Southwest Airlines

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9.5

Overall Score

Southwest Airlines

First two checked bags are free

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Southwest Airlines is a large US airline  headquartered in Dallas, Texas. 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.

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User Reviews

4.4

940 Reviews

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Brady Hanson
October 19th, 2018 Orem, UT DETAILS
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I love the free checked luggage that you get from Southwest Airlines. I also enjoy the free drinks.

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Jason Anderson
October 17th, 2018 Lindon, UT DETAILS
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I love that the first bag is free. The rates for flights are very competitive and affordable.

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Jody
October 16th, 2018 Spring Valley, CA DETAILS
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When I first started to fly with Southwest the cost of flights was better than most others. But now unless you can find a really good sale and make your reseravations early the cost to usaully to much for me

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Richard
October 16th, 2018 Greenwood, IN DETAILS
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Usually on time and cheaper than most. More leg room

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Neal Heuer
October 16th, 2018 Waterloo, WI DETAILS
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top in customer service understands customer needs..free luggage...no improvements

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Altha
October 16th, 2018 Troy, MO DETAILS
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Prices usually fit my budget. Terminal is easy to navigate, Workers are helpful and friendly

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Delilah Hansen
October 16th, 2018 Gilbert, AZ DETAILS
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No fee for change of flight / cheaper plane fare compared to rest

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Ed
October 16th, 2018 Borrego Springs, CA DETAILS
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It's been several years, but everything was great. Was on time w/ no delays. The flight attendants were awesome.

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Michael Matkovich
October 16th, 2018 Chicago, IL DETAILS
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Clean and comfy. Would like a snack and not just a beverage for a 3 hour flight

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James Janota
October 16th, 2018 Bay Village, OH DETAILS
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Southwest. Generally on time, no bag fees and problems are re-mediated in an acceptable amount of time

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Cheyenne
October 16th, 2018 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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Southwest is a cheaper option for flights however, you get what you pay for. I feel like its a race to get into the best seat possible (because they don't assign seat numbers just zones). everyone is still very nice just not very organized.

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Carroll Jackson
October 15th, 2018 Tampa, FL DETAILS
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We were booked from Tampa to LaGuardia and just shortly before our flight we received a text it was cancelled and nothing else available. You did book us to Islip and we would like to be reimbursed the additional travel costs to Penn Station.

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Steve schramm
October 15th, 2018 Salem, UT DETAILS
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Like the lower prices but not always lowest. Do not like lack of seat assignment.

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Allison Buchtien
October 12th, 2018 Galveston, TX DETAILS
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This is a great airline that consistently gives great service in all aspects.

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debbie
October 12th, 2018 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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Southwest is a fun airline, however, the boarding process is a bit chaotic. Lots of fees. But, it can be more affordable, and when traveling with children, that is a big benefit.

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David O
October 11th, 2018 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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Southwest airlines gets the job done. In my experience with their flights, I've noticed their message is often sweet and sugar coated. Something you might hear from a Southwest airlines attendant is "Have a good day y'all, and remember, without a heart, it's only a machine". I appreciate those sentiments.

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Lawrence
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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Easy to rescedule flights without penalty. And no bag fees.

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Jimmy Whitson
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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I have no complaints with them and consider their service very good for the costs.

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Steve Loewy
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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Great experiences. No charge for 2 pieces of luggage, great service, easy to cancel

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Mohan Upadhyaya
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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great simple service, simple boarding and no assigned seating, on time

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Adam
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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I love the courtesy of the staff and the demeanor of the company. I love that all seating is equal (no first class). The regular seats on the jets seem to me to be the most spacious of any of the airlines. I'm not a fan of the self organized pre-board line-up, however.

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Edward Brandt
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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Very good. Telephone agent was excellent

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Tyler
October 9th, 2018 DETAILS
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Great company to fly with! Free first checked bad is amazing and it ot the only airline yo make sense with their boarding procedures.

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Deric
October 6th, 2018 Orem, UT DETAILS
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Mimi
October 1st, 2018 DETAILS
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I love their courtesy and professional and friendly customer service.

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Adria
October 1st, 2018 DETAILS
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Always Great service for the BEST prices

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Marion
October 1st, 2018 DETAILS
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Price free bags friendly service. service on the plane

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Richard
October 1st, 2018 DETAILS
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Never an issue however don't like the seating reservation process! Unless you pay for an up grade you get a low seating letter and don't have any where to sit!

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mgillings
September 25th, 2018 DETAILS
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Lots of options for flights and great deals! When calling customer service with a ticketing issue they were so helpful and even found me a better deal than I had online!

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Tara Furcini
September 21st, 2018 Scottsdale, AZ DETAILS
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Had a flight unavoidably delayed- airplane maintenance/repair, I understand that's necessary sometimes and can't always be predicted. Delay did make me late for work that day, but I hadn't complained to anyone...only a day or two later I received a flight voucher compensating me for the inconvenience, from their Proactive Solutions Department! What can I say but I was pleasantly stunned that any company has one of those!...and I hope that soon EVERY company will! What enormous goodwill that gesture bought from me- especially in an industry famous for the opposite. I <3 Southwest!

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Amber
September 20th, 2018 Saratoga Springs, UT

Southwest Airlines has pretty bad customer service. When we were barely late for our flight (Plane was still there, tunnel was still connected) they would not let us on even though they obviously could have. Then they gave us horrible options for another flight the next day! We could not make it work and ended up having to buy another flight from Delta who offered one 30 min. later. Southwest was very unhelpful and not understanding.

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Sofie Rosenvall
September 19th, 2018 Alpine, UT

We have flown with Southwest a lot in the past but as of lately not so much... I feel like their prices aren't any better then other airlines, they don't always fly where you are going, and I really don't like knowing where I will be sitting...

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Kimberly Maddock
September 18th, 2018 Pleasant Grove, UT

Overall, Southwest is the best overall airline for the price and product. I love that they have open seating so I can get a seat with my kids without paying fees. I also love that they frequently have sales where I can go travel without paying a fortune.

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Jennifer Greenwood
September 18th, 2018 Draper, UT DETAILS
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I’ve been very pleased with them. They are always on schedule and very kind to their customers.

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Jocelyn E
September 17th, 2018 Lehi, UT DETAILS
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Love the prices, flexibility, and free luggage. Don’t love not having an assigned seat!

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Carter
September 17th, 2018 Lehi, UT DETAILS
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South west is super cheap which makes it good for anywhere flying.

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Shari Evers
September 17th, 2018 Lehi, UT DETAILS
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Southwest is great with flight options and prices. It is really stressful though when it’s time to check in and then again waiting in line for your seats. It is not fun to worry about whether or not you’ll be sitting by the person you are traveling with.

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POLYANA LAVAKI
September 14th, 2018 Salt Lake City, UT

I wold never travel on southwest airlines again. They do not assign seats to you so when you board, it felt like black friday to me being pushed around so they can get seats that they wanted.

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Rob
September 10th, 2018 Malta, OH DETAILS
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I've flown with Southwest several times in the past year. I found the entire ticketing purchase process through the in-flight service, boarding process, and customer assistance service to be top notch. I liked the boarding process because it's simple and easy to follow, and depends on the flyers to be responsible for their own boarding. In general, we flyers are congenial, friendly, fair, and helpful to each other during the process; it's a great experience to view and take part in.

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Don Chambers
September 10th, 2018 Lakewood, CA

Good service (or at least the best one can expect today), on time flights, low prices and reasonable friendly staff

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