Southwest is in a Funk, But It Has a Plan


Southwest did not have a good first quarter, and that’s putting it mildly. The airline that used to crow like clockwork every three months about how many consecutive profitable quarters it posted… posted another loss. It really had nothing good to report this quarter at all, BUT… it has a plan to fix things. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem…

I’m not going to detail all the numbers. You can read a press release if you want that. I’m also not going to focus on the airline’s cost problems. It’s the revenue side of the equation that always calls my name, so that’s where we’ll focus today.

The airline’s total unit revenue was basically flat (actually down 0.1 cents) this quarter. Passenger unit revenue specifically was up 0.8 cents. Load factor was up 0.7 points to 78.3 percent. These are all pretty small changes, so consider it a general lack of progress. How does it compare to other airlines? I don’t care.

See, late December 2022 is when Southwest melted down. We all know the story about how the airline failed for over a week in the middle of the holidays. It made a lot of people angry just before the off-peak season began in early January. In other words, last year’s January should have absolutely sucked. So for Southwest not to improve this year? That is criminal. Meanwhile, costs keep rising, so results get worse.

The good news is that Southwest knows it has a problem, and it has been pretty open about its plan. Let’s get into it.

The Network Gets a Makeover

When we were doing Cranky Network Weekly a couple weeks ago, we noticed several changes. Most importantly, Southwest cut back Atlanta significantly, shifting frequencies from spokes over to Nashville, Baltimore, and Chicago/Midway. Here’s the chart we put in our analysis.

Southwest is indeed reducing Atlanta’s importance in the network, letting Nashville run away as the most important southern gateway. This makes sense with Southwest being a very distant number two in Atlanta but a clear number one in Nashville.

Zooming out, let’s remember that Southwest added a ton of new airports during the pandemic, and now it is admitting some of those haven’t worked. It pulled down Chicago/O’Hare flying to a lower level, and it will exit Bellingham, Cozumel, Houston/IAH, and Syracuse.

Bellingham, Cozumel, and Syracuse are tiny. I see no way that this has a real impact on the airline’s profitability. But going in and out of a city is not something Southwest does lightly, so this does indicate the airline is serious about trying to fix things. IAH is bigger, but clearly it was just hurting the Hobby operation and not providing enough value.

Those may be the headliners, but there’s a lot more going on that will probably have a bigger impact. Some of those actually went into place in March’s schedule of this year. Those are:

  • Fly less on Tuesday/Wednesday
  • Reduce short-haul business market flying
  • Operate fewer flights outside of peak hours during the day

Southwest says those last two changes actually contributed about $100 million in extra revenue in March alone. Putting fewer seats in the market during off-peak times means that people will have to pay more to fly at better times.

One last network note… Southwest has now extended its schedule out to March 5, 2025. It has never sold tickets that far out, but this means it will sell close to the same time period that other airlines sell, helping capture those, ahem, early birds who don’t like to wait around and might not normally consider Southwest for that reason.

Fixing the Marketing Problem and Maybe the Product

Southwest doesn’t really say it has a marketing problem, but its actions suggest that it thinks it needs to do more. Specifically:

We are working to ensure our current and future customers understand our terrific value proposition. That includes a significant new brand campaign which started last week, highlighting our signature customer-friendly policies.

If you haven’t seen the campaign, you can watch it here. The tagline is “That’s a Big Flex,” and it talks about free checked bags, no change fees, etc. It’s all the stuff that Southwest used to talk about incessantly, but it hasn’t seemed as active lately. Whether you like the campaign or not, it will at least be a useful reminder for people, assuming it’s plastered all over the place.

On the call, Southwest specifically said it needs to increase passenger volume, and this is a key way it plans to do that… start shouting louder from the rooftops.

It is also looking at “adding different attributes to our value proposition.” That sounds like consultant-y garbage, but there are probably more things Southwest can do to get people to fork over more money for ancillary services.

