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Getting Down to Business

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As you can tell from our announcement today, we have a lot of exciting news for our business travelers and our frequent Rapid Rewards Members, and these enhancements go into effect tomorrow, hand-in-hand with the systemwide rollout of our new streamlined boarding procedures.  Much of my time and focus (and that of the entire Marketing Team) over the past year or so has been devoted to these changes, and I see them as reconfirming the vision of our Founders, Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, who envisioned an airline that would allow business travelers to park the car and travel by air.  Herb and Rollin intuitively knew that business travelers want safe, affordable, frequent, and friendly flights that provide outstanding value for their money, and today's announcement is dedicated to that goal. Road Warriors have special travel needs; their plans usually change at the last minute; and because their time is so important, they often arrive at the airport just before boarding begins.  If ever there was an airline that recognized the benefits of productivity, it is Southwest, and while great fares are extremely important for business travelers--and their companies--making the most of their time is critical.  The exciting changes that we have announced today will help these Customers meet both their productivity and budget goals.  We have a great interactive page at southwest.com, and it will provide you specific details. However, I do want to touch on the more significant aspects of these changes.  Our new Business Select Fare category ensures that, for a few bucks over our Business Fare, our Business Select Customers will be among the first to board and will also receive extra Rapid Rewards credit for their travels and a free cocktail (or beer or wine).   Along with this new fare category, our current unrestricted walkup fare is being renamed our Business Fare, and it gives business travelers total flexibility in their travel plans.  And, we haven't forgotten our leisure travelers with our Wanna Get Away Fares that offer our world famous discounted leisure fares.  (DING! fares remain generally our lowest fares and can only be accessed through the DING! "widget," which is downloaded directly to your desktop.  To sign up for DING!, click here.) Along with the changes in our fare platform, you will see enhancements at southwest.com as we have simplified our initial fare displays to help you find the fare that best suits your travel needs.  The Wanna Get Away fare section will always show the lowest available fare (again, except for DING! fares) for your selected travel date.  Searching for lower fares on other travel dates is also easier now with the newly improved "Southwest Shortcut." Aside from new fare product and web display, we have another exciting enhancement for our most frequent travelers, the Customers we call our A-Listers.  To be a part of this A-List, you don't have to walk a red carpet, hire a publicist, or hide from the paparazzi; you just need to complete 32 one-way flights (16 roundtrips) in a 12-month period.  Once you reach this milestone, you move to the A-List, and we will check you in automatically for your flights and hold your boarding pass(es) for you.  All you (or your publicist) have to do is print out your preassigned boarding pass and be at the gate at least 20 minutes before departure.  We'll do the work for you. Another exciting change is the availability to redeem two Standard Awards in our Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program for an unrestricted Freedom Award. We listened to our frequent travelers who wanted "last seat availability" on our flights, and we're introducing this new program today. With the exception of a few select blackout dates, Southwest is making it possible again to redeem frequent flyer Awards for unrestricted travel. Today is exciting because these new enhancements give us the ability to differentiate our product to meet the differing needs of our Customers without having to change our decades-long dedication to low fares and great Customer Service. I am hoping that you will be just as excited as we are about these enhancements to our product because we really want to be your airline of choice for both your business and personal travel needs.
293 Comments
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I am writing in regards to the new changes to the Rapid Rewards Program. I feel that Southwest Airlines is making it harder for its loyal customers to use the Rapid Rewards program. First, if you had a rapid rewards ticket and there was a seat on the plane you could fly with the exception of blackout dates. Second, the program changed to no blackout dates but limited seats on the plane. Third, now there are 2 types of rapid reward tickets, Standard Award and Freedom Awards. It seems to me that Southwest has gone back to the 1st type of Rapid Reward ticket but it uses twice as many Rapid Reward tickets or twice as many credits. My husband has been a loyal business traveler with Southwest Airlines for many years. My family always flies Southwest Airlines when we can. As a matter of fact my family was flying 2 weeks after 9/11. Many times we are using Rapid Reward tickets. I never felt the blackout dates were a problem or restrictive. I would always plan our trips accordingly. When the program changed to no blackout dates and limited seat availability, I felt that was more restrictive. I usually plan my trips 6 months or more in advance but Southwest does not release its travel schedule that far in advance. During the more popular times to travel, i.e. Spring Break, it is hard to get a seat on the plane with a Rapid Rewards ticket. I encountered that problem last year and had to change my travel dates from a Saturday to a Friday evening. I planned my familyÃ
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In the past 18 months, I've traveled 250 segments on SWA. I am very glad that I no longer have to remember to get my boarding passes. I am also very happy that I can sit in the front of the aircraft without having to stand in pushy lines. If SWA could just get Clear Lines at LAX, I'd be all set: http://www.flyclear.com/. Low fares are important, but time is even more important to me. Thanks for making things more efficient.
