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EXTREME SCHEDULE MAKEOVER: SATURDAY EDITION!

Employee
Employee
We've "re-loaded the pipeline!" Today Southwest extended our booking inventory out to May 9, 2008. Take heart, Spring Breakers and Easter Hoppers--you are now free to move around the Country!!!! As usual, we have a few surprises in store for you in the March - May 2008 Schedule. We're increasing our service in a good number of city pairs in March and April, with a number of brand-new nonstop markets. We'll add new service between Phoenix and San Francisco on March 8, a threesome of new nonstop destinations for Philadelphia (Austin, San Antonio, and St. Louis) on March 17, and brand new nonstops between Denver and San Diego effective April 4. In addition, thirteen other markets will receive additional departures during the March - May time period. To view the entire new service press release, click here. However, a more interesting story (well...from a Schedule Planning perspective, anyway!) about the March Schedule is our Saturday schedule. It's different than Saturday schedules in the past--really, really different. In fact, it is a completely different animal than the schedule that will operate the other six days of each week, with many Saturday flights operating at a different time than the rest of the week, and with a different flight number. I've blogged about our Schedule Optimization progress over the years, but up until now our schedule has been more or less the same across all seven days of the week. Sure, we've cut back some on Saturday morning and Saturday night flights, and again on Sunday mornings--but the rest of the week looked like seven peas in a pod. However, effective with Saturdays in the March Schedule, we've implemented our first reoptimization within the week. Saturday now has a completely different, and more optimal, set of schedule assumptions than the rest of the week. How will this impact, and benefit, our Customers? Plenty. Travel patterns are significantly different on weekends, particularly on Saturdays, than they are during the rest of the week--yet because of time constraints we weren't able to "rejigger" the schedule sufficiently to give you a Saturday schedule that closely met your specific travel needs. The new March 2008 Saturday schedule, has been designed, as a whole, to do just that: to get you where you want to go, when you want to go, as conveniently as possible. So, besides better Saturday departure times, we're actually adding a number of new, Saturday-only nonstop markets--between Dallas and Harlingen; Manchester and Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood; Reno and Ontario; San Diego and Salt Lake City; and the big winner in the Saturday-only nonstop free-for-all, is Orlando, which gets Saturday service to Omaha, Salt Lake, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. In addition, we've added extra Saturday departures in over 50 existing nonstop markets--making it easier for you to get to the weekend destinations you want to visit. You could say that starting next March, Southwest's Saturday schedule will be a real "departure!" We intend to make this twice-weekly optimization strategy a feature of every published schedule, and as our Company gets used to operating a waaaay different schedule on Saturdays, we might make crank up the volume of Saturday-only nonstop markets to better meet the travel needs of our Customers. And who knows....as we more deeply imbed optimization technology into our scheduling processes, we eventually might be able to optimize each day of the week individually to better match Customer need. Of course, we'll need a LOT more experience to make that work....but we'll keep trying! Happy booking, everyone....and thanks for reading "Nuts About Southwest!"
67 Comments
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Thank you for the informative article Bill. As an employee, I love hearing what's in the works. I especially love hearing the words, non-stop out of DAL. You all do an outstanding job trying to keep our Customers happy while keeping Southwest profitable all at the same time. I bet our Customers are going to LUV the new schedule. Thanks for all you do! You make us feel proud! Way To Go Schedule Planning!
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"Today Southwest extended our booking inventory out to May 9, 2007." Or maybe 2008. Or 2009.
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Speed, sorry about the typo. It should be 2008
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WHy cant you put a solid miles program in place.
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Your new scheduling policies are an EXTREME DISASTER. Good bye Southwest Airlines, you have just destroyed for Rapid Rewards program. My vacation plans have been ruined. While I have plenty of RR credits there is no inventory for the dates that I wanted to fly on. Thanks alot.
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I am totally disgusted with the new Rapid Rewards system. We had been saving our rapid rewards to take our grandchildren on a vacation - we even paid to have one re-issued. Now we can't use them on many of the Saturday's during the year., unless we are on the "A-list" and they can only be used as a Round-trip award and not divided up. Not to mention the increase in fares. Not only are the rewards useless to us now, but we will probably have to cancel the vacation that we have been planning with the kids for the last 6 months. Our plans can't be moved because of school. We never had a problem like this with the old system. Why ruin something that customers were so pleased with.
