Southwest Airlines

9 11 2007

As a student with proximity to Midway Airport, I absolutely adored Southwest Airlines. In California, it is easy and affordable to fly Southwest Airlines to major (and minor) cities in the TriState area. I liked the egalitarian “for peanuts” approach that Southwest Airlines promoted undaunted, though I did not always appreciate the ditties sung by the casually clad Southwest Airlines airstaff (what are we calling them this week?). No matter, the lower Southwest Airlines price made up for it and I enjoyed printing up my Southwest Airlines seating group assignment 24 hours before departure so I did not have to scramble to get to the Southwest Airlines departure lounge in time.

This is all Southwest Airlines history. One of the more rapidly growing airlines and perhaps consistently well-liked and successful, Southwest Airlines has decided to curb its phenomenal rate of air vessel acquisition starting immediately. No doubt spurred by spiralling fuel costs, the final blow is how Southwest Airlines has decided to deal with the “no frills policy”. Encouraged by the dodgy premises of extra payment for legroom (United Airlines), aisle seats (American Airlines) or exit row booking (both), a business class model has been developed by Southwest Airlines, stock symbol LUV. The Business Select Class (which began yesterday) of Southwest Airlines will permit preferential boarding to those who fly more than 16 Southwest Airlines round trips in one calendar year. In addition, if you pay the higher premium Southwest Airlines fare, you can pre-board and you also get a free drink from Southwest Airlines.

So just how expensive is it? If you random look for a roundtrip Southwest Airlines fare from Seattle to Los Angeles a month from today, the lowest restricted Southwest Airlines fare was $198 while the Business Southwest Airlines fare was $47 and the Business Select Southwest Airlines fare was $543.60, with at least one stop en route. All nonstop flights on Alaska were $218 plus tax, United was way below half of the premium Southwest Airlines fare and US Airways was $174 (plus tax). Southwest Airlines wants to make approximately US$100 million more in annual revenue in FY2008 using this new model. Good luck.

For the record, I still think United is the worst airline carrier in the whole wide world.