One thing it did mention is that it is starting to think about its seating policy again. The airline is famous for its open seating policy, but it did change that several years back with those boarding stanchions we all know so well. On this topic specifically, Southwest said:

It’s been several years since we last studied this in-depth and customer preferences and expectations change over time. We are also studying the operational and financial benefits of any potential change.

Perhaps more interesting was this quote from CEO Bob Jordan on this topic:

I’m proud of our product today, and our customers love it, but it was designed at a time when load factors were lower and higher load factors do change the way preferences work, the operation works and also, our customer — the customer expectations change over time. So there’s no decision. There’s nothing to report other than we are seriously looking at this. But early indications, both for our customers and for Southwest look pretty darn interesting.

It sounds to me like Southwest is signaling that it is willing to consider some sacred cows as it tries to find ways to get revenue growing again. Bag fees seem to be off the table, but a change in seating? That may have some legs.

Aircraft Troubles With a Bright Spot

Boeing’s failure to certify and deliver the 737-7 MAX along with delays in delivering the -8 have been a problem for Southwest for years. It is getting worse, and that means the airline keeps revising its expected delivery plans downward.

Not having the -7 means Southwest does have a lot more -8s than it expected, but the bigger issue is just not having the airframes to fly the schedule it wants to fly. It does have a plan to address that, however.

First, there are fourteen 737-700s that were supposed to be retired this year that will now stay in the fleet for longer. That gives some breathing room.

Above that, however, Southwest is working on improving turn times. It says that there are 12 airports that will see a 5 minute reduction in turn time starting in the November schedule. More reductions will come in 2025.

Southwest tried to reduce turn times a decade ago, and it did not go well. But this is a different airline with different people at the top who are clearly looking to take a more measured effort before going all-in.

Lastly, Southwest is going to improve utilization through the red-eyes that we’ve all been talking about. These are not in the schedule yet, but they will come at some point. I just don’t know when they’ll start flying.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. I didn’t even mention the effort to “better anticipate and optimize demand” in the airline’s new revenue management system. (You’d think that would just be a normal part of business.)

I have more sympathy for an airline in a circumstance like this. It knows it has a problem, and it has detailed a whole host of things it’s doing to fix it. That being said, this is the airline’s one chance to get things right. I will have less sympathy in the future if this plan doesn’t actually work.

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55 comments on “Southwest is in a Funk, But It Has a Plan

  1. Not here to talk about Southwest (although for a 6’6 business traveler like me, increased volume of passengers often yields a negative customer experience when it comes to their scramble boarding so good luck figuring that one out Luv)

    Mostly here to make sure Cranky saw Bonza is suspending its business and thus a kangaroo shaped headstone is being prepared for them to be unveiled at the end of year cemetery update…

  2. SW has always been a carrier of last resort for me, due mainly to its insistence on festival seating. Even the slightest hint that they might look at reserved seating, or even — gulp! — putting in a basic F class will have me keeping an eye out.

  3. I have a soft spot in my heart for Southwest since they are the first airline I ever flew on. But that was a long long time ago with a plastic boarding pass.

    My problem today with them is false advertising. They have these ads saying no change fees…stay longer change at the last mi it’s no big deal. We don’t charge you change fees.

    No they don’t. But that last minute fare you get with the change is often double your original fare. It’s very deceptive.

    WRT all these airline problems, I think we are seeing the results of the sudden increase in labor costs and other issues from inflation, but ticket prices havens kept up.

    With inflation easing and a lot of contracts updates, that should help all these airlines though. As long as demand stays up.

    1. It’s not deceptive at all. There is no change fee, but why wouldn’t you expect to pay a difference in fare? Otherwise everyone would ourchase the cheapest bargain basement fare and swap into the most expensive/desirable flights

      1. Of course it’s deceptive.

        They advertise that you can stay longer, change your mind and leave earlier, whatever, and there are no fees.

        No fees all right but the fare is double. They conveniently leave that out.

        The other airlines do the same but they are not bragging about how you can change plans at the last minute with no fees and leading you to think it’s free.

