I am 6'4" tall and it's mostly legs. On most airlines I literally don't fit into economy seating. So to be frank, the thing I care most about on SWA is getting The Seat. You know The Seat -- right side exit row with no seat in front of it. On some planes the exit row has a little extra legroom so that's OK too, but I never know when I'm getting one of those planes.
It used to be simple. Check in 24 hours early to get an A pass, arrive at the gate an hour early, and 80% of the time I get The Seat. Doesn't matter if it's business or pleasure; if I invest the time and trouble, I get what I want.
Under the new system, I have no idea how to get to the front of the A line. Is Business Select in front of the A-List? In what order are the A-List passes assigned? There is no way I'm getting on the A-List, so I hope the answer is that I can pay either money or time and still get The Seat.
By the way, with the introduction of tiers of privilege on SWA I hope we don't start to see the crappy behavior found on other airlines, with the Premiere 1K Platinum guy loudly arguing with the Executive World Services Iridium guy for that last first-class upgrade.
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I think it may be true you haven't done enough to let people know about the lack of change fees. With other airlines going to insane levels ($200?!) this is a big differentiator for SWA, and certainly many of my friends have been unaware of it.
The beauty of your system is if one flies enough on SWA (and I do) one can consider all fares fully refundable! I just have to leave the cash in the "SWA bank" for a little while and use it for next time. However, I do wish you made it easier to use funds from previous tickets--it seems like you could keep track of them rather than me.
I wouldn't mind a non-zero change fee for the days leading up to a flight if it's causing problems. Just keep it super reasonable (under $20) and I'll feel almost as good about it.
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