Southwest – America's Favorite Airline in Middle Age

As the Wall Street Journal noted recently, Southwest Airlines may be showing its age – but who isn’t? Besides, the airline celebrates its 43rd birthday this June and while it’s not perfect, it’s still in a pretty good place.

NOTE: Don’t miss the funny Southwest video below.

Biggest Domestic Airline

Despite what fans may think, Southwest does not always have the cheapest fares, but then as FareCompare CEO and airfare analyst Rick Seaney points out, “No single airline always has the best prices.” Nevertheless, the once scrappy little carrier has a huge fan base which helped propel it from a small Texas regional to the nation’s largest domestic airline (although Delta carries more passengers overall when international flights are included). It is popular and it is successful.

Customer Service Counts

According to the Wall Street Journal, Southwest fares have risen significantly since 2008 but other airline ticket prices have gone up, too – and while most of the competition has vigorously embraced a full menu of airline fees, Southwest continues to be the only airline offering two bags for free (JetBlue offers one) and the only airline without a change fee.

But as Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told FareCompare, where the airline really shines is customer service – and numerous surveys bear that out. “In the old days,” said Hawkins, “before we could afford advertising, Herb [Kelleher, founder of Southwest] said our people would keep customers coming back.” People like this flight attendant with her humorous spin on the boring pre-flight safety talk.

VIDEO: Listen closely because this woman talks fast – and don’t miss the passengers’ reactions.


Published: April 15, 2014