    2. You know it works the other way too. If your new itinerary is cheaper, you get back the difference.

      Also, Southwest is no longer the outlier here. The legacies don’t charge change fees either.

  4. I was going to add one other thing. I know O come after Brett about the AA thing…but this is why I read the blog religiously regardless. Great information, very interesting.

  5. This may be the common thinking on alternative seating policies for Southwest, but I’ve always thought it would be a real simple fix.

    Give the option to pick your seat on a seatmap when booking for an additional fee. Then let those people board first. Then, everyone else that didn’t reserve a seat (and saved $$) when booking can board in groups like they do now. A-listers and their other high-tier ticketholders would have the ability to reserve for *free*. They could still even retain Early Bird check-in for the folks who board in groups.

    So the people that want a specific seat pay more for the privilege (and stress less) and those old-school, price-conscious flyers can just sit in whatever is left and know they’re still going to get there with everyone else.

    Problem solved, right??

    1. Not a bad idea but what about the people with reserved seats that show up late to boarding because of a delayed inbound? What if they get to their seats and there’s A numbers there, but they’re at C in the boarding process? Sounds like a nightmare to reshuffle the plane mid-boarding. Or you could just tell the seat occupiers sorry but you have to sit back by the lav now?

  6. Offtopic to the post, and it might be early given that it’s just the end of April, but it may be time to start writing Airlines We Lost 2024 and putting both Lynx and Bonza there.

  7. It might be a bit early (and this isn’t related to Southwest), but it might be time to start writing Airlines We Lost 2024 and have obituaries for Lynx and Bonza ready.

    1. Apologies for the double post, for some reason my first post didn’t immediately appear so I thought it wasn’t accepted by Akismet.

  8. The Southwest Fix.
    Southwest has 3 problems with its system.
    1. PreBoarding Scammers
    2. Thru Flight seat switching
    3. Carryon Luggage.
    Southwest Can Keep its open seating going forward.
    But it needs to address the PreBoarding scam problem which deters people from buying Business Select and Anytime fares.

    First they can fix it by simply eliminating ALL thru flights in its entire system. This solves the problems of Thru passengers switching seats between flights taking away the prime seats from the next round of Business select A1-15 and A list boarding.

    2nd either add 8-12 Big front seats like Spirit or AirTran used have on every flight.
    You can’t still have them first come first serve.
    Or move rows 1-3 up just an extra inch giving rows 1-4 the even more legs room feel to the cabin . Or just label the first 1-4 rows on every plane Business select LUV seating. With 3 dedicated front over head bins.
    This way when it’s time to PreBoard the aircraft all the pre boarding passengers that haven’t bought a Business select
    Tickets which is usually 95% of them.
    With that switch the Preboarders can be legally told by the DOT/ADA rules they must sit row 5 and after and including the not being allowed in the over wing emergency exit rows. And all their carry on luggage can go in the over head bins at Row 5 and back .This will curb a lot of scammers.

    Finally Make a NO SEAT SAVING policy.

    So after Pre boarding and no longer having thru passengers taking a prime seats.
    Business select boards A1-A15 they have the option to choose rows 1-4 or exit seats or anywhere else they so desired.
    Once they board then it’s A-list preferred /Anytime boarding groups A16-A60.

    Now this group since BS already boarded they’re free to fill in rows 1-4 or exit rows if still available.
    Then you do Family Boarding ages 1-15.
    Then allow for Dead heading crew/Jumpseaters/commuting crew behind families.
    Again everyone can fill in rows 1-4 or exit seats if available and of age required for Exit seats.

    1. Then board group B1-60.
      When it comes to Group C1-60 this is the slowest part of the boarding process and where 95% of the pre Boarding scammers fall in. And on full flights regardless of the new bigger overhead bins people are still being forced to check carryon luggage at the aircraft door delaying the departure.

      With a one two punch your can eliminate Everyone that buys cheap and if ask for pre boarding to beat WN at its own game. And it will speed up the end of the boarding process at the same time.

