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A Message About Drink Coupons

‎08-01-2010 08:02 AM mihafner
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‎08-01-2010 08:02 AM

For years, Southwest Airlines has accepted all types of drink coupons on our planes – regardless of their expiration dates. Rapid Rewards coupons. Business Select coupons. Old Company Club coupons. Coupons from the 80s, coupons from the 90s. And we’ve done so for all the right reasons.  However, in an industry where the competition is always knocking (or banging) on the door and where watching the bottom-line is more important than ever , we owe it to our Employees, Customers, and Shareholders to find ways to operate smarter.  We’ve reached a point where being so flexible with drink coupons has put us in a position of having far too many in circulation. To help purge the system of these excess coupons, we will start enforcing expiration dates on coupons over the course of the next year. 

Beginning today, Southwest Airlines will only accept Business Select drink coupons on the day of travel which allows Customers to use the coupon for the flight it was purchased . This has always been the intent of the coupon, but starting today, August 1, 2010 we’ll begin universally enforcing it. Business Select Customers may use their drink coupon on a connecting flight, as long as it is used on the day of travel printed on the coupon.

Also, Rapid Rewards drink coupons earned with an Award will soon have a new look and will include an expiration date that is one year from the date of issue. Rapid Rewards will communicate with Members as the transition approaches.  Not to worry, we’re giving Customers a full year to use those tan paper drink coupons without expiration dates. We will continue to accept these drink coupons, whether purchased or earned with a Rapid Rewards Award, until August 31, 2011.

We're proud to have some of the lowest prices in the air for liquor, beer, and wine.  Customers may still purchase an alcoholic beverage or Monster drink with a credit or debit card. And of course, all other non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are free.  And don't forget, when you fly Southwest, bags fly free and we don't charge a change fee.

64 Comments
Ron15
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I trust Southwest!
OCMIKE
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THANKS SOUTHWEST MANAGEMENT FOR SLAPPING YOUR VALUED LIFE LONG CUSTOMERS IN THE FACE. THE SAME LIFE LONG CUSTOMERS THAT HAVE HELPED PAVE THE WAY FOR SOUTHWEST TO BE IN BUSINESS. NOW THE COUPONS I HAVE AQUIRED OVER THE YEARS BEING A VALUED CUSTOMER ARE WORTH NOTHING. THE DAYS OF CONSUMER LOYALTY ARE OVER.
mritty
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How do you justify imposing an expiration date on a coupon that was issued WITHOUT AN EXPIRATION DATE? I'm not asking what's your business need. I'm asking how you think this is an acceptable - or even legal - thing to do. These coupons do not expire on August 31, 2011. They do not expire at all. Explain to me how you claim any right or ability to not accept them on September 1, 2011.
Thanks for giving us such a big heads up on enforcing the expiration date. There is nothing like finding out on the day you are going to do it. I guess this part of now doing so for all the wrong reasons. I understand the need to enforce published expiration dates, even with no notice, but what is the rationale of putting an artificial expiration date on something that never had one? This definitely doing something for nothing close to "for all the right reasons". This change along with the change on the use of ticketless travel funds (TTF) to not allow reuse by anyone but the original passenger are not very customer friendly policies nor in keeping with Southwest's company culture. I would ask what is next, but I am afraid that my suggestions would be implemented. As a customer, Rapid Rewards member, Companion Pass holder, and a stock holder, I am very disappointed in the recent changes that are being implement "to operate smarter" and watch the bottomline. What may save a little money in the short run will end up causing major loss of money in the long run when customers, especially the loyal repeat ones, leave for this continued mistreatment.
Thank you for the advanced notice on this major change in unwritten policy, I always enjoy learning about things when it is no longer possible to act to mitigate the impact. I guess that no notice, customer-detrimental changes are part of not doing "so for all the right reasons". While I understand the underlying reason for the enforcement of actual expiration dates and even imposing one on the abused Business Select coupons, I do not see the rationale for imposing an artificial expiration date on those non-reproducable drink coupons that had none to begin with. That is definitely a slap in the face of your frequent customers, Rapid Rewards members. This along with the recent changes to ticketless travel fund (TTF) usage to be limited to only the original passenger are definitely customer unfriendly and counter to Southwest corporate culture. I would ask what is next, but I am afraid that my ludicrious suggestions would be implemented. As a customer, Rapid Rewards member, Companion Pass holder, and a stockholder, I find all of these recent changes to be anything but "done so for all the right reasons" nor watching the bottom line. For whatever small amount of money made in the short run by these changes, it will not make up for the long term losses caused by the loss of customers, especially the loyal and repeat ones who have seen this airline become no better than the money-grubbing, nickle-and-diming legacies.
