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Rapid Rewards Followup

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Hey, folks!  We know that there is a lot of buzz out there regarding our announcement of the new Rapid Rewards program.  We have been monitoring Customer feedback on all of our channels, and we know there is some concern about what the new program will mean for our Customers. 

Rest assured, the new Rapid Rewards program is based on what our Customers have been asking us to change over the years, and it was very carefully designed by and responsive to an extensive set of Customer research and feedback from our Members.  With more understanding of the benefits of the new program, we feel that our Customers will ultimately agree that the changes make the program better. 

That said, we realize this is a big change for our Customers.  That is why we have developed a web site specifically designed to help our Members understand the new program and what it will mean for them.  We encourage you to visit www.newrapidrewards.com and see for yourself how the new program works.  You’ll find a wealth of information, along with some videos, that will walk you through the changes.  If you still have specific questions or concerns, please post below, and we’ll find an answer for you!

279 Comments
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I've been a loyal Southwest customer for years, even though I live within five miles of O'Hare, but with your new Rapid Rewards Progam changes it sure looks like I'll be heading back to United! Face it YOU BLEW IT! Just a suggestion...when Coca Cola blew it with "New Coke" they wisely went back to their old recepie...a lesson Southwest better learn from. What a way to kick customers in the rear! Gee thanks! JT Colson (So much for me "singing the praises of Southwest any longer...just another "american" airline!)
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A lot of buzz? Herb just spit up somewhere. You're getting killed over this thing. I see a future in which case studies detailing the demise of effective corporate culture focus squarely on this moment.
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Wow. You STILL don't get it. You seem to think that we're upset because we're confused, we just don't understand you, you didn't explain it well enough... Cut the patronizing noise, Southwest. We do understand. We, your loyal customers for many years now, are not stupid. We chose your airline because it was different. I'm a business traveler, ostensibly one who "benefits" by this change, because I can purchase the more expensive tickets - but I still think it's terrible. I don't fly Southwest because of the number of free tickets I get (are you still honoring the SWABIZ program, btw?) - I fly it because you are NOT LIKE every other airline out there. At least not 'til March 1st. I have to go SJC>SNA in mid-March, and SJC>Chicago at the end of the month. I was just about to book both flights on SWA, just as I have, oh, forever. (Oh - and I pay for those - I use my RR tickets to fly my kid to visit family, or to give to people from church, most of whom just go to SoCal. Not big costs there.) I'm seriously considering booking both flights on Alaska. Just as convenient, slightly cheaper in one case, and for Chicago, gets me to O'Hare, which is truthfully closer to where I need to be - but I've ALWAYS taken Southwest before. It's not that I don't understand. I do understand. You're taking a winning product, a market differentiator, and you're trashing it. I have your stock in my portfolio as well, because you were different, and I understand how much that difference has contributed to your success. Pretty sure it's time to drop that. You're not different anymore. Do you understand?
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Upon a day of reflection, and looking how I have used award tickets over the last year, there is one thing that is really irritating me about the new system - it has placed such a large cost on last minute awards redemption that in practice it's no longer an option. While there is no explicit close in rewards fee - there are several implicit ones add something like 300% to the cost of the rewards. Take SFO to PHX, the route I fly most often. My average (not good) 1-way WGA fare is like $120. Anytime fare usually $249. Say i wanted to fly from SFO to PHX tomorrow. There are currently 5 flights showing Standard Award availability, and all 12 showing Freedom award availability. 1. Under the current system I can burn 1/2 an award ticket and fly to Phoenix. Equivalent cost in spend for me to get there is something like 8 one way WGA flights at ~$120 per flights, or $960 in flight spend. 2. Under the new system if i planned ahead and got a WGA fare at $120 it would cost me 7,200 points (6 points*10 flights*$120). To get those 7,200 points i would have had to flown 10 one way flights at $120, or $1200 in spend. Already a devaluation, even if i planned ahead - but one that would be evenly offset by the new A-list bonus. 3. If i didn't plan ahead under the new system, i need 24,900 points ($249*100), so would have need to have spent $4,200 (6 points*35 flights*$120) to pay for one short last minute trip. So, more than a 4x increase in my cost! 35 flights on the same route to get 1 single one-way reward! Certainly not a cost i would ever pay, and I'm not sure how Southwest finds it defensible? Two things about this are really irritating to me: 1. It is a lose/lose situation. Southwest would benefit for me spending my miles on a flight that they are very sure will go out with empty seats (which a standard award being available a day in advance is indicative of) and I am able to take a trip that I otherwise would find cost prohibitive. 2. Southwest is not at all competitive with other airlines now for close in rewards purchasing. For the example above United has 5 flights on tomorrow SFO to PHX which i could take for 12,500 miles. Seems like this could be 'fixed' by adding some close-in rewards discount fares where Southwest has capacity. Assuming it's not, i'll keep my credit card spend with Southwest - which yields me a companion pass, and generally move all my non-companion travel spend over to United. (As a side note, all the math to figure this out really shows how poorly it was designed)
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I'd love to know where those customers are who have been asking for these changes? I know a lot of people who fly SW and so far haven't found anyone who's happy about the changes. If you really want to know how your customers feel, send a questionnaire out to all your customers who have an email registered with you. Yes, that would be a lot of work but aren't your customers worth that respect and time? I respectfully ask you to rethink these changes.
