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Southwest Planes Get “Bags Fly Free” Tattoo To Prove the Airline is Serious

When it comes to bag fees, Southwest is always fighting an uphill battle. Yes, customers love the fact that they don’t charge fees for the first two checked bags, but those pesky Wall Street-types have long believed that they’re leaving money on the table. Now, Southwest is committing itself even more by getting a tattoo. Seriously. (Sort of.)

The rumors have long been out there that Southwest would have to give in and start charging bag fees. For the longest time, Southwest said it was the right thing to do, but the airline didn’t promote it much and couldn’t really show any gain. In recent months, the marketing team has really ramped up the Bags Fly Free campaign to beat it into people, and it’s worked. Southwest now says it has gained share, and its stellar unit revenue gains shows some real strength. Much of this is from better scheduling, but, I think the halo off the marketing campaign has undoubtedly helped.

Now, like a teenager who wants to prove his commitment to something, Southwest has decided to get a tattoo showing that it remains even more committed than ever. Take a look:

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That’s right. At least 50 airplanes will get this decal (ok, so it’s not really permanent) with an arrow pointing to the belly promoting free bags. There will also be 1,000 bag carts to remind people that bags fly free. (Fortunately, the shirtless dudes will not be deployed to every airport.)

I like this move. It’s cheap and easy advertising that hits people right when they’re angriest. Sure, at places like Dallas/Love and Chicago/Midway where Southwest nearly has a monopoly, there won’t be very many people on other airlines who will see this, but at all the other airports in the system, it will target anyone who looks out the terminal window or the window from their airplane.

For many people, that’s the time when they are most unhappy about having had to pay bag fees, because it’s fresh in their minds. So something like this can have more of an impact at that point. Whether it turns into more business for Southwest is unclear, but does it really matter? This isn’t an expensive campaign and it certainly helps hammer home the airline’s commitment to its promise.

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