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In regards to the new boarding system. My god what a mess this has created. Even the old system was better than this. A-B-C is bad enough, but to then expect 1-? to line up in order within the A-B-C is like asking 50 monkeys to line up in order...they all think they are first. I have a simple solution Board the plane by window, middle and then isle seat using the back rows, then the middle, then the front row window seats. Not letting anyone to put luggage anywhere but above their assigned seating. In addition, utilize the employees to assist instead of standing by the door and greeting the customers. This makes sence to me, but maybe it is too simple for SW to use. Window rows in rows 35-40 for example....then middle seats 30-40...then isle seats 35-40 would eliminate people climbing over each other and delaying the boarding. Reverse of what we do when we get off the plane....if that is good why not reverse the order when boarding. Michael Keller
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I travel with SWA on both business and leisure. For business, I like the flexibility of changing flights without penalty. For leisure, I like the prices. For both, I like "earning" my seat on the aircraft by checking in online 24 hours in advance (which by the way, all the families could've done all along) and arriving at the airport early. So now, without asking, I'm assigned to the "business select" category. As they say, thanks for nothing. On my recent flights, I've been "assigned" A19 and A29. Please, let me sign in on my own: I think I can do better (before this change, your place in the queue as far as checking in was noted on the lower left hand corner of the boarding pass). If you want to make it a benefit, then reserve a place, but allow the passenger to "exceed your expectations". I agree with many of the posters. SWA will no longer be my default airline.
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I agree with the myriad of people who are steamed by the new seating system. I made Southwest my first choice for any domestic trip because of the democracy of its seating arrangements. Standing in line for ninety minutes at the gate suited me fine, because I knew I could probably snag an exit row seat if I did so. Originally, I was willing to pay more to fly SWA solely because of the seating. (That's right, SWA, you're no longer the cheapest choice by far on many routes I fly.) Now that you've taken the seating away from me, I don't have much (read: any) incentive to fly your airline. I'm CERTAINLY not going to pay double for the dubious preferred seating when it's not even a business class seat! I'm so glad I never sent in that application for a SWA credit card. You send me applications nearly once a month, so you must want my business. But I don't want yours. I'm switching to AirTran. Why? Because, for an extra thirty bucks or so, I can reserve my seating! Thirty bucks! (I usually snag exit row seating with AirTran when I do this, and I fly very heavily-trafficked routes.) Hey, SWA, why don't you take a page from AirTran's book, and charge some nominal fee for preferred seating? I'd pay $15 per leg for preferred seating. I won't pay double. In fact, after I use up a credit with you folks, I'll never fly you again--unless you start using an AirTran-like seating system, or (fat chance, I know) you return to democratic seating. I'm sorry to say goodbye. But I'm not going to pay higher prices if I'm not getting something worthwhile to me.
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You should be ashamed of yourselves. Southwest was the greatest and now they are just like all the rest. We the little people made you what you are and you are now screwing us with your new program designed for the alite. Most of us didn't mind waiting in the lines and chatting but now you raise the rates and give us nothing, I probably will be not only changing my airline but cancelling my Southwest visa. thanks for nothing.
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So, the new and improved Southwest Airlines? I can't find a range of airfares like I used to. I can't find a cheap airfare like I used to. I can't get to the head of the A line like I used to. I can't take kids and their safety/comfort equipment on pre-board like I used to. I can't avoid sitting in front of screaming/kicking kids like I used to. I can't accrue credits for free flights like I used to. I can't use my free flight credits like I used to. Why on earth do you think I would continue to put up with cattle car flying on Southwest? As much as I enjoy the humor and attention of (well, most of) the flight crew, I'll take my business elsewhere. Your "enhancements" have lost you another family of faithful frequent flyers.