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Apparently none of these customers that have been allegedly asking you to make these changes have bothered to come and express their gratitude. Reading through the pages of comments on the other thread, it appears that these changes are universally hated. It is time for SWA to BE HONEST. Stop the insulting corporate pr spin nonsense and admit what is more than obvious. If this is the way the program works then so be it, but to pretend this is in anyway good for most of your customers and that your customers actually want this belittles us all.
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I've got a question. My husband and I recently flew r/t from LI to Ontario, CA @ a total cost of $829.80 EACH! How come our 2 credits each for that trip were only given a 1200 pt. value when in fact, if you go by what your website says, it should be a total of 6,840 for each of us! The outbound fare was an Anytime Fare of $465.40 ea. (x 10 = 4654 pts) and the return was a Wanna Get Away fare of $364.40 ea. (x 6 = 2186 pts). Would you please tell me why the credits we already earned were only valued at 1200 pts??? I'm very angry about this and it is extremely unfair of Southwest! I will definitely start shopping fares where previously I automatically booked SW regardless of whether or not I could find a cheaper fare.
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SOUTHWEST HAS CHANGED THE RULES AND I'M NOT PLAYING BY THOSE RULES ANYMORE. As a loyal Southwest customer for over 8 years, I have to say, without a doubt, this is one of the worst moves Southwest has ever made. The new program no longer rewards me for being a frequent Southwest flier. Instead, it rewards people for buying higher fares, even when cheaper fares are available. What a hoax. I guess they want to sell as many of those "business select" seats as possible. For an airline that prides itself on "every seat being a first class seat", it sure seems like they are now trying to create a class structure, based on what people spend. Also, the new program is THE MOST COMPLICATED one I have ever seen for anything in the travel industry, be it airline, hotel or rental car. Absolutely ridiculous. I no longer consider Southwest to be my airline of choice and I will now look at all my other options. I have frequent flier acounts with other airlines and that's where I will be investing my travel money from now on. I would rather earn miles for the distance I fly than for the amount of money I spend.
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i think this definitely helps the big spenders -- the people who fly business select. it does not help the little people looking for bargins. the previous program was more one-sided and very helpful for these little people who i think makeup the majority of swa's customers. so in this aspect i think you are hurting the majority of your flyers. my still unanswered question is how one qualifies for the A preferred list.
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Based on the feedback of virtually ALL of your loyal customers on here, it would appear Brian Lusk that either 1) you've been mis-informed about what your loyal customers want, or 2) YOU ARE LYING!! Perhaps SWA will feature you in next month's magazine under the % section: "100% - the percentage of SWA customers that told us they hated the new program!"
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I have been researchning the all new rapid rewards program information on the website and I like all of the perks for cardholders of the SW Visa card from Chase! I however, do not like that I have to spend more money to get the same benefits I was getting with the current rapid rewards program. I will continue to fly SWA because of the low fares and friendly flight staff, but it will NOT be for their new upcoming rewards program.
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An attempt to sugarcoat what you are doing is not and will not work. I visited the website, and absolutely disagree with your statements that "the changes make the program better". Really? It is simply not true for me, and there is no evidence on your site that has changed my mind. I used to be a very vocal supporter of SWA and the Chase card, but I'm letting those that I once recommended SWA to know that the deal has changed. You want to change the program to your benefit, now I'm changing my flying and FF activity for my benefit.
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I am upset with the upcoming rapid rewards program details. I believe the old program is what set SWA apart from all the "other guys". I will have to spend more money for the same thing I was getting before. SWA is trying to make it seem better for the consumer, but in reality it is better for SWA's bottom line!!! I am torn in my loyalty to SWA and will consider other airlines now when booking a flight.
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I am hopeful because as a casual but loyal RR member, I HATED the Freedom Awards because it took away from the Standard Award options. I book early, so I will wait and see. I hope to once again (because the Freedom Awards changed this) be able to "fly free" from my home airport of Manchester NH instead of hiting the road to Boston or Providence.
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Qualifying for the A-List Preferred under the All New Rapid Rewards program will take 70,000 points or 50 one way SWA flights in a calendar year! To qualify for the regular A-List under the new rapid rewards will take 35,000 points or 25 one way SWA flights in one calendar year. The A-List preferred members will get a 100% point earning bonus and regular A-List members will get a 25% point earning bonus. And the downfall.....you can only earn points for these tiered statuses by flights (NOT preferred partners or your SW Visa card). Hmmmm.......
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This All New Rapid Rewards stuff is for the birds. It rewards those who spend more money NOT frequent fliers like myself. I agree with what strikeapose said about the value of credits and points. I have SWA stock in my portfolio and I am in the process of dumping it all due to the upcoming release of the new rapid rewards program. Goodbye Southwest, it has been a great 9 years, but I will not conform if you proceed with this release on March 1st!
