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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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PLEASE...let the families have priority boarding!!!! I agree with the previous bloggers. The advantage of boarding after the families is obvious and beneficial for the families as well as the travelers w/o children. PLEASE...keep the new part of the boarding process A 1-5, A 5-6, etc.it is a great improvement, but for heavens sake the pay more and get ahead of everyone else who sat at their computer waiting for that 24 hr. mark to check in is baloney. Those A List Execs. have staff and travel agencies check in for them so it is NOT an incovenience for them anyway. NOTE: since the A Listers will pay more or actually their employers will pay more, does that mean that the A-List fares will end up costing everyone more for whatever product they sell?? I guess that's the trickle down effect. Pleae re-think the family boarding process and us lowly leisure travelers working hard to get an A Boarding pass.
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P.S for the above blog...With all of the excitement about these new procedures, have you forgotten those of us waiting to book our trips past March 7????? On 8/29/07 you announced that today 11/8/07, you would open up the schedule for travel through May 9, 07. We are now 8 hrs. into 11/8 and still nothing. Is this new system taking precedence over those of us who faithfully follow SWA scheds. and plan our trips accordingly? I may not be an A-Lister, but I am a devoted leisure travel customer.
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The most amazing thing about all these changes is that management doesn't seem to want to respond to comments about family boarding after the A group and the basis for that decision. Pamela above hit the nail on the head. Us business travelers want the families on before us. Management needs to come here to MCO during the holidays and observe the temperment of their customers during boarding. Many holiday reservations were made before the changes were announced. I feel for the CSA's. They will feel the blunt of the frustrations. I LUV SWA, but this change was wrong.
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The only contract of carriage that is on your website that pertains to boarding is Issued Oct 26, 2006, Article 21 Section C "Boarding Groups are assigned on a first-come first served basis in the order Boarding passes are issued, regardless of the location or means from which obtained" Although this doesn't affect the RR- A List policy which issues boarding passes 36 hours before the flight Article 127 (Right to Change Contract) suggest that you have the right to make these changes, but you should keep you website up to date! Tom
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Good grief! Does Mr. Kelly know he is working for Southwest or does he think he is working for AA?! Bring Herb back. The only thing that Mr. Kelly seems to be interested in is making Southwest just like the other bankrupt airlines. Upsetting his employees, not listening to his passengers, and making changes that are not needed. I read an article that he said it wasn't broke but a little bent...what is bent?! We all understood what Southwest stood for....plastic boarding cards, sit next to whoever you wanted, and have great service....those days are history...will this airline be the same way?
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Good Morning... I thought I would give you a bit of history on why we decided to make changes to our preboard policy when it comes to families. Over the years, we've noticed that the number of families traveling continues to grow, and so did our Preboard group. At times, we would have flights that would be halfway boarded with family preboards by the time we began our A boarding. Through research and surveys, we discovered that families aren't necessarily concerned with the section of the aircraft they are sitting, as long as they have seats together. Through that same research, we confirmed that our business travelers are under more of a time crunch when traveling and sitting in the front of the plane is important to them. With families boarding before the As, most of those front seats were taken by the time our A group or business travelers were boarded. The new boarding procedure gives our A passenger a larger seat selection and at the same time, allows our families to find seats together. Now, I know that does not help in situations, like yours AJ, of having a screaming, seat kicker plop down behind you but I'm hoping this is not a common occurrence. In fact, most of the time we've noticed that with the new boarding system the A's fill up the front of the aircraft and the family passengers move to the rear of the plane...closer to the restrooms which is a bonus for those travelling with small ones. Hope this answers some of the above questions and concerns!
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Kevin, Kudos for your above response. Maybe some don't agree with it, but it makes a lot of sense. This is the best explanation for this change since it was announced. I know its not easy being in the front of the firing line. We appreciate your comments to our post, no matter how "heated" they get.
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SWA just made themselves into an elitist major airline without the major airline perks. A. They now have first class ticket sales but no first class seats. B. They have created a special customer. (i.e. United's Permier, Permier Executive, and 1K members) just so they can board first but won't even get their choice of seat if there are through passengers. Basically, you are now charging more for nothing new except a drink. It's sad to see how US airlines market themselves right into oblivion. There is no reason to buy a ticket on SWA anymore. I can get an assigned seat, TV, internet (coming on other airlines), and a REAL first class for the same price as a SWA elite ticket. Very sad Kevin. Where is Herb Kelleher? SWA needs him back in a hurry. As Gorden Gecko said, "Greed is good." Well, not in this case. It's time to try out Virgin America and jetBlue.
