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. 


  1. Well I still love Southwest. Their service is great, they’re usually on time, and their planes seem very well put together and high grade. Even though they don’t have all the bells and whistles, they’re still a great airline and they’ll be even better if they include free TV and wi-fi in the future.

  2. thats true..Southwest still the greatest in thier service and thier policy..if i pay 100$ less who care about the TV..remember southwest only fly demostic..means no need for TV..the longest flight won’t be more than 4 hours..if you can hold off on smoking…movies and WIFI much easier..make sense..

  3. Southwest has always offered reliable, friendly service. They may not have all the frills that the new upstarts have, but I can forgive that.

    I’ve been a Southwest customer since my college days (that’s 20 yrs now) and I don’t see my allegiance going elsewhere (except maybe to occasional jetBlue flight).

  4. Yeah, I am all in favor of on-time and free songs and smiles, but not at the cost of basic care for the passengers.

    My wife and I were on a flight from Oakland to Fort Lauderdale via Chicago in the peak of winter. It was cold, very cold and windy. Chicago was in the middle of a snow storm, not really the best time to be flying. And we were going from one warm place to another warmer place, so weren’t wrapped up for the Chicago cold.

    At Chicago, they start boarding us on time. We get on the ramp and its cold, not surprising since the ramp isn’t properly aligned to the plane, so a lot of the cold and wind is making its way in through the wide open cracks. Okay, not a big deal, we thought, its just for a few minutes. We get on the plane and its EVEN COLDER with a gusty wind blowing inside the plane. Everyone is bundling up and shivering. There’s an old lady in front of us, who obviously isn’t ready for it and can’t stand it. My wife has a serious cold and the cold, sub-zero air isn’t good for her. She starts getting a sinus headache in seconds. I am wondering where the heck the cold air is coming from and realize that the back doors of the plane are wide open to the cold air, with the cleaning crew still working on the toilets. I tell one of the stewardesses about it and she says, they have to do it to be on time. The old lady in front of us looks like she is going to die and my wife is in agonizing pain. (My wife was sick for a week after the trip.) I suggest to the Stewardess that they close the back door, pointing to the obvious discomfort of the people around us. Its not going to hamper the cleaning crew working on the toilets. And this is what gets me – she jokes that its a test of character. Huh? What character are you testing by torturing the old and the sick, so your plane can claim to be on time?? It would have made very little difference to the ultimate arrival time, if they had done this properly. The whole experience was one of “we don’t really care about the passengers, just sing a song and the cattle will be happy”.

    I used to fly about 10-15 round trips on Southwest each year (yeah, enough to receive many free peanut/drink coupon books) and was a big proponent in my company. No longer. Sorry.