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READY...SET....BOOK!

Bill
Employee
Employee
DING! You are now free to make reservations on Southwest Airlines for travel through August 24, 2007! Thanks everyone for your...ummm...."patience" while we've finalized the Summer 2007 schedule. This has, in all honesty, been quite an eye-opening experience for us in Schedule Planning. While our goal has always been to maintain between 120 and 180 days of bookable inventory, as I explained in my last post, we have on numerous occasions dropped down into the 90's (the last time being for the Summer 2005 schedule) and, frankly, we've never gotten a lot of negative feedback about it. Of course, that was pre-blog! So, because we have heard the opinions of our Customers (man, oh MAN have we heard you!) on this subject, going forward we are going to much more strictly maintain a minimum of 120 days of inventory. I think you'll be happy to know that the blog thread and your replies have spurred a couple of other improvements as well. We're working with our colleagues in Reservations and at southwest.com to find better, more effective ways to communicate the date we anticipate releasing new booking inventory. Of course, and I will warn you right now, these will be planned dates--and they will shift around a bit--but we're learning that even information that may change can be better than no information at all. So, standby for communication improvements! And finally--now that the Summer schedule's out for sale, I'm going to get back to my job, but I want to take the opportunity to thank the folks that actually wrote the Summer, Memorial Day, and July 4th schedules. So--Desiree, Bob, Dan, Matt, trainer superior Kerry Marie, and even you, Friedman--GOOD JOB!!!!!! Happy booking, everyone!
73 Comments
Lili
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I'm glad I was able to book a direct MDW-SAN for Memorial day weekend for $278 roundtrip. I was fevereshly refreshing at 10am CST waiting for the change to show up!!! Was a bit disappointed that by the time the website showed the Aug 24 booking change, (probably 10:07am CST) all the Rapid Rewards flights and the one-way fares had been used up so I couldn't use one of my free RR 😞
BLD
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Bill, ItÃ
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Now that this is all done it is time to start on the next schedule isn't it? One more n/s in dtw 😉 not too bad. Those lower landing fees must be helping. not a blog boy, Joe Friedmann
Deborah1
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This comment is really about my thanks to your great company for helping special needs passengers. I've been using your company for personal travel for about ten years. Because I am obese, I buy two seats per destination because I don't want anyone sitting on me and I don't want to sit on anyone. Anyway, your company is the ONLY airline that will refund the expense of the additional seat if the flight was not full. I see those news stories about people being asked to purchase additional seats due to their girth and think everyone hears all that bad press about your company but no one hears about the good things you do for us. So I appreciate your company and your flight attendants, pilots, baggage personnel and every Southwest employee who doesn't make me feel like an anomaly when I board the plane!
Eric1
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I appreciate the updates and finally releasing the schedule. However, I noticed that ATA award availability does not seem to extend past May 31st. Are you able to comment on when we can expect award availability on ATA flights June 1 and beyond?
Robert_Perino
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Well Bill, after all that waiting, you did not come through. Just booked my 7 rt tickets to Orlando on AA from Tulsa 05/26. Your prices are not only higher than AAs, they are higher than NW, Delta and Continental. Of course there were no internet special fairs available at 10:01 today for my flights, but even if they had been, they would still be a few dollars more than AA. My tickets were $299 each. Your "special was $159 each way. Just another airline now huh Bill? Nothing special in the air.
Mike35
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I am very sad today. I had been following this schedule issue and was able to log on about 15 minutes after you opened the new schedule up. EVERYTHING REASONABLE WAS BOOKED! Unreal. I am in shock. I figured you must still have the active duty military fare available so I called. It seems there is no active duty fare between Norfolk and Law Vegas (there is a military fare but not the usual reduced rate we sometimes get to enjoy (thank you) - it's only a few dollars less than the full fare- $1200 on SWA "military fare" to vegas is way to much that my military salary will allow.) Anyway, it was all booked up and I was on only about 15 minutes after you all opened up.Geez!!!!! And the seniors still have an incredible rate between these two markets! Nothing against the seniors but how about giving us some of those seats! 😉 Anyway, I am shocked how this all went down so fast. Wish I had gotten the delta tickets a month or so ago.