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Kevin, Buddy...pal...you've GOTTA do me a favor. Well, actually, it is for ALL of the SWA pax... We love the free peanuts, whether they are the old-fashioned, original recipe roasted, or the new honey-roasted. Whatever you do, please please PLEASE do NOT put Tamra in charge of provisioning. I do NOT want my peanuts replaced with free packages of broccoli!!!! Former President George H. W. Bush okay, not really 🙂
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Yes, agree with Kevin about the families, regular travlers see that all the time. Geez wouldn't want to be Kevin this week. I'm willing to see how it goes.
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As a SWA Flight Attendant, I can confirm from lots of experience that families boarding AFTER the "A" group has been wonderful! We have had absolutely no problem in getting families seats together. Also, if you are concerned about getting seats together (which you shouldn't be) you can always just make sure that you check in 24 hrs in advance. Families with "A" boarding passes can still board with the "A" group. A limited number of seats on each flight are designated as Business Select leaving lots of other "A" boarding passes out there.. Trust me, as very proud SWA flight attendants, we have the "front line" experience to back up the Company when it says Family Boarding after the "A" group is a good thing. Family Boarding has been a wonderful improvement. Please keep in mind that change is inevitable and can be scary. Please give it a chance before you pass judgment. If you haven't flown since the changes have been implemented, try it out! We promise the same outstanding Southwest service that you have come to deserve and expect. I love my job because of the passengers I am able to interact with each and every day. Give it a shot, folks! I promise you'll be glad you did!
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Wow. I never thought so many people would have negative responses. Guess I was wrong. As a Southwest f/a, I am on the front line of these changes. To all of you that are screaming about the family preboarding changes, I just want to tell you a quick story. I worked a flight out of Orlando which had FIFTY preboarders. Wheelchairs and families. We nearly had a riot at the top of the jetway. The OPS agent came down and told us that they were scared. They had people screaming at them in the A boarding group. Obviously this was NOT a good thing. To the families: Take some initiative! Log on 24 hours ahead of time & print out your boarding pass and get an "A". Even if you aren't all grouped together numerically you'll get your "A" and get to sit together. If not, you'll still get to sit together in the B group. And we'll be on the plane working our magic to make sure it happens (I had to do it last night!). To the business traveler with the kicking child: How about you take some initiative, turn around, and say to the parent "Please stop your child from kicking my seat". Wow, what a concept! :) All I see is complaining here when there can be action taken by both affected types of travelers to minimize inconvenience. What SWA is trying to do is change things up to make travel easier and we're never going to be able to please every individual! Give the changes some time and you'll see that it will be better. Oh. One more thing. Historically, passengers are unwilling to pay an extra $15-20 bucks per ticket to cover the cost of jet fuel ($90 for a barrel of oil right now) we have to find new ways to increase our revenue. This is one of them. So step up, print out those boarding passes, talk to the parent with the kicking child, and if you really want, ask for a second bag of peanuts to soothe your soul. We don't mind. LUV, SWAFA
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Hello - I am a previous 1K flyer on United. I fly less these days because I have two small children. When I do fly for business, I often take my children on business trips with me (along with their nanny.) I was so happy to fly Southwest, because I could get my children settled (with their carseats, snacks, toys, diaper bags, etc.) before everyone else boarded. And on personal flights (with no nanny), it was much easier as well. On United, I had to work with the other Premier boarding passengers to get my family on board and I always felt I was inconveniencing them (having been a solo business flyer for years.) It was stressful and sweaty, but at least I knew we'd all sit together in the Premier section. I have one more flight scheduled with my family on Southwest. When it's done, I'm taking my business (4 tickets - usually not the cheap ones) back to United. Sorry Southwest - I'm not lugging a one year old and a three year old, two carseats, a diaper bag, and a toy bag to the back of the plane and inconveniencing everyone behind me as I struggle to get them on board. You lost my business.
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Tom, The Contract of Carriage has been changed. Brian
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Bye Bye Southwest. This is BS. You charge higher fares, you devalue all of my existing rewards. No regular award seats available!!
