Has anyone ever watched the show "Airline" on A&E on channel 29 at 10:00PM on monday nights? It is always about SWA. I don't know whose idea it was to put this show on TV, but it makes SWA look like a joke. I have been watching the show for months and the more I watch it, I know that I would never fly SWA. I have never heard of booking a flight 3 months in advance, arriving at the gate to find that it was overbooked and you can't get on as a result. Certainly never heard of gate agents on the intercom or standing on top of gate counter begging people to give up there seats etc... SWA seems to be a tad low class.
Airline is based on a BBC program that focused on a couple of British airlines, and one specific airport. The American version of the program could only secure the cooperation of the one airline, Southwest Airlines. All others refused to allow their airline to be featured. Southwest's philosophy must be that any publicity is good publicity. If nothing else, the show has generated an incredible amount of interest on the part of people wanting to work for Southwest, though I can't imagine why.
To be fair, Southwest doesn't come off looking that badly. They do have to make some very difficult decisions, and I think a lot of people realize that. Also, what is clear is that the program is exposing a lot of viewers, such as yourself, to the realities of the airline industry. You say you've never heard of booking a flight 3 months in advance, arriving at the gate to find that it was overbooked and you can't get on as a result, yet it is very common, especially on budget carriers like Southwest. What's worse, and again this is made clear if you watch Airline a few times, is that Southwest tells displaced passengers that they have a choice between waiting for the next Southwest flight or getting a refund, because Southwest, unlike all major airlines, doesn't have any inter-line agreements, so will not accommodate you on another airline that may have space. While it makes them look bad, I suppose, it does raise awareness of the situation, so that perhaps it reduces some future passenger's level of dissatisfaction at the gate.
Southwest is a budget carrier and very deliberately so. They may get a lot of flack for their poor customer service practices, but keep in mind that they have the best customer satisfaction ratings. You may wonder how that could be possible. It is simple, really: Customer satisfaction is a matter of how well you satisfy the expectations customers place on you. If you prepare them for a certain (low) level of service, and you charge them a lot less than others would have charged them, the passenger will often be satisfied with a lower level of service, at least as compared to the situation where you inconvenience a passenger after charging them an arm and a leg!
I, too, watch and enjoy the show. I have to say, I would still fly SW airlines. I believe they have a difficult job to do and are trying their best. I have learned not to be late to the gate! .
Mary Lou Scanlon
NCL Pride of America April 24, 2010
NCL Epic February 12, 2011
RCCL Allure of the Seas - September 18, 2011
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I love SWA and will not fly another domestic carrier unless forced to! Their customer service is excellent and they make your flight a lot of fun. I have not had any problems with any of my flights. Their fares can't be beat (in my area anyhow), their service has been more than great (especially cancelling and rebooking at lower sale rates without penalties) and flights that have been EARLY more than on-time (no late arrivals!) Those are just some of the reasons I'm a SWA fan!
Airline is not going to show ALL the happy, satisfied customers because that wouldn't be a very entertaining show to watch. From what I've seen I think SWA has come off looking pretty good. JMHO!
I tend to agree; if they just had some inter-line agreements they'd really be worth flying. However, even though it doesn't happen often, with my luck the one time I fly Southwest they'll have a mechanical problem and I'll be stuck in Iowa overnight.
I think the whole idea of the show is, like all of you have mentioned is to raise awareness of the industry. Some people don't understand the airlines policies. Just this past show on Sunday a woman was irate because she and her husband could not escort their children to the gate. She was blaming Southwest, but this is an airport security issue, not Southwest's policy. You also see a lot of people showing up drunk at the counter and wanting to fly. Well, I see how drunk people act in bars, starting fights and such and wouldn't want that on my flight either...again, safety issue.
Finally, a gentleman lost the ticket he just purchased yet argued that he would never fly Southwest again because of their horrible service with his issue. Well, if you bought a ticket to the Super Bowl and then lost it, would they let you in? How does Southwest know who you are? Sure, they have a record of the name you give in the system, but you could have stolen that wallet from someone...
As a travel agent, I find the show hysterical!!! These are the types of people I deal with on a day to day basis...ones who don't understand airline policies yet think they can fight it...
I have flown "Southwest" and have not had any problems. I do agree that they are a "Budget" carrier in everyway. They do not have assigned seats, but I always arrive early and usually get the seat I desire. I fly mostly New York to Florida, and find that they are always on time, if not early. As they say, you get what you pay for.
Can't wait to see the show . When does it run? SW is our only choice from Long Island direct to Tampa unless we want to go all the way in to JFK.(limo costs alot to get there also) We use it almost exclusively to get back & forth to Fla vacation place several times a yr & for cruising from FT. Laud.