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Would be nice to see more cities served from Washington Dulles as well as entering the upper Midwest market. Southwest doesn't serve Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin. Why does southwest avoid that area? Minneapolis has been rated in the top 10 year after year for number of passengers going in and out of there. Northwest is never on time and Sun Country has horrible hamburgers. Better yet, maybe Southwest could buy out Sun Country since they use 737's too.
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BWAHAHAHAHA So much for making it better. You just opened past March 7 today. I go and try to book a flight on March 16 within hours of it opening up, I can book a flight for less than $100, but when I go to use awards, i am told no go, but we will gladly take two awards for one flight. ADIOS SOUTHWEST. I really really hope you get that business traveler you are after, because it just cost you one. How do i send back the A-list email you sent to me today? You can, "quite literally", take this new plan and shove it....I ain't flying here no more...... Brian, I hope you report you lost a customer instead of gained one! I have some reqard flights at the end of the year, I have some flights already booked, and will probably have another free ticket (big deal), but after today, all of revenue flights are with Continental, my other hometown airline! Within a couple of years, you will have your first layoffs ever, you will see your first loss, you will see a decrease in seat miles, and you will struggle like the other majors. HELLO, you got to be number one worldwide for a reason--great idea to throw away what made that happen.
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Like it or not, the price of gas is going up. This is why air fares on ALL the airlines are going up. It's nice to see you all adding some more connections to and from AUS. I would like to see some more AUS-PIT connections, even if they involve one stop. How soon, by the way, before Southwest gets all of its gates consolidated at the awful airport in PHL? I had to change there once and had to go out of security and back into security to make the change.
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You guys need to add Buffalo to Philadelphia to your network. I fly there about 20-30 times a year and sometimes I get stuck on USAir's turboprops. Yuck. And it seems like I'm always late. You guys can certainly find enough planes for 3-5 daily flights. Please
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As a customer and as a stockholder, I just want to mention how much I admire the level of corporate candor it takes to let people tell LUV exactly what they feel about things...even when they clearly don't LUV it! I'm not certain about how many publicly traded companies allow this level of rancor on a corporate blog; however, I would have to think it's a small number. I for one am glad that LUV is among them.
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NEGATIVE DENNIS.... THE WORLD IS ENDING!!!! OH MY GOSH... ACCORDING TO YOU SOUTHWEST IS NOW THE WORST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD... SO NEXT TIME WHEN YOU BOARD AANOTHER AIRLINE AND REALIZE YOU ARE PAYING MORE FOR LESS LUV WILL STILL BE WAITING FOR YOU...
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I'm so excited to try the STL-PHL nonstops! AA and US needed some competition (and the route needed some mainline equipment)!
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I understand the desire to optimize schedules for business reasons, but I've noticed that it's becoming more and more difficult to book the same flights when I travel each month. For one, the direct flights between Sacramento and Omaha have disappeared, and a lot of the time, the only time I can book a cheaper flight without having to pay the maximum refundable price or a slightly lower on is if I book a flight that arrives at midnight. I am a loyal Southwest customer, and I want to stay with you guys (the other airlines are boring), but if I can't keep booking the cheaper flights, ExpressJet is looking a lot more attractive. Sorry, but it's true.
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Yesterday I received the email Ã
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[...] Southwest Airlines Rejig the scheulde and make Saturdays different Seems obvious, but running a different schedule on a Saturday for an airline is innovative. Wow. (tags: swa southwest schedule innovation weekend) [...]
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I, too, am extremely disappointed that Southwest decided to mess with the Rapid Rewards free tickets. I have a Southwest credit card that is now worthless to me if I can't use the free tickets. Basically, you are telling us that it now takes 32 credits to earn one round trip, instead of 16, if there are hardly any seats available with the 16 credit award. I love Southwest and have flown lots, but I have to agree with other posters that you are becoming more like other airlines. What good are free awards if we can't book them. I was needing to book my daughter from LAX to New York for an April spring break. Luckily I booked on another airline with free miles (non-stop, even) before Southwest schedule opened up. When I looked today if I would have been able to book her using Southwest free tickets, they were already gone. And why can't we use rewards for a one way flight? We've done that before when necessary. I'm sad. Last year I had a daughter in Chicago have her schedule open up suddenly so she decided to fly to LA to visit her sister. Because we had a Rapid Reward free ticket, whe was able to book round trip 2 days before she traveled and surprise her sister. Now it sounds like those seats won't be available any more.
