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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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You guys did a GREAT job of enhancing the RR program. Face it, every airline (including my favorite) in the past has "enhanced" their frequent flyer program by devaluing awards, availability and more. This is the first enhancement I can think of that is truly a step forward for travelers - not a step backwards. Once again, SWA leads!
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Wow, so much to process at one time. Looking forward to being an A-lister, although when I travel with the family I will choose to board with them. May these changes at the peak holiday travel period go as smoothly as possible. Best Wishes.
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This is BS. You charge higher fares, you devalue your Frequent Flyer miles. I had 110 credits in the past 2 years with you all. I am one of the "business travelers" you so desperately want. I think it is the wrong direction to ask me to make a "double payment" to use my credit awards, when just a couple of years ago, you only had a couple black out dates. YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN WHO BROUGHT YOU TO THE DANCE! Instead, you dot to the dance, and have decided to ditch your date.
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Dear SW - I am a very frequent business traveler and I must tell you that you have really messed up with one of your new policies. By making families with small children board the plane after group A, you have actually hurt, not helped business travelers. I for one always avoid sitting near families with small children, not because I don't like kids - just the noise and seat kicking. Now this is no longer in my control as they are boarding the plane after me and I cannot control where they sit. This very case happened to me yesterday as I boarded a plane from Kansas City to Seattle. I had a family with one child sit behind me ( the child directly behind me) and he kicked my seat the entire flight and spent the last 20 minutes absolutely wailing. Please re-think this policy to give me back the control over where I sit in relation to these families. Let the group C crowd, deal with this un-intended issue.
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Yes, I said ouch too when I saw the 2 for 1 Award deal. I might make the A-List, but I'm not going to trade 2 feebies for 1. They are hard earned, late nights home and sometimes lengthy waits between stopovers. Maybe A-Listers should get some slack on this. Tell us about how BIG a problem it was before you started restricing the seats. If there are seats like the day before a departure it should be available. Fun time opportunities usually come at the last minute, especially if you have to travel to the fun. I can think of two times already I was unable to use my award when I really needed to. To me, that was the biggest distinction you had over everyone else, in the old days I could decide to fly that morning and you were happy to have me. If this is your (SWA) way to reduce the number of feebies floating in your system, think of a charity members could donate the tickets to in order to help someone. Get a Vet home, help a kid. I've flown 10 rountrips this year and by no means am I a road warrior. But I do travel from Wisconsin 3 hours by car to fly Southwest out of Midway when I do. That's pretty loyal don't you think?
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Hi Dennis. Thanks for your comment. We feel like the enhancements we made to Rapid Rewards today actually improve the value of the program. We are trying to find ways to reward and thank our most frequent travelers and give our members who are trying to book award travel more choices and flexibility. With as much as you say you fly, you'll be the perfect candidate to take advantage of some of these benefits. We have heard from Customers just like you that are upset about our restricted award seats so this annoucement today is our way of finding a win-win for both our frequent travelers (such as yourself) and Southwest.
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Amen and THANK YOU. Speaking as a weekly business traveler who pays the highest fare this has earned you all of my buinsesss. I will have to drive 150+ miles at times fwhen landing at MDW rather than connecting on another airline but this new plan has earned the business. Thank you SWA!!!
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I have to agree with AJ. I left Delta after being Platinum for 4 straight years because they began the policy of higher mileage based upon tiered pricing levels. I have now been a loyal SWA customer for the past 3 years. I actually liked the fact that we were all treated equally regardless of the price we paid for a ticket. The implementation of the A-List business pricing goes against everything that SWA stood for. Businesses are not stupid, In most cases, we travellers know several weeks out what our travel plans will be. Rewarding the last minute flyer will eventually erode your loyal customer base. I am a business traveller who purchases my tickets early. I am also willing to check in 24 hours early to insure myself an A Boarding Pass. If that is no longer available, I may have to rethink the convenience and comfort of the Crown Room and First Class Seating.
