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.

When flying with Southwest Airlines, customers can expect to be allowed two bags that will be checked for free. These two free bags have weight and size limitations which are fifty pounds, and sixty-two inches. This is fairly standard to most airline company regulations. In addition to the two free checked bags, Southwest Airlines allows passengers one bag as a carry on item as well as one smaller personal item such as a purse, or briefcase. The company has a strict excess baggage policy that all travelers must follow when flying with Southwest Airlines. Overweight items ranging from fifty-one to one hundred pounds and sixty-three to eighty inches are allowed as checked bags but will cost customers an additional seventy-five dollars per item as an excess baggage charge. Any luggage that exceeds even these overweight and oversize regulations, will not be permitted on any flights with Southwest Airlines. In addition to these policies regarding checked bags, Southwest Airlines also has rules about late check-in for luggage. Baggage checked at curbside or at a ticket counter under forty-five minutes before a flight is scheduled to take off will be tagged with a late check-in luggage tag. Late luggage tagged items do not have priority on Southwest Airline flights. Staff with Southwest Airlines promises to do everything possible to get late luggage on the same flight as the traveling passenger, there is possibility that late checked-in luggage will not arrive at a destination at the same time as the passenger. Southwest will also not undertake any delivery chargers that are required to get late checked in baggage to its destination. Flights traveling internationally with Southwest Airlines do not allow curbside baggage check-in, and all passengers that have international travel on their itineraries must allow for additional baggage check-time at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter.

Southwest Airlines has a lot of different options for travel insurance. Starting with baggage liability, Southwest has a policy of any lost, damaged, or delayed items must be reported in person within four hours upon arrival of a destination. Claims made have a thirty-five-hundred-dollar limit per fare paying customer to compensate claim items. In addition, any items that are improperly packed or fragile do not fall under this liability and will receive a limited release meaning Southwest does not claim responsibility for damages to these items. Refunds for unused tickets with Southwest Airlines follow several different options depending on the scenario of the unused ticket. With Southwest, not all tickets are refundable but all are reusable as long as the traveling customer cancels their flight reservation within ten minutes of the scheduled flight departure. If a cancellation is not made within the ten-minute time frame, the tickets fall under the No Show Policy and cannot be reused or refunded. However, tickets purchased under rewards points, or seats or any ticket for an international flight with Southwest Airlines, does not follow this same policy and procedure. All tickets for international flights, even if a passenger does not make their flight, will be refunded in the form of reusable travel funds. Lost tickets however, are non-refundable or reusable for Southwest customers. If a ticket is lost, customers must purchase the ticket again at the original price. In the event of flight evacuation, accident or travel delay, Southwest promises their customer they will do everything they can to get passengers to their destinations quickly and safely. All tickets that are unused in these circumstances can be refunded in the form of reusable travel funds through Southwest Airlines. To collaborate with these policies and procedures, Southwest Airlines has a customer service department that is available twenty-four seven through a phone number that can be reached worldwide. This is a great asset and commitment to their customers and shows Southwest Airlines cares to be accessible to all of their travelers.

Southwest Airlines provides their customers with a rewards program called Rapid Rewards. This system allows customers to earn points that may be redeemed for flights domestic or international, cruises, hotels, car rentals, gift cards, and much more. Their Rapid Rewards program has ways for customers to earn points through purchasing flight tickets through Southwest Airlines or through their partners with credit cards, additional travel, shopping and dining, home and lifestyle, and more. Through Southwest their rewards system is fairly simple. Depending on the type of fare purchased, a customer can earn a different amount of reward points for future travel redemption. The fare to points system is as follows; Business Select fares receive twelve points for every dollar, Anytime fares earn ten points per dollar, and Wanna Get Away fares amount to six points for every dollar spent. One of the best things about the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program is the benefits it offers to their customers. With collected points, customers can purchase a number of things but most importantly the points can be used to purchase future flight tickets. In the Rapid Rewards program, customers do not have to worry about blackout dates as Southwest has eliminated all blackout dates so rewards can be used for travel at any time. Points acquired through the Rapid Rewards program never expire and can be used whenever there is a seat available on a flight. This is a great convenience for customers and a great way to bring more business to Southwest Airlines. The number of points it takes for a customer to redeem for any given flight is dependent on the flight fare at any specific time. If a flight fare goes on sale, for example, it will take fewer points for a customer to purchase that fare using reward points. The Southwest Airlines website allows customers to easily view how many points each individual flight fare will cost using the Rapid Rewards program, by clicking a button entitled “show fare in rewards points”. Compared to other airlines, this Rapid Rewards program is a great airline reward system and provides many benefits to customers who are taking advantage of the offers.