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As a loyal passenger of SWA I think the All New Rapid Rewards program is a much needed improvement and in my case a much welcome one! Thanks SWA for listening!
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While there are some perks that improve the program for what I have to believe is a small subset of the RR base (heavy Business Select travelers), the change for me, and I believe most folks, is a net negative. The biggest reasons to me: 1) I have to purchase more flights (or more $$ spend) to obtain the same award utility as before. 2) It's much more convoluted to figure out what is needed to earn an award (when a calculator is required, you've done it wrong). 3) There's no longer such a thing as 'an award'. Redemption value is vairable, and as others have noted, low-advance-notice redemptions are now essentially a thing of the past. I understand that the existing RR program is likely more expensive for Southwest to operate than the programs of competing airlines, and that combined with other price pressures (maintaining no bag fees, for example) the pressure is on to find ways to cut costs. But altering the program that your company uses to reward its most loyal customers (or Customers in Southwest-speak) in a way that at worst severely devalues its worth to them and at best increases unnecessary complexity doesn't seem like the wisest (or most LUV-filled) move to me. Although I realize that it's unlikely, I hope that the RR team uses the feedback being sent by all of us RR members to modify the upcoming program. The ease-of-use and high value of the old RR program kept me booking flights with Southwest without comparing to other airlines. I fear those days are numbered. Best regards, -Zack-
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Face it. You wasted $100,000,000. American Airlines may treat me like trash because I'm not a frequent flier, but at least I can pick my seat on the plane, can take a direct flight, and am not constantly on overbooked and overcrowded flights. Your change to the RR program basically punishes everyone who doesn't buy full fare tickets. And yes, business travelers take advangtage of lower fares when available. Aren't you the low cost competitor in the airline industry? The Greyhound of the sky? You can have any seat on our 737's and peanuts are our meals and our fares, etc. Now you want to act like American without the perks of flying American or other major airline? Let me know how that works out for you. Canceling SWA credit card and getting miles card on another airline. It was fun while it lasted, but I will fly SWA only in state and will shop for long haul flights on other airlines where I can get a direct flight. Big incentive to fly SWA has vanished.......
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As a Southwest shareholder (and loyal WN flyer and RR member) I am very concerned about the almost universal frequent flyer condemnation of the changes. I've been on the websites of several key city newspaper blogs and the negativity is deafining--and these comments are from people who LUV WN. I'm concerned we will lose the one percent marketshare increase caused by refusing to charge for baggage or piling on hefty change fees. This will negate or diminish the expected revenue increase projected by Gary. I am appealing directly to Gary to carefully analyze the criticisms and change when necessary. You have never been reluctant to adjust such as withdrawing from losing markets such as Detroit-City or reducing service like you are doing now in Philadelphia. These Rapid Rewards changes may diminish the value of the brand and shareholder value.
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Gloria at 13:51, thanks so much for pointing out one of the advantages of the new program. Under the old program it requires 32 one way trips in a 12-month period to earn an A-List and no partner credits. A-List doesn't generate any earning premium in the current program. Under the new program you get A-List with only 25 one way flights in a calendar year, or with 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points AND A-List Members earn points with a 25 percent bonus in the new system. strikeapose, you have hit upon the biggest inequality in the old system. You are right, you would have earned 6,840 points for each of you, due to the amount of money you paid for your recent trip. However under the old system, a flight credit was the same no matter if you paid a $29 one way fare or $465.40 like you did. The 1200 points per flight credit is an average value of the old system. With the new system, you earn based on what you pay.
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Thanks Brian Lusk for putting yourself out there in this blog to be manhandled by your consumers. You are doing a great job and it is nice to know someone is listening to us "the passenger". Just keep your head high and hold your ground with this all new Rapid Rewards program. The benefits (once realized) will speak for themselves! Thanks again Brian!
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Brian, I respect the work you (and your father) have done with everything not only here, but at Continental too. (Yes, I read Airliners and Airways regularly) I'm stunned that Southwest hasn't seen the outcry- of all the posts I've read here, and via other sourcs, it's nearly 94% AGAINST the new system. It makes NO sense except to a beancounter MBA with an idea to increase ancilliary revenue streams- and lose focus on what Southwest has focused on for a long time: Simple, efficient, easy, reliable and LUV-Filled service. The 'new' Rapids Rewards system shows none of that to ANY of your customers- except those with the larger expense accounts. A better solution (Should that fine beancounter MBA with the fancy title and the -total- lack of understanding of what Southwest's history and mission IS) would have been to do this: Keep the old RR system of 'credits'- but change the # needed to get the free trip, from 16 to 20. In order to balance the playing field for those in the longer-haul markets, change the credits awared: 0-750 miles= 1 RR credit 751-1950 miles= 1.5 RR credit 1951 miles plus= 2 RR credit. Now THAT is a simple change that beneifts both Southwest- and it's customers. I've been studying the airline industry since I was all of 6- some thirty years now- and I have a deep passion for the customer-centric cultures that make the world a better place. I can say unless Southwest repeals the changes, there will be a monumental end to the world that we have LUVd for a long time- and the name Southwest will ring the same as American, United or even USAirways. Bring back the LUV. Bring back the OLD RR system.