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Although I appreciate your new improvements for business travelers, I'm concerned about some of the policies. We visit my wife's relatives in NH about once a month. Leaving on a Thursday evening and coming back on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Of course, these are the main times for consultants and our flights from BWI-MHT are normally packed. I'm afraid we're going to be in the "B" (or even worse, "C") group now that all of these business travelers are "A" prioritized.
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I want to echo the comments about the "families with small children" policy. I can see where on one of your "shuttle" legs (DAL-HOU, for instance) it would be beneficial to be at the front of the plane... if every second counts. Also, on a 45-minute flight, if the 3 year-old behind me was kicking, I wouldn't be that worried about it. However, on BNA-SAN, it is VERY important to me that I either can sit in a spot where I'm not annoyed by children, or I can sit in a spot where my child isn't annoying.
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And to think, as a former AA Gold member, I was starting to fly Southwest more. No more! The new program is not "enhancements"! I can see exactly what you are doing: steering the perks to your frequent and high-paying fliers; and devaluing your award system for average joes. I stopped flying Delta because they essentially devalued my miles by half; I can predict that soon you will be blacking out all kinds of flights for the peons, and the A boarding will be mopped up by your precious heavy users. I like to fly Southwest only for two reasons: they are reliable, and their seating and rewards system treats everyone the same. Now that you have taken out the second part of the equation, I will go back to concentrating all my flying on American. It may not have friendly crews, but it does fly around the world and it generally gives me a decent--and truly reserved--seat. Its mileage program has become somewhat devalued, but now that Southwest is doing the same, why would I fly Southwest? I often find American beats you in fares to the markets I am going to, anyway. This is horrible news for a lot of people who luved Southwest. I am also going to get rid of my SW credit card. Bye.
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I won't benefit from either of these changes, but HAT'S OFF to WN for these changes. These folks that pay higher fares or travel a LOT deserve some special treatment. I'm willing to board B / C even for four hour flights because I bet if my spouse and I want to sit together it will happen. WN people are like that.
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Kevin: Thanks for the response. I appreciate the fact that you came back on. The main thing that gets me is what gets Scott above. I understand that tickets are expensive to give out, but, it seems like a planned deal, to get "in line" with CO, AA, etc. Give them rewards, give them a carrot (even 50% more credit)to get more rewards, but, in order for them to use it, have them pay double. Hence, a 50% benefit to you. I have used rewards over the upcoming holidays for (I think 3), and did use three or so at Spring Break earlier, and have 1 or 1.5 in the hopper. I use my rewards to travel with the family. My last half of the year and some of the start goes to Spring Break, the rest goes to New Years type travel. I can usually get these tickets, but have tio get them on the day the schedules open up. If I decided to go to San Francisco within the next month or two, I wonder if I could go on awards? That is a question that I know how to answer on the legacy carriers, i.e. pay double miles; I guess the answer is now across the board. I should be an "A List guy, so you could free up all of my problems by really giving me a benefit--let me use my rewards, when I want to, for the normal price that it has been for something like 15 - 20 years now. If it is to expensive, and there are to many awards, reduce the credit card awards(which I do not have), etc. Off the rant. I will say, however, that SW is the only airline that even responds to complaints about the FF program. To that, Kudos
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USA Today has an article online regarding the new boarding procedures which only places more stress on the flight crew to get families to sit together. It's a bungled operation when there are through passengers. I for one don't want my 9 year old sitting 20 rows away from me where I can't see him. So even if you check-in 24 hours prior you feel bad and end up sitting in the middle anyway. How stupid. I am a frequent flyer on SWA and I can't believe they did the testing in San Diego and San Antonio. How about Chicago or Baltimore or some place significant within the route structure? Sorry SWA but you screwed this one up.
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Sorry, I cannot concur with the aforementioned kudos. In my opinion, you have sold out the leisure and family traveler. Shame on you.