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First you fix it so that we might not be able to avoid sitting near children Then you fix it so there are so many favored classes of passengers that there is nothing left for your plain old regulars who have enjoyed Southwest for many years. As far as the families boarding----there is one right way to do it!!!!!!!!!!!! They board first and go all the way to the back of the plane. That gives them plenty of time to get situated and meanwhile everyone else can get on without stumbling over car seats and such. So they are favored by having extra time (which they really need) and are able to sit together, but not DOUBLY favored by getting on first and also getting the best seats. One favor for families is enough. The first time I put effort into getting an A boarding pass and then I am surrounded by families, or asked to move my seat to accomodate them, that is the day I stop flying Southwest. I can have that experience on any other airline!! I have been a big Southwest fan for many and I am a little disappointed--too many changes at once!!
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At first, I was excited. Now, I am second guessing these new policies. I think that its only fair to make my judgments about the new system after flying my scheduled flights over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Good luck Southwest. You used to be (and still are) my airline of choice due to the lack of change fees, somewhat low prices, great service, and the opportunity for me to grab "the seat" (I'm 6'3"). Let's hope these do not change...
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Kevin, I appreciate your willingness to offer a little more background on the family preboard comments. Honestly, this was not handled very well a few weeks back when we pushed for such an explanation on the original announcement. I think that many of us would also like to know why there seemed to be this need to roll out these extensive changes at the start of the peak travel season. Also, Southwest tends to be overlooking the fact that the changes do indeed negatively penalize those with lap children. When the preboard changes came out, Brian advised us that WN knows it to be a problem but that ... honestly... there is no timeline for a solution. Fortunate for you that those of us that are immediately impacted will most likely grow out of the problem before you introduce a solution. I can only say that I am greatful for the fact that our plans for once won't require us to fly this year. It really seemed a bit inconsiderate for everyone to be implementing all these changes during the busiest time. Here's hoping you can iron out the kinks without making it a miserable holiday for your staff as well as the public. What I don't quite understand is how the company feels that all these particular changes are what were the priority to help with revenue. I question even the capital costs of the revamped gates ... not only for the line ups but all the new furniture. While the lounge concept is intriguing, it seems like the gate area will still be a mess whenever you have a schedule slide... which most of us can forgive because the gate area is not really our priority.. but rather the comfort and safety of the actual flight service. All the airport upgrades seem to really be a boon for the entire traveling public. After all, I am sure there will be nothing to stop passengers traveling other airlines at nearby gates from sqautting in the area. I find it hard to believe that these upgrades are where the company expects to see a serious return on investment. On that note... there seems to be lots of general talk about inflight amenities (e.g. internet access). Nice idea and I hope it is still a priority for you. You want to compete and catch the attention of business travelers? Then how about investing the money in your fleet instead of the gate seating? The paint job and leather seat upgrades on your livery were nice touches a few years back to freshen things up. However, there have been lots of great innovations introduced by your low fare competitors (in flight tv comes to mind). I've been able to give Southwest the excuse for the lack of additional amenities by rationalizing that they have the philosophy of setting the expectation low (to match their fares) and then always exceeding it (on time schedules, friendly service, not to mention the complimentary snack boxes). However, now that there appears to be a class differentiation, I see that the company has elected to try to cater to a select group at the cost of their general consumers. What has always impressed me about Southwest is that they found a model that allowed them to be profitable while treating everyone with equal respect. Whereas the legacies have always had the mentality that their bread and butter was the business traveler, Southwest managed to find a way to do it differently. However, with these announcements, it seems like the company has felt that their can't offer the same level of service to all their customers. Messing with that expectation means that you risk the danger of raising some folks expectations while disappointing others. I hope that your new strategy of going after business accounts work. Of course, isn't this now 2007 and not 1987? I know the company I work for watches every dime of travel expenditure and isn't necessarily going to be willing to let me spend an extra $15-20/leg for the perks -- we must be in the minority if your market research is showing different.
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Well - this is a real bummer... I don't fly SWA much these days for two reasons: A) I'm one of those consultants flying out on Sunday night and back home on Friday -- to go DTW to PVD, I have to connect in MDW or BWI on SWa; and B) your fares are not the lowest any more. I am earning partner credits like crazy to save my oldest credits before they expire in February. Looks like when I DO redeem that reward travel certificate I will be the 350 lb guy in the center seat. Maybe I should have just let my oldest flight credits expire...
