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South West

Types of Travelers

Business Travlers

2/5

There is no business class on Southwest

Family Traveler

3/5

This is user-friendly airline for families, though there aren’t pre-assigned of seats

Backpacker
Adventure Traveler

2/5

They have low fares, but do not fly to any exotic adventure destinations

Student
Budget Traveler

5/5

Southwest is known for its low fares

Elderly
Disabled Traveler

4/5

Southwest has standard accessibility for persons with disabilities

Long Term Traveler

3/5

The cheap fares are good, but Southwest lacks international reach

Novice Traveler

5/5

Very user-friendly airline

Introduction

Southwest Airlines was the original low-cost carrier when it began service in 1971. Its business model, providing basic no frills service (no premium classes or pre-selected seats), have given it a better profit margin than legacy carriers. In fact, it is one of the world’s most profitable airlines. This has led to passenger-friendly practices like free baggage checking and free snacks and beverages.

Southwest began flying short routes in Texas in the 1970s. In the 1980s, they expanded to the South-Central US and to the Southwestern US. New Orleans, Phoenix and Las Vegas become part of the airline’s network in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Southwest has great expanded over the past two decades, moving to focus cities like Chicago, Baltimore and Denver. They now serve 69 destinations in 35 states.


Ratings

Important Factors 4/5

Average Delay

7.2 minutes

Cancelled Flights
(average per month)

2 (0.09%)

Customer Satisfaction Rating

3

Types of Aircraft

Boeing 737

General 4/5

Number of Domestic Flights (Daily)

3,500

Number of International Flights (Daily)

n/a

Size of Fleet

547

Major Airports and Destinations Served

Las Vegas McCarran, Chicago Midway, Houston (Hobby), Dallas Love’s Field, Phoenix, Baltimore-Washington (Marshall), Denver International

Location of Hub

Dallas Love’s Field

Countries Served

US

Number of Routes

935 routes connecting 69 destinations

Most Popular Routes

Chicago Midway to Las Vegas McCarran, Phoenix Sky Harbor to Denver

In-Flight 3/5

Which Routes offer Meal Service?

Complimentary snacks and beverages in-flight, but no meal service

Food Quality

3

In-flight Menu

2

Average Leg Room

32-33 inches

Types of In-flight Entertainment

none

Baggage 5/5

Baggage Fees

No fees for first two checked bags

Number of Bags Allowed

2 pieces of checked luggage (no charge)

Weight Limits and Restrictions

Max weight 50 lbs per suitcase

Web Site 5/5

Online Check-in

60% of passengers check in online

Web Site Usability

Excellent

Special Needs 4/5

Handicap Accessibility

Assistance available with prior notification. Pre-boarding at the gate possible with pre-boarding pass.

Pets

$75 per pet in appropriate container (service animals fly free)

Special Offers /Partners 3/5

Airline Alliance Membership

Southwest isn’t part of any airline alliance.

Hotel Partners

Mark Travel Corp provides travel packages for Southwest.

Competing Airlines

AirTran, JetBlue, and Virgin America

Strengths
  • Cheap fares
  • Free baggage checking
  • Many domestic destinations
  • Easy online check-in

Weaknesses
  • Domestic service only
  • No extras available (business class)
  • Not part of airline alliance (limited miles-earning potential)
  • No assigned seats

Frequent Flier Program and Airport Lounges

Southwest does not have airport lounges. It has the Rapid Rewards Program that awards one point for each one-way trip. Thus, passengers receive two points for a round trip. Fliers who earn 16 points in any two year period get a free flight. There are fewer restrictions on Southwest than on other airlines when it comes to redeeming rewards.

Conclusion

Southwest is a popular, budget-friendly airline that offers service nationwide. It often flies into secondary airports, such as Chicago Midway and Dallas Love’s Field, but serves most major cities in the US. It is a no-frills carrier without any extras, but it offers practical features like free baggage checking and a user-friendly web site. Among fliers who choose airlines based on price, Southwest is one of the country’s best. Its user-friendliness is another plus, though the no-frills nature of the Southwest experience is not for people who need to be pampered in any way during a flight.