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As an A-lister and a frequent traveler, I switched from flying exclusively Delta to flying Southwest most of the time two years ago. I also decided 8 months ago to get the Rapid Rewards Visa from Chase. I had previously been using the Delta Skymiles credit card. All was well until October came and I paid my payment 2 days late. Whoa!, watch out if you do that, Chase applies late fees the day after its late, no grace period like American Express, then they apply interest not only for the month I was late (even though I paid it in full), but also for the next month (also paid in full). They explain this because once you are one day late, they apply a last in, first out method of applying payments to charges and thus you are a revolver. Based on my calculations, it turns out to be about 480% interest. Aren't there laws against such rates? I figured I won't do that again, let me see if I can get it waived. Nope, nothing doing, Chase is a greedy bunch. They made me feel like a dead beat for paying two days late. I wonder if Southwest values their A-listers the next time it comes to picking a credit card partner. Chase certainly doesn't. Account closed. I thought I would warn others.
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I fly from one end of California to the other for business about 12 times a year, sometimes more. Southwest has been my airline for these trips because it has several flights out of San Jose, the prices were good and the online check-in/boarding process convenient. If this new system pans out to be an impediment, I'll shop around all airlines before I make my flight choices. In the past I never looked beyond Southwest.
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Well Southwest, here I am again, just wanted to let you know I sat down to book a round-trip for my sister to come visit and for me to fly back with her to take my regular business trip. Well, you are charging $205 for a roundtrip from San Jose to Orange County and American is charging $163. That is a savings of $80 on two tickets, and we get to pick our seat and not worry about being a crazy person running to a computer to check in. I am saying goodbye to high prices for less value and service. I can get treated just as badly on American and pay less.
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Brilliant move! Now the only people who have to wait in line and stand up are those in group "A"! Not only do you have to pay more, you have to stand up for 20 minutes while those in group "B" get to relax until the plane is loading. I have sold my stock in LUV, and will probably start flying other airlines as they get to be more competetive. I am sure that the next thing will be to start making the frequent flyer miles useless. Whoever dreamdt up this debacle should be tarred and feathered!
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I must say I am not a fan of the new pricing/seating announcement. I tried to fly Southwest frequently on business and personal travel as traveling on Southwest was, for the most part, a fun and enjoyable experience. I made the personal effort to check-in 24 hours in advance to be in the Group A boarding group. The change to using the numbering system by groups was an inprovement over standing in line at the A, B, C cattle shutes. Now you want to charge more for boarding in the A Group? My company pays my business travel airfare and will not pay for the increased price. Where is the reward for being a faithful Southwest frequent flyer? Increased credits and a free drink? For those that travel frequently, the increased credit is not a perk. A free drink? I have a stash of free drink coupons already. I say, go back to the regular pricing method, enforce the "board by group number" program (frequently there are people not in sequential order and don't care about the numbering system - they simply forge ahead in Group A). Jim Rumpf
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My husband is a frequent business traveler, but why would he pay double the cost now for a "business" seat--which is no different from your regular seat. Plus, if there are already people on your plane from the previous flight, boarding as an "A" lister is of no advantabe since the wing seats are already taken! Go back to the old way. I feel like the Southwest that I have loved is on a slippery slop downhill to join the other airlines!! Go back to what made Southwest great!! I will be looking at other airlines now, plus canceling my Southwest Visa!!! What a shame, you had a great program until you changed it!!
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You have taken the essential vision of Southwest "the low fare airline" and turned it on its head. Any system that needs customers to attend "flight school" to get on an airplane is doomed to failure. From my experiences at CLE, BWI, MCO, MDW, and STL over the last two weeks it is a TOTAL failure, Especially for families with small children who now have to drag them to the back of the plane and all the first group of "B's" who have to cross the second group of "A's" as they try to move forward to board the plane. You're killing your egalitarian appeal to both business and leisure travelers alike. I'm going back to my car for those 4-5 hour trips. At least I can listen to my iPhone the whole way, or do business on the phone.