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I just can’t understand why Southwest would ever want to change the Rapid Rewards program that has been voted one of the best loyalty airline programs. I have sat here and read through the comments and am still waiting for the positive customer feedback that Brian has spoke about. I have read the new program outline, watched the video, and looked over the numbers. Why do you expect that your loyal customers will be excited about these changes? I see nothing to be excited about! I am highly disappointed in Southwest Airlines! With this new program, my incentive to remain loyal to Southwest has to be questioned. I have been flying monthly for the past five years and have never flown on another airline - I always remained true to Southwest as I felt that I was important to them - but now??? I agree with all of the comments, and urge every loyal Southwest customer to share their disappointment with friends and family members. Numbers speak volumes, and Southwest needs to hear it. As with many others - here is another disappointed Southwest customer.
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notsohappy, I find it hard to accept praise given in a familiar manner by someone who hides behind anonymity. Also your history is askew because I assume you are referring to Gary Kelly. In fact, Gary was part of the Team that developed the original Rapid Rewards program back in 1987. With all due respect, your suggestion builds in the same kind of tiered level that our present program will have without the benefits. Points allow for greater partner participation, they allow the elimination of blackouts and seat restrictions for blackouts. Eric, You may not see the positive feedback until the system goes into effect. Time will tell on that as Temp inOKC writes. TempinOKC, thanks for the kind thoughts. We are listening to the legitiimate concerns minus the personal attacks. I've been involved with social media for five years and i am always amazed how some folks feel they can only get their point across by calling someone else a liar.
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Brian (reply to 14:55) With the exception of people at the high and low limits, the inequality in the old system took care of itself. Sometimes I'd pay high fares for a long distance or short notice flights, and other times I'd pay low fares for short distance or wanna get away flights. I would get a credit for each one whether I spent a lot or not. Once I got my 16 credits, I'd have a free roundtrip. Simple. And I could fly with that award where I wanted. Simple. Now I have to do a pathetic amount of math to determine if the flight I'm selecting to earn points or the flight I'm selecting to redeem points is a good deal to me or not. And, on average, I will now need to fly 10 roundtrips to earn an award for what used to take 8 credits. Thanks a lot for that. I will definitely be doing more price comparisons between SWA and other airlines when booking future flights. I really don't see the benefit in being loyal to Southwest anymore. Also - I'm on my way to earning A-List status but I probably won't hit the 32nd flight until after March 1. What happens to all of the flights I accrued in 2010?
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I understand everyones concerns about the change. But everyone was asking SWA for no blackout dates and unlimited number of seats for free tickets. And since offering unlimited amount of award seats on every flight would cause flights to go out full of no "paid" tickets, Swa would no longer be in business. And you wouldn't have the choice to fly your favorite airline. What happened to the days where you flew and didn't earn awards at all???????
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Mr Lusk, I was extremely upset and disappointed that SWA chose to change the best rewards programs in the industry. Yes, I realize that every airline is having problems meeting the financial needs of the company, but, it seems that you are penalizing me for buying a cheaper ticket for a flight. Some of us have to plan far in advance to afford air travel, and the old RR system rewarded everyone the same. Now, under the new system, I am penalized because I do not purchase the most expensive tickets. For the airline that boasts that you are the perfect airline for the masses this change lowers your stature to that of American. I am truly disappointed. I know that I only earn one RR award each year and do not fly 50 times each year. That may not sound like much to you, but to some of us that's a lot of money. It must be nice to be a business traveler with an unlimited travel budget. Many of us are not that fortunate. I urge you, no plead with you to go back to the old RR system; the system that rewarded everyone the same not by how much money each of us spends. Sincerely, JHH
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Just read Notsohappyshorthauler's post (Fri, 01/07/2011 - 15:13) and really like that idea. I just don't get why SWA feels the need to make this thing so dang complicated. 0-750 miles= 1 RR credit 751-1950 miles= 1.5 RR credit 1951 miles plus= 2 RR credit. In response to Brian at 15:54, I'd rather have a simple, straightforward system with a few drawbacks such as blackout seat restrictions than this mess we've been presented with. Honestly, if you need a new website with videos & complicated conversion charts, and customer service folks manning message boards to respond to nearly 100% complaints, it's not a good system.
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I believe "we" (the current Rapid Rewards members) are eventually going to see the benefits of this NEW Rapid Rewards program, in time. Some of the changes do NOT make me happy, such as the points are based on how much I spend instead of how much I fly. However, I do LOVE the new program's benefits for SWA Visa card holders such as the more rewards we will be able to get with the points when we use our SWA Visa card from Chase. I hope that I am pleasantly surprised after launch of the New program when it comes to earning free flights for the frequent bargain flight shopper. Remember SWA, you are known for your low cost fares amid the other airlines and with this New points rewards system it seems as if you are getting away from that recognition. I will not spend more money on more expensive flights just to get more points for a free flight. I do like the availability to buy wanna get away flights and build up those points for a Business Select or Anytime flight later on. However, I do not like that I am going to be spending a lot more money in the long run for the same rewards I am getting cheaper now. Only time will tell where my loyalty lies! I hope this works out for you SWA...and me!