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I want to comment on your new business class. Whoever was the brainchild on that one really screwed over all of us who have bee loyal southwest customers for years. MORONS!!!!!!!
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Your new and confusing changes are making a very loyal customer (and the whole family who all live distances apart) decide to look around after 12 completely faithful years.
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I love how Southwest is the official airline of the Phillies! As a fanatic Phillies baseball fan, the nonstop service to St. Louis will be useful for traveling to St. Louis in the summer of 2008 when the Phillies play the Cardinals ( June 13-15, 2008 ).
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I have been flying southwest for years, and until now, it had been my first choice in air travel. However, thanks to your new boarding system, that has changed. The new system is now no better than american or united. You have created a class system of frequent flyers, where unless you fly 16 flights in a year you will never get the emergency exit rows. You no longer board people with small children first - creating nothing but clogged isles and unhappy travelers. You don't assign seats, and you don't ensure that people traveling together will be seated together. While I recognize that you were likely interested in keeping people from waiting in line for extended periods of time, this new plan does not prevent the line, it just decides who is first in line. What made the fact that you didn't assign seats a workable system was the fact that waiting in line assured you a "good seat" next to the people you wanted to sit with. That has changed, and I for one will be checking all alternate airlines before I fly with you.
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In thinking more about the unfriendly changes to loyal customers like us who are not business travelers traveling every week (I have traveled 16 one way trips in the last year), I am going to cancel my Southwest Credit card and get one with United. Why? Because I was willing to have my family fly 1-stop flights from LA to Seattle because of the other benefits of Southwest used to offer. Now, I'd rather book us going non-stop to Southern California. Many times the other airline rates are competitive, but I had brand loyalty that I no longer have. I'm extremely disappointed with the changes to the Rapid Rewards free tickets. Not being able to use them separately as one-way awards, and having to combine two awards just to get seats has basically devalued awards that took a lot of flying for us to earn. I really liked the "we are all equal" benefit that Southwest used to have. Now you want to cater to business people. In all the times I flew, I never got the impression that business people minded how Southwest handled everything. If they didn't like it, they flew another airline. Now, I feel like "mashed potatoes" because I'm not your treasured business passenger. Also, I was one of the ones who would always try and check in 24 hours ahead to get an "A" pass, and then I would try and get to the airport and stand in line so I got a good seat. I never minded standing in line (i'm gonna be sitting for a long time on the airplane anyway), and I liked it that if I put forth the effort, I could get in line and get the seat I wanted. Another benefit of waiting in line is often you would start a conversation with someone else in line. It was always a friendly time. Anyway, for whatever reason, you've changed your culture. You forgot what you did best, and threw it away. Companies that do this usually don't recover. Good luck! What are some of the things you did that caused this brand loyalty: checking 3 bags (helpful for college kids); allowing changes in tickets with no penalty (helpful for college kids with unknown schedules); allowing rapid rewards awards to be used for 1-way travel, and to have lots of opportunities to use them; treating everyone as special . . . you've discontinued two out of the four in one day . . . I expect the rest to end, soon, also.
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I am so saddened to hear the negative comments that are being posted about the changes Southwest has made... They are just evolving in order to stay profitable. Please also note.. seems that some things have been misconstrued... Award tickets can still be used as two one way tickets or a roundtrip, regardless if they are the "standard" awards or the "freedom" awards. Availibility for award travel is still the same, they have just given us an additional option (how many of us have kicked and screamed when the seats weren't available?) Keep up the good work SWA... I'll continue to stand by you even through your growing pains!
