Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

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.

582 Southwest Airlines Reviews

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  • User Score

    5

    June 21st, 2017

    Hi, I travel usually with a backpack and a carry on. I asked for help from a flight attendant to help me put the carry on in the bin above. She looked at me and said mam you can check it in. I then said forget it. And I had many passengers got up to help me. Unfortunately I'm short. Like really short and I can't really teach the bins. If the carry on was too heavy I understand, but she didn't even ask. She just assumed. I am more concerned with passengers safety. I don't want to have myself alone to do it but I just needed a hand and she seemed reluctant to help. I found this a little disturbing. Thanks for contacting me.

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  • User Score

    10

    June 13th, 2017

    Of all the airlines I have flown I find Southwest to be the best. The staff is friendly and helpful, their policies reasonable, and the planes themselves are nice to fly in. Southwest is among the best in my humble opinion

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  • User Score

    9

    June 13th, 2017 Sandy, UT

    I like that there are no charges for baggage and always freindly employees.

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  • User Score

    8

    June 12th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    Great prices and service. We have used SouthWest for a long time now and their prices and their customer services is always wonderful and quick. We love using them for our traveling.

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  • User Score

    6

    June 12th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    My family and I have always enjoyed southwest and their service. We like their prices and the people who fly with us. Their customer service is always great. Their planes are a little outdated, they should really invest in new planes.

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  • User Score

    9

    June 11th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    I really appreciate their low costs and that they allow two checked bags for free.

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  • User Score

    9

    June 11th, 2017 Orem, UT

    I was pleasantly surprised when i had to make a change on my airline reservations "no charge for the change"!!

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  • User Score

    6

    June 10th, 2017

    My only real complaint about Southwest is that they do not assign seats. I will fly it if I have to or if the flight times work out better for my travel schedule, but if I have the option I will always chose an airline that offers assigned seating. Traveling is stressful enough. I don't want to have to worry about not being able to have a comfortable seating arrangement on top of everything else.

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  • User Score

    9

    June 9th, 2017

    Southwest is usually my airline of choice. They generally have lower prices, good customer service on the flight and online, reliable flights, and no baggage fees. In fact, I've booked 7 different flights with them June - September of this year. That says a lot right there.

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  • User Score

    9

    June 9th, 2017

    Southwest is usually my airlines of choice. They generally have lower prices, good customer service on the flight and online, reliable flights, and no baggage fees. In fact, I've booked 7 different flights with them June - September of this year. That says a lot right there.

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  • User Score

    8

    June 9th, 2017 Clearfield, UT

    Great price on tickets and I like that they offer 2 bags checked for free.

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  • User Score

    10

    June 8th, 2017 Sandy, UT

    I really like free baggage. Sometimes you can even get a direct flight. I like beings able to earn points and being rewarded for flying. I have been very happy with Southwest.

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  • User Score

    4

    June 6th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    Southwest Airlines is alright, it's not my favorite. They're cheap, but that's about the best I can say. I have to fly at least once to twice a year, and I just don't enjoy it very much. I don't like how they pack so many people on. It makes it very uncomfortable to be in such a tight space.

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  • User Score

    7

    June 6th, 2017

    Nice airline. Good service and I've had good experiences working with them.

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  • User Score

    10

    June 6th, 2017

    Overall Southwest is wonderful. You get to travel with your stuff at very affordable prices. It is worth it. While there are no assigned seats, which bugs people, this can be resolved if you check in early - giving you an earlier boarding time.

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  • User Score

    9

    June 2nd, 2017 Apex, NC

    We live on the other side of the country from our family so we have flown a lot. I don't even bother checking the other airlines anymore. I love that you can change your flight on Southwest without getting hit with major fees, you get two free bags, and I like that we can pick our own seats when we get there. It's a huge plus for me that I can board after the A-group with my kids to make sure we all get seats together. The only thing that I wish is that they had more direct flights to where I want to go, but I guess that's what happens when you're heading off the beaten path a little.

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  • User Score

    9

    June 2nd, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    I have never had a bad experience with Southwest Airlines. Always great customer service. Love the no change, no cancel, and no baggage fees. You don't get that with any other airline. My cheapest flights have always been with Southwest too. It is easy to accumulate points and it doesn't take thousands and thousands of points to get a flight. I will continue to be a loyal costumer because they are a great airline to fly with.

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  • User Score

    7

    June 2nd, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    I've ridden SouthWest many times, mostly to California. I really like the cheap prices, and their pilots definitely give a smooth ride. I am a taller man, and sometimes it feels like I'm doing yoga trying to fit into the seats I am given. I try to go for the seats over the wings as they seem to have more space for the emergency exits. The snacks could be better, but it's not bad. Overall, it is not a bad experience especially for the cost.

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  • User Score

    8

    May 31st, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    Southwest has great prices and friendly staff. however, they really need update the interior of their aircrafts. I had good experiences with them, but I wish their seat were more comfortable.

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  • User Score

    7

    May 31st, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    Great Airline, I have had no issues as of yet!

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