In my mind, a better term to describe Southwest's cities where a change of planes occurs in the process of taking Customers from point A to point B is "incidental hub," which is not the same as a "de facto hub" and totally unlike a "deliberate hub" ala the high-cost inefficient monstrosities that the U.S. legacy airlines insist on maintaining.
Southwest's "incidental hubs" are a logical by-product of high volumes of departures and arrivals that naturally create connecting possibilities -- none of the waste and inefficiencies of the "deliberate hubs" of the legacies that clog airport facilities for a few hours each day while the same facilities and staff sit idle for a roughly equal, sometimes greater, amount of time. Southwest keeps their planes in the air, where the money is made, with the focus on efficient aircraft utilization achieved by short turnaround times; when connecting flight opportunities happen as a result of frequent arrivals and departures at cities such as MDW and PHX ...why not? "Deliberate hubs," by contrast, hold aircraft and staffing efficiencies hostage to the almighty scheduling of connecting "banks" of flights and "de facto hub" is a term too close to "deliberate hub" to describe Southwest's altogether efficient "incidental hubs" which are a universe apart from "deliberate hubs."
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One of the key features of SWA's service that has set them worlds apart from the U.S. legacy airlines and their herd menatality is that SWA promises only what can realistically be delivered and then consistently delivers what is promised. Go to assigned seating and this all-important point of differentiation from other U.S. airlines is seriously compromised. Count on levels of Customer discontent never before experienced at SWA when Customers quickly discover that assigned seating by no means equals their pipedream assumption that "I can pre-reserve a good seat of my choice" and/or "at least we can be sure we will be sitting together" only to learn that assigned seating all too often means "which middle seat do you prefer?" or "how close can our party of two or more pax be seated to one another in scattered single seats and in an arrangement that best facilitates arranging seat trades (hopefully) with other pax after we board?"
Another consideration is that, with assigned seating, you will attract a breed of clientele you have been quite successful without for more than 30 years, thank you, and don't need to attract now. At a very successful small business I worked at in managment in the recent past, the owner of the business and yours truly often discussed the reasons for our success. Among our shared conclusions was our that one of the keys to our success was in our choices concerning which potential customers NOT to do business with. SWA does not need the type of high-maintenance, high-cost customers who "must have" assigned seating; let them continue to be the other airlines' high-cost liabilities. Truth be told, passengers who "must have" a pre-assigned seat are very often types who are full of themselves who will take away from the enjoyment and fun of flying that is unique to SWA. Whenever I fly with SWA, I actually find myself looking forward to flying with you again; precisely the opposite of how feel after flying with any of the U.S. legacy airlines. SWA is the only airline I count as my airline of choice; with any of the others my choice comes down to who is the least worst. The type of clientele likely to be drawn to SWA in greater numbers if assigned seating is implemented will ultimately transform the SWA experience from a breath of fresh air to just another flight to be endured.
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