There are a few major airlines that stand out in the minds of United States travelers. They tend to dominate the air-travel world by flying into the most prevalent cities, offering the best deals, and having the most amount of flights available. These include Am. Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and of course, Southwest Airlines. Southwest has come to be known as one of America’s best budget-friendly airlines by consistently cutting their own costs (and yours!) without sacrificing a huge amount of quality. Many travelers have come to love Southwest for some of the perks that the airline offers, such as a great rewards program, a generous cancellation policy, and strict baggage regulations (your luggage will never get lost again!).
In the past few years, Southwest has been surrounded by some controversy, but this hasn't changed the overwhelmingly positive outlook frequent fliers have towards their airline. For couples, singles, and families, Southwest is thought of as one of the best, and certainly the best budget airline. While you might know about Southwest in general, you probably don't know these 20 facts. Check them out to enhance your Southwest knowledge and maybe you'll put some of these tips into action next time you fly!
20 20. Southwest Has No First Class Tickets: Everyone Sits Together
Unlike other airline companies, Southwest Airlines doesn’t have any classes. Usually, clients have to check-in 24 hours before the departure. However, if the passenger wants to board first, he/she has to pay for getting into the board group A, which are the first people to board the airplane. People in Southwest Airlines choose their own seats, and most of the travelers are quite satisfied with that method. This creative new approach has attracted a lot of fliers who like being able to choose their own seat at whim, while others find it stressful as they board the plane before takeoff.
19 19. Southwest Has an Open Seating System: Get There Early!
Southwest is well-known for its open-seating system, which basically lets passengers choose seats right before the flight. Some people who value speed prefer that method, as the passengers were quickly sitting wherever was free. However, travelers who fly with other family members didn’t like that because it can be easy to get separated if you're in a later boarding group.
Southwest Airlines came up with a creative solution for its clients who were not satisfied with the then-current open-seating method. They created boarding groups, meaning that each traveler could choose seats online the day before. It turned out to be an excellent way to keep everyone pleased.
18 18. Southwest Acquired Morris Air: A Big Move for the Airline
Southwest Airlines acquired Morris Air for $129 million, which was a strategic move by then-current CEO of the company, Herb Kelleher. The times had shown that Morris Air, despite being a small airline company, was still significantly influencing the industry by providing proper short flights. By purchasing it, Southwest strengthened its position over the competitors significantly.
Bill Berry, a spokesman representing Delta Air Lines, said that this purchase would not change anything, which was answered back with laughter by Kelleher. It turns out that the negotiations started over 50 years ago by Ms. Morris, who in the midst of breast cancer initiated the discussion.
17 17. Checking In Late Can Do You a Lot of Damage: Be On Time
Southwest Airlines is very strict with the late check-ins. If the passenger appears with his or her baggage 30 minutes before the departure, the company won't take responsibility for delivery charges if the bag fails to make it into the airplane. In most airports, such as Denver, Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, the bags are required to be checked in 45 minutes before the departure.
What is more, checking-in late means being one of the last people to board the airplane, which means that the passenger may not get a good seat or won't be able to sit with friends or family.
16 16. Southwest Has a Price Adjustment Feature: You Can Save Big
Southwest Airlines uses an interesting tactic for keeping its clients and motivating them to continue traveling. The key is that people who have already booked a flight can rebook it after the prices go down. It’s very simple to do. You just need to go to your Southwest account online, find your flight, and change it by selecting a new one, cheaper flights.
The website then makes sure that you intentionally rebooked the flight by asking permission before making any changes. This flexible feature of Southwest Airlines saves a lot of travelers’ enthusiasm for more adventures in the future.
15 15. Southwest's Fleet is Older Than Other Airlines: They're Well Known Over Time
There are many airline companies around the world, and Southwest has one of the oldest fleets of about 11.8 years. Its fleet is older than a lot of other companies, such as Am. Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. There are just a couple of airline companies, like United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Allegiant Air, that have older fleets.
However, Southwest uses only Boeing airplanes. In fact, it focuses on the Boeing 737, using both the classic and newer versions of the model. Cooperating with only one manufacturer guarantees a huge profit for the company because workers only have to focus on maintaining one model.