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554 Southwest Airlines Reviews

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  1. User Score

    10

    April 27th, 2017 Orem, UT

    I’ve flown Southwest for quite awhile. I recently flew Delta and was surprised to see how much friendlier Southwest was in my overall experience. You put in a little more effort with Southwest … but I’m happy to give a little more to save much more in the end.

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  2. User Score

    1

    April 20th, 2017

    My luggage was brand new when I took this flight from Sacramento to Burbank California and upon arrival to Burbank my luggage was fine and still looked new except for a scarf the was missing out my luggage. Then from Burbank to Sacramento when I retrieved my luggage in Sacramento my luggage had Big horrible scratches on it and in some places it almost looked like rips. My prescription seeing glasses had so many scratches on them as if someone was playing catch with them and dropped them on several occasions and put them back in the case. I was on a business trip, so if I can help it I will never fly Southwest again.

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  3. User Score

    10

    March 31st, 2017

    Consistency, the one word that describes SWA. Best customer service in the industry. I am loyal to them as they have proven their loyalty to me.

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  4. User Score

    10

    March 31st, 2017 Canton, MI

    Got to see great customer service by Southwest Airlines! On my first flight they honored the oldest living WWII veteran while we boarded and before we took off. On my second flight, it was a girl’s fifth birthday and they brought her some treats. The pilot was very nice to the girl and her family.

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  5. User Score

    1

    March 31st, 2017

    I was told that my flight was delayed until 5pm… They left without us and ruined my vacation… Flight left at 5:10… Didn’t send us anything. Acknowledged the initial flight situation, but very upset with the way they handled flying after that.

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  6. User Score

    9

    December 11th, 2016 Clarkesville, GA

    I started flying Southwest immediately when they started servicing the Atlanta market in 2012. I fly to Los Angeles at least twice per year and to Pittsburgh at least four times. I have never had a bad experience with Southwest. Their prices are always reasonable and I have got some amazing deals during special sales (as low as $212 round-trip from ATL to LAX). In addition to their great pricing, the first two checked bags are free and they provide consistently good service and their flights are usually ahead of schedule!

    The only (minor) drawback is also one of the things that helps them keep their prices so low- no assigned seats. I’m 6’2″ and have always purchase a seat in the exit row, window seat on other airlines for the legroom. To get these one of these seats on a Southwest flight, I need to have one of 1A-30A boarding passes. The nice thing is that have Early-Bird Check-in for $15/flight and that puts me in that group at least 75% of the time. The few times I haven’t gotten in that boarding group, I was able to purchase an upgrade at the gate to put me in the 1A-15A boarding position for $30-$40. Money well spent and still a great deal, but I always have a little anxiety until I actually sit in the actual seat I want.

    Overall, for most people looking for a great deal on airfare, it doesn’t get any better than Southwest!

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  7. User Score

    10

    November 15th, 2016 Alpine, UT

    I have had great experiences flying Southwest. Check in is easy, especially if you have the Southwest app installed. Within Southwest’s boarding system, our family is usually able to find space next to each other, whereas on other airlines we’ve often be spread out across the plane. We’ve almost always been on time, or close to. When we’ve missed a flight, they have gone the extra mile to get us home in a reasonable amount of time.

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    1

  8. User Score

    8

    October 10th, 2016 Clifton, NJ

    I flew Southwest to Florida from New Jersey last year and it was a pretty good flight. The flight was delayed an hour, but that was due to terrible weather in New Jersey in November. Can’t do anything abut the elements. They did though, work hard to get us there and we only ended up being like an hour late to the airport overall in Florida. I was really happy that they did the best they could and it showed. They were very accommodating and I appreciate that.