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I HATE the new system. If I want to deal with all of the early boarding stuff for frequent flyers, I can fly on one of the older carriers. In fact, your new program has shifted my loyalties back to United for many of my flights nonstop to California cities. Southwest used to be fair across the boards to all of its customers. NO MORE. What a disappointment from what was once my favorite carrier!
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I can not think of a more misguided move than selling out its customer base to chase business fares. I fly anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 miles a year, and have many road warrior employees and friends. I am 100K on United and Platinum on Continental. I also elite status with Singapore and Cathay. I have been a platinum flyer on American, Delta, and Northwest in the recent past. Many, many friends who are willing to fly Southwest have done so because they are sick of ridiculous boarding procedures and total disinterest in customer service for anyone who is not a top tier frequent flyer or flying on an first or business class fare. I am likely going to prohibit employee use of United because even as a 100K flyer, we all play second fiddle to their invitation only Global Services program. I personally have not been a fan of Southwest because 1) they didn't serve my old home airport (Denver) until recently, 2) they don't offer enough legroom anywhere on any of their flights, and 3) I once believed loyalty to an airline had advantages (clearly, this has changed). Also, with Southwest, it was hard to get across the country withough making 2-3 stops. However, having just moved to Manchester, NH I was looking forward to trying Southwest out more seriously BECAUSE they didn't have all the BS of tiered frequent flyer programs and tiered service levels. Southwest is changing into exactly what the other airlines already are and the reason many of us road warriors are leaving other carriers such as United, Delta, American, etc. Southwest is not being true to its heritage and I believe this is a decision that Soutwest will regret. As someone that has flown 2 Million miles on United with the belief that as a 100K flyer I would always be the top of the food chain, I am extremely angry that United has eroded the promised benefits by imposing the Global Service program above all of us frequent flyers, and continues to administer the program with such secrecy that even their front line managers don't understand it. Being treated as a second class customer doesn't feel good for anyone, and this is where Southwest is heading. They are also only doing it half-heartedly. If they were really serious about business travelers, they would focus on international routes, put their flights on only booking engines such as Expedia & Orbitz or American Express, and they would change to something meaningful such as more legroom or wider seats. These are the things that have made Jet Blue, Frontier and, now, Virgin America appealing to business travelers and leisure travelers alike. Southwest probably figured they risked making their leisure travelers angry. I doubt they anticipated making road warrors like myself and others that have recently started flying Southwest (as the antithesis of other major carriers) angry, but they have. Shame on Southwest. FIRE Mr. Kelly and remember who and what kept Southwest profitable through all the lean years when other carriers like United and Delta were passing on their business failures to the American taxpayer through bankruptcy and passing of pension liabilities. Southwest used to be an alternative. Now they are just another lousy airline with misguided management.
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Once upon a time everyone entered the Southest system as equals. Even as we lined up and had "A list" envy, we all knew we could be A-Listers if we checked in on time. Leisure travelers and business travelers would enter side by side. The old motto of a free seat meant any open seat - no restrictions, no little asterisk, no 2 award tickets for 1 seat. A phone call to Southwest was almost a pleasure and Southwest was the only profitable airline in the USA. Who's steering this new ship?? They better wake up soon before the diehard loyalty so many passengers share evaporates. You can't fix this type of loyalty once you lose it. I earn 800+ credit a year using their credit card. Now I'm a second class passenger and my credits are essentially halved. Thats what I get for loyalty to Southwest....great job.