It is a terrible hassle with them not giving out assigned seats. Even if you arrive several hours early to avoid long lines, you only get a seating group. (A B or C) Then you have to stand on a long line to be first in your group.to board The big insult then comes when they then pre-board . First they take children & their families--that can be up to as many as are travelling whihc is ridiculous even though we believe their written policy is only 2 adults per child. .People on the lines start to get testy & cranky. Then they pre-board great numbers of people who represent that they are disbled. We all call it "Miracle Airline" as do many of their own staff because of the number of cheaters who board as disabled & then run past you to get their luggage at the other end., Makes it bad for those who really are in need of extra time .
It is also not great that you can only book three months ahead & we are always waiting for our dates to open up. It is frustrating if your return date isn';t part of the opened block becuae by the time that opens, the cheaper seats are gone!
With all that said,it is close, no traffic hassles for us lcals to get there ,it's affordable & has been reliable for us. We always go early toget in group A & have not been bumped yet! You really do get an absolutely FREE trip (no restrictions) when you log the required # of segments. I recently flew Jet Blue to New Orleans & felt I was on a grown up airline--no silly jokes, no singing, no fake pre-boarders, & the plane had large leather seats with free TV.& the worlds best Blue potato chips. Really wish Jet Blue would come to Islip LI! But then reality set in & we are back on Southwest for our next several trips--it's theonly choce in town. for us. This has been one of my longest posts ever but it is all true IMHO.
I have flown SWA many times with no problems. However, I have found cheaper flights on other carriers with reserved seats and fewer layovers. Just depends on where you are going. Definitely pays to shop around. SWA is not always the cheapest or most convenient.
Apparently Southwest is doing something right since they are actually making a profit. Bad news though Marty, if you could see behind the scenes of delta you would be just as horrifed. Same as any other carrier, things aren't as smooth as they appear...Southwest is just the only carrier inovative enough to take the free publicity.
Bottom line is, if you want a cheap flight, Southwest, 9 times out of 10, will fulfill your need. Also keep in mind that Southwest does not charge a penalty to change your flight like the major carriers, USScare, United, Delta, Northworst...they all charge $100.00 to change the flight plus any increase in fare, whereas Southwest only charges the fare difference.
I deal with Delta every day and let me tell you that out of all the carriers, they have good flights, connections, etc....but if you need to ask a favor of them, it's always NO! I have tried on numerous occasions to get a ticket changed to someone else's name because the original traveler has cancer and can't travel before the one year requirement to use their ticket and they are not cooperative at all. Too bad, so sad...
Southwest will let you use the value of the ticket purchased towards anybody else!
I think at times, people have this fear of flying and that's very understandable so when the Southwest agents and flight attendents joke around and play games, it takes the stress away and makes for a more pleasant flight. Besides, who wouldn't want to participate for a free alcoholic beverage!!!?? Or extra peanuts!!
The major carriers, you have to pay for food now....SOuthwest is still free!!!
Granted that honey smoked turkey link is not the tastiest but hey...it's free!
I think Southwest will fulfil its passengers needs a bit more often than 9 times out of 10. Closer to 95 times out of 100. The problem is that when they fail their passengers, they fail their passengers much more miserably than other airlines.
One correction: All major airlines have fares that incur no charges to make changes. It is only heavily-discounted fares that they charge penalties for. Southwest's fares are very low to start with, so they don't offer heavily-discounted penalty fares.
I think the show comes off like a 3rd rate soap opera. I had to stop watching it because of the way they treated their customers and the level of stupidity of the customers featured. Two other problems I have with them, one not of their own making, is that I can only fly to a handful of states from Dallas due to the Wright amendment and I have to scramble to get a decent seat because of their policy of not assigning seats. Other than that, they're okay.
Loved SWA on Long Island and was sad when I moved to New Jersey. Happily, I can now book them from Philly. Going to Ft. Lauderdale in two weeks - $49 each way. I have to spend close to that to drive back to Long Island.
Sure if all you care about is low fares, than Southwest may be the way to go. Ever thought about why their fares are so low? Their employees are paying the price with low wages and all that goes along with it. I am not absolutly sure but I think their major maintance checks are not even done in this country. I prefer a safe flight with a crew that has experience , gets paid well and is not overworked and tired. Ever thought about where they would have to cut cost in order to offer you that 79 $ ticket? There is something wrong if a greyhound busticket from New York to San Fran. is more expensive than an airline ticket. Flying is not the same than taking the bus. Let's hope you will always have an experienced and well rested crew flying you wherever you may have to go. Let's face it, most people would probably not choose the cheapest doctor in town. But until something happens nobody will listen anyways. Just some food for thought.
