Southwest has carved a niche for itself, cultivating a fiercely loyal customer base namely because of two things:
- The company is the only major US airline that offers up to two checked bags for free.
- It doesn’t charge for changes to flight reservations.
If you are thinking of booking a southwest ticket in the near future, here are some important things to know about the Dallas, Texas-based carrier:
Southwest Flying Destinations
Southwest currently serves 100 domestic destinations and 10 international cities. The airline launched service to several new destinations, including international service to a number of resort destinations Belize; Cancun, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and San Jose, Costa Rica. Flights to Hawaii are slated to begin later in 2018.
Southwest’s Airfares Structure
Southwest offers three different airfare categories: “Wanna Get Away,” “Anytime,” and “Business Select.” All of them include two free checked bags and no fees for flight changes. The airline also offers refundable Senior Fares, which are discounts that ticket agents share with older travelers. Here’s how the fare categories break down:
- Wanna Get Away: These nonrefundable fares are typically the lowest priced, as long as they’re purchased in advance
- Anytime: These are refundable fares and offer a higher frequent flyer point payoff under the airline’s Rapid Rewards program
- Business Select: This fare caters to business travelers and offers the highest frequent flyer payoff. Business Select travelers also get priority seating known as “Group A boarding,” a complimentary alcoholic drink and priority security and/or ticket counter access at participating airports.
Southwest In-flight Entertainment
Southwest may offer some affordable fares, but as passengers have come to find out, they don’t skimp on the amenities.
- Each flight has complimentary soft drinks and snacks.
- They also provide Wi-Fi and free live and on-demand TV including movies and popular series on international flights.
- You don’t have to purchase Wi-Fi to take advantage of its iMessage options and other pre-downloaded apps.
Southwest recently upgraded its reservations platform, allowing for at least six ways passengers can check in. Here are the different options:
- Curbside check-in with the skycap at the airport
- EarlyBird check-in is available up to 36 hours before the flight
- Mobile check-in (via digital boarding pass)
- Online check-in (via Southwest.com)
- Self-service kiosk check-in at the airport
- Ticket counter check-in (30 minutes to three hours before the flight)
Southwest Keep Fares So Low
One of the things many fliers want to know is how Southwest is able to offer such competitive fares compared to what the major airlines are charging. Southwest’s service philosophy is quite different from the “hub-and-spoke” system the biggest US airlines use. Southwest employs a “point-to-point” service, which allows for more nonstop routes to smaller cities. Not only does flying to smaller cities mean less air traffic, it allows the airline to schedule more flights at more convenient times.
The airline currently offers 19-weekday roundtrips between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby, 12-weekday roundtrips between Burbank and Oakland, 12-weekday roundtrips between San Diego and San Jose, eight-weekday roundtrips between Denver and Chicago Midway, and 10-weekday roundtrips between Los Angeles International and Las Vegas.
Southwest’s International Services
The company announced international service out of the following seven cities: Indianapolis, San Jose, Sacramento, Columbus, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh-Durham. To save money, the airline ceased service to Varadero and Santa Clara, Cuba, but will continue to operate in Havana.
Southwest expanded its international flight schedule out of South Florida, offering nine nonstop flights to places like Montego Bay, Jamaica; Belize City, Belize; Cancun, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Havana; Nassau, The Bahamas; San Jose, Costa Rica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Turks and Caicos.
Other Southwest Customer Services
Southwest customers continue to be pretty high on the airline. In addition to the free checked bags, the company allows each ticketed passenger to check one stroller and one car seat free of charge, which is a boon for families. When it comes to customer satisfaction, Southwest came in tops in the American Customer Satisfaction Index report that was released in April 2018.