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I am disappointed that you have now made your fare structure and seating more elitist and complicated. Southwest used to stand for treating everyone equally and offering a fairly easy fare structure. You are becoming more like the old time airlines -- don't try to influence us about your "exciting" new features -- you are taking what made you different and throwing that out the door --
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I am seriously confused right now. I just tried to book a flight, but I see the exact same fare choices as before - how exactly am I supposed to book at "Business Select" ticket? I, too, am disappointed with the new Rapid Rewards system. What really baffles me is the new credit system based on trip length, especially for an airline that focuses on O&D passengers and whose average trip length is only 630 miles. Also, I liked Rapid Rewards because it didn't penalize those who frequented the shorter routes (think of all the short flights out of BWI). It also just makes the math more confusing. I knew I was getting 4 credits for a roundtrip, or one credit per direct flight. Pretty simple stuff. If anything a lot of these changes are bringing SWA closer to the legacies I wish to avoid. On the positive note, the new gate areas are fantastic.
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Now you've done it! Turned America's most successful and my favorite airline into just another private club for the expense account-blessed businessman. Not since Coke tried to change its formula years ago has a major corporation made such a marketing blunder. Have you lost your senses and forgotten waht made yout he success you are, or were?. The average Joe who felt SWA was their airline has been betrayed again. C'mon Frank, remember when everyone was treated the same; no perks, just great service and convenient terminals? If I want to watch a bunch of "travel warriors", who have never paid for an airline ticket themselves, board a plane before me go, I'll go get in line over at the American counter.
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Kev and the gang... Just checking out the blog and noticed that you guys have been busy. Glad to see that you are simplifying the booking process even more. I love the idea of not listing all the fares and the complications that can go along with 20 different fare types out there for the Customer to figure out. Thanks for doing the thinking for the Customer and making their choices more simple. Keeping the Customer in mind is what SWA has always been about. Miss you guys...keep up the good work.
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Herb, an SOS is needed we need you back and find folks that will follow your lead as the Fuel Hedge Program you revolutionized is now gone thanks to $100 oil, now you have these young whipper snappers who will ruin your airline. Folks, "If it is not broke, you don't need to fix it"! Nice try Kevin but you don't get it and will have this airline either merged or in Bankpuptcy within 4 years......Care to make this bet? I agree and think in 2 weeks we will see a meltdown over the Turkey Day holiday and you soon are going to over work your F/As are the front line to keeping the peace and I have had 4 flights so far that have left late due to through flights not having room for the responsible parents that use car seats and being a loyal SAT flyer and saw the problems in the middle of summer that the books were cooked for your management to make the changes they did and not I can tell you, I am a sucessful business owner and did not fall off the turnip truck and do not see how you think you can hoodwink us into paying more for more credits, we made you the airline of choice due to DING and the fact you were unique but now you are joining the ranks of the big boys and you will fail. Sorry to see but you will be another Republic, Piedmont, Braniff soon unless you all wake back up and get back to what the true flyers of SWA like... Good Luck but I am a realist and the majority of F/As I talk with do not like having to take the gruff of your bad decisions...You need to get back to basics.. B.P. just offering my advice and two cents,,,,, I think I am going to cancel my Turkey-Day travels too as I see nothing but angry families and travelers and feel for the F/As and Pilots.
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The new fare structure will be available tomorrow...in fact I think it will officially be online at 3:00 a.m. for any of you late owls (or very early birds) out there. All I can say is, please be patient with us. We are working very hard to enhance our product to bring ALL of our Customers more value and an even better experience. I know that sounds like marketing jargon but I can promise you that these changes have not been made lightly and are the result of many, many months of debate and Customer research. If you had a chance to see part of Gary's press conference today, then you know he said - several times - that we will continue to improve and find ways to bring even more value to our fare structure and Rapid Rewards program over the next several months. As Colleen always says, "We're in the People business, we just happen to fly planes." That will never change.
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[...] everyone, despite the hype, is happy about this…In Southwest’s blog, the comments are piling up, both pro and con…Many con. The biggest complaint is that Southwest…known [...]
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Kevin, If this testing was done do carefully then why did you do the tests in San Diego and San Antonio? Is it because the Dallas management wanted to spend their time in sunny nice San Diego vs. cold Chicago. That they would be able to hop on a flight home at night from San Antonio instead of having to stay an extended time in Baltimore? You cannot tell me that there aren't more variables in Chicago, Baltimore, and the like to provide proper results. It's a great idea if there weren't through flights but unfortunately there are too many of them and now we are going to feel the brunt from unhappy flight attendants who have to feel the brunt from panicked parents. I don't think you really know what the business passenger wants.
