Southwest Airlines was founded in 1966 as Air Southwest Co., a charter carrier based out of Midland International Airport near Odessa, Texas.
Its founders were Herb Kelleher and Rollie King. They had been working together since 1959 and both had worked for Continental Airlines prior to founding Air Southwest.
Their plan was to start a low-cost airline and compete against larger carriers like American Airlines and United Airlines.
Subsequently Southwest has become a popular company to travel with. So what should we know about them? Let’s first take a look at what’s great about the airline.
1. No Fee For Changing Tickets
Southwest Airlines offers some of the best travel deals around. But what makes it even better is that they do not charge a fee if you need to change your ticket.
If anything happens and you need to rebook your flight, you don’t have to worry about paying extra. You can just make another reservation without incurring any fees.
This ‘no fee’ policy is a great option if something comes along and you need to reorder your flight.
Most airlines charge a fee to change your flight. Some even charge per person. However, with Southwest, you can simply rebook your itinerary without paying any additional costs.
2. Free Check Bags
As well as being one of the cheapest airlines around Southwest are also very generous when it comes to baggage fees.
Extra baggage can make traveling more costly. However, Southwest is the only airline that lets travelers check two bags for free, which makes for a big saving.
3. Credit Re-Books
Southwest Airlines announced a few years ago that customers booking travel on their site could receive up to $200 in rewards if prices drop within 30 days of making a reservation.
Customers are allowed to make one re-booking per ticket, and there is no limit on how often customers can use the feature.
The announcement came on April 3rd, 2020, and since then, the airline says that over 2 million people have used the program. It shows that the airlines are willing to give some perks to customers who want to save money.
4. No Assigned Seating
Open seating allows passengers to choose where they want to sit on board the aircraft. This is done by checking into the airline’s website 24 hours prior to the flight date.
In addition to saving money, open seating offers flexibility. Passengers are able to change their plans without having to pay extra fees.
Instead of assigned seating, you’re assigned a border group. When it’s your turn, you can choose any open seat to sit in.
The airline offers three different seating classes — A, B and C — depending on whether you’re flying domestic or international.
A is the economy class, while C is the premium cabin. Passengers in Class C can upgrade to Business Plus for additional legroom.
5. Reward Program
Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program is one of the best loyalty programs out there. You earn points every time you fly and redeem those points for free stuff like bonus miles, hotel stays, gift cards, and even cash back.
You’ll usually find special promotions on the Rapid Rewards site, too. The best part is that you just sign up for the program whenever you see something you want, and start earning points.
6. Fantastic Customer Service
Southwest Airlines is also known for its excellent customer service and they are always helpful when you want to make changes to reservations or booking flights(see also: How Long Is The Flight To Hawaii? Tips For Booking the Best Flights).
They make it easy to do everything online and even offer free snacks and drinks during flight delays.
7. Early Check In Options
Another great money saving option is the Early Bird Check In program. With this service, you only pay $25 per flight instead of paying full price for an extra ticket.
Since you’re one of the first people at the airport, you’ll also be able to pick the best seats on the aircraft.
As we’ve seen, Southwest Airlines is one of the best known low-cost carriers around the globe.
In addition to that it’s also been named the safest airline in the world multiple times. Why? Because Southwest follows strict safety guidelines and procedures.
The airline doesn’t allow passengers to board unless they’ve passed through a metal detector and received clearance from a TSA agent.
And, there are no overhead bins on planes. All carry-on luggage goes under the seat in front of you.
As well as being safe they also offer comfort. If you’re concerned about being able to sleep while traveling, Southwest offers pillows and blankets to keep you warm and cozy.
In addition to offering safe travel options, Southwest provides amenities like free snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, and power outlets. Plus, the seats recline up to 40 degrees. What’s not to love?
9. Great Deals
As mentioned one of the biggest reasons Southwest Airlines are so popular is because they provide great deals on flights.
In fact, they are known for being the best airline for cheap airfare. If you want to travel cheaply, Southwest is definitely the way to go.
Now we’ve seen some awesome reasons to use Southwest Airlines. Let’s have a look at the downsides.
10. Connecting Flights
Flying with Southwest Airlines sometimes includes a fair few connecting flights.
For instance, if you want to travel to Tampa, Florida, you’ll typically have to take a connecting plane to Orlando, Florida.
This can be inconvenient, and it does add time to your trip because you have to wait around for the next flight.
However, Southwest’s low fares sometimes make up for the inconvenience.
While this might seem like a hassle, it actually gives you a chance to stretch your legs a little bit and relax while waiting for the next leg of your journey.
11. No Meals Included First Class
If you enjoy the luxury of onboard dining you’ll be disappointed with Southwest Airlines. They don’t serve meals on their flights, even in first class.
Although Southwest doesn’t serve meals or drinks on board, they do offer snacks and water on flights longer than 250 miles. However, there are no free drinks on board. If you want a drink, you’ll have to pay for it.
12. No Idea Where You Will Sit
Although no assigned seating may be a positive aspect of Southwest Airlines, some don’t like the idea. For some travelers, it’s just a problem if they don’t have pre-assigned seats.
They might feel like they’re being forced into a seat they didn’t want or even one that doesn’t fit their needs. And while it’s nice to be able to pick out your favorite spot, it can cause some anxiety if you don’t have assigned seating.