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Why do so many families think they DESERVE priority boarding? You chose to travel, you bought the ticket, and you had the children. There are those of us who travel with our children and look at priority boarding as a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT and respect it for that reason. You purchased a SEAT on a FLIGHT, not the right to DEMAND some sort of special boarding just for you. Get a grip, folks! If you are offered the PRIVILEGE of boarding the plane with your children after the "A" group when you hold in your greedy little hand a "C" boarding pass....say thank you and move along. SHEESH!
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New policies intriduced with the obvious cover of the PR team. I checked for several fares yesterday afternoon for first quarter 08 travel (I fly frequently on business) and every one of them is up 30% or more. This is nothing more than a cheap, slick way to increase fares. I have instructed my staff that they are required to check all other airlines for cheaper fares. Bad job Southwest.
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Scott, speaking as someone who is childfree and militant about it, you are missing the point. Pre-boarding small children is not really for the benefit of families, it is for the benefit of everyone else who can avoid tripping over car seats and other debris in the aisles and, as many people have pointed out, select a seat that is not near any children. I flew last month MHT-LAS and back on flights with the new pre-board rules and pretty much everyone was unhappy about having the kids between the A and B group. The parents sure didn't like it and the people in the A group who had to change seats obviously didn't. But what Southwest should care about here is that is slowed down the boarding process. Maybe they let the B group come down the ramp too fast or something but it just did not work at all. So I add my voice to the people saying to change it back, put the families on first with some reasonable and well enforced eligibility rules and maybe tell them to choose a seat past the wing exits or something so the aisle in the front of the plane stays clear for the next wave of passengers. My wife is flying MHT->PHX today and I'm waiting for her report on the rest of the new boarding changes which sound positive. Cheers.
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Old argument Scott. First of all.. those of us with legitimately small children (I am talking under 4 here) are just trying to get the FAA car seat on board and in a window seat (faa required) out of the way fast enough so we don't hold you up. We always sit beyond row 15... so we aren't your problem. I'm tired of the over generalization that we are doing this because we deserve some sort of preferential treatment. Of course, Southwest appears to be saying the same thing with their policy changes which is disappointing. When we flew a couple of weeks back, we are in the A cluster... kids were fidgeting and everyone was huddling together... which invariably caused bumping of people in front and behind us. We got on board and I have to hold the kid and car seat above all the seats to move to the back of the plane (moving to the back of the plane isn't the problem).. but additional apologies have to be offered to those sitting in front aisles are getting bumped along the way. Just trying to be a good fellow passenger by getting on board and out of YOUR way as quick as possible without minimal impacti to you. Plus, I would think you'd prefer seeing where my 1 year old and 3 year old are situated so you can then choose to avoid that if at all possible. I understand the overall frustration with the preboard abuses. The larger families... with older children... by all means... you are right that was ridiculous. The same can be said for the protected classes that abuse the preboard privilege as well. However, realize that there are those of us that this negatively impacts more than for the sake of the simple convenience of being first. I guess we'll wait to see how the profits pan out. As it is, I know that a lot of the A-listers out there are flying under the same internet/ding fares that I am snagging for my family. However, while the A-list frequent flier may be flying lots of ding fares... they are essentially only one consumer. The system is certainly not rewarding those of us who foot the bill for the family (4 consumers vs 1). Let the race begin to see if the revenue from these changes offsets any loss of volume.
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Business travel fares, award travel perks for business travelers, posh waiting areas, numbered and lettered boarding...what the heck are you guys doing? You guys think these are enhancements? SW has a cult status due to its democratic business sense and now that's gone. We like the low fares, friendly service, easy boarding method and knowledge that we'll get to our destination on time and without much hassle. You're becoming another major airline clone and that's incredibly sad.