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I am sorry to hear the negative comments also, because some of it is from misinformation. Rapid Rewards tickets "can" still be used for 2 one way flights or 1 round trip; nothing changed in that regard. I know people are afraid of change; I am sure if you give the new boarding process a try you are going to find it a big improvement and a more enjoyable experience then the old method. You can still get an A-Boarding pass by checking in early, even if you aren't a frequent flyer - that has not changed; it has just been enhanced. So I hope those of you who say you are going to another airline give the upgrades at SWA a chance, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
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SEEMS JOE PUBLIC COULD READ/INTERPRET BETTER.EVEN THE SHORT BUS GUYS CAN FIGURE THIS OUT.MORE OPTIONS,DIDNT LOSE ANYTHING,ALTHOUGH FARES ARE ROCKETING.
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re comment above about "Freedom Awards". Someone else stated that Freedom Awards can only be used for a round trip, not two one-ways. Southwest, which is it???? In looking at what Southwest says about Freedom awards, there is nothing that says that it can be used for a one-way trip.
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Freedom Awards MOST DEFINITELY can be used as two one ways--- that has not changed.... the only difference is you have blackout dates using Freedom Awards but you ARE NOT hindered by the limited seating; if there is a seat available you can travel on a Freedom Award (the exception to this is traveling on ATA code share flights). Hope that this helps!
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Ding! You are now free to fly another airline!
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I am a Rapid Rewards Member in Sacramento, California. I "LUV" using Southwest Airlines out of SMF. I looked very closely at the new schedule (March 8, 2008 - May 9, 2008) and have a couple of comments/suggestions. Thank you for adding additional flights to San Diego and Las Vegas from SMF. I would suggest, with Sacramento being the capital city of the state with more people in it than any other state that Southwest seriously take a look into Saturday Nonstop service either between SMF and BWI, or SMF and IAD. The Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce each and every year hosts and event called the Cap-to-Cap trip. Right now only one other airline offers nonstop service between SMF and IAD. No airline offers at the current time nonstops between SMF and BWI. This is my vote at this time for consideration on future Saturday only nonstop service. If implemented, I will publicly mention this matter before the Sacramento City Council, the Sacramento Regional Transit District Board of Directors, and other local governments in the Sacramento Region who would "LUV" to know about this.
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What's the wait on FLL-ALB for? Get there before others beat you there.
Employee
Employee
A few schedule-related responses (or....said differently, responses to the few schedule-related comments!): Steve, with the exception of the Twin Cities, the area you describe is long on land and short on population. Southwest's business model is fairly dependent on high traffic areas, so it may be quite a while before you see us there. Chris--not soon enough....hopefully the connector will be up and running in 2008. The good news is that we will move Delta off of the E concourse later this week, which should give Southwest more room to consolidate. Justin N.....wrong. Next year's Series will be the Rangers vs. Astros. (Hey--I can dream too, can't I?) Mike B., SMF-BWI is one of our more frequently requested nonstop markets. For the time being, our growth is primarily concentrated on short- and medium-haul segments, but you could easily see that market added once we begin to add long-haul markets into the network again. Tom, the wait in adding FLL-ALB is tied to our re-optimization of Saturday. That's what freed up the aircraft time to add this service. We'd LUV to add it earier--but there literally is no aircraft available to add it. We may miss this year's "snowbird" fliers from ALB to FLL, but hopefully we'll get all the Spring Breakers! Thanks, everyone! Bill
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folks ... i what to talk about scheduling MHT - Manchester, NH. Southwest used to have a 7pm or so direct flight on saturday and sunday nights from MHT to TPA. This is VERY important during the winter - think of it - one could ski a day in NH or VT and still make a flight to go home. No longer - latest flight is 4:50pm - too early to make it from the ski areas. Now I'll have to fly home from Boston (no southwest) when business ends on Friday 'cause i can't go skiing. Sigh. Please bring back the later direct flights from MHT on saturday and sunday nights during the winter - they were a hoot - let's go skiing! AndyN
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Why are you messing with A boarding? Leave it alone.... You ahve just added a few new ways to get on earlier.. The others were not fair, this is even less fair.... Don't mess with success. Leave it alone, before I go back to the Legacy carriers.... MZ
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I have read some of the postings, and im not suprised that your customers are upset. i am a business traveler, and I don't like the new changes at all (new pricing, boarding and rewards program). I guss the team of people that made the changes don't fly on SWA. I too travele every week and i watch family doing their best to get seats together. I have book my Biweekly trip from SDF to Lax, It was not with SWA. I don't think you guys will make number #1 this year.
