October 08, 2007

Southwest Employee Tells Passenger to Change T-Shirt

A Southwest Airlines employee was reprimanded after he asked a passenger to change his t-shirt because he thought it was offensive.  A Southwest spokesperson said that the airline did not have a dress code, so the passenger should have been permitted to fly. 

Oh, the shirt?  It had a drawing of a fisherman on it with the words, "Master Baiter."  Ugh.  And to think...people used to wear fedoras and suits to fly...

October 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 20, 2007

Southwest to Keep Open Seating

For some reason there's been lots of Southwest news lately:

The airline announced that it will keep its much-loved and much-hated open seating policy after tests showed that customers preferred (huh?) the open seating.  They're tweaking the current system a bit, further subdividing the boarding groups and giving you a specific number in line (ie, you'll be given A37, and you'll stand behind A36.  10 points for guessing who you stand in front of.  Correct answer:  woman with too-short miniskirt who is trying to milk every ounce of publicity she can.  Wait, I wasn't talking about that.  I was talking about boarding processes.  Sorry.)

The new boarding will be introduced everywhere by early November.

September 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 19, 2007

Southwest Airlines: Kids Can't Board First

After hearing complaints from business travelers who whined about families pre-boarding, grabbing all the best seats before the first boarding group, Southwest Airlines has decided to have families board between groups A and B.  This is a strangely family-unfriendly move from an airline that has always treated kids well.  I appreciate that business travelers (like myself) have it hard and paid more for tickets and boo hoo.  If you've ever traveled with kids, you know it sucks and having a bit of extra time on the plane is useful.  No mini-skirts?  No pre-boarding for kids?  Not a great PR week for Southwest...

September 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 18, 2007

Southwest Launches "Mini-Skirt" Sale

Southwest Airlines sure knows how to capitalize on some bad publicity:

The airline has launched a "mini-skirt sale" poking fun at the recent news that a flight attendant asked a woman wearing a mini skirt (miniskirt? mini-skirt?) to cover herself with a blanket or change clothes.  The press release from the carrier says, "The publicity caught us with our pants down, quite frankly. The story has such great legs, but we have an even better sense of humor, so we're going to jump out there and lower our fares to match the mini skirts we've all been hearing so much about...." Har.

The woman whose miniskirt caused this whole thing is reportedly not too happy about it, saying that Southwest is exploiting her as a marketing ploy.  Sounds about right.

September 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 07, 2007

Woman Asked to Leave Southwest Plane Because of Short Skirt

A female passenger was recently asked to leave a Southwest flight prior to takeoff because airline staff considered her skirt to be too short and her top to be too revealing.  The woman, who happens to be a Hooters waitress (though that's neither here nor there), was wearing a short skirt and tanktop on a flight to Tucson (where it was well over 100 degrees) was approached by a customer service agent and told that she had to go home and change because her clothing was inappropriate.  She refused and took the flight while covering herself with a blanket.  The story is odd because, as it turns out, she really wasn't wearing anything out of the ordinary.

Southwest said that it reserves the right to deny boarding to someone who is dressed inappropriately, though it's kinda funny coming from Southwest, as their early advertisements (here and here -- on their own website no less!) featured their flight attendants in hot pants and miniskirts. I guess the staff are allowed to dress that way.

September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 06, 2007

What's Going to Happen to Southwest Airlines?

The Dallas Morning News has an interesting look at the changes Southwest Airlines is considering making over the next 2 years or so.  Southwest has (obviously) been held up as a shining example of how to make an airline work in a miserable commercial environment.  But over the past 3 years or so, their consumer value has diminished a bit, as other airlines are offering free TV, assigned seating, more legroom, and, likely in the near future, wi-fi, at the same price (or lower) than Southwest.  They plan to roll out an assigned seating policy of some sort by the end of the year, they're testing wi-fi, they may introduce TV, as well as considering other changes. 

This hardly suggests that their model is broken, but other airlines offering similar value have surpassed them in nearly measure.  As one person in the article said, with JetBlue you get free TV, with Southwest you get a funny boarding announcement. 

August 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)

June 28, 2007

Not Going So Well at Southwest These Days

Remember how every article written about Southwest used to be a love (luv?) letter?  Not anymore.

The WSJ (sorry, registration req'd) looks at the array of ills facing the airline, not least of which is that many of their competitors have lowered their costs through bankruptcy, leaving the carrier with some of the highest labor costs in the business.  Plus, their so-called no frills competitors have added frills, leaving Southwest to look much more like a -- GASP! -- legacy carrier.  (sort of).  They also knock the airline for being slow to respond when things started to go bad, though they've now announced the end of some of their longer haul flights (costly to run and not necessarily profitable at $99 each way), make some overtures toward adding TV/internet on their flights, and cut back on some of their expansion plans.