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Reading a few of the comments, the ones that took me aback were those that stated "Southwest is still the best airline" or "don't judge it until you try it." Saying we are 'just as bad as everyone else' is not a winning business strategy. Further, those like me HAVE tried it. This is what we have been getting flying 100,000 miles a year or more on other carriers. While I haven't flown SWA all that much, I am a stockholder and I really don't believe this is a direction the airline should be heading. Other posters on this blog say "well, SWA has to do something to generate more revenue with increasing fuel prices." Maybe so, but changing the winning recipe is not going to do this. The other crappy airlines are still holding on to their business travelers through the lure of free upgrades and other perks. The answer is keeping costs low and seats full. This new policy will alientate the traditional SWA customers, business travelers like myself, or both. The least I have spent on air tickets in a year in the past 20 years is about $50,000 and some years it has approached 5 to 10 times that. Southwest is moving further away from getting any of that money. You are not a REAL alternative anymore. I don't get it. How is SWA going to be more profitable moving away from the strategy Kelleher implemented and alienating a large section of its traditional base. Yes, there are only a few hundred negative posts out here, but most consumers aren't exactly in touch with the daily erosion of frequent flyer benefits and worsening customer service of their air carrier of choice. I get 3 or 4 emails a week from United and American and I don't have the time or the interest to read them. Invariably, they are a negative message wrapped in a transparent and untruthful wrapper. I am extremely disappointed that Southwest is no longer a meaningful alternative. I guess Virgin America (I travel to San Francisco a lot) and Jet Blue should be thankful that Southwest has abandon their roots and hired inept managers. The "new' Coke comment was spot on. Very, very sad in my opinion.
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[...] Comment on Getting Down to Business by Richard L.By Richard L.I fly anywhere from 200000 to 400000 miles a year, and have many road warrior employees and friends. I am 100K on United and Platinum on Continental. I also elite status with Singapore and Cathay. I have been a platinum flyer on …Comments for Southwest Airlines Blog - http://www.blogsouthwest.com [...]
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I AGREE with Nicole's comments on Nov 7. Here are my two cents worth. I'm tired of the 'fat cats' with lots of money getting preferential treatment in this world. Southwest used to stand for treating everyone equally but I see they are going to follow the 'crowd' instead of being 'different'. While I know business is about staying in business, I don't see that SWA is losing money so why change. I'm tired of the leisure traveler getting the shaft when it comes to freq flyer programs and seating restrictions. SWA Management: I hope your changes backfire on you and you lose lots of customers permanently and that the business travelers you expect to gain do not make up for the lost leisure travelers. Power to the 'little' people like 'me'. I hope everyone will take your travel plans to another airline which will send a message to SWA hopefully.
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I have been traveling for over 25 years and flown on just about every domestic airline. Southwest is the only airline that has consistently provided me with low fares, plenty of non-stop routes, comfortable seating, and on-time arrival. While I don't consider myself to be a "fat cat" as Cheryl so eloquently put it, the fact is that the business travelers are paying a premium for their "preferential treatment". That is the way that everything in this world works, not just businesses. Southwest is being proactive in its approach and is modifying its policies to maintain profitability rather than waiting until they do have losses. An examination of trends in their results clearly demonstrates that their profit margins are getting very thin and since fuel costs are not controllable by them and seem to be heading ever higher, they need to deploy alternative strategies to reduce costs while at the same time try to bring in more revenue. Appealing to business travelers is the best way to do it. I pose the question to all of the leisure travelers. What is more important to you - the cost of travel or the privileges associated with frequent travel? You can't have it both ways. Leisure travel was subsidized for decades by business travel. My first flight to Chicago in 1981 cost me $1,500 roundtrip for standard coach tickets. I can fly to Midway via Southwest for less than $300 roundtrip today. Once the businesses started demanding lower fares as well and competition created more routes and even lower fares, everyone started to fly for most leisure travel. By the way, good luck taking your leisure travel plans to another airline. You will find worse treatment at all of them. AirTran charges you an additional amount which fluctuates based on the length of your flight, for selecting your seat ahead of time. However, if you don't pay it you will end up in a center seat. All of the airlines no longer provide food on flights, not even cross country trips. They will sell you snacks and meal boxes for an additional $5-$10. Many now charge you to check in bags at curbside. All of them have reduced the weight of luggage you can check in by 25-35% and have reduced the size of carry-on luggage. About the only benefit that a frequent traveler gets these days is boarding the plane a bit earlier. Unless you are routinely paying full price or buying business class or first class tickets you don't get other perks that used to come with the territory such as free upgrades, etc. The reality of it all is that at the end of the day, while a lot of people will write and complain and it will be newsworthy for awhile, Southwest will gain more from these changes than it will lose. Sure, they may lose a few customers, but they will definitely gain more business customers who will be paying more than everyone else for the privilege. Most of those who choose to fly other airlines will quickly find out that the grass is definitely not always greener. I'm sure I will see you all on a future Southwest flight. Until then, safe travels and happy holidays.