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I am so sorry you are even considering changing your RR program. Your program has kept me as a very loyal customer for many, many years. I guess, now it is back to checking out all the other airlines for booking tickets. I have been an A-list and have a companion pass which also seems to have taken a hit with your new program. Also, don't you like the idea of filling those empty seats with last minute award ticket usage?
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Brian, If I can add my point of view on this new frequent flyer program, I do agree with many other posters that this will turn into “New Coke”. I use my Chase Southwest credit card for all of my purchases, as it has offered great rewards on Southwest Airlines. Also, in probably the last 12 years, I have not even shopped around with any other carriers; whatever Southwest charges for a ticket was what I paid. There were many reasons why I just went to Southwest only to purchase my airfare, and probably the best way to sum it up it is because they never acted like a legacy carrier even when they became the largest domestic carrier in terms of passengers carried. I do not fly once a week, but a few times a year and with your old program, I was able to earn a couple free tickets a year, thankfully mostly to my chase card. With other carriers, before I switched to Southwest, I was never able to come close to a free ticket. It’s well known that Southwest offered the highest percentage of reward seats of any carrier, and even though all seats are now potentially “reward” seats it seems as though it will be much more difficult to obtain the same amount of free travel as I did with the old program. Now, it seems as Southwest as narrowed the gap between themselves and the legacy carriers dramatically. Please do not continue down this path of turning Southwest into a legacy carrier; there were many reasons why Southwest was successful when all the airlines have struggled significantly and the rapid reward program was a big part of Southwest’s success. Brian, thank you for taking the time to read my comments. Rich
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Question about partner relationships: will there be a way to redeem points from partner reward programs (hotels, etc.) for RR points, similar to the relationship with Diners Club?
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We're just a family of 4 who takes 4-5 trips a year. You probably haven't noticed--but we haven't been on board much in 2010. Boarding procedures became less famly friendly a couple years ago. Then you started charging extra to board as an A group member (I tried it once and still got a B --not happy). Now. . .this? All you left is "we don't charge for bags." I feel like it's just a matter of time I know that you have to make money. I get it. It's a business. But every one of the changes I mentioned above was rolled out under the banner of "it's better for the customer." I'm sure some of them were better for somebody, but none of them were better for me. I'm not grabbing my toys, going home and saying "never again, SWA!" But I can tell you, while we once went only to swa.com when it was time to plan a trip . . .that's no longer the case. I think we flew you once this year. Not sure what 2011 will hold. When treated right --your customers like me will be nothing but loyal. I think you've lost that.
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I'm definately NOT happy about this new program. I've been flying with Southwest for 9 years and have been a loyal customer for all these years....not anymore. I will look elsewhere when booking my flights from now on. I was also considering buying stock with SW, again, I think not. Please reconsider and bring back the old system to keep your loyal customers.
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I'd like to see all the requests to change the program. I suspect they were from SW shareholders and execs, because no one I know in Calif State government is happy, and that accounts for a whole bunch of SW Calif market. For me personally, I am not a math major, so I called my brother who is a math teacher. I gave him my info--limited personal domestic air travel, between 35-45k annually in SW RR Visa use. He compared old program with new and reported his findings."You're screwed." I've flown SWA since the PSA/Air Cal days when they were the new hip kid on the block. They now appear to be the old, lying, money grubbing fogies with tiny seats and no leg room. I'm thinking I can book cheaper to DC and NY on Virgin, and will use travel sites to figure out the rest.
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anonymous 17;54 yes you can earn points from partners. Check out the "earn" page at newrapidrewards.com and look at the partners features. Actually , we look to add more partners with the points system because that is an easier "currency" to trade with potential partners that credits.
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So, with all these alleged customers who were allegedly asking you to make these changes, did you ever for one minute stop to think of the MILLIONS of other customer who were perfectly happy and never complained or asked you to change a thing? Please don't insult our intelligence and try to convince us that this is in our best interest. Seems like I remember some political leaders trying to do the same thing throughout history, with disastrous results. If you needed to make a change, then why not simply increase the number of credits required for a free flight? But this new system is not only a much worse deal, but it's extremely confusing. I've heard one Southwest employee try to convince me that I didn't REALLY stay loyal to Southwest for years just because of the rewards program. Apparently, your staff can also read minds, because she was absolutely convinced that I chose Southwest because of A) the "friendly telephone customer service reps who speak English" (Wrong, since I rarely ever used telephone customer service, I always booked online) B) "the ability to choose your own seat rather than being told where to sit like a child" (I don't know what airline SHE'S flown, but I've been able to choose my seat on EVERY other airline out there, and I was able to do it at the time of booking, so I never had the risk that my son and I wouldn't be able to sit together.) C) The singing flight attendants (WRONG. While I'm sure there are some who just love this, I often found it to be annoying, especially late at night when I was exhausted.) So, tell yourself whatever helps you sleep at night, but the truth is that I, like many others, have been loyal to you for years ONLY because of your rewards program. And why are you reducing yourself to pathetic lines such as "following industry standards". You were so far ABOVE industry standards......why bring yourself down to their level? Shame on you, Southwest......shame on you.
