Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

After a long break (15 years or so), I have flown on a bunch of flights all recently domestically within the USA and I discovered Southwest. Looking at the perks they offer such as picking your own seats and two free checked bags, what I don't understand is why doesn't everyone fly Southwest.

So my question is what is it that other American airlines such as American or United offer that Southwest doesn't? The only thing I can think of is that other airlines have many more destinations including international. Do they have extra legroom in the economy classes without having to pay extra? Are there more menu choices? Do they just have a lot more flights allowing flexibility in time? Insight from seasoned flyers is solicited.

Just to clarify, I am not looking to spark a debate or start a discussion. I am only curious about (objective) travel perks other airlines offer compared with Southwest.

share|improve this question
1  
Welcome to the site. It may be worth looking at the help center on how to format a question, as parts of this come across subjective and polling. What one question are you looking to answer? If there's a single factor another airline has that SOuthwest doesn't, would that be enough? Or even just a route that SW doesn't do? –  Mark Mayo Dec 16 '13 at 1:50
    
I am not trying to poll or start a discussion with subjective opinions. I have modified the question. If it is still inappropriate please feel free to edit it or let me know. :-) –  Fixed Point Dec 16 '13 at 2:02
    
It's not showing any modifications? –  Mark Mayo Dec 16 '13 at 2:03
1  
A little quick, I am modifying it now. –  Fixed Point Dec 16 '13 at 2:04
3  
I think the common wisdom is that for a large part of the customer base, the decision is very price-conscious. Shave 10 dollars off the price and many people will fly with you, no matter what perks you do or don't offer. Legacy carriers therefore often (need to) match low-cost carriers' prices on a given route, see The Southwest Effect and don't need (nor would be able to rely on) perks to attract customers. –  Annoyed Dec 16 '13 at 2:59
show 2 more comments

closed as primarily opinion-based by HaLaBi, LessPop_MoreFizz, Gagravarr, Dirty-flow, gerrit Dec 16 '13 at 11:46

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Everyone has different preferences, and obviously Southwest has its advantages (e.g. free bags) but here are some reasons one might prefer other airlines:

  1. FF programs based on miles instead of segments are preferable if one flies longhaul routes.
  2. Longhaul routes are unlikely to be nonstop/nonconnection on Southwest.
  3. Assigned seating (no having to stand in line at the gate).
  4. Possibility of upgrades, especially if one attains status.
  5. Possibility of international award flights.
  6. Possibility of award flights in F.
  7. Lounge access.
  8. Southwest isn't a low cost carrier anymore.
share|improve this answer
    
Exactly the type of answer I was looking for. Thanks! –  Fixed Point Dec 22 '13 at 10:07
add comment

Well for one, in October this year, Southwest ranked LAST in on-time arrivals. Certainly that's a reason for many - lots of people I know don't fly Tiger in Australia for this reason.

But often the primary reason is loyalty and frequent flyer programs. If I have a major alliance membership - Star Alliance, OneWorld, for example, I like to look for airlines in that alliance for points. Those with points or status will look to use their points on similar airlines. Sure, Southwest has Rapid Rewards, but is not a member of a major airline alliance.

share|improve this answer
3  
downvoter care to explain? –  Mark Mayo Dec 16 '13 at 2:54
    
No. I don't care to. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 16 '13 at 4:38
2  
@markmayo some people just LOVE the downvote: data.stackexchange.com/travel%20answers/query/153885/… –  andra Dec 16 '13 at 6:23
add comment

Two things you mention in your question are free checked bags and seat selection. However, you can get those too on traditional carriers for not too much effort.

On the free checked bags front, most of the carriers seem to offer a credit card that includes the first checked bag for free. With all the main frequent flier programs, higher status tiers include checked bags too. So, for someone who flies with a carrier a fair bit (enough to either get status or want their credit card), the checked bags thing is already covered.

On the assigned seating front, again that's something that status will normally get you. Depending on your frequent traveller status, it may be available from booking, or maybe only some time later, and may or may not cover "premium" seats (with more leg room). However, again, if you fly quite a bit with one airline / one alliance, you can easily get that covered.

So, for those who care about those things, Southwest offering them may make a difference to an occasional flier, but more frequent fliers are likely to already have them on their preferred airline. If you look at the passenger numbers of carriers like Ryanair and Wizzair, some customers are happy to do without either to save a few quid, so for those people offering them may not make much difference either way.

As with many things like this, you first need to work out what things do and don't matter to you personally, only then can you work out which airline / program / hotel / etc is likely to be the best fit for you. The best fit for me is very different to the best fit for my sister, which is different again to the best fit for my parents, and that's just one family! There are rarely simple globally applicable answers to this sort of thing...

share|improve this answer
add comment

A person may fly on an airline other than Southwest because their company has a contract with another carrier(s). For the contract's requirements, Southwest is not the 'best' carrier; Southwest may not even be interested in bidding on the contract.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.