I have now posted two very detailed posts, neither of which have shown. Apparently, Southwest does not allow posts questioning their changes to be entered. Just another change not "done so for all the right reasons".
How about giving some warning regarding coupons that have already expired? This is a slap in the face Smiley Sad. I predict less people will purchase BS seats now, because you're making them more BS
cxn
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Southwest, if the coupon has no expiration date on it, why do you think it is 'good' to let it expire? Don’t say this surprised you since you had expiration dates on them in the past. You choose to remove it and not let them expire. Lastly, why doesn’t all your FA know that they should accept some of the TAN coupons, for Monster Drinks?
You forgot to mention the part where all the other coupons with expiration dates - not just the BS coupons - expired last night. It is nice to see that you're owning up to the fact that this is simply a cash grab, but acknowledging that there are other types of coupons involved - and that they are all now worthless - would be the proper thing to do. Actually the proper thing would have been to provide a bit more than zero notice of the change so that people would have the opportunity to use them, but that ship has apparently sailed.
Its my understanding from a phone call to customer relations that new RR drink coupons will have the flyer name and RR number on them to cut down on online sales. Why are you then just hemming and hawing with "will have a new look" above?
Tara1
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I've always been surprised (in a good way) that Southwest would accept my drink coupons from previous flights. A few weeks ago my group at work had a friendly competition to see "who had the most Southwest drink coupons"... and I won. Needless to say, there are plenty of drinks I'll be "losing" as a result of this new policy, but think it will be reasonable to be expected to use the coupon on the day I fly. Thats what I expected when I flew and was given my first coupon, after all. I think it will clean out a lot of extra paper in my laptop bag, and for that, I am thankful! I respect the new policy, but I do wish that we had a grace period during which we could use our old coupons.
Why does it matter when the BS drink coupon is used??? The cost of that drink was factored into the extra $$$$ we payed for a BS seat. SW is out your cost of the drink whether we cash it in on that flight or another one in a week or 6 months. ( which in reality is probably a true cost to you of maybe $2.50) The only answer is you guys hope to sell us something and then take FULL advantage of ripping us, by betting we dont use the coupon at all, such as would be the case on a 7:00 AM flight, or on a flight that weather prohibits drink service. If this stupid rule stays put, why not reduce the extra $$$$ cost of a BS ticket, and eliminate the drink coupon all together? This may sound trivial, but with this change AND your pre-announced change of TTF funds, you have lost an A-List customer that WAS flying with you 125 flights a year, and I bet I wont be the only one, but at approx $175 per flight X 125 flights, I hope that $5 drink coupon is worth the $21,000 of mine going to a competitor.........
bdraco
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This feels like a slap in the face. This won't really affect me since I do not drink in the first place. However, with the other recent customer unfriendly changes ( ttf policy , rr 2.0, etc), I certainly don't feel the luv.
I disagree with a portion of this change. I think the coupons issued without an expiration date as part of the earned passes over the last couple years should continue to be honored, at least for more than a year. This is the same to me as if the US Postal Service said they would no longer honor the Forever Stamp. Please reconsider this time period for the transition.
A very bad change here. BS coupons on early flights are now useless-another service paid for and not received. The tan books have no expiration date-how can you legally impose one now? Southwest is now just one of the bunch,with little to distinguish it from all the others,and since WN's fares are often higher,I will now give up loyalty to WN for the lowest fare.
This is perfectly reasonable....
DO YOU REALLY THINK BUSSINESS CLASS CUSTOMERS WILL BE DRINKING IN THE MORNING ON THE WAY TO WORK. ALL YOU GRREDY CLOWNS ARE ACCOMPLISHING IS ANNOYING THE HELL OUT OF ME FOR MAKING ME PAY FOR SOMETHING YOU KNOW I CAN'T USE. I'LL MAKE SURE YOU PAY FOR EVERY ONE OF THOSE COUPONS BY GIVING IT AWAY TO SOMEONE GOING ON VACTION SO YOU GREED HAS DOEN NOTHING BUT ANNOY YOUR CUSTOMER.
