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Bottom's up!

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The question "May I get you something to drink?" can often spark a panicky fear in some people's hearts. The decision to choose amongst a bevy of beverages is often too overwhelming. They'll stammer a quick, "Uhhh...no thank you" before immediately regretting their answer. Once out of the decision spotlight, they'll calmly reflect on how refreshing an icy cup of ginger ale would taste, and why they just didn't think of it in time. Perhaps this case of indecisiveness doesn't affect that many. But for the 0.05% of population that it does (myself included) there is an answer to our tentative prayers.

On Februray 1st, Southwest will unveil the new Inflight Menu. After months of planning, pruning, and practice, the laminated 6x12 menu will be debuting in the 137 seatback pockets of each and every red-bellied warrior (i.e. our Boeing 737 jet.) 

Wondering what kinds of complimentary inflight beverages we offer? What spirits might you partake in? What snacks are offered on long-haul flights? Wonder no more, as all your answers may now be found on the menu. (Confession: the menu has always been in the back of our inflight magazine, Spirit, but it was sometimes hard to locate amongst the many witty articles and Sudoku games wedged in between.)

The idea for an inflight menu took many minds, and many months.  Any time a new product is added to our aircraft, it must go through vigorous tests for approval. All in all, the marketing team met with Aircraft Appearance, Purchasing, aircraft cleaners, Inflight communication, and even the FAA.

Fun fact: our inflight magazine Spirit always has the same number of pages each month. Why? Planes are subject to strict weight standards, so each and every item on board (even a mere magazine page) must be accounted for. Luckily, the menu was light enough that it wasn't a problem.

Besides the standard listing of complimentary beverages, a signature special drink will appear quarterly, which will feature a sponsored alcoholic beverage and mixer. For instance, this quarter will offer the 'Cranapple Blast' (a mix of Finlandia vodka and Cranapple juice.) The Spirited Selects section mentions the upcoming free drinks to commemorate special events or holidays happening in that specific quarter. Look for special Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day drinks on the house (provided you're 21 and up, of course) when you fly on those holidays. The Southwest Scoop section of the menu will give you a hint of what to expect in the Southwest skies--new cities, new beverages, big events...anything's possible.

Notice a pattern yet? All sections of the menu start with an "S." It's no coincidence--six months of planning makes for one very streamlined menu.

The menu will be changing quarterly, so be sure to check it out each time you're on a Southwest flight. And remember to have those credit cards ready--our Cabin has been Cashless since last Fall.