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My 87 year old mother, who flies about 6 times per year, has excellent cognitiive skills but the physical limitations brought about with her age. She does not have a computer - shame on her, I suppose, if she wants to fly Southwest again. Last week she checked in at the airport, going and coming, and had a C boarding pass. In times past, she has been very courteously and respectfully pre-boarded due to her physical limitations - she arrives in a wheelchair but can walk onboard. She can't, however, manage to crawl over someone into a middle seat, and her previous pre-board experience made the process simple. This past trip was a horrible experience - much confusion for eveyone boarding, but particularly for her, sitting in a wheelchair and awaiting a pre-board, which is now a partial pre-board, after so many others have boarded. The transition from wheelchair to walking and being placed in front of some and behind others was actually a slowdown in the boarding process and a great embarassment to her. Based upon some posts herein, this is of no consequence to some of your travelers, who so highly value their opportunity to be first on and first off and, for your sake, you'd best have enough of these anxious business travelers to sell enough tickets to remain in business. Since your fares have risen to approximate all your competitors, we will now be forced to use other airlines where seat assignments are made in advance and, indeed, they will put her onboard in advance. She probably has only a few years left though, so her business lost won't break you. You better hope your plan works because it sounds as though she's not your only loss. Joe, who wrote about the business traveler subsidizing the leisure traveler, must not have actually flown Southwest for too long. There has never been a distinction in the prices. They were all low fares. As a matter of fact, my recollection is that the last minute walk up fares in the evening used to be the cheapest Southwest had to offer -sort of a reverse from today's system. Anyhow, he'll be glad she isn't any longer going to get "his" seat if he's willing to pay extra. That extra ticket cost on other airlines gets you into an entirely different class, i.e. first or business - it doesn't prohibit elderly, handicapped or families with children from getting onboard easily.
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Southwest needs to come to Milwaukee so it can compete with Northwest airlines. A ticket from MKE to Detroit is Over $400. we have to go to Ohare and sometimes Midway to get a cheaper fare. Please come to Milwaukee -- Northwest has Milwaukee on the lock down. Please come to Milwaukee, you have enough fliers that come to Midway which is over 100 miles away that would support southwest.
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I don't know if this was even mentioned or not, since 200+ comments are a lot to go through, but I was wondering if it would be an idea to board the families after the first 30 A's. That way, you're still giving the business select and A-listers the chance to reap the benefits, yet still allowing the families to get decent seats together. Being a mother of a 3 yr old, I've found that flying on a full flt with 40+ thrus on it, then letting another 60 ppl go on board in front of us...we weren't able to sit together, and my son harassed a poor guy who never knew what was in store for him (quite possibly one of your bussiness selects that unfortunately just paid extra to have his "choice" of seats) for 2 hrs. Just a thought!!
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I (too) was disappointed to see that the Standard Award travel has been devalued to the 2 for 1 "Freedom" Award. I understand the business in trying to make yourselves more competitive in the air market - especially given $100 oil - however it does not make the enhanced cost of this type of award travel any more palitable. Nor - given this change - does my having to charge $ 38,400 on my Southwest Visa in order to get that type of award. I understood the 2-for-1 conversion on the ATA flights to Hawaii....but not this. My card comes up for renewal in July 2008 and whether I will renew or not will depend on what Southwest does between now and then. Any further "degredation" of awards will determine this.
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Having posted the above -- let me just say that I do so only because I consider Southwest the best of the air carriers and it is "disappointing". Yes, some other airlines do have specials to the same destination (or fly more convenient flights to IAD or DCA instead of to BWI from MHT for instance) but - overall - Southwest is still an exceptional value. What I am disturbed about is loss in value of Southwests "loyalty" program. To be fair, I have also noticed other programs (notibly hotel programs) also showing a higher use of points in order to get a "free" room. I hope Southwest listens -- with a slowing economy and ridership and airline stock prices falling in response - this does not speak well for the future of airline programs. It's easier to keep a customer than to try to regain a lost customer.