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Brian, I just figured out how to put an account in- I used the handle NotSoHappyShortHauler- (I'm afraid I'm just not as technically savvy as I should be) The reason I stated what I did was this- I wouldn't mean disrespect to any member of Southwest's family- I consider all of the fine folks there to be the best in the industry. Don't get me wrong- I do have a lot of LUV for Southwest. re: My beancounter comments: I apologize- I know that Gary Kelly has been with Southwest for a long time, as have a lot of the staff therein; it's rare for a company to hold people for that long and with such a great attitude as well. The person I was referring to was Ryan Green. I don't know too much about him, I'm afraid- and I don't recall seeing too much of his name in the past- save a few posts on the blog. Let me explain: A lot of bad decisions in the past have been due to people saying that 'It's broken, it must be fixed' when all it really needs is a tune-up. Having spent quite a while studying airlines (As one person said, I've got Jet-A in my veins) I've seen people come into organisations with great 'new' ideas that have been culled through their education. The sad reality is that these same people also pick up bad ideas and trends from looking around and seeing other things going on. I don't mean to say all of these ideas are bad necessarily- but the decision to alter Rapid Rewards so drastically so quickly to me appears to be influenced by trends in the airline industry as a whole. Knowing how well Southwest hires and trains people leads me to belive that Mr. Green was chosen by his attitude, his skills, and his abilites, I don't question that- or those of anybody else at Southwest. But the decision to alter RR so drastically is just not in character from what I've seen of Southwest as a whole. The old RR allowed me to save up for vacations, etc. that I would not normally be able to do. The new one will take many round trips for me to accumulate enough points to work with. I understand where there is a need for change, to help offset the costs of a FF system. I don't understand, however, such a drastic change overall. To the reviewing administrator: I don't necessarily need this posted- but I thought I should apologise to Mr. Lusk- I didn't word my statements correctly- and I wished to say that to him.
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The news of these changes has dampened my day. Since reading about it last night, I have had that feeling of dissapointment. I've been a faithful SWA traveller. I lfew SWA exclusively, didn't even look at other airlines. For me, the RR was a big incentive. I liked being able to plan last minute RR travel. Now it will be impossible, because the cost in points will be ridiculously high. As I think about it, this really seems like a very bad move. 1) will this program attract new customers to SWA? no, it will actually lose existing customer business. Some, if not several, loyal SWA flyers that were exclusively flying SWA, will no longer be doing this. SWA will lose some of its business to other airlines. 2) will SWA flights be packed like the normally are? I think that after the change, there will be a drop in seat occupancy. Less short haul and last minute flyers will be booking to fly, and the flights will not be as full. At times, some of the business travelers may decide to drive instead, when flying short distances. Others wll seek more convenience, and will use other airlines that porvide more convenience in their flight, schedule, or route than SWA's. 3) will the strategy of just selling tickets through the SWA website work? Likely not... old customers who were going direct to SWA without looking at other airline's fares will now start comparison shopping. SWA competition will increase. In order to compete, SWA will have to again base it on cost, and try to again be the low cost carrier. At this time, SWA is no longer the lowest cost... in fact some Anytime flights are actually quite expensive... being the low cost carrier is not a good business strategy for the long run. I hope I am wrong, because I like SWA... but to me this is a little bit like killing your golden goose. It is like trying to put out the enthusiasm and fervor that loyal SWA rapid reward members had for the airline. This is terrible. Brian, you are brave, and I can feel for you (because you are swimming against the current on this hurricane that is coming at you), and perhaps you do believe this RR 2.0 is better... however I think SWA is missing the boat on this... on my opinion, the more you say this is better, you are causing further discontent and dissappointment with the vast majority of opiners on here. No disrespect, but it feels like you have drank the corporate kool aid, and are feeding the dissapointed customers the SWA corporate spin. That is so unlike what SWA used to be. Good luck with this change. I really think SWA will need it.
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Wow! I see I'm the only one who thinks this is a suicide attempt by Southwest. One of the best things about Rapid Rewards had been its simplicity. In one strole Southwest has gone from an award-winning program that was loved for its simplicty and ease of use to what's probably the most screwed up loyalty program in the travel business. The New Coke analogy made earlier is right on target. The retreat from this disaster should be entertaining. I'll be watching it on the Direct-TV on Frontier. Bye Bye, SWA.
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Looking forward to when Southwest starts flying outside of the contiguous 48 states, this makes sense. I remember when Southwest code-shared w/ ATA and offered free flights to Hawaii for two RR award tickets. Living on the west coast, I felt like I was getting screwed. Compared to someone living on the east coast, I was already half-way to Hawaii, yet I had to use the same number of RR award tickets. Now, it's going to be a fair system. One issue I do have is the conversion between the old and new programs. I wish there was an option to convert currently earned credits to points rather than having to earn 12000 points and then convert those to a single credit.