So what about the people who are on Business Select on the morning flights say 6:25 AM Are you expecting these to use there drinks coupon at that time on the way to work. What about drink policies in other companies, what about the fact that you are then encouraging people to drink at 6:25 in the morning, because they cannot use it on the return flight later in the week/month or year when they have an afternoon or evening flight Hmm a policy that has not been thought out I think, at least not thought how it would effect the loyal customers!!!!!
thanks for posting all of the replies i know u have got in on this issue Smiley Sad
megan
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I wish the Monster energy drink could still be bought with the coupons. It'd be nice to buy a non alcoholic drink with the coupons.
Actually, Mike I have to disagree. It looks like to me that the passengers that are supposed to get a free drink still will...If you are a member of the Rapid rewards program you still get drink coupons (they just have to be used within 12 months!) .....If you do the business select option you still will get your drink. It can't be all that bad.....except for someone who wants to use an old coupon from 1982!! HEY, AT LEAST THEY GIVE YOU ONE YEAR'S NOTICE TO GET ON A SOUTHWEST PLANE AND USE IT BEFORE THEY ENFORCE THE EXPIRATION DATE ON A RAPID REWARDS COUPON!
The tan Rapid Rewards coupons will not expire until August 31, 2011, which means you have nearly 13 months to use them.
Lizard
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Phooey. Don't ya' just love it when a catalog company, store, etc., offers you a "gift" coupon and it has an expiration date? Some gift. Same with coupons, Southwest.
Lizard
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Phooey. Don't ya' just love it when a catalog company, store, etc., offers you a "gift" coupon and it has an expiration date? Some gift. Same with coupons, Southwest.
I don't know why all these people are getting into a hissy fit about these drink coupons. SW is giving you more than a year (13 months to be exact) to get on a flight and use your coupon. I'm pretty sure other airlines wouldn't even have the courtesy to tell you and for that I thank Southwest! Besides why would you want to save a coupon? Are you planning on saving a bunch and just getting wasted one flight? Sit back, have a drink, and enjoy the flight!
Southwest has really been on a slide. First, I don't drink and the only option I ever had for using the coupons was the Monster energy drink which Southwest abruptly ended on April 1st. It was even a good April's Fools Joke, just bad business decision. Now, I have just over 100 drink coupons in mixed form of Business Select coupons and rapid rewards. To institute a change with no way of redeeming the coupons really is a bummer. I would have at least jumped on my flight to Vegas next week and made the plane happy if there was some notice. I am all for sound business operating, but really the points Southwest claims to be focusing on are just starting to nitpick into that loyal customer base you claim to LUV so much. I would start running some focus groups of your loyal customers before screwing them over. It is bad enough that purchasing a business select ticket anymore just means your the first to board a plane that is a continuation flight with already 20 through passengers on it already. I wonder what Herb would say... what another sad step in the wrong way for Southwest.
Wait, WHAT? You just expired most of my coupons with no notice at all? Granted, they're old -- but the established custom has been to accept them, so I haven't been diligent about using them first. Very tacky -- no LUV.
Certain states have laws against the expiration of coupons distributed in that state where no expiration date is noted. Flights originating in those states might possibly be exempt from imposing the expiration rule. Something to mull.
Look.... They could charge $25.00 for a bag, $30.00 for a carry on. What is the difference. It is only a coupon for a drink. I'm surprised they still have them. If you can't use the tan coupons in the next 12 months, then you don't fly enough to be of value anyway!
andyr
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Like many here, I think this policy change is pretty lame, particularly with no notice for older BS coupons, since I have always had a mix of coupons but never tried to use the BS ones first since it didn't used to matter. I was annoyed about the Monster drink devaluation (that was a coupon I *liked* to use in the morning), and the lack of notice and poor customer service attitude is looking more like a legacy airline every day. I'm A-List on SW as well as top tier on AA and UA and elite on Airtran, and for Boston to BWI flights I'll take a look at Airtran again. They actually have an F section, bags are free for elite, and they seem to appreciate your business more than SW does. And, when BWI was snowed in, Airtran was flying a whole day before SW restarted their schedule, while SW told me that "the FAA won't let us fly until tomorrow". Not sure why "the FAA" let Airtran fly that day ...