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Geoff, I appreciate your comments, and I understand that family boarding is for the benefit of everyone, but it's primary intention is to give families more time to board and get situated. Ask any SWA employee what the intention is. My comment was pointed at all of those screaming about not being able to pre-board before every other fare paying passenger. It is a privilege offered by the company, not a right. Your "militant" remarks only go to show that you ALSO are demanding something more than just a seat on a flight, which is the only thing you paid for. Sorry, but you fit into the category of you bought a ticket, you bought a seat, and that's what you received and now you want more. When you go to a movie, do you also demand that children be seated away from you? I don't think they'd be willing to accomodate that request either. Demanding anything more ithan what you paid for is uncalled for and greedy. It is a business, providing a service and that's what you received. You traveled from point A to point B safely...business transaction completed. Nothing more is owed to you. Cheers!
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I appreciate Kevin's and the F/As' explanations and view from the front lines. But I still don't fully understand two things: (1) These changes are presented as win-win for everyone. I see how business travelers benefit, and why Southwest needs to make more money from them. How are these changes a "win" for non-business travelers? Aside from a streamlined online reservation page, I truly don't see how non-business travelers benefit, but I sure see how they lose out. (2) Family boarding policy: I really appreciate CK and SWAFA's descriptions about how the new policy has been working well. But that's not what I've seen and heard, and many other blog entries say the same. I followed the new policy as CK describes it: "Families with 'A' boarding passes can still board with the 'A' group." I checked in my family 24 hrs early and was #A1 and A2; When my 2-year-old and I, and his stroller, and car seat, and carry-ons, were lined up in the middle of the A group, between all the business travelers and other 'A' holders, it certainly didn't make things faster. No one in line could understand why a family should line up in the middle of 'A' group, and everyone I spoke with in line on all four legs of that trip--leisure and business travelers alike--felt strongly that families with young kids should pre-board as everyone was accustomed to. Does it really speed things up and make things fairer to have families with kids, carseats, etc., boarding both during and after Group A? If things are really working better, I'd appreciate seeing passengers' comments to that effect.
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BWAHAHAHAHA So much for making it better. You just opened past March 7 today. I go and try to book a flight on March 16 within hours of it opening up, I can book a flight for less than $100, but when I go to use awards, i am told no go, but we will gladly take two awards for one flight. ADIOS SOUTHWEST. I really really hope you get that business traveler you are after, because it just cost you one. Kevin, I hope you report you lost a customer instead of gained one!
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This is the worst thing to happen to air travel in my lifetime. I LOVED Southwest for not following the same protcols as other airlines. I booked a flight online yesterday and went to do so again today --- I did not realize that today would be an entirely different interface and choices. I am SO disappointed in the change, that I opted to go to Orbitz and book instead. This is a veiled attempt to get people to pay higher fares to get "benefits" that they could have previously gotten by being responsible travelers and booking/checking in early. As for your "streamlined" reservations page... what a bunch of bull. Your previous user interface could not have been simpler - a monkey could have booked tickets. The new reservations page simply clusters fares together into an "average' that gives the flyer fewer choices in fares. I am so sad. Southwest was my (FORMER) favorite airline. I frequently defended your honor to all of my airline "snob" colleagues who preferred the programs of other airlines. I will no longer sing your praises, Southwest!
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Wow, we have certainly stirred up the hornet's nest. I would just ask for families not to pass judgement before you fly with us. I have worked for SWA for 9 yrs as a flight attendant and as operations agent. When there was a need to find seats together for parents travelling with small children, there has always been someone willing to move to a different seat. There was one flight where we had no takers, but I made the comment over the PA that we were now looking for a babysitter. Needless to say, we were able to get the parents seated next to the kids. Since we started the family boarding after the A group, I have only had 2 complaints. The anger and frustration comes because parents feel that now they wouldn't be able to sit with their children. That simply is not true! In family boarding now, there will be 60 boarding passes in the A group, besides those people who need to preboard. This leaves approximately 70 seats open in the aircraft. On flights where passengers remain onboard, employees have been trained to scan the gate area to see if seats need to blocked for families, and then pass the information along to the flight attendants who will block seats so we can accomodate our families. The seats may be in the back of the aircraft, but we will do everything to ensure families with small children are seated next to each other. Family boarding has been succesful in my opinion and has not played a role in delayed flights. By staggering families who board that are already in the A group, followed by the regular Family Boarding after it, seems to cut down on the cluster of strollers and car seats all at one time. Family boarding appears to be a win-win situation, except for the people in the A group who try to distance themselves from a loud child. Maybe we should allow families to preboard again, just tell them that rows ---- to --- is where they may sit, keeping the forward cabin for regular boarding groups. I would emphasize to families with children under 4 to do everything in their power to get to the gate early! This will eliminate the need to try to find seats together after everyone else has boarded. I love Southwest, but I will say that I am heart-broken over the new "business select" priority. There are other means to make a few extra dollars although I will not say my ideas. It seems obvious to me, but the backlash I would get is not worth the effort. I feel sorry that we have evolved into a "Legacy Carrier", distancing those who truly drive our business-the middle and lower classes of society, of which I see myself. People are people regardless of income! And now we have just made less-fortunate people feel second class.------------That's not what has made us into who we are today, and hopefully it won't determine who we are tomorrow! Herb and Colleen: "HELP!"