You're mistaken, Kat. I don't like Southwest, but the reasons you gave aren't actual. Southwest employees are decently paid, comparable with other discount carriers, and not that much less than the major airlines. Maintenance is top-notch. They don't skimp there. Their fares are low because they promise less. They incur much fewer and smaller obligations to their customers and therefore have lower overall operating costs. They also refuse to operate anywhere where the costs are high, while the majors must operate from all major airports, and lowering overall operating costs.
Bicker is right on target about why Southwest can keep it's cost low..it all started with their former CEO Herb Keller who decided to try a different model when SWA started in the 70's....Their employees are paid well, not the highest in the industry but about at average, however the trade off is that there have never been layoffs at SWA, both management and the unions have an understanding that if they work together everyone benefits and this stands in stark contrast to the "majors"..they fly only one fleet type, 737's which saves bundles in crew cost, training,fuel,maintainance etc...they know who they are and they don't stray from their basic mission..low cost, high frequency,no frills, dependable transportation...they stay mainly out of high cost airports but because they are so successful every community in the country courts them which means SWA can fly into major airports now but extract major concessions..major cruise companies have courted SWA to add service to "home port cities" which allow their passengers to keep cost low and spend more $$$ on their cruise ships..I shudder to think what it would cost to fly if SWA was not on the scene..just look at air fare's in any major city that SWA does not serve
Even though Southwest is not one of my favorites for the reasons as stated in my earlier post, I agree that their employees are fairly compensated and the airline is as safe as the premier airlines. No airline takes safety for granted these days and the Federal Aviation Agency wouldn't let them anyway. The reason bus lines can compete on short haul routes is because of the inconvenience of getting to the airport or going thru airport security or having a fear of flying or the proximity of their destination and taxi costs. In short, I wouldn't hesitate to fly Southwest if they were more convenient to me.
hcat, probably too much to change. They have a very successful business model which is turning a profit, why change. There are newer start-ups which do offer reserved seating. JetBlue, Song, Ted all to my knowledge have reserved seating. I for one, who has been very happy with Southwest in the past, now prefer JetBlue, do to their increased frequency of direct, non-stop flights and online seat selection. There are many options available, it all comes down to your own comfort level of what you are willing to sacrifice at what cost.
It seems to me that in this day and age of computers it wouldn't be too terribly expensive to set up a program to allow online seat selection. Southwest is definately pushing online booking of flights by offering extra segmants for booking online. Sure there may be an initial expenditure in instituting online seat selection, but it would be a one shot expense which would probably be offset by increased passengers. As far as I'm concerned, their current cattle car mentality is a real turn off, and probably costs them many potential customers.
Well, I think it also depends on the airports you are dealing with too. I did have one less than pleasant experience with Delta at the West Palm Beach airport. We got to the airport 25 minutes before the flight was to leave and they wouldn't let us on the plane because it wasn't 30 minutes. So, we had to rebook. It worked out well because it only cost us $25 per person more to take a later flight. The guy that rebooked us told us to call back a hour later to get the $25 per per deal or otherwise it would be $100 per person.
I was a little pissed at first, but it wasn't their fault that we weren't at airport on time and only $25 more made me feel much better. Maybe they aren't perfect, but I'll still stick with Delta.
I had the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of dozens of industries, during my career as a management consultant. You'd be amazed at how something that seems like a simple change to us on the outside is incredibly complex, difficult and costly in reality. (The good part is that there are just as many things that seem like utter magic to us on the outside, that actually are nothing more than a flick-of-the-switch or a minor adjustment to folks who actually know the business.) It is sufficient to say that, especially in this day-and-age of greater corporate scrutiny (but it actually has been true all along for 95% of companies), officers and managers of businesses always seek the best answers with respect to satisfying their fiduciary responsibilies. I have no doubt that if something was so obviously worth more to customers, so much so that they'd pay more or be sufficiently more loyal, and it didn't cost as much to implement, any company in the Fortune 500 (Southwest Airlines is #310) would have the knowledge of the market and operational expertise to make it happen.
The could change their system to allow for seat selection at the time of booking, but for some reason, they have chosen not to for now. There was a time when it would have been costly and time consuming to set up a program like that, but not any more. Once ground is broken on a new system as other airlines have already done, it's relatively easy and cost efficient to do. It's just Southwest's corporate mindset to maintain the status quo. If it's not broken, don't fix it. At their prices, they're going to get their share of the business and they know it. I prefer assigned seating also, but then I seldom fly with them anyway because of the limited flight destinations from Dallas due to the Wright Amendment.