Monday, February 1, 2010

A Love Letter to Southwest Airlines

I know, I know- I said I'd keep work out of this; however, baggage fees aren't really work. Baggage fees are an infuriating part of travel (and travel is hobby. So see- no work).

What I know is that most airlines behave like 9th grade girls. One does something snitty and the others feel the need to follow in turn. Just like in January, when Delta raised their baggage fees, and the Continental felt the need to join in the fun, followed quickly by American. And I sit here wanting to scream-- It's not a competition to see who can have the highest fees people!

But thankfully Southwest- doesn't feel the need to play the "Mean Girls" games with the other airlines. And base on article published by Travel Weekly on January 31, it looks like Southwest has no plans to start.

While airlines continue to rack up even more revenue by charging higher checked-baggage fees, Southwest remains resolved to let bags fly free, saying it has enabled the carrier to capture market share from its competitors. ... [Other] Airlines are willing to put up with the anecdotal backlash because the baggage fees for them, so far, have made good financial sense. ... [And] Southwest would stand to pocket $732 million annually if it initiated a baggage fee, IdeaWorks estimated. ... But, IdeaWorks warned, "Corporate hubris may push the industry to some sort of tipping point. Southwest’s management (and its investors) should expect and require healthy market share gains from its bold product positioning endeavor."

Since the beginning of fees for bags I've been one who has strongly encouraged my clients to travel on Southwest. Even if the ticket is (on a rare occassion) more expensive than the others (though that doesn't happen often). I remind my clients they can save at least 100.00 per person round trip in additional baggage fees by traveling on Southwest. And it looks like I'm not the only one thinking that way. The article goes on to say that CEO Gary Kelly has already seen the benefits.

It is very clear we are seeing a share shift, somewhere between half a million and $1 million worth of additional customers. We reduced capacity 8% in the fourth quarter, and at the same time we grew our passengers.

So thank you Southwest- you may be a low cost airline, but IMO, you are far above the other airlines in your commitment to customer service. May you grown and prosper and continue to remember us, your passengers, the reason you're around. May you never forget that you don't have to be a 9th grade girl. And may you always love our bags.


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