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All the people complaining about the children bugs me. This is Southwest's policy, but as the parent of an 18-month-old, reading these comments makes it sound like a personal attack. If you don't like a child sitting behind you, take your one bag, get up and move. Oh wait, isn't that the reason the policy was changed in the first place? First you complain you didn't get to get on the plane fast enough, now you are being discriminative to the people sitting around you. It sounds to me that for those who are really complaining, it's not possible to ever make you happy. I have to sit in traffic sometimes an hour per way per day, but I do it because I have to in order to work and provide for my family. It's the same with flying for work. You know what it's like, so plug in your ipod, get a book, and just sit through it like the rest of us.
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Angie - The Reservations system on Southwest.com offers the lowest available discounted fare in the "Want to get away" fare group for the flight you are reviewing. It's not an average. Instead of having to search for the lowest fare, the system displays it for you. To me the new booking process on Southwest.com became even easier.
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I have very mixed feelings about these changes. As a customer who travels with Southwest at least once every 6 weeks, I feel that my business is being deprioritized in favor of those travelers who use Southwest infrequently and at the last minute. I give you repeated business very dependably and in advance. It's extremely helpful for me, rather than confusing, to see each of the fare buckets available as opposed to being left guessing in the dark. I don't mind the new boarding procedures, but they do mean that Southwest will have a much more serious problem with websites that check people in and acquire boarding passes for passengers. I also do welcome the 'double rapid rewards' option, because it doesn't take away any flexibility that I already have, and provides an (admittedly very costly) option for travel when all award buckets are used up.
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How annoyed was I when I went online today to make reservations and found out it would cost me double. Well it is peak time so I decided to bite the bullet and do it. Nope! Since I need to fly only one way (coming back from another city, always do, via SW) I am out of luck. The Freedom Fares are only for roundtrips. SW I have gone out of my way over the years to be loyal to you, convinced my friends and family that your quirky boarding procedure was worth it and you do this to me? I called your reservation agent all she could do was give me the daytime number. It didn't sound like it was the first time she had given it out today. By the way she was very polite and helpful. Rethink this ASAP. Limiting awards was a hit, now this! What's next, charging for the peanuts and softdrinks?
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I am flying with my 2 kids (6 and 3) on Thanksgiving Sunday and doubt that I will like the changes. Given the holiday traffic, the A-List automatic checkins and the lack of family pre-boarding, I am not sure if we should even expect to be seated together (no matter how far back in the plane) Would anyone from Southwest Airlines comment on whether there is a policy to ensure that at least one parent will be seated with a young child.
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Oh, what a hairball this seems like. First of all why would you give priority to some guy on a business trip using his employers expense account over the people who are mainly responsible for your success (the leisure traveler)?? I have encountered many of these so-called businessmen on many of my trips before and cannot stand the thought of them being given priority. The ones I have encountered (and I usually fly 4-6 times a month) are already proped up at the front of the line eyeballing everybody who comes within 10 feet of them thinking they are trying to cut the line, most of them have been rude and extremely unprofessional. When i see this I usually think,"hey if you think your such an hot dog then why the hell aren't you in American business class? Also, please let these people with small children board first, nobody wants to have these annoying children with their ignorant parents who can't/won't seem to keep them quiet near them. Southwest really need to rethink this.
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Congratulations! Business Select is the most sophisticated way of raising fares, creating a traveling bourgeiosie, and alienating customers by Southwest and perhaps, other airlines in years. Selling it as a positive development for passengers is transparently ludicrous. The last dopey move was for some airlines to charge extra for aisle seats. Southwest is profitable. I suspect that its profitability will decrease as it alienates more and more customers.