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Well John - San Diego and San Antonio are lovely destinations...but that's not the reason we chose to do our boarding tests in those cities. Both San Diego and San Antonio have a good mix of passenger "types" and a wide variety of destinations and flight lengths. There was a lot of criteria that went into making those two city choices but I can promise you that we did more research outside of those cities as well. I also wanted to point out that you don't have to be a high paying Customer to get into the A-List. You can purchase 16 roudtrip "Wanna Get Away" fares in a 12-month time period and get A-List status. On many carriers you would probably have to pay much more in that same period of time to be awarded a similar perk.
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I'm definitely disenchanted with your new "A-list." I'm a teacher, not your coveted business type, and I fly Southwest only 6-8 times a year., not 16-plus. But I have chosen Southwest over your competitors on purpose precisely because I can control my destiny; I make sure to check in as close to the 24 -hour mark as possible, and I expect to hold my own place in line. In return, I get the window or the aisle (as I choose--my own preference varies with time of day, length of flight, etc.), near the front, and I have enjoyed my trips far more on Southwest than when I've been forced into another airline. For me, the irony of "the bus that flies" tag from the early days was that now, it applies to everyone else--but Southwest, by contrast, has been the most civilized way for the occasional (but determined) traveler to fly. No more. You've certainly shown me where I rank in your scheme of things.
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Why should I fly Southwest anymore after today? Your fares are no longer the cheapest and I can't get a reserved seat and now I'm being bumped out of the A boarding group. You just gave a punch in the gut to all of your loyal customers who fly less than 16 round trips per year.
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I am 6'4" tall and it's mostly legs. On most airlines I literally don't fit into economy seating. So to be frank, the thing I care most about on SWA is getting The Seat. You know The Seat -- right side exit row with no seat in front of it. On some planes the exit row has a little extra legroom so that's OK too, but I never know when I'm getting one of those planes. It used to be simple. Check in 24 hours early to get an A pass, arrive at the gate an hour early, and 80% of the time I get The Seat. Doesn't matter if it's business or pleasure; if I invest the time and trouble, I get what I want. Under the new system, I have no idea how to get to the front of the A line. Is Business Select in front of the A-List? In what order are the A-List passes assigned? There is no way I'm getting on the A-List, so I hope the answer is that I can pay either money or time and still get The Seat. By the way, with the introduction of tiers of privilege on SWA I hope we don't start to see the crappy behavior found on other airlines, with the Premiere 1K Platinum guy loudly arguing with the Executive World Services Iridium guy for that last first-class upgrade.
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My company has exclusively scheduled our travel plans to Southwest destination cities in the past in order to achieve awards tickets faster -- even flying into cities in which we would have a lengthy drive or enduring long layovers; however, this will no longer be a factor when we schedule our travel. We're business travelers, but we don't travel on the elitist all-expenses-paid accounts to which Southwest now seems to be catering. What was the renegade airline will become just another airline tomorrow. How unfortunate. Allowing those who pay higher fares to take precedence over other passengers in the A line belittles those passengers who cannot afford to pay more. It's disheartening to see Southwest take a step back under the guise of progression.
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SWA has really screwed the pooch this time. 60 A's? Families behind the A's? Ever heard of "Through Pax"? Whoever came up with these ideas were not Ops Agents or F/As. These new 'solutions' will cause more problems than they solve. How much money did you spend (waste) on the new gates? This won't last, just like the 15 A's, 15 B's and 15C's at the gate, ticket counter and curbside. The only good idea there was getting rid of it. I look forward to Southwest going back to the airline I know and LUV, remember that company? The one that treated everybody the same yet was different from all the other airlines?
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I think its good that your trying to cater to all types of travlers. My concern is that will the people who only travel 2-4 times a year still be able to get that A pass, or will all those belong to business travlers and those who travel a lot. I'd like the chance to still receive an A pass even though I don't fly much throughout the year. Can you explain if/how that would work?