Then there are those who worry about whether they’ll be able to find their row or section. Some airlines offer online tools that help you figure out what seat you’ll end up in, but others don’t.
And finally, there are those who try to save seats or rows for travel partners they’ve separated from. This can lead to awkward situations when someone else takes over your saved space or sits next to you.
13. Limited International Flights
Another downside is that Southwest Airlines doesn’t operate many international flights. In fact, it operates just 11 routes out of 30 total destinations. However, you can still redeem miles for travel to some of these places.
The airline does offer flights to Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Aruba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, and Curaçao These are the only international destinations where you can earn miles.
14. Canceled Flights And Delays
According to an article from Cleveland Magazine that looked at flight information provided to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics-from December 2020 to December 2021- Southwest had an on- time (to destination) percentage just under 80%, while Delta had an on-time rate of 88% and American had an on-time rating of 91%.
In the grand scheme of things this may not be an issue as a large percentage of flights are on time.
It’s worth noting that it’s considered a flight delay if a plane arrives 15 minutes later than its scheduled arrival time.
An Extra Word On Seats
Southwest Airlines’ fleet configuration might seem like a simple question, but it actually has quite a few variables.
For example, there are four different seating configurations on each aircraft, ranging from economy to premium plus. And depending on where you sit, you could end up getting a window or middle seat.
The airline doesn’t reveal exactly how many seats are in each configuration, but according to SeatGuru, there are about 2,500 total seats on every plane. This includes the number of seats in the main cabin, the jumpseat area, and the exit row.
In addition to the configuration, there are also three different types of seats: bulkhead, exit row, and aisle.
Bulkheads are located in the front half of the plane, while exit rows are in the rear half. Aisle seats are found throughout the rest of the plane.
So let’s start with the basics. What’s the difference between a bulkhead and an exit row? In a nutshell, a bulkhead seat is located near the cockpit door, while an exit row seat is usually located near the emergency exits.
Each configuration has a name based on the location of the seats within the cabin.
Economy Plus seats are located in the center section of the plane; Premium Plus seats are located toward the front of the plane; main cabin extra seats are located toward the rear of the plane; and preferred seats are located toward the tail of the plane.
This information could help you decide where you want to sit on a Southwest Airlines flight and whether you should book an early check in to give you a better chance of choosing your desired seat.
An Extra Word On Rapid Rewards
Southwest is one of the most recognized airlines in the United States, and it offers many different types of fares.
As mentioned earlier, Its loyalty programs include Southwest Rapid Rewards, Southwest Vacations, and Southwest Business Class.
Rapid Rewards is a fully revenue based program, where the number points earned or needed for awards is reflective of the cash price.
This means that you earn points based on how much money you spend on flights, rather than just how far you travel.
In addition to the aforementioned perks, Rapid Rewards also includes several other interesting features. For example, passengers can earn bonus miles on domestic flights, and those miles can be used toward free upgrades.
You can also redeem points for free checked bags, priority boarding, and even free snacks and drinks.
There are also special promotions throughout the year like the annual spring break promotion, where you can earn double points on flights during spring break.
Finally, Rapid Rewards also includes the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows travelers to bring up to four guests along with them on qualifying flights.
Each guest gets 50% off standard coach fares, and each passenger receives 25,000 bonus points per person.
Southwest Credit Card
You can also earn rewards by using the Southwest Credit card.
The personal version of the Southwest Airlines credit card offers similar benefits to the standard version.
You’ll receive 2 points per $1 you spend on Southwest and their preferred hotels and car rentals, and 1 point when you spend at other hotels and rentals. There’s no sign up bonus, but there is a welcome bonus of 25,000 points.
You’ll pay the same APR for carrying a balance, but it’s still better to avoid doing that. If you do carry a balance, you’ll be able to redeem those points for free flights, upgrades, and hotel stays.
How To Redeem Points
If you want to know how much Southwest points are worth, redeeming your Southwest points for Southwest flights is usually the best way to go — especially since you don’t have to do anything special to earn those points. You just fly and pay with your credit card.
Southwest makes it simple and straightforward. To redeem Southwest points for flights, simply log into your account online and select “Redeem Points.”
From there, you’ll see options for earning points, including flying with Southwest Airlines, shopping at Southwest stores, booking hotel stays, renting cars, and taking advantage of partner promotions.
Once you’ve earned enough points, you can redeem them for flights on Southwest.com or via the app.
You can also redeem points for upgrades, priority boarding, baggage allowances, seat assignments, and Wi-Fi access.
When you book a Southwest international travel itinerary, there isn’t much difference between booking a domestic flight and booking an international one. You’ll still go through the same steps. But there are some differences. Here’s how to do it.
- Go to southwest.com/booking.
- Enter your origin city, date of travel, number of travelers, and preferred dates.
- Click “Search.”
- Select “International Flight,” and enter your destination airport.
- Scroll down to see the list of flights departing from your location.
- Choose the cheapest option, and click “Book Now.”
Southwest Airline has been around since 1967 and is a low-cost carrier. They have a great reputation and offer cheap airfares and they make sure that passengers get what they paid for. They provide great service and comfort.
Southwest planes are clean and comfortable and you can choose to utilize their reasonably priced early bird option. But if you want more luxury for your money with included meals and assigned seating, then Southwest Airline may not be for you.
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