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Hi everyone, A big part of the Blog Team is in Las Vegas for BlogWorld, and we have been speaking with a lot of Southwest Customers who flew into the event from all over the country today. Many of them sampled our new boarding procedures today, and in all honesty, they report that things went smoothly. In fact, they are excited about the changes. Tomorrow, we will be blogging live from the event,m and may even have some video blogs so you can hear these thoughts first hand. Brian Lusk
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Yet another reason I am glad we cancelled our flights and decided to drive. You put some shiny "wax" on a lump of coal....and it is still a lump of coal. You surely have lost sight of the original philosophy of Southwest Airlines, and have decided to cater to the business traveler while kicking working families to the curb. As a traveller for both business and pleasure(family), I continue to be more and more disappointed in the changes which disadvantage families and persons not traveling on a "business account".
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What a disappointment. I am a business traveler and use Southwest for over 80% of my travel. When I checked in online on Wed. for my recent trip at the appointed 24 hour time slot, I got my A with a 1. Today I checked in for my return at the same appointed 24 hour time and got an A44. So 43 people will be boarding ahead of me, ensuring that I will not get the seat I would have by checking in early and showing up early. On top of that, some screaming child will now possibly sit next to me since children board after the A's. The Southwest experience just took a blow in my opinion. The new experience is no better than what one expects on other airlines. How sad. With the other airlines, I can now choose my seat ahead of time and will do so more often. The fact that in order for me to get a "better" seat, I now have to pay 2-3 times more than the lowest fare, will certainly be a premium I will not pay. I for one certainly hope you find this new policy lacking in merit.
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Kevin- I laughed out loud when I read your comment that families with kid naturally head to the back of the plane. Check again!!! Two kids, a carseat and all their crap---yeah, we're going to sit in the first row available. Business travelers want off planes fast? So do families with children. Someone always has to go the bathroom (and gosh knows Mom and child can't fit in an airplane lavatory together). The spiteful part of me wants to look for the smug business traveler who loves all the changes and when I board after the A's (because I have a lap child and cannot check in online), I will sit right behind or next to him/her. While I am usually a tyrant about keeping my kids feet from kicking and voices down, I may ease up. You wanted on before us--these are the consequences. Sorry that sounds ugly. Southwest has reared it's ugly (and some would say greedy, head)--how can you expect your customers not to follow suit? Where's the LUV, Southwest!????
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I think that families with little ones should be allowed to preboard. I watched a lady board a flight in New Orleans a few weeks ago with a toddler, stroller, carseat and diaper bag. She had to wait in the jet bridge behind the A's with all this stuff trying to make about a 2 year old behave and be patient. Then, she had to try not to wack people in the head with the carseat as she struggled to find a seat. She looked totally stressed out, but somehow managed to keep her composure. I heard her complain to a pilot when she got off, and I don't blame her one bit even though I don't have kids. It was very poor customer service, and frankly, I think impolite. Why couldn't families who want to preboards be asked to sit beyond a certain row? Then, the Business Select Customers wouldn't be mad and wouldn't lose their primo seats, and Southwest could still make money off of them which is what this all seems to be about.
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Scott, you may want to read my previous comment again. I don't see where I was demanding special treatment since my point was that the new pre-board process seemed unfair to all passengers... because it took longer. Part of the "business transaction," as you put it, is trying for an on time departure and my experience last month was the the new pre-board procedure endangers that because the B group took a lot longer to come aboard and take their seats. Beyond that I am happy to take whatever boarding number I get and pick an open seat when I come down the jetway.
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frankly, i am sick and tired of paying 79 CENTS for a soda pop, that 15 years ago, was 50 CENTS. a postage stamp was 25 CENTS now it's 41!!! What in the world could possibly be happening: MIGHT the economy be changing?? Perhaps it's (gasp) supply and demand?? MAYBE just maybe since just 10 YEARS ago a gallon of gas was 98 CENTS now averaging 300 to 500 CENTS a gallon, could this be the clincher? Gosh, obviously, change never happens over time so HERES TO Making the best of things for everyone cause EVERYone cannot get what they want.
