Southwest Airlines

9.4

Overall Score

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Southwest Airlines is a large US airline that is headquartered in Dallas, TX. In fact, they are the world’s largest low-cost carrier. They were established in 1967 and adopted the name "Southwest" in 1971. The airline offers over 3400 flights a day between 93 destinations in 41 states, Puerto Rico and some other countries. Southwest is one of the largest Boeing operators. In fact, they have used only 737s. Southwest has over 550 737s in service, with each of them getting around six to seven flights per day. Southwest is not without controversy. Recently, they got into trouble with the government for offering a quoted rate on their website that was not actually a real fare for any seat on a flight. Also, in July 2014, a customer and his family were asked to leave a flight because he was not allowed to board a flight early as an A-list member. He "tweeted" his dissatisfaction and was kicked off the flight and told to remove his tweet.

The Good

  • Low cost
  • First two checked bags are free
  • 3400 daily flights
  • Standard amenities and entertainment

Southwest is a low-cost airline, so their ticket prices are some of the lowest on the market. On top of their low prices, Southwest offers many discounts and promotions on their website. Their rewards program is also beneficial and easy to use. It is clear to see how to earn a free flight through Southwest. These different promotions and specials available can help ensure that Southwest is the lowest price available for many domestic flights.

Southwest is very generous with their checked baggage allowances. They allow passengers to check two bags for free. Many other airlines charge for more than one checked bag and some airlines don't allow any free checked baggage at all. This makes Southwest one of the top airlines for checked baggage. Any checked bags (after the two free) cost $75 per bag. There are size restrictions for baggage on Southwest Airlines. Bags need to be less than 50lbs and have dimensions (length + weight + height) of 62 inches. Overweight items (51lbs to 100lbs) and oversized items (63 inches to 80 inches) will also be accepted at a fee of $75 per item.

Southwest Airlines has a very high on-time percentage for most of their flights. They are on-time roughly 85% of the time, late 6%, very late 2%, and excessively late 4% (information according to Flightstats.com). This is higher than a number of other top airlines. However, many of their most active routes received low ratings. Their top flights include:

• Burbank to Oakland (3.2 stars, 87% on time)
• Phoenix to San Diego (3.2 stars, 85% on time)
• Los Angeles to San Jose (3.2 stars 83% on time)

This shows that even their top flights are barely receiving three stars. Their lowest flight is Dallas to Austin, receiving only 1.5 stars and being on-time roughly 70% of the time. Many other top airlines have a large number their most active flights in the four-star range. Compared to this, Southwest does not compare as well as some other top airlines.

Southwest offers many of the standard amenities when it comes to their in-flight services. Because they are a low-cost airline, they are consequently lacking in some of the in-flight services that other top airlines provide. Some of the services they do provide includes:

• Entertainment: Southwest allows passengers to use their personal devices for their entertainment and provide free live and on-demand television. This includes 19 live channels and up to 75 TV episodes from popular series. There are also more than 25 current movie choices available for purchase on flights. Southwest does not have other means for entertainment besides passengers personal devices. Most other airlines have some sort of screen provided and many more options for media.
• Food and dining: While a number of the major airlines offer dining options on their flights, Southwest's low-cost airline does not. They do however offer complimentary drinks and snacks including pretzels and peanuts. Many other low-cost airlines do not offer any complimentary items like this.
• Wi-Fi: A benefit of flying Southwest is their ability to provide Wi-Fi on their flights. For $8 a day, passengers can enjoy their Wi-Fi services and use their devices to browse, check emails, and explore social media sites. This is also how the in-flight entertainment is streamed. This is a very affordable option that not every airline provides. However, not every flight with Southwest has Wi-Fi. Passengers can put in their flight information on the Southwest website to check if the plane will have Wi-Fi or not. Flights without Wi-Fi service do not have other options for entertainment.

The Bad

  • Boarding process
  • Limited destinations
  • Government action
  • Time in business

The boarding process on Southwest is slightly different than most other airlines. Instead of having passengers choose a seat with some type of interactive map during check-in, Southwest does not assign any seats. They give a group (A, B, or C) and a number (1-60) to assign the order of boarding. Then, they have an open seating policy so passengers can sit anywhere that is open once they have boarded the plane. This would make the boarding process less smooth than airlines that assign or let passengers choose seats beforehand. With an open seating policy, passengers may be confused as to where to go and may run into more problems or potentially take longer to be settled on the plane. Passengers are suggested to be ready to board the plane 30 minutes before departure time and must have their boarding pass and be at the gate at least 10 minutes before departure time. If they have not arrived at least 10 minutes before, Southwest will cancel the reserved space and the passenger will not be eligible for the denied boarding compensation.