25 Comments
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I might be one of the few who apposes the cashless system but I only use my credit cards for emergency purposes (and for high dollar items because I don't like carrying large amounts of cash on me.) I just don't trust handing some stanger my credit card and not see them for 10 minutes or even worse, unsecure networks processing the transaction. (I think we all know what happened with TJ-MAX and Lowes.) They both got hacked because the engineers thought it would be a good to transmit credit card numbers wirelessly with no security in mind. I prefer to pay cash. If I don't have the cash in my pocket, I don't need it. I have never paid interest on a credit card since I got my first one 27 years ago.
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Great idea about the menu! I am dying to ask this question though, cause if the answer is 'no', then I will be saddened, but I will still continue to be loyal to Southwest. And now, here is the important question.... Do you still offer Dr. Pepper on your beverage menu???!?!?!?!?! 🙂 "Either think and act big and grow smaller, or think and act small and grow bigger."-Herb Kelleher
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Anonymous, We know some people don't want to (or can't) used a credit card onboard. That's why you can purchase a drink coupon book before b oarding at our ticket counters. Jazzy We still have America's finest soft drink. A Pepper from way back.
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The flight attendant will not disappear with you card "for ten minutes", they will swipe it right in front of you and hand it back. Still, if you don't want to use the credit card, buy a liquor book at the gates, and you will even experience a discount that way! Cheers!
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So I have a question. What is the standard time for a credit card transaction to show up on my credit card statement? I took a flight back on Jan. 9th and bought a Monster. It just showed up on my statement on Jan. 29th. Is 3 weeks the norm? I thought the company was buying me a free drink for being so loyal to Southwest. Haha And one more question not pertaining to this topic. Do I still receive double dollars for using my Chase Southwest Visa Card for booking a cruise through the Southwest site? I figured for the plug I gave you on your credit card, you could at least answer that for me. Thanks.
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I LUV this idea! I saw another airline had the same sort of menu in their seatback pockets on a recent flight, and I thought it a really cool idea - until I saw how much they were charging for their cocktails! I was yearning for my $4 beverages on Southwest Airlines. Can't wait to see the new menus!
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Marcus, It depends on the closing date for your credit card account.
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Not only can you purchase the coupons at ticket counters if you want to pay cash, but I believe they're heavily discounted if you do this (i.e., they're $10 for 4 drinks, $2.50 per drink instead of $4.00), so it makes sense even for those with credit cards.
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As long as the peanuts are still on there, I don't need a menu . . .
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The first paragraph of this post pretty much perfectly defines me. I guess I'm part of that 0.05% as well. Regardless, cheers to the new menu.
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I love this idea too. How festive you guys are. it's always a pleasure flying on an airline that I can for 1) trust 2) enjoy 3) have fun on. Plus the first come first serve has me coming back for more! :) Keep it up SWA!
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I was wondering about the new menu. It caught both mine and my wife's eyes yesterday. We even snapped some photos:
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OK, tell the truth - while you list both "coffee" and "decaf coffee", are they both in fact decaf, as has long been rumored (and to keep from transporting a planeload of tweaked-out caffeine freaks)?
New Arrival
Please rethink the drink mix and include some healthier choices. Here are my suggestions: - Orange and Apple Juice: great, just don't add ice - Cranberry: provide something with a higher percentage of juice - Add grapefruit juice (any kind) - Tea: please provide some herbal selections (mint, chamomile, ginger) - Soda/pop: avoid the high fructose corn syrup-laden drinks. If you insist on buying major brands, at least source them from HFCS-free areas (Mexico -- Mexican Coke is popular here in California, Canada, Kosher for passover) so we can get sugar. There's a restaurant in Chicago, Wow Bao, which makes great homemade ginger ale. Imagine: Southwest Ginger Ale that we would LUV. Beer: Please carry some good beer. My drink tickets never get put to good use. Skip the large macrobreweries (Bud, Coors, Miller). Specific suggestions: - US: Brooklyn Brewery, Mac and Jack's African Amber Ale (SEA/PDX), Anchor Steam (SF) - UK/Europe: Newcastle Brown Ale, Guinness, Boddington's Pub Ale, Murphy's Irish Stout I know everyone will have their favourites. I'm not expecting you to pick mine. I'm just asking you to do better than the default choices of the legacy airlines.
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Congratulations, Melissa. What a great idea! And, I'm sure the publishing folks have good ways to use their extra space also.
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I, personally, like the idea of the menu. It gives customers the ability to find it quickly without having to thumb through the magazine. I often passed up drinks just because I didn't want to deal with trying to figure out what airlines offered. Because of this menu, I may partake in "spirits" a little more often while in flight. Sean--thanks for posting pics of the menu! It gives everyone a nice visual.
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback, photos, and creative suggestions. I will definitely pass them on to Marketing. Keep 'em coming! (I myself ordered a hot cocoa for the first time this weekend, thanks to the new menu.)
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I love this idea for several reasons. First, the page number in the Spirit magazine changes from month to month and I don't have to think, "What's the page number?" Many aren't going to search the magazine anyway, even if they are told the page number. Over the years I've been amused by people asking, "What do you have?" and after I've named every drink say, "I'll have a Coke." This has prompted me to answer, "Make a wish." Root beer? Make another wish. By the third wish they seem happy! Having a featured drink adds a festive note for our fun travelers. I love the scanner, which also prints receipts. Asking for change when some are trying to sleep is embarrassing. When people understand they can purchase the coupon books, and not be a member of Rapid Rewards, I hope they will prefer this method.
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Just flew from MHT - PHX last night. Loved, loved, loved the menu. Great idea and well executed. As a fellow marketer, it would be great to hear if it ended up driving more sales or if the real goal here is efficiency in the ordering process.
New Arrival
Is it true that I can purchase drink coupons at SWA ticket counters??
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Janet, to quote Lilly Von Schtup from Blazing Saddles, "It's true, it's true, it's really true" that you can buy drink coupons at the ticket counter.
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I was just told that free flights earned with the Southwest Rapids Rewards Visa do not include free drink coupons. Is this correct?
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How can you trust the crew with keeping the plane in the air and not trust them with your credit card? -elliot http://www.tripcart.com
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How can you trust the crew with keeping the plane in the air and not trust them with your credit card? -elliot http://www.tripcart.com
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Are Southwest drink coupons booklets still available at ALL airport ticket counters and if so, can someone tell me how many coupons are included and how much they cost? For some reason, I can't find this info in the FAQs. Thanks.