      How do you do this?
      If your change the carry on baggage policy while still keeping the 2 bags fly free checked bags policy.
      You simply change the Carryon baggage policy and requiring those that purchase the cheapest WAG and WAGplus fares by eliminating the one carryon and one small personal Item down to just allowing them 2 free checked bags and ONE small personal Item.

      This group is usually the one that fill in the
      Random open seats in the aircraft anyway.
      Now without them having to find over head bin space for a 2nd larger item they can quickly sit with the smaller personal item going underneath their own seat in front of them.
      This will speed up boarding and avoiding delays gate checking bags at the last minute.
      This will give WN Ops/Boarding agents the ability to finally police their baggage policy knowing that those in group C boarding in will only be allowed one small Item each.

      Once the learning curve passes it will set WN in the position Market and up sale better boarding.
      So if someone that bought cheap and would like to bring on an additional carry on item WN can Upsell them to Anytime or offer it as a perk if you purchase Early Bird check in. (This new potential revenue stream would bring music to Wall Streets
      Ears yet not diluting the Southwest advantage they have and people love .)
      This is the cheapest way to reinvent the Southwest system without turn them into a legacy system.
      To make sure the WAG and WAGplus comply with its the new one small personal item only Make the checking the additional Bag at the gate a $50 fee or if they wish to carry on its $100 fee at the Gate.

      1. I can get behind this. It’s either this, or you require proof of disability (assuming that’s legal), or you make pre-boarders sit at the back of the plane to disincentivize trying to use the pre-boarding to get around the fare differences in flying Business Select or having A-list status.

        I typically fly Delta. If I’m flying alone I don’t really care about the connection because I get a quick stop in a Skyclub.

  9. I feel it is only a matter of time before Southwest adds some sort of premium seating. DL and UA continue to speak about how much they are making from premium economy (and “premium leisure” seems to be the popular buzzword since COVID).

    Some people really love the open-seating, and Southwest is notorious for being stuck in their old ways. Their boarding process has not necessarily bothered me TOO much, but the 24-hr check-in to get a better boarding spot is very anti-friendly to me. We have all been there where we set a timer the day before, and have to wake up early, or get out of a meeting, just to furiously tap our phones to get a crappy B group spot. Of course, from Southwest’s perspective, this annoyance might be purposeful to try and get you to pay up for “early check-in convenience”. In other ways, it motivates you to be at the gate on time to avoid a middle seat in the back of the bus. I do continue to see a lot of people complaining about all the pre-boards these days – Again, I think it’s only a matter of time before they make a change completely, but not sure if that will be seating, boarding process, or both. Possibly reserved seating for premium (whatever that looks like), and open for economy?

    1. Having the boarding position assigned at check-in doesn’t encourage people to be at the gate on time. If they want to do that, they should go back to just assigning a boarding group (A, B, or C). Within that group though, it was just a line up, so that encouraged people to get to the gate early to be at the front of the line for their group. Going back even further to the plastic boarding cards days, you had to check in at the gate to get the boarding group since that’s where they handed them out.

      1. > you had to check in at the gate to get the boarding group since that’s
        > where they handed them out

        I seem to recall getting my plastic boarding pass at the checkin counter, not at the gate. That was before the invention of TSA, of course.

        Not sure how they handled connecting passengers. Did they hand them out at the gate and at the checkin counter?

        1. Oliver – The plastic boarding cards were only handed out at the gate. Once they went to paper, they were able to do it at the counter, and that happened before they switched to the current numbering process. But those plastic guys were just at the gate, and if you were connecting, you had to get what was left at the gate when you got there.

  10. As a frequent Southwest flyer who used to love their open seating policy, it needs to change. 28 pre-boards on my last flight plus whatever number were flying through means your theoretical A boarding pass is now a B boarding pass in reality.

    It will be interesting to see what type of premium options they introduce to increase revenues, even if it is a Spirit type concept. It seems like people are willing to pay for premium classes more than ever before in an attempt to escape the circus of flying these days.

    1. I agree completely – there is a layer of fee options available to ensure you are in A which has become almost like a defacto first class – might as well officially call it that by reserving the first X amount of rows as first class.