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Incredibly disappointing. I have been a very loyal customer for over two decades and countlessly defended SWA for being THE airline for numerous reasons - the Reward program at the top of the list. I have been A-List since inception of that program and received a Companion Pass the last 7 of 10 years [all without your credit card]. Clearly, I travel. However, this program change is so absurdly confusing and utterly ridiculous to support that I will be looking elsewhere for an airline where I can enjoy a first class seat, elite status and travel to Europe as a result of my frequent travel. And until I reach the elite status will still be more comfortable enjoying the personal A/V and power outlets on my new airline of choice. My perception is your planes will have seats taken by the casual once or twice a year traveler who purchased the sale fare and travels so infrequently they do not benefit from any loyalty program. Those who travel frequently or are savvy loyalty program utilizers in general will not seek this reward program nor pay your Business Select and Anytime fares which have increased beyond the competition in the past couple of years. Can you afford to continue alienating the frequent traveler who has kept you successful over the turbulent years? I understand the requirement of making money and having the appearance of a competitive edge. Making this dramatic of a change to your loyalty program in an effort to increase the bottom line (let's face it, that's what this is) will create irrefutable damage and a loss of revenue. I urge you to listen to those who have taken the time to provide this feedback. They are your future or lack of it. Really Southwest - not cool.
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"alot of buzz,"... is that PR speak for, "everyone is pissed and we've no idea how to actually respond to the massive screw up our company just committed?" I've got the solution for you, get Gary Kelly to come out admit you guys made a catostrophic mistake and announce you will not be changing your Rapid Rewards. Anything less is just a pathetic half measure. Face it, your core customers are by and large peeved at you and it's time for you to make it right, or get ready to be the next airline to fall into the red in coming quarters.
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I have read and reread several of the paragraphs relating to the changes to Southwest's RR program. After muddling through as best I could I have come to one conclusion--the article was written in English, outsourced to China for translation into that language and then returned to Southwest for translation back into English. If you thought you were really addressing the many questions your RR members have your definitely missed the mark. I realize this is a major change and anticipating all question difficult but your attempts at doing so are pretty pathetic. And very poorly written. I have been a loyal SWA flier for thirty years and a RR member for twelve. During the entire time I have been a very enthusiastic cheerleader. I will, no doubt, continue to book flights to those locations where I can get a direct or non-stop flight but will be looking at other airlines for other locations. As for the Chase RR credit card and how points are earned this entire process can be summed up in one word --debacle! Does ANYONE have an answer for that. Or will it "just work out." Ever the optimist, it's possible this new program won't be as bad as it now appears. And to reiterate what several other posters have stated--BE HONEST. Is this really for the better or a way to make up for lost revenue from Bags Fly Free? Since that policy is an expensive promotional/PR strategy revenues must be found other ways. Several hundred million a year (as reported by the Arizona Republic) is probably a small price to pay for some angry former loyalists. One additional comment. You may wish to reconsider soliciting RR member votes for the "Best Frequent Flier Program." If the new program runs as poorly as its roll out it's doubtful SWA will be a winner. For me it is now I LUV Qantas. A Facebook group, anyone?
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Brian, One thing that I don't think any other poster has mentioned is the future plans Southwest has. The announcement from just 1 month ago regards the 20 737-800's that will be delivered ETOPS is probably one of the most significant announcements Southwest has made, however 99% of the posters probably have no clue what ETOPS means, or even saw that announcement. Come 2012, Southwest will have aircraft that meet the required performance standards to fly to Hawaii, simple as that. Moving forward, the old system would have become far more complicated than the new one once international flights and flights to Hawaii, all on Southwest aircraft, become a reality. Try factoring in how many credits to award on those flights, and how many awards to redeem for those flights. The legacy airlines have award tables on top of award tables for travel all over the globe, not to mention close in booking fees, a fee to book award travel over the phone, fees to redeposit your miles should you have to cancel your trip, and so on. Over time, as Southwest grows, I feel that this will actually be one of the simplest frequent programs out there. The program is actually fairly simple, contrary to the comments from people who a making it way too complicated. This is not a program to the Southwest of yesterday, however I think it will work very well with the Southwest that we will be seeing in the near future. I applaud Southwest for making a program that will work as Southwest expands to bigger and better things, that is a simple as it is.