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I want to thank you, Bill Owen, for your response/reply to my first post to the request for the SMF - BWI Nonstop. I am extremely pleased that this is on the radar screen when Southwest Airlines does take a look again at adding long haul service. I would deeply encourage you to often be in touch with the great staff of the Sacramento County Airport System and their ongoing Sacramento International Airport Master Plan. My understanding is that the airlines, Southwest more especially than any other airline, are very involved in this process. Hopefully when all is done by no later than the end of 2013, that Southwest will greatly benefit at SMF. I know full well in talking on the telephone with Pete McGlade that there will be some growing pains initially at SMF during the construction period. I will be there for you, Bill, and I want you to closely stay involved on this matter, especially as it pertains to anything related to schedule planning. Thank you so very much for for taking the time in replying to my initial post, it means a whole great deal to me personally.
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Bill, Since we are speaking about Saturday departures I would like to include my dream. I am a California Bears (CAL) football fan, so much so that I attended every game, home and away, last year. I leave from either LAX or BUR and fly to OAK, a short Bart ride to Berkeley. Any flight attendant can tell you that the Saturday morning flights from LA-OAK are packed with CAL fans on football days. This year our games start late. Previously I was able to go to the Bay area and return the same day. However with the latest flight departing at 8:00 PM on Saturday we are unable to get home the same day. My fellow LA based CAL fans face the same issue. Can you do me a favor and move that flight to 10:00 PM...I can dream too. United has a 10:20 PM daily flight from the Bay Area (SFO) to LAX, a packed Boeing 737 or 757. But the price is $200.00+ one way. It is making me poor. Please...for next season. I believe this model can be profitable in College football cities all around the country. Your old friend, nf
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Bill, Congratulations to you and your team on another mammoth job of turning the dials and tweaking the gauges! Your task is Herculean, and yet in reading through the comments, virtually no one is thanking you for getting it done and for pushing the available inventory out so far. I remember one of your blog posts not too many moons ago when everyone was up in arms about NOT having the chance to book too far out, and how you and the folks in Scheduling changed that. But, people have short memories and are quick to find something else to complain about. I'm also sorry that so many bloggers chose to "hijack" your post and turn it into a continuation of the griping about the changes. Your post is about available inventory and the addition of a special new set of Saturday schedules, and very few responders have thanked you for either one. Well, let me at least go on record as saying "thanks" for all of your work and for trying to help people with some new options on Saturdays! One question, though. The rumor I've heard is that creating a special TUL-MCO routing was specifically designed so that Leah could go down and hang out with Mickey and Minnie and still be home for the night. Is that true? Please keep up the great job, Kim External Blog Boy 🙂
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Thanks for the post, Bill! SWA is definitely #1! :) Also, thanks, Kim! Boy, if SWA did create a TUL-MCO route where I could hang out with Winnie the Pooh & Friends, along with Mickey & Minnie Mouse, & be home for the night, I would LUV that! :) "Live in the Newsroom, Leah Johns, News Channel 8." SWA LUV! 🙂
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Bill, Always great to hear about more new service from LUV. I admire the respect that Southwest has for its employees and customers...keep up the great work! I would like to see SDF-LAS see some of these additions in the future, with at least a morning departure from LAS-SDF, as Southwest used to fly when the route debuted in 2000. I also was wondering why many of the nonstops to east-coast cities from LAS depart in the afternoon or evening as opposed to midday or A.M. departures. I usually find it more convenient to depart LAS in the morning and connect to arrive (say in SDF) in the afternoon as opposed to arriving at 12:30AM. To me, I would think that people would prefer to arrive back home/to their travel destination at a more convenient time than at midnight. Thanks!