  11. I principally fly UA for the status perks/lounges, but maybe I’m an odd duck in that I actually like WN’s seating policy. For $25 I’m basically guaranteed the ability to pick a seat of my choosing and get my carry-on with me.. Also, I deeply appreciate the cattle call when compared to AA’s “I know we called Group Three, but really anyone of you standing here can go ahead and get onboard – we’re not going to say anything.” They eliminated the gate lice infestation, and that’s ok by me.

    Also, operationally speaking, WN has always been great for me. I’ll often choose a connection on UA when I’m traveling for business over a non-stop on other carriers, but when I have my family with me, it’s non-stop all the way, and they have a lot of them.

  12. But will the “different attributes to our value proposition.” be curated artisanal attributes? That’s what I want to know.

  13. SWA is leaving money on the table by refusing to add First class full stop. I would actually go further say lack of codesharing internationally is hurting them too.

    Side note: How is LUV going to afford these generous new Labor contracts? The airline is giving me the Pan Am “we’re better than everyone else” mentality and have deluded themselves into thinking they can afford it.

    1. The big area where they are leaving money on the table is in the ‘bags fly free’ policy. I know they use it as a differentiator, but I suspect that the revenue difference would far outweigh any loss in business if they started to charge for bags–Maybe they could even just say 1 bag is free and charge for the 2nd if they wanted to go slowly. Of course from a passenger standpoint that would suck, but from a business point-of-view this is a no-brainer.

  14. No one can underestimate the impact that Boeing’s now 5 year delay in getting the MAX 7 certified and the reduced delays on delivering the MAX8.
    Southwest doesn’t want an all MAX 8 fleet; it is too large for much of their point to point flying and depresses yield but they have no choice but to take MAX 8s.
    WN’s maintenance expenses are up 50% which is a result of keeping older aircraft in service that it really doesn’t want long term.
    Their expected deliveries were cut by 4 to just 20 MAX8s in 2024 – a huge reduction in new aircraft.
    While the product issues have to be addressed, Boeing is costing WN hundreds of millions of dollars because WN is in a low growth mode or now have to grow less efficiently than they would like.
    WN’s corporate sales were up 25% in the first quarter, the best increase of the big 4.
    WN will be fine. They have adapted many times over their 50 years.

  15. “Fly less on Tuesday/Wednesday. Operate fewer flights outside of peak hours during the day. Southwest says those last two changes actually contributed about $100 million in extra revenue in March alone. Putting fewer seats in the market during off-peak times means that people will have to pay more to fly at better times.”

    When they add this back in 12 months they’ll talk about how these off-peak flights are low marginal cost, just improving utilization. Tide goes out, tide comes in.

  16. Reducing turn times for productivity, didn’t B6 do that? And look what it did to its otp. Good luck.

  17. The marketplace changes because consumer preferences change. Companies that can adapt thrive. Those that can’t struggle – or fail. Sears was the Amazon of its day. Now it’s a shadow of its former self. Brick and mortar retail is struggling as more people shop online. And many restaurants, severely impacted by Covid, are still struggling, All of this is to say that I agree with Tim Dunn’s overall view about Southwest. I know – that’s shocking! In spite of the fact that we often disagree about details, there are times that we agree about the bottom line.

    As Tim mentioned, Southwest has been consistently profitable because it’s adapted. On the other hand, one of the longest runs of dividend payments in US history was that of the Pennsylvania Railroad – which ultimately couldn’t adapt to the switch away from coal and failed. While there are no guarantees, given Southwest’s track record, I have little doubt it will ultimately be just fine. And it will be quite interesting to see just how it adapts. I could be wrong, but I think that could be the real story.

    1. Sears really is a bad example. It’s the Eastern Airlines of retail world. Instead of Frank Lorenzo they have Eddie Lampert.

      Sears has been the longest running liquidation sale, nearing 20 years. Though it’s down to about 11 stores last I checked.

