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Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by rwoman, Sep 20, 2012.
USA Today: Study of flight data ranks Southwest as 6th
Pictorial list: LINK
1. Virgin American
2. Jet Blue
8. US Airways
Sounds about right to me. Southwest is average in actual performance, but with a reputation for somewhat better customer service to the average passenger, along with effective marketing. The smaller carriers that differentiate themselves on product are at the top, and mid-sized legacy-ish carriers with somewhat simpler operations and the ability/neet to differentiate themselves in the middle. The legacies, who lean more strongly on their network and loyalty programs, are at the bottom, with DL at the top of that heap for good reason.
(bolding mine) Some of my own family has been brainwashed and take a "southwest is always the best" viewpoint when booking travel. Anytime there is an article on an airline(s), many of the comments are "I only fly Southwest, as (fill in legacy of your choice) doesn't know how to treat customers....." or "I'll only fly Southwest, their prices are always the lowest" etc etc.
I think for the occasional traveler SWA is a known entity. You don't expect much more than a ride and a bag of peanuts(they still do that?)and you don't get any more than that. I have had my best flights and my worst (I'll never give US another dollar) on the legacies, but my flights on SWA have been mostly generic, not memorable which is exactly what I expected. And with travel getting what you expect (even low expectations) can be good for someone who doesn't do it often.
Edited: for clarity and to add I agree with the sentiment that people still are ingrained with the "lowest-cost" mentality from back in the fuel hedging days.
Another datapoint for this from a personal experience side is the employees have a lot to do with the satisfaction, I can guarantee American will be at the bottom of this for awhile after their current shenanigans with the APA and notifying 11,000 other employees they may not be employed in a few months. I just saw the contract AMR imposed on the pilot group and I think this is only the beginning of bad times for AMR.
At least peanuts. They usually have a choice, sometimes they'll even have 4 or 5 items.
I actually haven't expected to get more than "a ride and a bag of peanuts" on any carrier for a long time. I have to pay for 4 tickets and we fly coach and almost always domestic (with twin toddlers) so ... where do I get more than just "a ride"? And not have to pay 100s more for it across 4 tix?
Non-occasional travelers will typically get "more than just a ride" from the legacies. Occasional travelers get similar service from everyone, depending on preferences for things like open seating vs assigned seating etc.
In terms of price, depending on market Southwest low prices are quite often a myth. Comparing to my preferred carrier, Delta, in my market Southwest's lowest published fares are between 29 and 86 dollars more expensive each-way on the nonstop routes they compete on. Southwest is not cheap - they cultivated a low-cost reputation and maintain it by engaging in the anti-consumer practice of essentially hiding their fares from the same places you can price out everyone else. They make their fares difficult to compare by not publishing to GDS and prohibiting any sort of automated collection and dissemination of their fares. Their business model is "let's try to make people think we're cheap, even though we're not". This requires making it difficult to compare prices, or else they'd need to do more than establish a reputation for low fares - they'd have to earn it!