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Many of the questions here have been asked and answered at flyertalk.com, specifically http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=754554 There will be up to about 15 Business Select slots out of the 60 A's, leaving 45 A's, the same as in the original A/B/C system. Commuter flights will have a high number of A-listers, but most flights will still have plenty of A's left over. Unless connecting passengers scoop them up first, that is. Change is never a win for eveyone, and losers always scream louder than the winners cheer. I'm roughly breaking even on this one, except for one critical factor: Southwest needs to make some money somewhere in order to keep its discount fares from skyrocketing. If this helps Southwest make that money from someone other than me, I'm 100% behind the change. Oh, and nobody mentioned another big benefit: no more setting reminder alarms to check in online and kicking yourself when you forget to do it. That's a real improvement that deserves praise.
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I don't like this at all. The first time I check in 24 hours before a flight and get a B-ticket I will start looking at alternative airlines. If I am going to get a lousy seat, I might as well know that in advance. Will Southwest start serving "New Coke"?
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Megan wrote: IÃ
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Thanks for making my decision easier to move on to another airline, I only selected SW because I could check in online and never had a number higher than 5, now I have to wait for another class of passenger and lose that benefit.
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I cannot belive that my beloved airline has just yanked the wonderful way we used to be able to travel out from under us. First, where are the senior fares? I am 66 years old and have traveled between PHX and MDW three times in five months to visit my 92 year old mother and to attend to her business affairs. I carry a fair amount of paperwork and medications with me. I used to catch a senior fare one-way on a moment's notice if my mother was in crisis. I'd get my A-pass as soon as boarding passes were available. I can't take a chance of the overhead racks being full, and then as I am already on board, having to hand over a suitcase with irreplaceable paperwork for shipping , let alone have the possiblity of it getting lost. because I got a C-pass and had to board when storage space was gone. You have forsaken the customers who have loved you and made you who you are, for MONEY! What happened to caring about your passengers? This new format does not speak well for the future of SWA. Herb, HELP! They know not what they do. We need you back at the helm.Up until today, I didn't fly anywhere unless SWA went there. The heck with that! Whatever airline has the cheapest fare, is now on my list. If I don't count, neither do you. I am truly disappointed that I have been kicked into the customer basement by an airline I have bragged about for years. Jan
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Airlines reserve the right to change the way they operate. I don't agree with the changes but I don't own the airline. What I don't like is when I book travel with a airline and they change the rules 1 1/2 months then 2 days before I travel. I booked travel for my family that includes a toddler last July because of under 4 pre-board policy. Your airline took that away that feature at the first part of October. Now 2 days before I travel you make it impossible to grab A boarding passes with your new business ticket class policy. I'll have to be fast to get on the A-List. Your airline has introduced twice the anxiety to my family. First we have to compete for A boarding passes, and even then put up with disgruntled passengers as we try to find enough seats for my family together and install a car seat. We chose your airline for a reason, family friendly, and everyone is equal. My tickets are not the lowest cost either so I should not be looked at the low end of traveling public. If we had know the future changes on Southwest, we would have booked reserved seats on Delta. Your airline should wait until you make tickets available in the future before before rolling out such major changes. Your customer will know what they are getting into. Don't change the rules in the middle of the game, or at least honor the airline policies in place at the time of booking. All airlines need to choose what they want to be. Full Service business class airline or Low Fare Limited Service for the masses. Airlines in the middle don't do well most of the time. The changes recently at Southwest are sort of like Saturn Cars. A great company with a good image and a certain type of a product back in 90's that is slowly being diluted. Compare the Saturn of the early 1990's and Saturns now. Saturns are just another car now. Southwest may soon be just another airline.