Kristin1
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Can someone explain how at 1:00 est flights to Las Vegas from CMH were $99 one way and $79 back, but 6 hours later the only flights available are for $169/each way - which is almost the same as your big name competitors? I was on my lunch break and didn't have time to make the reservations then, had I only known all the good rates would dissapear that quickly????
BLD
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Wow! I never knew the release of a Southwest schedule was like the start of a clearance sale at NordstromÃ
Tom29
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I've been waiting for the summer schedule to come out, checking each day several times a day. I want to voice how disappointed I am at what must be a severely limited rapid rewards seat availability on certain flights - actually from Dallas to Seattle and Seattle to Dallas and between Dallas and Oakland after only a few hours since the schedule came out. I am a very frequent flier on Southwest, being in my second year of companion pass and will be getting the third. However the limits that Southwest has put on rapid rewards seats is a big negative in my mind and after I get the next companion pass for which I need about 8 more credits by June, I will start to fly on other carriers. It is not worth the hassle to be loyal to southwest and then not be able to use my RR awards very often.
Francisco_Delga1
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yes, all of the good tickets were sold out in a matter of minutes.. it is cheaper to fly to Albuquerque from SAN on other airlines right now. but in the end Southwest still provides great service. I will have to stay loyal to Southwest even if i have to pay a few extra dollars... Hey Mike, try your luck next Tuesday maybe the good prices will return.. Francisco
Robert_Perino
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Hey Francisco, The point of a DISCOUNT AIRLINE is lower fares than the competition. Its the OTHER guys that are supposed to be trying to make you happy with HIGHER FARES.
Ruben_Lopez
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Now we know the true reasons for the delay in publishing the new schedules on SWA. It took them that long to figure out how to increase the fares. I happen to be in the military. Last year I was able to visit a family member stationed at in Honolulu, HI for around $400.00. This year I was hoping to do the same but that same flight was doubled to a little over $800.00. When asked about a military discount it was about the same cost at the regular fare. No discount at all. What a way to treat your servicemen. The Fun Fare is not so much fun. Now with the new web site and all the bells Southwest has turn into just another airline. Oh, I just happen to book a flight on Continental Airlines which not only was cheaper but both flights are non-stop.
Don18
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I really hate to fly Southwest. I fly frequently and because I live in Kansas City, Southwest is the only logical choice. Just last week the flight from KC to Phoenix was delayed and a scheduled late arrival time turned into an even later one. Friday, off to San Antonio via El Paso. Southwest had to bring mechanics along to look at a plane. We sat on the ground in Phoenix for nearly an hour waiting for the employees to show up. Then, equipment problems on the ground at El Paso on our plane. Get off, go into the terminal, stand around. Then Southwest back to KC Tuesday. You guessed it. Late again. Then, tonight, I log on to check in for tomorrow's flight at 12:35 PM. And I get a "C" boarding pass. Nothing I can do until someone else starts serving Kansas City with more flights, but I absolutely will make Southwest my last choice every time going forward. I understand a late flight every now and then, but the boarding pass system is absolutely screwed up.
Anonymous4371
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Mike ... where did you come up with a $1200 fare for SWA? Their cap is considerably lower that. The highest fare, round-trip, between Norfolk and Las Vegas is a little under $700, and with advanced planning it is much less.
Loren1
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Southwest is my favorite airline and I would rather fly with them than any other airline... I find that the flights are cheaper and the service is wonderful! My only wish is that Southwest would allow small pets as I often have to fly through substandard airlines due to this "no pets" rule. Please reconsider this rule as you could ALWAYS count on my business as well as others if the rule was changed. As for all of the complainers out there... it's really not Southwests fault that you missed the discount and for those who had delays due to mechanical issues, I would think you would be happy that the airline is putting safety first.