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I fly oversees on a regular basis, but always use SWA for flights in the US. I was not happy at all with the restriction on the number of rapid rewards seats. If you are concerned with not being able to sell the last few seats to business customers, simply allow every seat less the last few to be taken by rapid rewards flyers. I am also not happy with the new boarding policy. It seems very un-egalitarian (un-SWA). Did business travelers really complain that much for you to change your boarding policy? SWA was the only airline that could actually get people in line to board the aircraft in a timely manner. If you are concerned with late arrivals, just shut the doors 10 minutes prior to departure and walk away (like RyanAir, except they walk away 15 minutes prior to departure). SWA had the best rewards program by far, but is now slouching towards the industry. I still like SWA better than the others, but stop devaluing the rewards to your best customers.
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Those to those who think that SWA's RR program is becoming closer to the rest of the industry. I have a feeling that go are mistaken. It is my opinion that all of the airlines that have "frequent flyers" are also more aggressively are controlling their programs as well. Before you bolt, ask the customer as DFW is it getting harder to use your AAdvantage miles. ask the customers at ORD the next time your are in Chicago is it harder to use your miles on United. The next time you are in Houston go over to the Bush airport and ask the Continental customer is they are having trouble using their miles. I suspected that they will ALL say that they are. But I don't think at SW had in mind that 8 round-trips from DAL to HOU should earn me an roundtrip from OAK to BWI even though you can. I also wish that JP Morgan Chase stop offering new accounts that include 8 RR credits when the account is open. Maybe JPM is also contributing to the problem of too many outstanding Rapid Award credits and not enough flights to use them on. Just some things to consider.
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I was not sure of the new boarding procedures at first but I'm a big fan now. I travel almost every week and 75% is with SW. Sure is nice to not have to stand in line to secure a aisle seat for an hour. Keep up the good work
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Wow. Perhaps I am a bit behind, but I just read about your new seating priorities. I'm very disappointed. The two reasons my husband and I have flown loyally with SW for the past 6 years was because of your great fares, and the ABC seating system. Now you have neither . My husband and I will be likely choosing other airlines to fly with these days. I'm sure the same will go for most of our family. Thats a shame...you really should rethink your new procedures.
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Business is about staffing. I just wanted to compliment your employee Albert, who was working at Ontario Airport on 12/30. I made an error in my flight time for a trip on my wife's birthday. He saved the trip by re-scheduling us, and getting us pre-boarding to make a tight switch of planes in Phoenix. We so appreciated his efforts!
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Like many others on this blog I have been a faithful customer of SWA for over 20 years. Living in Dallas from the late 80's until 01. My family and I pretty much exclusively made SWA our airline of choice. Hey lets face it ,you guys were good. Good service, great prices, great FF program, an airline that actually cared about it's customers. After moving to FLA. I chose to drive the 150 mile round trip to continue supporting an airline that cared not only about it's customers but about the community it works and lives in. I was even more impressed with SWA's committment to thier own employee's. Encouraging that freedom of thought gained valuable insite into what makes an airline passenger choose how they travel. OMG,,,somehow a bean counter has infiltrated the ranks of those sage employee's who have had their finger on the pulse of your customers and initiated the recent change is your RRewards program. In my opinion it is a step in the wrong direction. De-valueing my time to reward will indeed result in considering other options when choosing an airline. I'm hoping someone comes to their senses.
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I agree with many of the posters here. I was a loyal customer of SW because their fares were so competitve that I didn't care about waiting on the floor to board the planes. With these HUGE price increases, I will now pay the same, if not lower fares with the "other" airlines and get to PICK my seat in advance. Southwest made a big mistake and their profits, or lack thereof will begin to show. My loyality has left the building, along with the rest of my family.
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Dear Kevin and SWA... So... I thought I would wait a while before commenting on the new RR program. I am going to do my best to refrain from spewing any anger or hostility, but please forgive me in advance if any happens to leak out as I share my observations. Please keep in mind that I refrained from commenting until I "experienced" your new program, and didn't just respond based on speculation. I would like to refute the comment you made to Dennis on an early post that this program was created as a "win-win for both our frequent travelers (such as yourself) and Southwest." This program is OBVIOUSLY not for the benefit of any traveler, let alone the business traveler as you say, here is whyÃ
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B.K. It is only more money for SW if you buy their tickets. SWA is no longer on my list. They lost their focus. They used to be different, now they are the same if not worse. What a shame. The sad part is the managers that thought this up probably go home and tell their wife and kids what a great job they are doing! Guess Again!