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Reading this blog is like a page out of 1984. We're told over and over again that these changes are "exciting!" and are an "enhancement" for loyal WN customers. But repeating the same insulting corporate jargon over and over doesn't make it true. With this decision, WN has destroyed the very thing that most of us loyal customers LUVed most about WN. Remember the slogan "Everyone is first class on Southwest?" That's now been replaced with "No expense paid travel account? Get in back of the line!" Southwest has decided that small business people, commission sales guys, leisure passengers, and anyone who pays out of pocket for air travel, we are now officially second rate, less important, useless seat warmers. This is why so many of us flown WN exclusively overly the years. We hate the stodgy, elitist mentality of the legacy carriers. The legacy lines give all the benefits to the few corporate guys with all expense paid travel accounts while leaving everyone else out in the cold. The pathetic steerage class passengers are forced to slobber over themselves as the chosen few "Elite" are paraded in before us with their priority boarding privileges. But with the old Southwest, everyone was equal. No matter who you are or how much money you made, you could be the first damn person on the plane! We LUVed Southwest because it stood against all that we hated about legacy carriers. We thought this was a committed, LUVing relationship, between passenger and airline. Today we were dumped for the next new thing. This will be a tough breakup, one I hoped would never come. Its been a good 36 years. RIP Southwest. We're gonna miss you!
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Dear Kevin and in SWA management, It is evening and now I can take time after the business day to comment on the new policies. As a person who flies SWA several times per month (10 in Nov.), here are my thoughts: As many other people have commented in previous blogs, including a great number of parents and business people, I implore you to change your pre-board policy for families. It is pretty clear that parents need a little extra time (even psychologically to recover from the drama of children and airports) and most A's and B's would like to choose whether they sit near small children. To prevent pre-board abuse, simply limit a maximum of two adults to board with the children. It seems so simple. I would rather be further back in the aircraft than have a small child kicking or screaming behind me (as I experienced this past Sunday). Thank you for keeping wheelchairs before A's, I have 3 elderly family members that need extra assistance when they fly. I will qualify for the A-list, however, I think it was an error that relays the wrong message to your non-business travelers. For years I dreamed of the coveted companion pass, now that I am a holder, I appreciate the incredible gift that it is. There must be other ways to continue to reward your high volume travelers without creating a hierarchy with an A-list for boarding. All SWA passengers are important and some who fly infrequently now are the road warriors of the future. What is done is done for now. Now some A-listers will feel deprived if and when you repeal the policy. Many people that have been redeeming rapid rewards tickets have had to adjust to the "new" policy (changing blackout/seat restrictions). I preferred the old one because it was the most generous in the industry. Of course, the two year accrual period was a nice change. Clearly, you have been looking for a solution to allow people to use a reward when there are no reward seats available. The 2 certificate/1 flight is an option. Was it really the best one that the incredible talent at SWA could come up with??? What about allowing use 24 hours prior if the capacity permits? I know, you overbook and may have to compensate if the flight is oversold and over the actual passenger limit. You could simply allow use if the flight still has "actual" seats available and is not oversold. The seat would otherwise go empty and IT WOULD MAKE A HAPPY SOUTHWEST CUSTOMER. Remember when it was all about LUV? Remember when the customers experience was important. Sadly, you have a lot of upset passengers right now (and a few happy ones too). It was not that long ago when I only earned 1 or 2 rapid rewards tickets a year, and they were gold to me. For many people, it is still a big deal to earn a free ticket. You have so much of the equation right: 2 years to earn 16 credits, 2 one ways (rather than a round trip), ease of redemption online (great improvement), and fully transferable. The only airline that comes close is Alaska, as they have copied you and implemented 10,000 mile one ways. Imitation is flattery. Well there is a lot more to say, perhaps best in a letter. By the way thanks for the extra TUS/SAN flight and the new TUS/OAK nonstop, I flew it Monday. Remember that everyone counts, thanks.
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Would yal like some cheese with all that WINE?
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So if you pay extra for an A boarding pass and you have 50 through passengers then your A purchase was a complete waste of money because you are still sitting in the back of the plane. Lovely.... Kevin, I think it's pretty obvious from the posts on this board this new fare scheme is a bad idea. You should have just stuck with the new boarding procedures to attract new customers and left it at that. However, you got greedy and went the route of American, UAL, etc. to make more money. Well, if you attract 50 new customers but lose 50 then you've gained nothing. I'm sure you have asked yourselves this question in your research. Would you mind answering it the best you can: 1. Since you now have a "first" class fares but you don't have any of the first class amenities (TV, internet, larger seats, clean planes, etc...) of the other airlines then why should I fly on you if the price is the same? Your fares are mostly matched by other airlines when I check online.