Employee
Employee
More responses: Mike Barnum--my pleasure! Southwest is frequently in touch with the staff of the airports we serve, and they are always their own best advocates. SMF is among the best--and we'll definitely keep SMF-BWI in mind. And don't worry....Pete is *always* involved! Nicholas, hey, buddy! Long time no talk to! That's a GREAT idea....we'd love to be able to tailor-make our schedule for special events like that, but we're getting more and more able to add flights for special events on short notice, so now that we know about the late Saturday Cal football games we can look at adding flights back down to SoCal for you guys. I hope all is well for you--BTW, don't know if you noticed on a previous blog post of mine, but my son is a married cop now.....and we have over 250 737-700's. My now time flies! Kim, no, there's no truth to that rumor.....and the fact that Leah will be doing her newscasts with a mouse-ear hat on, humming the music from "It's A Small World," is totally unrelated. :) Vince, we're looking at adding a second SDF-LAS flight, but we're just not there yet. As for why we have primarily afternoon or evening flights in low-frequency markets out of LAS, our research suggests that traffic leaving LAS prefers to leave in the afternoon, well after hotel checkout time, and would rather spend more time in Vegas and get home late. So, our schedules reflect that. However, almost anything into or out of LAS "works" so occasionally we violate that. If we did add a 2nd LAS-SDF flight, though, it would most likely be in the morning, probably between 9 and 10. Have a good weekend, everyone! Bill
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What a disappointment. I've always thought you guys were smart. Once you were but the changes in seat assignments, fares, A-Lists, etc. would suggest the company has lost its compass. Seems someone at Southwest wants to be like the other airlines, and the company has forgotten that its customers choose Southwest because it is not like the other airlines.
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Oh, I'm disappointed, Bill! 😞 Oh, well. That's okay. I'll always LUV SWA. 🙂 You know, I need to use my gift from SWA (I got a card & gift for a free upgrade from Hertz in October because I've been an RR member for a year) to take another trip! 🙂 It expires March 31, 2008. P.S. I used to think about being a TV broadcaster! I really did. I went into a totally different major, though. P.S.S. Happy belated birthday to Oklahoma! I didn't post this yesterday (Friday), but my home state, which I still live in, celebrated its 100th birthday Friday. If anyone knows the words to our song (certainly I do), I'll give you $61, 819.71! :) Thought for the day: Since there's a footlong sandwich, why is there not an armlong?
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I agree with the others. You have destroyed the rapid award system and tricked us. You have lost 5 customers in this family. I have lots of rapid reward tickets and also a companion pass and 2 SW visa credit cards and they are useless. Like the other major airlines, you too are about to lose you base and deserve to after you have tricked us . By the way you might want to train you telephone staff in alittle bit of customer service as people find out about your latest tricks. They are rude and also as you lose customers maybe they might want to start worrying about their own jobs. But as one rude agent told me that he has had his job for a long time and he is not worried. He also told me that it is customer relations and NOT customer service and I had to agree with him there. But he didn't get that either. Now your little silly messages while you are on hold or sittting in the plane are not so funny anymore. You have angry customers and now you need to treat with a lot more respect and seriousness. But you do not get it and that is why you will not be anymore successful than the other airlines.
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Laurence is exactly right and so elegantly said. You have lost this family of 5 customers. I know you don't care anymore. Anyone want a companion pass and 20 rapid rewards tickets? I need to research a new credit card.
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Bill, Thanks for sharing the background on the new Saturday schedule. Someday optimizing each day of the week sounds like a real (and challenging) opportunity. Maybe add some late evening Friday/Sunday on the high volume short hauls while trimming some of the late evening Tuesday/Wednesday flights that go out light? Add some early Monday morning flights for commuters? Might there be some seasonality shifts further down the road, such as boosting Florida frequencies in the winter then shifting the extra capacity to more northern markets in the summer? Fascinating stuff, thanks.
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when will SW release a schedule past 5/9/08?
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Marc, According to the "Travel Tools" page at southwest.com, the schedule through August 3 will be published on January 9. Brian
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Bill, I have a couple of suggestions for routes I hope your team will study. I think Tus to Hou would be good market to get Tus flyers to the florida and east markets and Hou to Tus with continued service to the west markets. I also think you should do the mexican shuttle, Hou-Hrl-Elp-Tus-San run which would be a good run for our 500's. thank you your time. Hou Ramp Agent
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I fly the LAX-BWI route about once a month. I was always able to find a Non-Stop flight and usually at a senior fare. For my latest trip (Dec 28/Jan 6) it appears the Non Stop Flights are gone. This is really surprising because the flights are always full. It can't be due to a lack of customers. I have been a big fan of SWA, but Jet Blue does have non stops to IAD (from LGB) for about the same price as you guys and they have better planes/seats.