But the point does seem to be valid that they were slow to respond to changes in the industry.  Their lack of amenities no longer seems cute when AirTran, Frontier and JetBlue all have either seatback TV or satellite radio.  Their ATA acquisition probably took their eye off the ball for a bit as well.  I'm certain they'll be fine, but I've noticed over the past few days that articles about airlines always claim that no matter what is happening in the industry is killing the airlines.  Terrorism?  Passengers stay home  Oil prices?  Fares go up and passengers stay home.  Competition?  Prices go down.  Too many seats?  Prices go down.  Too few seats?  Causes delays.  Summer travel boom?  Causes delays.  Slow periods stink and so do busy periods.  Ugh.

June 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 17, 2007

Southwest: We've Told You Lies

(thanks to reader IAHPHX, as always...)

The Dallas Morning News has an article that debunks some of the myths about the founding of Southwest Airlines.  Specifically, that Herb Kelleher didn't start the airline after drawing a little route map on a napkin.  The article also suggests that Kelleher wasn't all that into the idea of the airline initially, and that he needed some serious convincing.  While this seems like small potatoes, the story is at the heart of the Southwest lore...Just as eBay was not created as a way to sell Pez, so another corporate myth is killed.  I'm sorry I'm a buzzkill...

May 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 24, 2007

Southwest to Offer Inflight Wi-Fi Within the Year?

During its earnings call last week, Southwest Airlines mentioned that it is soliciting bids for an in-flight wi-fi service.  The carrier hopes to have a prototype up and running within 9 months.  Crazy to think that a supposedly "no frills" carrier would be the first US airline to offer the service.  The move is part of Southwest's strategy to generate more revenue from ancillary services.

April 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 01, 2006

Take 2 Southwest Flights and Get a Free Ticket

(Via View from the Wing):

To promote its new Washington Dulles service, Southwest Airlines is offering 8 free Rapid Rewards credits for signing up and double  points for flights in and out of Dulles.  What's that mean to you?  Fly 2 round trips and get a free ticket on Southwest.  With Chicago flights starting at $44 each way, you can get a free flight for less than $200 of flights.  Not too shabby.

December 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 21, 2006

Southwest Airlines Would Buy Delta Assets

Without waiting for the body to be cold, the WSJ is reporting that it would buy any assets that Delta needs to shed in its merger with US Airways.  If you're a fan of the merger, this is a good sign.  Delta will have to sell some parts of its operations to make the combination work (both financially, and from an anti-trust standpoint), and it helps to know that there's a wealthy company that's interested in them.  The article doesn't mention if Southwest wants the shuttle, but it would be quite interesting if they did.  They practically already run a shuttle between Houston and Dallas profitably with far lower fares than we see in the Northeast right now. 

November 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11, 2006

Southwest Pilot Suspect of Being Drunk

Southwest Airlines is known for its laid-back attitude, but sometimes it's apparently a bit too laid back.  A Southwest pilot was arrested at Salt Lake City's airport on Sunday after security staff smelled alcohol on his breath.  Airport police removed the pilot from the cockpit minutes before his departure to Phoenix.  The co-pilot continued on without him.  Sober.

July 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

June 21, 2006

Southwest to Test Assigned Seating

Next month, Southwest Airlines will test assigned seating on some of its flights out of San Diego.  If assigned seats are adopted, this would be a huge change for the carrier, which has always forced customers into a cattle call without a seat assignment.  Assuming the change doesn't add additional time to boarding, Southwest would consider rolling it out.  Many passengers hate not having assigned seats, though Southwest had been oddly hard-headed about even considering assigned seats.  Glad to see they're having a change of heart.

June 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 16, 2006

Compromise Finally Reached on Dallas Love

After years and years of bickering, a compromise has been reached on the Wright Amendment situation that affects Dallas Love airport.  As mentioned here a bunch of times, the Wright Amendment forbade airlines from flying from Dallas Love to states that were not contiguous to Texas.  Nor could they sell tickets between, say, Dallas Love and Baltimore with a stop in Oklahoma City.  Well, that's about to change.

Southwest and American reached an agreement whereby the Wright Amendment restrictions will disappear by 2014.  In the short-term, airlines can sell tickets between, say, Dallas Love and Baltimore with a stop in Oklahoma City (this is called through-ticketing).

This deal has to be approved by Congress, and there's a possibility that they will permit airlines to fly long-haul nonstop flights immediately (despite the terms of the agreement), in which case Southwest will have to give up 8 of its gates at the airport. 

Many thought that Southwest would fight for immediate long-haul flights, but Southwest was likely most interested in being able to plan their business.  This will be a huge win for consumers (and I wouldn't be shocked if Congress forces immediately long-haul flights.)

June 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Southwest Airlines Sues Company That Gets You Boarding Passes

I have no idea how I have not heard of boardfirst.com until now.  For $5 they will check you in for your Southwest Airlines flight and ensure that you get a coveted "A" boarding pass, which allows you to board first.  This is absolutely brilliant.  So brilliant that Southwest is suing boardfirst.com and a few similar sites.  Bummer.

June 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 18, 2006

Goodbye to Southwest Seating Free For All?