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Kevin, Well, the folks at HDQ have been "teasing" us for some time about the imminent changes as SWA tries to tweak the system, and I'm glad to finally see the results of all of those long meetings and strategy sessions! Now, to those naysayers who are already primed to shoot these ideas down before they've rotated off the runway, let's pause for just a moment and think through just TWO thoughts. First, you can either view the glass as half-full or half-empty. Some of the bloggers above are like me, "half-fullers", who see this announcement as something that may help a number of current situations, not the least of which is profitability and viability of the best airline in the world. Are there some potential speed bumps in the new program? Possibly, but we should give the management team at Southwest the benefit of the doubt to be planning to evaluate and monitor these changes closely as they are implemented. These folks aren't dummies, and if they see that some parts of the new procedures are not doing what they had hoped, they'll spot it. Second, we all need to look at our calendars. We're quickly rushing up on 2008. This is no longer 1971, and as much as we've all loved Southwest just as it has been, the reality is that NO successful business can afford to just keep doing things the way they've always done them. SWA faces rapidly changing and aggressive competition, and the surest way to lose the race is to just keep doing the same thing while everyone around you innovates and modifies their strategy. How many times have you watched a football game and said to yourself, "why doesn't the coach quit calling running plays and put it in the air, because their defensive line is a solid wall", or something similar? The large carriers and the upstart low-cost ones are scrambling hard for the leisure traveler, the business traveler and everyone inbetween. Southwest owes it to us, their passengers, and us, their stockholders, to change up the plays a bit to stay in front. If we don't want them to work to remain profitable, then we are forcing them to follow the path of Braniff and many others that just financially spiraled into the ground. Instead of tripping up Kevin and the guys who are running some new plays into the huddle, let's stand up and cheer and support their efforts to win the game. All of you who are bitterly complaining about innovation and change need to remember that you're talking to a company that exists because it WAS innovative and different in 1971, and by definition, has ALWAYS been innovative ever since. We should not take for granted that what worked in the 1980s and the 1990s is going to keep working forever. Let's give Southwest not only the freedom to move about the country but to innovate and grow as they need to! Kim External Blog Boy
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I have a son... soon to be 12... who has been "blessed" w/autism. I can assure you that no business class traveler would want to be seated next to us on even a short flight. Where my son is very good for the most part... waiting is just not his thing, which becomes more than annoying for the people sitting in our near vicinity. We have never been denied pre-boarding due to his disability, which, I can assure you is not only appreciated by us, but likely many other passengers who choose not to sit near children when the choice is given. So, I am wondering just how "comfortable" the next business class passenger who gets to sit next to us b/c we couldn't preboard will appreciate your new system.
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I hate that it comes down to this! Now southwest doesn't give the freedom to fly to everyone. If you have more money, you will be treated differently, and southwest bought into that. It's a sad day to see such a company change its policies. No more treating everybody as equal! Where's Herb and Colleen? We need you back!!!!!!!!!!! Although we might not might not make as much profit as we like by doing things as in the past, we need to hold strong to our core values. I believe that is what people like most about us, that we're different and don't care about a persons status or salary. Greed has a way of working itself into our core-being. I am a Southwest employee and hate to see the direction our company is headed. The "little people" are just that, second string-when it comes down to Southwest Airlines. When will corporate Southwest realize that the majority of our travelers are "common folk", who do not make a 6 digit income. Remember 9/11? When employees donated over a million dollars back to company to help with costs. When the Board of Directors, including Herb and Colleen froze their pay to lower costs. There is ( or was) a culture in Southwest Airlines, where we all looked out for each other, including our customers. But money talks, and we took the bait! From a competitor standpoint, I realize we have few options to increase revenue, but I despise the image that we now have to deal with. The Statue of Liberty should simply read "give me your wealthy, and I will take care of them!" I'm sure this will never be allowed on our blog-website, but I felt that it needed to be said.