Brian8
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I echo Kristin's comments above. I bought tickets to go from Columbus to Vegas 6/23-6/26 yesterday for $169 round trip per person. When I talked to some other friends a few hour later, they decided to go with us.... bu the fares had more than doubled to over $350 per person.
Charles11
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_________________________________________________________ I echo KristinÃ
Kristin1
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i agree with charles - congrats to brian for getting those deals - this will teach me not to procrastinate when purchasing tix in the future. who knew ???
Scott5
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To all of you, check back after 2/22 (the date the current systemwide sale expires), and wait for the next sale. Could be some better deals then.
MK3
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On Jan.29 we left Detroit to Orlando and had great flight but at Orlando our suitcase had a large ripand we had no time to check about it. On return flight back to Detroit on that Friday night flight, we showed the suitcase to a southwest worker and she said you have a program and took our name and address and GAVE us a NEW suitcase, that easy. WHAT A COMPANY!!!!!!! tHIS WAS OUR FIRST FLIGHT AND NOT THE LAST.
Mike35
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Hey another view, that RT from Norfolk to Las Vegas was for two people. I should have been clearer.
Mike35
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Oh yeah, another view, the "advanced planning" was trying to get tickets about 15 minutes after the new schedule opened but all the reasonable tickets were already gone.
KAREN1
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I was on the site at exactly 11am and they hadnt updated the schedule yet! I refreshed at 11:01 est and there it was. Everything below $233 one way was not available. I checked dates from May through July! There is no way that they sold out all those fares in less than 5 minutes!! I am very disappointed as we always fly SWA. We booked the same tickets for the same time period last year for $213 round trip. I expected a price bump but more than double?
Scott33
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WHAT the heck happened to the cost of the flights!!!!! Yesturday (and for the past 18 months ) Buffalo to Orlando was $59 each way and toady it is $158 each way!!!!!!!!! Will they go back to where they were or am I screwed for not booking yesturday? HOpe they go down, I would hate to leave Southwest but when you have to buy as many seats as I do, I have to go with the best prices.
Rob14
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Perhaps the reason that SWA has not heard as much NEGATIVE comments from customers in the past (i.e., pre-blog) is because that SWA makes it as difficult as possible for customers to communicate. SWA still does not accept EMAIL from customers. We are well into the 21st Century and SWA does not accept EMAIL and does not have a TOLL-FREE number for customer complaints. You have TOLL-FREE for reservations but if a customer wants to complain they have to call on their own dime [well a lot more than a dime now]. I saw something a while back that SWA was going to accept emails from customers, but I still cannot find anywhere on your site to send SWA an email. So join the 21st Century and give your customers an easy way to voice their concerns. The majority of your customers probably do not even know about this blog and many will not take the time to write a letter and snail mail it [SWA preference for communication]. You act as if making sure that you do not dip below the 120 days that it solves the scheduling problems. That is a fallacy. SWA needs to be working toward the 330 day schedule window that is common in the industry instead of justifying the backward system that you now employ. Contrary to what SWA may believe -- many customers need to be able to plan travel for periods further than 120 to 180 days in advance. As an airline, you should be planning further in advance than 4 to 6 months. Perhaps if the Schedule Planning Lead Planner spent more time doing his job and less time blogging then SWA could schedule out 330 days as others in the industry are able to do. SWA needs to hire some people to handle customer relations and the schedule planners need to stick to their job.
