Midwest Becoming Like the Rest

Midwest Airlines, Northwest, Seats

Over the last couple years, Midwest has been quietly changing its model to the point where they’re becoming just like every other airline. Sadly, I’d say the transformation is now almost complete.

Back in the day, Midwest was head and shoulders above the rest. 07_09_21 cookietalkWhile most airlines served meals in coach, Midwest served things like lobster on china. As airlines began to pack more seats on planes, Midwest stayed strong with wider, more comfortable seats throughout. Service was excellent and yes, it was finished off with a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie. Today, the cookie and the good service are about all that’s left.

Meals are now buy-on-board and the china is long gone. Even the seats, the biggest differentiator have started to disappear. A couple years ago, Midwest decided to have two levels of service. Their 717s would continue to have “Signature” service with the nice wide and cushy seats. But on longer routes to leisure destinations, they started flying MD80s in “Saver” service, configured just like every other airline with a bit more legroom.

Earlier this year, they decided to standardize the fleets to have a little bit of both onboard. Yeah, that made me think that Saver = Coach and Signature = First Class, but that’s not exactly the case. Yesterday, they put out a press release trumpeting that their MD80s now all have Signature seating on board. Somehow I doubt we’ll see the same release when they put a bunch of Saver seats on the 717s by the middle of next year.

If you’re on an MD80, you’ll have the option of paying $60 extra per segment just to sit in the nice seats. Keep in mind, all you get to do is sit in those seats. Like Spirit, there is no difference in service when you’re up there. It’s just a bigger seat. And though I haven’t seen it confirmed in print, it appears that the seats will also have the same seat pitch as the ones in back as well. Right now, the MD80s in all-Saver configuration have either 143 or 147 seats an 33 inch pitch. The new configuration will see 12 in Signature and either 127 or 131 in Saver. Each of the three rows in Signature will have 4 seats instead of five, so I understand losing 3 seats here, but I’m not sure where the fourth has gone. Either way, seat pitch shouldn’t change.

Oh, and if you want to sit in those seats, you can only buy them at the time of check-in or at the gate itself. You can’t do it in advance. So, if you really want those seats, check-in early or you might be stuck in the back.

With Northwest taking a 47% stake in the airline recently, we should be happy the product hasn’t started to get even worse than this.

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4 comments on “Midwest Becoming Like the Rest

  1. I don’t see why this news should come as a suprise to anyone. The Spirit CEO hit the nail on the head when he said passengers only care about price. How long can an airline hold out giving great extras like lobster on china when all the leasure traveler cares about is saving a couple dollars? Not long at all! The fact that Midwest held out as long as they did is suprising.

  2. I don’t understand the complaining. They accepted the offer of a well known Finance Co. verses the undisreable AirTran
    (-according to them.-)….. and still ended up where they would have been. At least with FL (AirTran) they would have folded into a profitable airline verses exsisting, and becoming a ghost of an airline, with cookies…LOL…that is rarely considered by seasoned travelers and partically finaced by an Airline (NorthWest)that will slowly see to thier demise. They made thier bed, now they have to sleep in it!

  3. Dexter’s right. Plus, TSA wouldn’t allow the airline to keep the china onboard any longer because of the security risk.

    Just a minor correction, passengers may purchase Signature seats further in advance than 24 hours prior to their scheduled departure. (Yes, even at the time this was written.) However, they would be paying, what in essence amounts to, business fares which range anywhere from $1,000-$1,400. Of course, passengers always have the option of paying what is now $65 to get one of these seats within 24 hours of their departure.

    BTW, passengers can still choose their seat assignment in advance of their flight whether they are going to purchase Signature seats later on or not. Choosing not to purchase a Signature seat or missing out on the option to do so for those who checked in late does not necessarily guarantee that those same passengers will be “stuck in the back”.

    Some may see these changes as the slow demise of the Midwest Airlines we once knew, but why whine about it? Times are a-changing, and you either have to move with the flow or die. It’s ridiculous and unfounded to say that this would not have happened had AirTran won the bid. No one can say that for sure.

    What doesn’t make sense is how people can expect to get the same or more product for less cost even when expenses for the company producing the product continually increase, not to mention taxes. How is the company supposed to offset the loss without cutting back somewhere?

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