      Going further aside, Sears Robuck and Company is still in bankruptcy and suing a few of Eddie Lampert’s companies that got an illegally sweet deal on Sears’s property.

      It’s honestly a really sad story of what can happen when you put a Randian capitalist in complete charge of a company in an industry that they don’t understand the first thing about.

      1. Nick
        I respectfully disagree. I believe Sears is an apt comparable. But maybe Sears situation is closer to that of Pan Am than to Eastern. Pam Am slowly went under over a number of years and got rid of assets to raise cash. My general premise is still the same. The marketplace is in constant flux. And none of the companies I cited adequately adapted to the changing marketplace and either went out of business or have declined in importance. I believe Southwest can and will adapt, and it’ll be interesting to see exactly how it does it.

  18. Southwest is now having to do schedule changes as a function of widening the selling window. I have been the recipient of a couple (which ended up with me canceling and buying tickets on someone else). They clearly have a lot to learn or improve in the process… one round trip of mine in late June had 4 different changes that happened slowly over about a week. One day the origin flight time changed. The next, the connecting point changed on the return. The third, flight numbers changed and suddenly outbound I went from a 2 hour connection in MDW to 9 hours in BWI (while a 1hr45min connection was available in MDW still only an hour removed from my original time). And fourth finally the return flight went from a 615am departure to 5am.

    I know they haven’t done this before, but like so so many things with WN, they act like just because THEY haven’t done it before, it must be some entirely new concept (like USB power on planes, redeye flights, international flying, etc). I know Southwest loves consultants (not just their huge internal departments but also the Bains of the world)… you’d think they’d get a few pointers?

  19. Hey LUV, maybe look to your past for solutions…

    Issue: Too many preboards scammers?
    Solution: Make any pre board sit behind the exit rows

    Issue: Lack of value add seating?
    Solution: Block middles of Row 1-3 for assigned “Business” pax seating area (ala Morris Air)

    1. By not having assigned seating under Part 382 there’s some things WN has to do to accommodate those who self-identify they need assistance or special seating. They can’t discriminate against those individuals, outside of where some legal reason takes precendent like exit row seating criteria.

      1. urgh – thats right, thanks for the reminder Jason. I will say operationally it did work to curb abuse back in the (old) days, altho not always fun for the FAs enforcing it onboard at times.

    2. Frontier started blocking the middle seat in the first two rows if you want to pay an extra $69. If they dont get takers to pay for the upgrade in advance, they sell the middle seat. Nor sure how much revenue it generates compared to the amount of early boarding southwest sells.

  20. A big problem for me is that, yeah bags fly free, but many times the tickets aren’t cheaper than any of the other big 3. They price that “free bag” into the costs of the ticket. Two free checked bags is a lot of extra labor costs to get those bags where they need to go. If you have a backpack and a carryon, there is no need to buy a southwest ticket. Many people even con the big 3 and bring two roller boards yet free gate check one of the before boarding. Southwest is a good airline but the boarding process and plethora of free bags really weigh down their performance from a financial perspective.

  21. Southwest should start charging wheelchair violators $150 if they don’t show up for the wheelchair on the arrival end. It costs the airline $75 to the 3rd party vendor who has that person handling the wheelchair… THAT should save a few grand every single day.

    In regards to Southwest seating: BRING BACK THE CLUB SEATING!!! <3 <3 <3 <3

    1. The club seating doesn’t meet current crash standards.

      Though I enjoyed it the few times I flew it on USAir (in the awesome brown and orange livery!)

  22. I am glad that Southwest is not seriously considering charging for the first two checked bags. That is what ALL airlines in the USA and Canada once had and today that is what differentiates Southwest from all other airlines in North America. I also hope that Southwest keeps open seating.

    If Southwest started charging for the first or even second checked bag I would be writing my Representatives in Congress to ask them to re-regulate the airline industry to force airlines to return to the status quo ante 2004.

  23. My take home KISS summary of the SWA “melt-down” was that they neither had a resilient network nor had resilient systems.