Francisco_Delga1
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GIVE IT A REST ALREADY!!!! I DARE YOU GUYS TO BOOK ON ANY OTHER AIRLINE AT THE LAST MINUTE AND SEE WHAT KIND OF FARE YOU PAY. PRICES ARE GOING UP BECAUSE COSTS ARE GOING UP.. WOW, YES IT IS CALLED INFLATION.. WE ARE LIVING IN A GROWING ECONOMY WERE, YES YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR CERTAIN SERVICES. SOUTHWEST IS A FOR PROFIT COMPANY... I DO NOT THINK ANYONE OF YOU GUYS WOULD LIKE TO PAY THEIR GAS BILL. CHEERS TO SOUTHWEST.. A VERY HAPPY RR MEMBER. FRANCISCO
Tom29
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In reply to comments from Loren ...every airline puts safety first. That is expected by the public. I think the point here that people are complaining about is how quickly discount and rapid rewards seats disappeared - meaning very few were offered. That means a lot of folks get disappointed when they see a great fare,which is expected from Southwest, and then they cannot get it just minutes after a new schedule is released.
Tom29
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Almost anytime I've booked Southwest on the last minute it has been easier to meet or beat their fares with other carriers...me me in Dallas that means a change in airports, which is not always a horrible thing. As far as their gas bill goes, they've done a great job on negotiating that cost and if jet fuel could be equated on a per gallon cost of gaoline, they'd probably be paying a much cheaper price per gallon than I do at the pump. I'd take it.
Jeramy_Brian
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Rob sounds very angry. I think he needs a hug...
Jeramy_Brian
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Tom, as Bill said in last post, the fares aren't always the lowest when the schedule first opens. After a week or two, when they see how the bookings are going, they will offer sales with better fares. You should download "ding" on your computer. It is very helpful.
Marijean
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I am very disappointed in the way the fares came out for the summer schedule! I, too, kept viligant watch for my group's annual "girls-only getaway" only to find out that all the cheap fares were taken as soon as I logged on. Last year our airfare from Indy to Vegas was only $136. This year it is $218. Still a great price but by later that evening the price for that same flight was $399! Almost double! Maybe I don't understand how this game is played. Someone needs to educate me. I see were it was blogged that I needed to check back after February 22nd? What is special about that time frame? Why did the fares jump that fast? Why do any airlines jump their airfare in short periods of time?I still need to book one more person and I know that today's price for that flight is $430 (I called and checked to see if they had a better price than the internet but it wasn't). Before I pay $430, I will definately use another airline - I don't care how snotty and unfriendly they are! I just need a ride from point A to point B - as cheap as possible. Your wonderful personality isn't worth an extra $222!
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Ah, Friedman, I like that name! I prefer the german version though with 2 n's. Not a blog boy but Kim Seale said he was my friend Joe Friedmann
Bill
Employee
Employee
Rob, You are fully entitled to your opinions. I have no intention of debating them here--except to say that all of our procedures and policies, whether they pertain to the booking inventory or to our email policy, are designed to strike the best possible balance between the needs of the Customer and the needs of the Company. However, I will respond specifically to one of your comments. This Schedule Planning Lead Planner has *not* engaged in Blogging at the expense of my "real" job. You (and everyone else) should know that all of the Southwest Bloggers participate in the Blog voluntarily and on our own time. Want proof? Short of showing you my timecards, please look through the 200 plus responses to the post on the "WHY CAN'T...." thread and note how many of them were done in the evening--rather late at night, in fact--or on the weekends. Take this response as case in point--it's way after dark on a Saturday night. Participating in this Blog is not part of any of our job descriptions--rather, it's a labor of love that allows us to give anyone that cares to read it some first-hand knowledge of what goes on here, as well as a glimpse into the real people that make up Southwest Airlines (our work lives *and* our private ones). Working at Southwest isn't a job; it's a mission, and one that many of us (me, for one) take very seriously. While I am eager to share my enthusiasm for my Company (and, frankly, to write about what it's like to live the "life of Bill") as well as the joy I get from working here, it in no way diminishes my duty to do what the heck I get paid to do. Period. Frankly, this is our first foray into interactive internet communication, and while I take to heart your criticism of not offering either email or toll-free phone lines for Customer feedback, cheap shots at me and my work ethic serve to diminish your argument as well as the validity of these types of communication venues. *Sigh.* There. I feel better. Keep responding, guys, Southwest is listening. But like all of our mamas told us....play nice. Bill