Southwest flies to 93 different destinations (mainly domestic), although they do fly a few international to various different locations including Mexico and the Caribbean. This is a small number of destinations when compared to some other airlines. Airlines such as United fly to over 300 different destinations and many more internationally. However, the 93 destinations they do serve cover most of the United States. For passengers that need to travel domestically, Southwest would most likely be able to serve in their desired destinations. For passengers who want an airline that is able to take them to both international and domestic destinations, Southwest would most likely not be able to serve them the best. Looking at just the number of destinations(93) Southwest would be considered a small airline.

These are all great reasons that show promise for how Southwest treats their customers. However, there is also an alert for this company because of a government action which was recently placed against them in 2014. At this time, Southwest advertised $59 flights to certain destinations. However, after an investigation, it was shown that there were no seats available to any destination at that price. The airline was fined for their deceptive advertising. This false advertising is a red flag for how Southwest has in the past conducted business. This should give peace of mind for passengers that may incur problems.

Southwest Airlines was established in 1967 in Dallas Texas and adopted the name Southwest in 1971. For the past 48 years, Southwest has grown into the largest low-cost airline. They have been in business for less time than a number of the top airlines in the industry. Many of them have been in business for over 80 years, more than double the amount of time Southwest has been in operation. Although 48 years of service obviously does not make them a brand new company, they have been around long enough to have grown and developed with the needs of the industry.

We also felt like the Boeing-driven fleet reduced some of the comfort creature features for customers. Generally, Airbus planes include bigger and better seats, with more seat pitch and width.

The Bottom Line

We recommend Southwest wholeheartedly. It is difficult to beat their prices. The Rewards points system is also great. Points don't ever expire, but you have to accrue points or keep your card active for 24 months. There are no blackout dates for your frequent flier points.

User Reviews

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  • 10

    Sarah Coats

    December 13th, 2017 Sandy, UT DETAILS

    Value for your money
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    Wonderful airline! And it's a great price for what you receive!

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  • 4

    Derrick Martinez

    December 13th, 2017 South Jordan, UT DETAILS

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    affordable but full of perks. While south west might not be the best airline it is full benefits. Some of these include cheap WiFi and 2 free bags.

    Helpful?
  • 6

    Suzanna Wootton

    December 13th, 2017 Springville, UT DETAILS

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    I don’t prefer to fly southwest. I would pick delta over southwest!

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  • 4

    Kaylee

    December 13th, 2017 West Jordan, UT DETAILS

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    Not having an assigned seat is a drawback and the snacks are sub-par. Checking a bag is free which is nice but the planes are usually dirty.

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  • 8

    Megan Rigby

    December 12th, 2017 DETAILS

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    I have used Southwest Airlines a few times in my travels. Prices seem to be reasonable whenever I am looking and the services are good.

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  • 8

    Krystal

    December 11th, 2017 Orem, UT DETAILS

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    The lines to check a bag are always very short and the service is always very speedy. All the employees are very willing to help with anything! The prices are a lot lower which makes traveling at the last minute very convenient. It is not assigned seating which can be a little frustrating at times, but very rarely does it ever become a problem.

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  • 8

    Hannah

    December 9th, 2017 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS

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    Staff were very happy and the airline is not constantly pushing for money for products. They treat the customer with respect and appear to value my choice to fly with Southwest. Would highly recommend.

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  • 8

    William

    December 7th, 2017 South Jordan, UT DETAILS

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    By far the best value of any airline out there! I always use SW for last minute trips when other airlines prices are just too high.

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  • 10

    Karen

    December 5th, 2017 Frisco, TX DETAILS

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    My favorite airlines to use is Southwest. I have always had a positive experience with them. They are priced reasonably not only if you pay with money, but if you use points you have earned through them. Another big reason I use them is that they allow you to check two free bags. I don't like how other airlines nickel and dime you for checked baggage. A person ought to be able to check their bags for free when they have already spent money on a ticket to fly that airline! Lastly, I love that when I have to cancel a flight, I get my earned points back instead of losing them or having to pay some fee to retain them. Southwest is the best!

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  • 8

    Raquel

    November 29th, 2017 Sandy, UT DETAILS

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    The flight was smooth and the service was great. Not a fan of first come first served seating.

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  • 10

    Tanner Dastrup

    November 22nd, 2017 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS

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    I have had nothing but positive experiences each time I have flown with Southwest. I feel like they have extremely competitive prices and great service. Whenever we look to go on vacation, Southwest is always the first airline I go to. Great airline for a great price.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Katherine Galliart

    November 20th, 2017 Leavenworth, KS DETAILS

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    I have always had great service with Southwest. Fast check in/checked luggage lines, TWO FREE CHECKED IN LUGGAGE, free soft drinks and snacks, extremely friendly and helpful staff. I get to pick my seat!!!! I dont have to book with someone at the same time, we can book separately and still get to sit together.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    William

    November 20th, 2017 Indianapolis, IN DETAILS

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    reliability, usually on schedule, expanded destinations especially to more remote places, courtesy by personnel