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  9. User Score

    9

    September 7th, 2016 Alpine, UT Edited

    I really enjoy flying with Southwest. I appreciate the fact that I can get on the plane with my kids with a slightly higher priority. The staff has always been nice and very accommodating.

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  10. User Score

    10

    August 16th, 2016 Alpine, UT

    I’ve used Southwest a number of the times in the past and their service was solid….they aren’t the most fancy or high end, but they don’t try to be. You get a great price and adequate service.

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  11. User Score

    10

    August 5th, 2016 Alpine, UT

    I recently flew with Southwest. All flights were on time without a hitch, including connecting flights. Customer service was fantastic and the price was just right. I have flown with others in the past and they created a lot of headaches for me. I recommend southwest!

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    1

  12. User Score

    10

    July 30th, 2016 Orem, UT

    Southwest was extremely helpful when one of daughters was crying on a 3 hour trip. The flight attendants went out of their way to provide more snacks and even offered to help us with our other children. Literally turned a horrible situation upside down. Totally impressed with the whole flight crew.

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    1

  13. User Score

    10

    June 7th, 2016 Alpine, UT

    I can’t remember the last time I flew a different airline when Southwest was an option. They have the best prices and great service. I don’t know why people fly anything else.

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  14. User Score

    10

    November 25th, 2015 Frisco, TX

    I have been very happy with Southwest. Enjoy the fee bags. Price is always OK. I can use my points this has saves me a lot. Thank you so much, The agents are always helpful.

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  15. User Score

    10

    November 23rd, 2015 York, PA

    Southwest has a great business model, everyone get treated fair. Boarding and exiting the plane is quick and the luggage checked is included in the ticket cost.
    WAY TO GO SOUTHWEST! We love you <3

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    1

  16. User Score

    0

    November 23rd, 2015 Cuero, TX

    On a recent trip to Newark, we had to take a flight to N.Y. because our flight was delayed. It cost over $350. to get to N.J. on top of that our luggage was lost. That is when we found out SWA doesn’t have a scanning system for luggage!!! SWA had no idea where ALL of the passenger’s bags were. When we got our bags, in NJ, everyone’s luggage was soaking wet. SWA said they would pay for the cleaning, however, the catch was we had to get the report in with in 22 days of the incident. WE WERE NOT BACK FROM OUR TRIP YET! No tracking system for luggage gets SWA a 0 rating.

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  17. User Score

    10

    November 22nd, 2015 Ravena, NY

    Southwest is the best will only fly where they fly they know how to run an airline keep up the good work

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  18. User Score

    8

    November 21st, 2015 Montevallo, AL

    Thought everything as A-1 except baggage handlers in Birmingham, Al. where we live. They were taking bags and slinging them onto conveyor very hard, not just our bags but everyone’s and they didn’t seem to care we were watching them do it. The flight attendants both ways were awesome and very friendly, Very professional at Orlando Airport also.

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  19. User Score

    3

    November 21st, 2015 Williamstown, NJ

    Not sure i would fly again with them. I paid extra for early bird and all these handicapped people got to board first and were saving seats for the rest of their party that didn’t pay early bird….So unfair. Or maybe ill just get early bird for me and have a seat saved for the rest of my party and won’t have to pay all that money for them…. JUST SAYIN!

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  20. User Score

    10

    November 20th, 2015 Roseville, CA

    I LOVE Southwest!! Everyone is always courteous and helpful! My husband had cancer, and we took his last trip to see his family, while he was still able to travel. When we reached our destination, I was juggling his bag of medications, my purse, ETC. and started pushing his wheel chair up the exit ramp. THE PILOT, insisted on pushing his wheel chair for me! He was so cheerful and sweet..we couldn’t believe it! The ONLY airline I will fly. I also appreciate the free drink tickets that they send every year…I am able to buy a drink for a few military personnel, sitting nearby.

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