Francisco_Delga1
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Rob, Is there anything else going good in the world? The reason Southwest does not accept e-mails is because they like to personally write back to the customers. I wrote in a complaint and within a month a got a personal letter from Colleen and a voucher. She did not have to do that but she did. Also every year they send me a birthday card. Southwest has gone above and beyond for me and millions of other customers. No company is perfect. Tom, I do not think you want to see their gas bill. Yes, they are hedged, but it is less and less as the years progress. They are still a for profit company so they need to raise fares to make money. A roundtrip fare from SAN TO ABQ cost me 207.00 last year now it is up to 307.00. However my pay has gone up fifteen percent so all is good. after all we can't be too self-fish. Francisco
Drew1
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Rob, If long distance calls are costing you more than a dime these days, may I suggest you join the rest of us in the 21st century with free long distance cell phone plans or flat-rate VOIP service? Paying for long distance is so 20th century. 🙂
pcerda
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Wow. Rob, should you ever be in my area, I have free long distance on my cell phone. You can contact customer relations on my dime*. I hope you hold yourself to the same standards as you do everyone else, and I sure hope you've never made a mistake in your life. *Subject to the amount of charge my cell phone battery can hold before said call.
Jeramy_Brian1
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I'm with you Bill. Rob was way off base with his comments. Everyone on this blog knows you work hard and the awsome schedule that is open until august 24th is proof of that. It probably took a little longer to open this schedule because of the extra flights that were added to the hawaiian islands and the sfo service that will begin in the fall. People should be happy that they can book a low priced flight that won't ever be re-scheduled. Keep up the good work!!
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Don't worry Bill, I still will fly when I am able. Even if you wont move the n/s to phx back to 6 am. ;-P. (It doesn't matter what time as long as it is still there when I need it.) It is actually chaeper now than it was 2 years ago. I thought I had a steal at $89 each way now it is as low as $72 and dings for even less. Chicago has gone up but I drove last time. Not a blog boy but posting because they told me to. Joe Friedmann
BLD
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Rob, A couple thoughts on your post: while the major carriers publish schedules 330 days out, they are nothing more than Ã
naunnie
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Hi Bill, you are my hero.......You have explained, You've interacted, you;ve been proactive and you have apologized again and again and again and nothing has worked....YOU ARE THE EXPERT.!!! No need to explain to those that can't seem to grasp reality, the great mission that you and 30 thousand plus SWA employees have commited to..Its, worked in the past, it's working now and it WILL work in the future...Some just don't get the passion involved with a 24 hour a day committment to an 8 hour expect....Keep in mind that you won't EVER be able to please them all....
Mary9
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Brandon, Were you a RSA in SLC hired in January 1997?
Jeramy_Brian1
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Rob, I have an idea for you. If the cost of long distance is costing you too much, maybe you should try sending your message by carrier pigeon or telegraph. That would be a very cheap and effective way to contact swa customer relations.
Francisco_Delga1
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BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why are people being so mean to you and Southwest? Working there must be a labor of love. I also wanted to say that I am not getting tired of reading your blog entries. You seem to create a buzz everytime you write. Well I am out to sea onboard this wonderful aircraft carrier and look forward to flying home to see my family and as always i can count on my extended family, Southwest airlines getting me home... see you soon. Francisco
Jim13
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We can all agree Rob's comments were a little out of line, I'm sure the schedule would have been released in December if Bill hadn't been spending his time here on BlogSouthwest.com. Yeah right - one person delayed everything by reading and posting. And this is a moderated blog - SWA chooses not to deny or edit posts like this. They don't mind dissenting opinions. Pretty amazing when you think about it. I admire Bill. He could have easily chosen a user name like SouthWest_Bill, but instead chose to sign in as Bill Owen - Schedule Planning Lead Planner. That's right - he put the big red target smack on his forehead and allowed anybody who wants to put him right in the center of their sites. Have you seen anything like this from any other airline? Ever?
