Being a former 2P and 1P at United Airlines, I still read and post over on that FT Board. However, the more I read and post there, the more I realize how much better Southwest is than United.
I used to think it was mostly about the price, and, no doubt, Southwest blows United away. I priced one flight June 15-20, LAS-DEN-LAS on Southwest at $198. For comparable flight times, United was $272. But, honestly, that is only the beginning of how Southwest is better. I thought it would be fun to list all the ways that Southwest is better. And, if there is a way that some legacy has some minor advantage, its ok to list that too. For example:
Change fees. None at Southwest. Just raised to $150 at United. Lack of change fees means you can book early and cancel if you need to -- a hidden cost savings at Southwest. United, you play the "wait-and-see" game until you are pretty sure you really need to go from A-to-B. By then, you are paying closer to the middle or upper end of the equivilent of the "wanna-get-away" fare.
Ticketless Travel Funds: Southwest invented it. United rarely needs it, the change fees cause almost no remaining value. You can't look it up on the Internet, but keep your ticket number (the long one) and you can access it on the phone with an agent.
Phone booking: Southwest: Free. United $15. This helped me out a lot one time when I couldn't get to a computer and I wanted to make a change.