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I just wanted to add to several comments on here, which I completely agree with. For about 10 years I have only bought SWA tickets, not because they are always the least expensive, but because of Southwest's policy's of not treating high paying customers to extras. Everyone was treated the same, regardless of the fare purchased. Now, it seems to be that it will be nearly impossible to get an "A" boarding card and to get the exit row seats unless one purchases a business select fare. The equal treatment of all Customers was one of the main reasons that I have ALWAYS chosen SWA; I did not even consider other airlines before. With Southwest making these changes, they are much more like all of the legacy carriers. There is no reason now to choose SWA over other carriers any longer, as they have chosen to become just another commodity in the business. I hope that Southwest's management decides quickly to change this policy, before they loose many extremely loyal customers to other carriers. This policy will only drive away the customers that made the airline what it is. If these policies are not revised with boarding process; I for one can not be as loyal to SWA when it is viewed as a commodity, which is what these policies have done. Please fix these policies before you loose your best customers, it is not too late!!
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I have always flown Southwest for my business travels, and appreciated the 24 hour check in policy. However, the A-List policy is something that I do not think was a step in the right direction. This policy is a slap in the face of the couple or family that wanted to travel Southwest for a long weekend or vacation get away. One member may be an A-lister, but the rest of the family or travel companions are stuck boarding much later. I tried to think of a way to make the A list work, restricting it to the popular business travel days and travel times, and leaving Friday Saturday and Sunday free for the family passengers - but after much thinking it believe you should scrap the A-List all together and let each passenger check in as close to 24 hours prior as possible to get the best possible spot in line. I like some of the new enhancements, but the A - list gets a BIG FAT F in my book. Cut it now!!!
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Just a quick addition to my comments above: I am not doubting that Southwest needs to raise additional revenue and the airline business is extremely competitive, but it should not be done by prioritizing one group of Customers over the other. Thanks
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Like Walter I'm a tall guy (6'7") and the exit row means a lot to me. I'm also a very loyal Southwest customer, and based on my hundreds of flights with you I know I need to be in the first 10 or so on board to get a window or aisle exit seat. I was happy to get the email advising me based on my past travel that I'm on the A-List, so you will "reserve the best boarding pass number available". But, is that best available after Business Select? What is the actual assignment hierarchy? If the Business Select seats are filled first the message I get is you value the infrequent flyer paying a few dollars more on a particular flight over a loyal, frequent, but thrifty customer who plans ahead (not exactly the Southwest Way). Another thing I think you should try which costs nothing and potentially solves the problem for any really tall customers regardless of which group they're in - the gate agent looks at the passengers and if there are any really tall people, says as part of the pre-board announcement, "We've got some really tall people here, please be kind enough to let them sit in the exit row." Not a guaranteed solution, but people are for the most part considerate given a chance and a reminder. My two cents on the rest of the changes - I share the concerns but I think the new system will still be better than the other airlines and if it's not I think you will figure that out and fix it. I also like the fact you're responding - hang in there Kevin, your best customers will give it a chance.
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One point that everyone seems to focus on is the equal treatment that SWA provided and how the A-List changes it. I, too, liked the equal treatment because EVERYONE on the flights I have been on is treated like an "elite" Southwest customer, which is what makes the inflight service so special. The new policy kind of slaps this tradition in the face.
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Hey, management folks -- read the handwriting on the wall. READ THE COMMENTS IN THIS BLOG. This will be the biggest PR disaster in the history of Southwest Airlines. You are alienating your most loyal customers. Flowery adjectives cannot sugar-coat a whole new system that basically devalues the non-business travelers who have made this airline a success. Kevin, I thank God I'm not you, having to try to "sell" this awful new system to your customers. "Exciting" isn't the word. "Frustrating" and "disappointing" and "ill-conceived" come close. Maybe someone needs to start an online petition to management to bring back the Southwest Airlines we once knew and LUVed?
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This whole new A-list and Business Select boarding policy seems like it is straight out of "Animal Farm". "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others". I think the new numbered boarding group (A1-A60) was a good idea but now it makes it much harder to get an A boarding pass for those who are not A-listers or spending an outrageous amount on a fare. I respect that Southwest needs to find a way to increase revenue, but as others have said it goes against the core values that has made Southwest successful for 35 years. I will enter this with open mind however and see how it all works out when I travel next week.