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Southwest, I can understand everyone's concern since your program is changing after 23 years. The one thing that I'm having a difficult time understanding is the immediate ridiculous decisions Southwest's "LOYAL CUSTOMERs" are making by choosing to no longer fly Southwest. Personally, let them fly other airlines, maybe this will allow my family more options for lower fares. A loyal customer is one willing to give a company an opportunity to prove themselves and recognizing profits and change are what keep a Company competitive. Change is inevitable for not only your Company but all fortune 500 Companies. I have flown your airline for over 10 years. What has brought me back time after time are the small acts of kindness I've received from the airport personnel, flight crew, and over the phone when calling to make a reservation. Sure, the current Rapid Reward program is simple. But, what entices me is awesome Customer Service!!! I am more loyal to dealing with a airline that truly does care about the Customer. Many years ago I called reservations in a difficult situation due to a death in my family. After speaking to one of your agents my day/life changed forever. I was trying to get to Seattle and needed to book a flight for 5 people with no advance. The agent I spoke to was an angel!!! The cost of the ticket was over $3,000 (NO ADVANCE) and there was no way my family could afford to pay this price. The best I could do was buy two tickets. The agent advised me she would like to "pay it forward" and allow member's of my family to travel on her free nonrevenue tickets standby to Seattle. First, I was dumbfounded and couln't believe this was happening. She shared my story touched her and she wanted to help. She sent the tickets by Fed-Ex the next day with special instructions. She stated this would strictly be standby and there were no guarantees, but we were more than willing to try it. Needless to say, her act of kindness allowed my addtional family members to travel standby to Seattle. Our family was able to be with our loved ones during a very sad and difficult time. I will forever be grateful for this amazing act of kindness in addition to the Customer Service I recieve when frequently traveling your airline. New Rapid Reward Program- "I' support you" and I'm eager to find out more about the perks relating to partners. I have no doubt you'll shock us with promotions. within time. I'm sure right now for competive reasons these will not be announced. Other Airlines- hell no, I don't need their poor Customer Service, charging to speak to someone, charging to change your frequent flier booking, charging you to cancel your frequent flier ticket, charging for your bags, charging for food, charging for your seat, charging for products, etc. Soutwest, I know you care about your Customer's and always have. This is one Customer who is betting you the program will work and you'll continue finding ways to make it the best product by continuing to be creative and innovative. Debbie V. Florida
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Rsussman, apology accepted. I admit I was freaked by someone mentioning my out of context personal information, and I am so glad you clarified. I don't work with Ryan on a daily basis, but I think he embodies the Southwest Spirit perfectly. He and our other marketing folks knew some people, especially our shorthaul travelers would be upset by the changes and they tried to mitigate those changes in the transition period, plus providing other longterm innovations like making every seat on every flight available for award travel. It is conceivable, although probably not very probable, that we will have flights filled with nothing but Rapid Rewards Members on Award Travel. Why do the change? Because the airline industry is very different than it was in 1987 when Company Club started. In that time, almost every one of our competitors except for American, Alaska, and the current start ups has been in bankruptcy court, some multiple times, to shed debt and reduce costs to create artificial competitive advantages. We know our existence is based on charging low fares and keeping costs low, and that is one thing that hasn't changed in 40 years. We simply need new ways to create revenue without massive layoffs with the resulting reduction in Customer Service levels, raising fares to much higher levels, or charging fees for things that should be free. The new Rapid Rewards Program is one such way to do that, and in the intro news conference, Gary Kelly said that we stand to gain several hundreds of million dollars in additional revenue from the new program. Jason B also raises a good point. We are poised to enter markets we never have been able to serve before. A frequent flyer program based on shorthaul traffic simply doesn't allow the flexibility for long haul or overwater markets when those come on line. Herb was always telling us that "if you don't change, you die." dorothyannkc, everything you have read was written here in the US, and I am sorry you found it confusing. It is a complicated subject, kind of like a detailed board game that seems intimidating when you read the instructions. However, once you play it, you see how easy it can be. All we ask is for those of you who are doubters and sceptics to give the new system a chance.
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I have been a WN RR member for several years now. I have flown WN exclusively for the RR program at the expense of direct flights, assigned seating and having to be up early to print my boarding passes 24 hours in advance....most of my flights are usually short haul so I fail to see how the new program benefits me...thoughts? I will not pay a Business Select fare if a Wanna Get Away fare is available simply to get more points. It would also be fiscally irresponsible of me to have my company pay for a Business Select Fare if a Wanna Get Away fare is available, especially during the economic times we face. I certainly understand the need to make changes but couldn't WN simply raise the number of trips needed or offered more credits to those who flew longer segments? I must agree with a couple of other posts here in that WN always prided itself on being the low-cost carrier....this is one of the reasons so many people have been loyal; yet, now it appears WN wants to be in the same ranks as Delta or American.....if we wanted Delta or American, we would have flown with them...instead we chose you. I was .25 credits away from my next award and just used my SW Visa card today to charge enough to get this last credit in before the new program takes effect....as an FYI....I am using two awards for travel over the summer...I booked them the day after the segments opened for booking and yet only a single flight each way out of the several available could be booked with an award--a mere 24 hrs after the flights became available. I guess my a new concern is now that I have earned what is probably my final award, I will not be able to find a flight with which to redeem it. In the end, I thank WN for the wonderful program it had; however, it appears there is no longer a reason for me to use you exclusively. Apparently, I am also not the only one who has come to this conclusion.
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I have been reading the new "Points" system that will start on March 1, 2011. So far I am confused. Maybe a chart... fly from San Diego to Chicago receive = points How many points does it take to get a free flight? I figured it would all be more clear when I read further, but not really. I love Southwest and won't change, but I want to know exactly how many points it takes to get a free roundtrip.