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It's nice to see that some people like Kim are congratulating SW for their new policies, but I am in the negative camp on this new turn of events. To Kevin and Gary Kelly, I travel a lot on southwest for business and travel. With a family of 4, we don't like this new pre-board behind 60 A tickets idea as others have mentioned. As a business traveler, I could care less that I get a free drink or extra credits with your new Business Select fare. Southwest was formed with the idea of having a class-less, choose your own seat policy. How can you choose a seat anywhere in the front of the plane if getting an A seat is going to be like going to the Indy 500? FAST FAST FAST! No more cattle calls (Good idea!) But instead NOW you have to watch the clock and get ready to pounce the computer to check in (and hope to get an A seat!). It seems that the good old days of Southwest are gone (for good?) under new management. What a shame! Southwest, I hate to say it, but this loyal customer from the OKC market is going to start using Xjet, Delta, United or Northwest regional jet service to get from here to Cal or Michigan. At least when I book those flights, I know where I will sit, there's no "business-class treatment" and it's worth the $50 change fee! I hope you will change your mind on these recent decisions. If it's fuel costs and revenue are the issue, I know most people would be willing to pay an extra $5-10 a seat over your current one-way internet fares to secure the class-less boarding policies. Thanks for listening to my opinion. Casey C
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"We should not take for granted that what worked in the 1980s and the 1990s is going to keep working forever. LetÃ
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The first time I put in the time and effort to check in online 24 hours in advance as I normally do and end up in a middle seat, I'm gone. These "enhancements" smell an awful lot like the enhancement when you eliminated blackout dates on Rapid Reward tickets only to impose capacity controls and then as a practical matter still have the same blackout dates as before. You should not be suprised at the skepticism expressed herein.
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While I have not had an opportunity to form an opinion about the new fare structure, I must say that not allowing families with small children to pre-board seems like a big mistake. Now it is up to chance whether or not the parents get to sit with the kids? Even the business travelers have posted above that this does not make sense. With families pre-boarding, the rest of the plane self-selects into people who don't mind sitting around kids, and people who don't care to. Now it's a roll of the dice. And by the way, sir, can you stand up and block the aisle for a few minutes while we install the car seat in the middle seat? It's ok, you'll get your seat back when I'm done because I'll have to go to the back of the plane. A number of the posts above regarding the fare structure had responses posted by a Southwest executive, but his complete silence on this issue really reflects how indefensible it really is. In general, I applaud getting rid of the lines, that makes complete sense.
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Southwest has become greedy. A little known fact is that Southwest has lead most fare increases in the industry this past year. It's true, not AA or UA or any of the other major players, our favorite (well perhaps not anymore) airline has been the spear head for higher fares. All this talk about "enhancements" from Mr. Krone is corporate talk for "we're screwing you." If you want to create a business class, get yourself 10 business class seats, put a partition behind them and charge what you can get for those upgraded seats and service. But don't try to tell us regular folks who don't fly 32(!) segments a year that sitting in the back next to a screaming 2 year old is an "enhancement."
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*****gooooo kim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RAAAAA RAAAAA!**** Kim, Thanks for being such a GREAT cheerleader! I have great faith in our guys and gals that run our company. This blog sure has lit up with tons of concerns and I completely understand alot of it. Change is scary sometimes. I don't think SWA has every been stingy or greedy. But we are a business, and the company has to make a profit. If not, we will end up in the Airline Graveyard! I certainly don't want to be there! Our peanuts are still free and so is our fabulous Customer Service! There will never be a charge for that! When I was a kid, I hated broccoli....or so I thought. It looked gross! I never would eat it. Then one day, out of fear of hurting my potential future mother in law's feelings, I had a bite. It was great. I am the biggest broccoli rice casserole fan now!!!! Had I not tried that first bite, I would have missed out on a ton! Okay, so it was just a green veggie, but I tried something new, that I had thought was bad. It turned out to be great. I'm so glad I did! It's kind of hard to "knock something" until you've tried it. Good luck everyone, and happy travels!!
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Question: I just tried the new Business Select fares. One way from OAK-OKC fully refundable for today 11/8 leaving at 1015 am PST. When I went to check in I got A-01 seat. Does this mean that all the people that checked in in the last 16 hours start at a higher A number? Or is there more than on A-01 seat?