We've all probably heard the old truism, "in the South, it doesn't matter if you're going to heaven or hell, you're going to change planes in Atlanta." That's a perfect definition of a hub-and-spoke airline's route network. When it comes to route networks, there are two kinds of airlines–SouthwestÃ¢â‚¬¦and everybody else. All of our competitors operate hub-and-spoke networks, meaning that they serve a very small number of airports where they offer a LOT of flights (those are the hubs), and a large number of airports at which they only provide flights to their hubs (the spokes).
If you live in one of those overpriced and overserved hub locations, you can probably fly nonstop almost anywhere you want to go (if you can afford it). But while some lucky travelers get to fly nonstop, hub-and-spoke networks are built to maximize connecting traffic. Most of these other airlines force 50 percent–and as many as 75 percent–of their passengers to change planes at their hubs. Put differently, if your trip doesn't begin or end at the hub location–you're changing planes, pal.
Southwest's system isn't like that at all. Our route network is point-to-point–we do our best to fly you from the point that you're at, to the point that you want to go, nonstop. In fact, despite old impressions that we're an airline of "milk runs" with multiple stops or plane changes, nearly 80 percent of Southwest's Customers fly nonstop from their origin to their destination. I'm not just talking about a quick trip from Dallas to Houston or Baltimore/Washington to Providence. We can fly you nonstop from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood or Seattle. Baltimore/Washington to San Diego or Las Vegas. Philadelphia to Los Angeles or Oakland.
As with most everything we do at Southwest, we've designed our route network with you, our Customer, in mind. We know people prefer nonstop service, so that's what we aim to provide, as much as possible. We also want to give you the lowest possible fares–after all, we are THE low fare leader–and in order to do that, we need to get you where you want to go as efficiently as possible. And by a large margin, the most cost-effective way to transport someone from point A to point B is to do it without stopping. It makes perfect sense, really–it simply costs less to carry a Customer all the way from start to finish on one flight than it does to carry them on two.
We do, of course, publish connecting itineraries, as well as direct ones (that have an intermediate stop, but no change of planes). By offering connecting and direct itineraries in our smaller markets, we can offer those Customers our legendary low fares and excellent Customer Service. Chances are about five to one that your next Southwest trip will be on a nonstop flight. And if you're on a direct flight or a connection, hey, look on the bright side. You'll get at least TWO soft drinks, FOUR bags of peanutsÃ¢â‚¬¦.and the whole way, you'll get Positively Outrageous Service from the best Employees in the airline industry. Ours.