14 14. Southwest Was One of the First Airlines to Start a Website: They're Technologically Savvy
Southwest Airlines made big progress since it launched a website on March 16, 1995. As a matter of fact, it was one of the first websites created by an airline company. Back in the day, every client was able to view the flight schedules and read information about the company itself.
The website was actually considered as one of the best websites for online revenue by PhoCusWright! As the statistics show, in 2006 about 70% of flight bookings and 73% of revenue earnings were completed through Southwest.com, a huge jump for a new website. The percentage of earnings through the website has only increased since then.
13 13. Most of Southwest’s Passengers are Local: The Point to Point System
Southwest Airlines has a huge following among the people of the United States. The airline started taking off in Dallas, Texas with the local population, and grew since then. The company launches a lot of flights within the major parts of the United States. It operates about 4000 flights a day during the peak season. In August 2018, Southwest launched departures to exactly 99 destinations inside the USA and had 10 flights outside of the latter’s borders.
Southwest’s flights are mostly point-to-point, which means that the airplanes often head back where they came from, making it so that the main clientele are local people going on vacation.
12 12. Chicago is Southwest’s Busiest Stop: The Hub of the Airline
Chicago is most likely the busiest stop of Southwest Airlines, maybe because the Midway Airport is known as an "innovation station." Apparently, Southwest hopes to experiment with so-called “wayfinding signs” to help people navigate in the airport and through the gates.
The spokesman from the company said that Southwest may even try new tools in Chicago for celebrating special occasions, like anniversaries and other events. He also mentioned that the employees working in Chicago Midway may use new devices that have information about every passenger and flight.
Chicago is definitely Southwest's hub, and people local to Chicago tend to love Southwest, so the relationship works both ways.
11 11. Southwest has the world’s most Boeing 737s: The Airline Dominates
Southwest Airlines has only one manufacturer, Boeing, which means that they use only Boeing 737 aircraft carriers. The airline company uses different versions of this model. Recently, Southwest ordered 40 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes and subsequently became the leading Boeing airplane customer in the world. The Boeing spokesman, Doug Alder, said that Southwest Airlines took the advantage over other airplane customers by making a deal of a large quantity of Boeing 737 MAXes. Before this contract was even set into motion, Southwest already possessed many MAXes, and the total number of additional airplanes ordered ended up being about 280.
10 10. Southwest Has Been Profitable for 50 Years in a Row: A Long-Lasting Company
Southwest Airlines is a rare company which has somehow managed to remain profitable for approximately 50 years. That’s a record that a lot of companies can only dream of! Southwest has its unique place in Fortune’s list of World’s Most Admired Companies for 24 consecutive years. This is just another achievement that the company can be proud of.
“Our strong profits, cash flow, and financial position enabled us to deploy capital wisely and sustain high returns on invested capital,” said Gary C. Kelly, the Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Airlines. He also consistently ensures fliers and stakeholders that the company will not stop here.
9 9. They’re Known for Having the Nicest Crew: Make Friends With Your Flight Attendant
There are a lot of ways Southwest Airlines stands out from other airline companies, and one of the most visible ways is by employing a great crew. The employees of the company are highly valued and are experts in their jobs. Many passengers throughout the years have noticed that the crew members of Southwest are very polite and understanding. Compared to other airline companies, the employees of Southwest Airlines are truly willing to solve any client's problem.
What’s more, sometimes they try to entertain passengers using various means. For instance, David Holmes read a rap of the safety instructions, helping the passengers have fun and pay attention at the same time.
8 8. Southwest Has Had a Lot of Controversy in the Past Few Years: Be Aware of the News
In the past few years, Southwest Airlines has been experiencing some serious controversy. In 2016, Southwest suffered about 2000 flight cancellations just because of the old computer system; this left a lot of passengers in airports with no flights. It turns out that the employees were dissatisfied with the CEO of the company and demanded that he resign along with the COO, Mike Van de Ven.