Rob14
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Bill, I understand that you are a SWA employee have to speak the company line on things. However, I know some SWA employees who have said that the reason for Southwest not accepting email or toll free calls is because they know that it would increase the number of complaints and they would have to hire more employees to handle the complaints. SWA knows that very few people will go to the trouble to sit down and compose a letter and send it by snail mail. I have gone to the trouble of sending a letter and then waiting for a reply. It was over a month from the time I sent the letter until I received a response from SWA. Keeping a customer waiting more than a month for a response is not in keeping with the SWA Mission statement: "The mission of SWA is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit." Also, for those who commented that I should get a cell phone with a LD plan: I have a cell phone and I can call nationwide - I joined the 21st Century years ago. However, for those of you who think that cell phones are free - Verizon insists that I pay the bill each month. The point is that I should not have to use the minutes that I pay for to contact SWA - if they truly care about what customers think then they would provide a TOLL FREE number for Customer Service and accept email. Until SWA accepts email and opens up a TOLL FREE number for Customer Complaints - then all of their words are just lip service. For the record, I like Southwest Airlines and I think that their flight attendants are among the best and the most friendly of any in the industry. I just wish that the SWA Corporate Office was as open and customer friendly as their gate agents and flight attendants.
Anonymous4371
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Rob, Southwest believes letting you talk to a real person is more friendly. If you are not willing to make a call ... at no additional expense to you, since you already have the phone ... I suspect you are one of those people who is just looking for more reasons, and a more anonymous way, to complain. Some people seem to prefer email and blogs because it's impersonal and it is easier for them to be rude and make baseless personal attacks on people. You know ... sort of like you did with Bill. When you have to communicate with a real person, you are less likely to waste time with all that and you are probably more likely to get a real solution to any real problem you have.
Hope1
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I have chosen SW for several years as my airline of choice for my weekly business and holiday travel. One of the main reasons is the wonderful Rapid Rewards program. Only 2-3 days a year that are blacked out and then.. any seat any flight! What happened? I am SO dissapointed in the new program. I doubt you will recieve a Freddie Award thisyear! First I wait so long for the summer schedule to come out, then find out that I can only use my RR tickets for certain "published" connections and then those are SO incredibly limited I am needing to spend extra days on each end of my vacation in order to return home! Then I have to drive an additional 5 hours because I can't fly back to my origination city. What happened to the days when the reservationist and I could spend time making our own connections to travel cross country. Next thing you will probably change is the ability to easily change flights without losing any funds. One piece at a time you are becoming like everyone else. I guess it is time to find a new airline!
Pittsburgher
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I was glad to see the summer fares come out, but I must admit i'm a little bummed. I've been faithfully watching the 2007 SW & DING fares for a little bit now for our upcoming annual April Orlando trip, since we are die-hard SW fans. Last year, we were able to get a $79 fare from PIT to MCO on 2/26/06, for our April 2006 trip for the first flight out in the morning. The only available fare right now for that flight is $193! Wow, what a difference. 😞 Everything else is booked, except our flight. Don't really want to stray from SW, as the pre-boarding works well for my husband, who is handicapped. We keep hoping the lower fare will become available, but really, what are the chances?
Jeramy_Brian1
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Hope, Good luck finding an airline with a frequent flier program that's even half as generous as rapid rewards. Even though there are seat restrictions now there are still many more dates available per month with frequent flier seats than ANY other airline. Plus, other airlines don't give you 2 years to earn the ticket. Most of them only give you a year (if that.) Also, you can extend the validity of your rr ticket 1 extra year by paying a one time charge of $50.00 Compared to other airlines, you can fly less and earn free flights faster. Southwest is a business, it wouldn't be fiscally responsible to allow people with rapid reward tickets to fill up every plane. They have to manage their revenue so they can continue to make money and pass the savings on to the customer. If you aren't flying during a peak travel time (friday night, sunday night or close to a major holiday) it is very easy to use your rr ticket on almost any southwest flight.