Southwest Airlines is upgrading its reservations systems, a move that could lead to --gasp!-- assigned seating.  The Southwest cattle call has been a staple of the airline since its inception and for those of us who like to get to the airport at the very last minute, the reason why we typically end up with middle seats next to fat and/or screaming people.  The earliest the change could happen is 2008, and the airline has said that they haven't even decided if they want to go to assigned seating, but we can always hope.

May 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 05, 2006

Southwest Airlines Comes to Washington Dulles

Southwest Airlines announced that it plans service from Washington-Dulles airport beginning this fall.  I usually don't bother with new city announcements, but Southwest has changed its strategy so significantly in the past couple of years that it warrants a mention.  Southwest used to actively avoid competing directly with other low cost carriers, preferring to stay out of their way and carve out underserved routes with high fares.  But since their entry into Philadelphia and Denver, they've decided to fight low cost carriers head on.  And Dulles is no different--JetBlue has a number of flights from the airport.  In fact, this move suggests that JetBlue is not the unstoppable juggernaut it once was.  It'll be fun to see if they compete head-to-head (I'm guessing they won't).

April 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 22, 2006

8 Southwest Airlines Employees Charged with Ticket Fraud

8 ex-employees of Southwest Airlines were charged with attempting a pretty impressive ticket scam that would have net them about a million dollars.  Basically, the employees took used tickets and re-sold them to passengers who were paying cash for tickets.  The workers would then just pocket the cash.  Not too shabby.  But still shabby enough that they got caught.  In case you were thinking of doing this yourself, the airline has changed its controls to ensure this doesn't happen again.

March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 16, 2006

$78 Round Trip from Chicago to New York on Southwest

Southwest has some crazy delicious fares between Chicago-Midway and Islip Airport in central Long Island.  $78 ($97 including tax) gets you a round trip ticket between the two most days of the week for the forseeable future.  Hard to beat.  Thanks to D-lux for the heads up.

March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Southwest Raises Fares

They may be the king of the discounters, but Southwest Airlines is also the king of profitability.  That may or may not make any sense.  Whatever.  The airline raised top fares $10 (and its cheapest fares by $2) each way to offset fuel prices.  This move increases the carrier's top fare to $309 each way (break out that abacus to figure out what the old top fare was).  Other carriers let out a huge sigh of relief and also raised their fares.  I suspect Southwest will drop the top fares (which few people actually pay) once fuel prices drop a bit.  Keep in mind as you read this story elsewhere, that $309 fare is a rarity.  Most people will end up only paying $4 or $8 extra for a round trip ticket.

March 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

Southwest Now Offers Reward Tickets to Hawaii

As part of its code share with ATA, Southwest Airlines is now offering Rapid Rewards tickets to Hawaii.  Flights will require double the number of Rapid Rewards coupons and are heavily capacity controlled.  I'll give Southwest a ton of credit for coming out and saying that demand will outstrip supply for these rewards.  Gotta appreciate the honesty.

March 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

Southwest to Move to Phoenix?

Southwest Airlines, which has not been happy with the restrictions placed on its Dallas Love base, is considering moving its headquarters to Phoenix.  Chairman and airline founder Herb Kelleher mentioned during a conference yesterday that several cities have approached the carrier about moving its headquarters, but the airline is only seriously considering the Phoenix proposal.  He also added that while the Dallas Love restrictions were annoying, it was not enough to make the carrier move.  However, you can imagine a financial proposal from Phoenix that would make it difficult to turn down.  Even so, Southwest is so linked to Texas a move seems unlikely.

March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

United's Frequent Flyer Bonanza in Denver

United Airlines is fighting back against Southwest's entry into Denver using the only real weapon they have: frequent flyer miles.  The deal they're offering is kinda detailed, but in short, if you fly 2 round trips to or from Denver in 2006, you get 4000 bonus miles or a $100 certificate for a Hyatt stay.  4 round trips gets 8,000 miles.  The awards increase up to 16 round trips earning you a free international business class round trip (or 90,000 miles).

Plus, if you fly to a bunch of cities that Southwest flies to (listed in the link above), you get DOUBLE credits through July 3rd.  So, 8 round trip flights and, say, Phoenix would earn you a free business class ticket to Sydney, Australia, and only cost you about $900.  Just a thought.

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February 8, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 25, 2006

Mileage Bonuses from Love Field

The fight over Dallas Love Field is heating up and consumers will benefit (damn that sounds like the lead-in to a local TV news story.  I apologize, and I'm too lazy to change it).  Anyway, if you fly on Southwest from Dallas to Kansas City or St. Louis, you'll get triple Rapid Rewards credits through the end of April.

Not to be outdone, American Airlines is offering up to 60,000 AAdvantage miles for flights between Dallas Love and St. Louis, Kansas City, San Antonio and Austin.  Hm, those sound like Southwest cities.  In any case, you have to fly a bunch of times to get those miles, (details here), but that's a nice bonus for some short flghts. 

January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)