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  • Verified Customer

    8

    Spartacus

    November 20th, 2017 Tulsa, OK DETAILS

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    Always on time, great service, friendly employees

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  • Verified Customer

    8

    SAUNDRA DORRIS

    November 20th, 2017 Zanesville, OH DETAILS

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    I feel there is always room to improve so I don't give 5's. I have flown Southwest several times n have always been happy with them.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Patricia Klinger

    November 20th, 2017 Miami, FL DETAILS

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    On time, pleasant staff, no baggage fees.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Betty L

    November 20th, 2017 Milwaukee, WI DETAILS

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    good service very customer oriented and pleasant

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  • Verified Customer

    8

    Gertrude Stewart

    November 20th, 2017 Cookeville, TN DETAILS

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    The seats are too close. Very little leg room. Open seating makes it difficult at time to sit with your companion

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Debi

    November 20th, 2017 DETAILS

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    Great service, good rewards, free luggage

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Will

    November 20th, 2017 Acton, CA DETAILS

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    Service and attitude are excellent - seek to make the flying experience as pleasant as possible

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Greg Kamp

    November 20th, 2017 Valencia, CA DETAILS

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    Straight forward on all details Including seating, ticketing, Boarding .

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  • Verified Customer

    8

    Jose Perea

    November 20th, 2017 Houston, TX DETAILS

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    9verall is good for traveling in family, but expensive and tedious when traveling alone 9

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Chuck Doria

    November 20th, 2017 Greenville, SC DETAILS

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    Great people, service, prices and no bagage fees

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Gary Callahan

    November 20th, 2017 Denver, CO DETAILS

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    Most dependable over other airlines. Ease of making reservations.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Cassie

    November 20th, 2017 Poplar Grove, IL DETAILS

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    Great service. No extra charge to pick your seats, free checked bags and carry ons, no hidden fees. Way better than spirit or American.

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Tamara Newman

    November 20th, 2017 Portland, OR DETAILS

    Value for your money
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    Best Fares - pleasant personnel, on time flights, no charge for baggage and no rebooking fees

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Odessa FL

    November 20th, 2017 Tampa, FL DETAILS

    Value for your money
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    Company trustworthiness

    They are always dependable and have good prices.

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Nancy L

    November 20th, 2017 Daytona Beach, FL DETAILS

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    safety, friendly, Personally I have never had a problem with Southwest.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    venkatesh shrinivas

    November 20th, 2017 San Antonio, TX DETAILS

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    Two bag fly free and free cancellation and on time performance . Good leg space between the seats.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Elizabeth Ray

    November 20th, 2017 DETAILS

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    Southwest is no frills and has a great on time service.plus they're friendly and make it fun!

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Ricardo

    November 20th, 2017 El Paso, TX DETAILS

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    I have always gotten great services and the price is within my budget

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    William Mulligan

    November 20th, 2017 DETAILS

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    Customer service is so great. Flight crew really give you the feeling they enjoy serving you and enjoy the job.

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  • Verified Customer

    10

    Donna P.

    November 20th, 2017 DETAILS

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    Customer service...the effort those who work for Southwest make is above the others and more than appreciated!

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Sheryl Wilson

    November 20th, 2017 American Fork, UT DETAILS

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    Southwest has a great rewards card that allows you to earn points to fly free. They do not charge an extra fee to check luggage. Their planes are new and up to date. Flights have always been on time.

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Mary

    November 20th, 2017 Corona, CA DETAILS

    Value for your money
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    Personnel are always courteous, helpful and willing to serve. They also let you ship two bags free while other airlines charge $25# for each bag.

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Nancy D

    November 20th, 2017 San Antonio, TX DETAILS

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    Southwest absolutely understands customer service!! Their staff are friendly, knowledgeable, caring and helpful!! In a time of need to get to my critically injured, elderly parent, Southwest helped me get home quicker which relieved my stress level tremendously!! I fly monthly and have flown 70% of all airlines and Southwest always exceeds all of carriers!!! Happy staff = Happy customers!!

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    Lori Passey

    November 20th, 2017 DETAILS

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    Lower fairs, I like that they don't charge for luggage. I like how line up by zone but like all the others they have the same problem with those who use all the over head storage and leave nothing for others. .

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    S wilson

    November 20th, 2017 Prairieville, LA DETAILS

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    Southwest is the gold standard in customer service. A hostess slapped support dog & a love voucher was waiting when I got off the plane. Rooomy. Free bags. Room to sit.

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    10

    John Walker

    November 20th, 2017 Seguin, TX DETAILS

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    Bags fly free and you can book your whole vacation with them

    Helpful?
  • Verified Customer

    8

    Desai

    November 20th, 2017 Clarksville, MD DETAILS

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    Usually on time,good price ticket,good service

    Helpful?