    I believe that SWA’s past was based on hugely successful KISS strategies (All Boeing Fleet, Bundled Offer Pricing, No Reserved Seats).
    While all good, today’s world has HUGE focus on Choice, Convenience, and Cost to serve an all world with a device in every pocket, purse, lap, and hand.
    UA had a GREAT profile of the work they were doing in their APP to deliver Choice, Convenience, and Cost and this takes more Complexity.

    My take home conclusion is SWA is undergoing transformation from their long-time, well-served KISS era into a new model that delivers more Choice, Convenience at Cost at the expense of Complexity. Recent articles on moving to back-and-forth network routing, the upcoming addition of red-eyes, the Hawaii flights having mega-long stage lengths compared to past norms all are examples of transformation and wisely adding complexity. CF did a nice posts last year on both the “Wanna Get Away+” fare, the tuning of Business Select, and adding their fares into reservation systems to attract more business travellers.

    Perhaps the biggest change in Consumer Behavior is a Smartphone in every palm, and while SWA does use this for booking and boarding passes they still have the opportunity to provide greater choice and convenience ala the Big3 having multiple choices of Economy plus Premium Economy plus Business Class and now Business Class First Row is becoming yesterday’s First Class solution too.

    There are easy steps to take that allow a continuation or tuning of their tagline of “The Flexibility You Want” to “The Flexibility and Choice You Want” but this will take decision makers who understand the merits of The Past and the needs of The Future.

    As an earlier poster used the (..poor fit..) analogy to Sears, perhaps the better analogy is Henry Ford Model T (..only color is black, only Brand was Ford) vs Alfred Sloan’s GM (..almost any color you want, multiple brands, etc). In this case SWA is Ford and Others are GM.

    #Transformation (..abused buzzword..)

  24. For me its a network issue. I’m in one of their mid-sized east coast markets (WN has about 6-10 departures a day from my home airport) and the connectivity is simply not competitive with the big 3… many of whom have a similar number of departures. There are a lot of dots on WN’s map… often in the *southwest* that are basically inaccessible on some days (some days literally no routings are offered, others are 2-stops or multi-hour layovers). I generally prefer to support disruptors but its amazing how often I’ve been disappointed recently that WN’s network simply can’t get me somewhere in any reasonable amount of time.

    1. A little more detail here, the more I think about it too. About half WN’s daily departures from here in CHS are to BWI… which makes absolutely no sense anymore. If the DC area is your destination, its much more likely that AA to DCA or UA to IAD works better. If you’re connecting up the coast, we’ve now got Breeze, Avelo, Spirit, JetBlue, and Delta with approximately 300 daily nonstops to 72 northeast destinations.

      But, because they’re using all that metal on essentially a pre-Covid network (before all the new non-stop competition when BWI was a decent connecting hub from the southeast to northeast), they don’t have any airplanes left to fly the places that actually make sense for them. We typically only have 1 daily to MDW, DEN, DAL, HOU, etc. and 1 daily, which just isn’t enough frequency to compete with the big 3.

      Don’t get me started on BNA… “Oh, you wanted to stop somewhere else before your connection in Denver? Here’s an old airport with a lot of fried chicken about 1/3 of the way there!”

  25. “Operate fewer flights outside of peak hours during the day”

    “Lastly, Southwest is going to improve utilization through the red-eyes that we’ve all been talking about. These are not in the schedule yet, but they will come at some point.”

    Don’t those two contradict each other?

    1. Jim – The number of redeyes will be tiny, and those actually are flights some people want to use. It’s more about shorter haul stuff early morning and late night.

  26. Southwest should allow passengers to assign themselves seats in advance online much like many other airlines do these days.

  27. They need to get on Google flights period, growth problem solved. I can’t tell you how many people I know don’t check southwest’s site for pricing. They are missing so many new and casual travelers who have no idea they exist since they are buried in the lists. I personally tend to book away from southwest due to the open seating plan so some section of assigned seats would get more of my business as well.

  28. If they would have known about this max 7 nonsense they might have kept those 717 (aka MD95s). They probably should have done that anyway.

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