Cranky on the Web: Southwest Stretches Its Fleet

Southwest Tries to Do More With Less Because of a Temporary Aircraft ShortageSkift
Last Saturday my wife and kids took a flight from LA to Indy with a painfully-early 5:25am departure time. Why does that flight even exist? Well, when Southwest did the mass retirement of its 737-300s last year, it had to stretch its remaining fleet to cover as much flying as possible. That meant extending the definition of what’s considered too early or too late. Oddly, Southwest still hasn’t bothered with redeyes, something that would likely have solved this problem in a better way. So instead we see some really ugly flight times. New aircraft deliveries can’t come soon enough….

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Anthony
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Anthony

To me, “redeye” means an overnight flight, such as SFO to EWR, departing at, e.g. 11:30 pm Pacific time and arriving around 7 am Eastern time. United used to have (and probably still does) a batch of such eastbound flights departing SFO around midnight.
SWA doesn’t do much transcon flying compared to the Big Three — Cranky, were you suggesting that they could add longer flights like these, or instead just extend their mostly-short-haul flying later into the evening?

chris
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chris

we have heard it is the dispatch system that is the hold up this time on the late night flying stuff. In effect the system has to shut down at 0300ish and begin the next days operations at that time. Still more tech stuff to update behind the scenes to make it all work.

Dennis Garrou
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Dennis Garrou

The old “we’ve never done it that way” excuse for not offering redeye flights sure doesn’t fit the maverick Southwest Airlines culture image. I queried this in their website discussion blog a while back, but there is never a direct explanation given, other than “wnditw.” Thanks Captain Obvious! The question is, why not? To take one of the many 5-6am flights, one has to get up at 2am to shower, dress, drive to the airport, park, check in and get to the gate. On the other end, the 8:30pm departure from DEN to ATL or BWI gets you in around… Read more »

Oliver
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Oliver
Dennis Garrou
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Dennis Garrou

Thanks Oliver, for digging that out. I’m taking the bottom line as: “There is an effort underway to have our scheduling system and all the downstream applications support selling redeye flying, but as of the moment we don’t have any immediate plans to start offering anything along these lines at the moment.” *”The moment” *was in 2015 before the Amadeus system came onboard, which would have made the tech side even easier. This was still, from my perspective, a Captain Obvious response that doesn’t answer the “why not” question. Do they just love the “o: dark thirty” stuff?

Spirit FF
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Spirit FF

Funny thing, they fly plenty of “red-eye” flights on sports charters (Primarily NCAA), but their original “cheap” reservations system was very limited! It’s costs them in the long run:
1. unable to charge accessorial fees – that’s why they don’t charge bag fees
2. PNRs could not have more than 4 passengers, making group travel a nightmare
3. System unable to handle date change on redeye flight

This has created lots of problems, but they all should be fixed by now. It’s probably more of a cultural thing now.

James
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James

Personally I don’t mind early morning departures going east, because you’re going to have to adjust to the time zone at some point anyways. Just think of your 5:25am departure to Indy as being 8:25am eastern time. Plus, no traffic heading to the airport, and fewer delayed flights.

Paul A.
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It seems to me that Southwest isn’t prepared to do these redeye flights just yet, and that this will put more strain on there whole network, until they get a computer system that can handle it.

Scott
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Scott

@Paul..the new computer system can handle scheduling red-eyes. I think SWA just doesn’t want to consider it yet. It may be because of the F/A contract. I retired a year ago as a F/A and our contract at that time did not include much about Red-eye flights. Not sure how the contract stands today.

Dave
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Dave

Curious how there going to handle Hawaii. Traditionally most eastbound flight from there leave late evening with arrivals in LAX or SFO in the early morning.

Dan
Guest

“a painfully-early 5:25am departure time…” Painful is in the eye of the beholder, no?