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I must confess that I have not read all 285 prior comments on this subject. However, I did read enough to get the idea that few like the new boarding system, fare structure, and the devaluation of our rapid reward awards. On the latter subject, for instance, I find that there are no "standard" awards available for a trip from Houston to Los Angeles for Palm Sunday weekend, but plenty of seats on all flights at all fare levels. And, of course, plenty of "enhanced" awards tickets are available. This is the first time that I have not been able to find award seats this far in advance. I take that as evidence that Southwest has greatly reduced the number of "standard" award seats. How does this benefit customers? I will reiterate several points made by others previously: 1. Numbered boarding passes are progress - though many do not agree. 2. The system of assigning the boarding numbers in NOT progress. 3. Families and those needing help should be boarded first. This allows them to stay together and the rest of us to sit far away - except for those unlucky "C" pass holders. 4. The new "twofer" for rapid rewards awards sucks - and is not worthy of Southwest. This sounds like something Continental would do (and has). 5. I do not object to receiving more rapid reward credit for paying higher fares. This makes good sense and rewards the traveler who pays more, for whatever reason. 6. Southwest is no longer automatically the cheapest seat in many markets - even the senior fare has recently gotten out of hand. This is not progress, either. As a resident of Houston I have alternatifves to Southwest - Continental, AA, UA, USAir, Delta - just to name a few. With your new policies, these also-rans are starting to look more attractive - a good trick, to say the least. I am hoping to see some major adjustments in your new policies. After all, hope springs eternal.
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Feels a bit like a blog of shame. I feel that this change undercuts my loyalty to the airlines by 50% (that our awards are valued at 50%), so goes my loyalty. The airline works hard to build the loyalty, but apparently is working hard to lose it.
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Kevin, How can I get you to stop sending me RR Credit Card offers every week. I really DO NOT want your Visa card and am getting a little irritated that I can't seem to get removed from you mailing list. Stop the waste!
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Great choice of words. "Freedom Award"' Pay double for a flight and somehow imply that it is "FREE" ? Double for nothing - great concept.
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I am very disappointed with the new Rapid Rewards program. Rewards are practically worthless now, as it is nearly impossible to find seats on any flights I want. I am going to get an American Airlines credit card and quit using my Rapid Rewards card--the $60 fee is crazy, the "rewards" useless, and the increase in the amount it takes to earn a "reward" is unreasonable. This used to be my favorite airline--the first one I thought to use for any trip. This is no longer the case.
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I do not understand the policy that "Government Employees" can only get a government rate if they have a government issued credit card. At various other businesses, my husband, as a City Firefighter (thus employed by our local government), is always given a discount, and has never had to provide a government issued credit card. These guys aren't even paid close to what they're worth, and I can certainly assure you that our local government would never pass out a credit card to them, even when they travel for the City.
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Hi DeAnna, We certainly appreciate the courage, skill, and sacrifice of firefighters like your husband, and we salute him. If I can give you some background about government fares, I think it will answer your question. These fares are negotiated directly with the specific government entities for individuals traveling on government business. Usually they only apply to state and federal governments because of the quantity of travel involved. It is very rare to have a negotiated rate with a municipality--simply because the volume isn't there. With a government fare, we can offer a lower rate because we know we will have a set volume of travel, and the government can control travel costs, since they are the ones who will be paying the bill. Because the governments directly pay for these fares, they are the ones who control the form of payment for the tickets. Prior to corporate style credit cards, they would issue government travel orders or GTOs to purchase tickets. Today, the individuals who qualify for government travel have governent-issued travel cards, and we are bound by the contracts with those governments to accept this specific form of payment. Brian
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Suggestion for the Business Select program. Offer online upgrades from standard fare to BS. My company travel policy does not allow booking of the Business Select, but I travel enough that I would be willing to pay for an upgrade online to BS for the flexibility. High on Southwest