Additionally, Southwest has had a few notable crashes. Most recently, an engine malfunctioned, causing one passenger to lose their life in the air. Some of these controversies have caused passengers to be afraid of using Southwest in the future.
7 7. An Incredible rate of keeping baggage safe
Southwest Airlines is a very trusted company in terms of safe luggage transportation. It’s very rare in the Southwest terminal to receive news about a lost luggage. According to the data of 2016, the rate of mishandled baggage report in Southwest is nearly 2.65 per 1000 passengers. Most of the clients are satisfied with the baggage services of the company and there are not many complaints. Even if the passenger somehow loses their luggage, there is a great possibility that it gets found and everything settles well. Although Southwest completes a huge amount of flights daily, the baggage report rate still remains low.
6 6. All Bags Fly Free: Take As Much Luggage As You Want
Another reason why Southwest Airlines has become one of the people’s favorite airline companies is because you can take the first two of your bags for free. This only works if the bags don’t exceed the weight of 50 lbs and 62 inches. If the item exceeds the given weight and is between 51 to 100 lbs, then the passenger has to pay $75 for a one-way flight.
The same happens if the bag is oversized and has the length between 62 to 80 inches. These rules are very consistent and if travelers are able to work within them, everyone can save a lot of money.
5 5. Southwest Has One of the Best Low-Cost Business Models in the Airline Industry
It is not a secret that Southwest Airlines has one of the best low-cost business models in the airline industry. The efficiency of the model amazes everyone. Southwest is able to sell really cheap tickets but make a huge profit. The analyses show that this low-cost company spends an average of 7 to 8 cents per seat mile to complete a 500 to 600-mile flight. Southwest offers a large number of destinations for its clients and is very flexible with operating flights. Thanks to this business model, Southwest Airlines continually changes and evolves. It clearly works and most likely will continue to.
4 4. Southwest Has a Great Rapid Rewards Points System
Southwest Airlines has an exciting program called “Southwest Rapid Rewards Program,” which gives points for every single dollar the passengers spend on flights. People love it, especially the ones who travel a lot and are loyal to the company.
Using these points, Southwest travelers can purchase travel tickets, retail items, and get gift cards. They also have the opportunity to use their points on hotels or car rentals.
The number of the points you earn from the flight depends on several things, like the price of your ticket, the type of fare, and your status level within the program. If you spend an exorbitant amount, you can even get the companion pass, which means that a companion will fly for free with you for a whole year!
3 3. You Can Cancel Your Trip Last Minute Without Being Charged: Southwest Has One of the Best Cancellation Programs
One of the best things you can find on Southwest Airlines is that the company lets you cancel your flight within 24 hours, returning a full refund for any reason. Unlike other airline companies, it allows you to change the ticket anytime for absolutely free, giving away the freedom that every client desires.
The refunds here can only be transferred to the original passenger who bought the tickets, but this usually isn't an issue. This is truly a way Southwest Airlines has separated itself from its competitors. The company may be initially hurt by these lax policies, but they seem to keep customers in the long run.
2 2. You Can Watch TV on the Plane for Free: One of the Perks
Southwest Airlines allows its passengers to watch TV channels for free. There are 14 TV channels available on every aircraft. There are also more than 50 TV shows and movies available for everyone. What’s amazing is that there is Wi-Fi inside the airplane for just $8 per device, so passengers can access the Internet and browse everything they need if they don't want to utilize the TVs.
Over 400 airplanes are set with these features and these numbers continue to grow as more planes are acquired. Passengers report that time moves much faster on a Southwest aircraft because there is always something cool you can watch or do.
1 1. Southwest Flies into Somewhat Obscure Cities: But You'll Make It to Your Destination for Less
Although Southwest Airlines doesn’t operate a lot of flights outside the United States, it tends to fly to somewhat more obscure airports within the U.S. For example, in Florida, Southwest flies into Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami. Passengers who use the Rapid Rewards system will be forced to get a rental car and make the jump rather than flying directly into the airport.
This is the main way that Southwest Airlines has been able to keep costs down, and while it may be a little more inconvenient initially, the low prices make it so that loyal travelers keep coming back and dealing with the extra hassle.