network and now fly to Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Next, they will be adding other international destinations to the flight map.
Good – One of the best deals in the travel industry is Southwest’s “Companion Pass”. By using their credit card or flying so many flights you can earn the right for a companion to fly free on any of their flights for up to 23 months. This is an amazing program and may be the best deal in the industry. CLICK HERE for all the details.
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