Mike: Assuming you are a real person, I have some career advice for you. Don't be the fall guy for an almost insulting post on a disagreeable topic. This new policy is clearly being viewed as a slap in the face to your loyal customers, which has been eloquently (and otherwise) stated here and on flyertalk. Our opinions aside, you don't explain what happens to coupons with (old) expiration dates (what do you mean by "we will start enforcing expiration dates on coupons over the course of the next year"?). So, which of these is true: 1) WN got the "new guy" to write the post because no one else wanted to do so, and you didn't quite get the details or the implication. 2) The marketing/finance folks attempted to put the spin on a bad decision, and made the new guy ghost-write it? 3) There is no "Mike", but this was a lame attempt to put a face on the communication. I'm questioning my loyalty....
Tourist w5pda
Tourist
This is obviously a touchy subject with some people. It seems to me that the prudent thing to do is to compromise by accepting coupons that have no expiration date. Eventually they will be far and few between, if not gone completely. In the current age of (cut-throat) competition, Southwest would do well to give this one a serious rethink, especially since Monster is no longer an option for people who don't drink alcohol. Paul In CRP
Hi Brian- I am indeed the Vice President of Cabin Services. I’ve been with the Company for 30 years, so I’ve seen my fair share of coupons. This isn’t a change we take lightly, and we gave it careful thought and consideration before deciding to move this direction. When it comes down to it, we’re doing what’s in the best long-term interest of our Customers and our Company. We absolutely want to make sure our best Customers still get the free drink. Rapid Rewards Members will still get drink coupons, as will Business Select Customers. We’re continuing to honor all old Rapid Rewards drink coupons (even those with printed expiration dates) for another year. We are also proud that, unlike most of our industry, we do not charge for snacks or checked bags. You can count on our magnificent Flight Attendants to provide our legendary Customer Service, including refills (carts don’t slow us down). Mike
Dear Mike (Hafner), would you please clarify your above statement from 8/3/2010? In your latest post above, you state that " We’re continuing to honor all old Rapid Rewards drink coupons (even those with printed expiration dates) for another year. " That states to me that you will, as in the past, honor drink coupons that are expired up until 8/31/2011. True or not? In the initial statement you stated that you will only honor the tan coupons which have no expiration date until 8/31/2011. Which is it? All Rapid Rewards coupons (whether they're expired or have no expiration date) ? Or just the tan ones with no expiration date? Please set the record straight. And if you will continue to honor all coupons for another year, is this going to set off another miscommunication problem such as there is with using coupons for Monster drinks, that is still not cleared up with the flight crews after 4 months?
What, now you are changinf you tune? I hope that you communicate this to the flight attendants who began enforcing a policy that you implemented Aug 1, 2010 of NOT accepting expired coupons.
Hi Bob, Sorry for any confusion here. Yes, we'll accept all of the old coupons (whether they have expiration dates or not) until August 31, 2011. We'll honor the expiration dates on the new coupons being printed. These changes have been shared with the appropriate work groups to ensure that our Employees can answer Customer questions on this. Hope that helps!
Mike, Thanks for taking the time to read these comments and respond. I have wanted to make this suggestion for many years but didn't know where to make it. Would you please entertain the idea of bringing back the Monster drinks, but also adding choices of king size candy bars and decks of cards to be bought with drink coupons? After all, Monster drinks, candy and cards have never contributed to loud, disgusting behavior and other annoyances of people who have overindulged. Thank you for your consideration. Margret
Laurel & Mike, a Southwest flight attendant has stated on Flyertalk that Southwest has issued NO memo to flight attendants regarding this second change in drink coupon policy (that expired coupons will again be honored until 8/31/2011). So in her eyes, the current offical policy is that she must NOT accept the expired coupons. Someone going to send a memo so that the employees know what the NEW improved official policy is? Obviously, there was no problem sending out a memo to make the first changes on 8/1/2010...
Hi Bob-Thanks for the followup. Just to give you a little background, there are very, very few drink coupons with old expiration dates in circulation since those were printed for a short period of time. We're working on an additional memo to let our Flight Attendants know to also accept these (although they'll be few and far between), which will be shared shortly. Again, thanks for reaching out for clarification!
hosed
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What about people who spent hundreds of dollars on drink books just before you quit selling them recently? Should they have known better?
J_W_
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"We’ve reached a point where being so flexible with drink coupons has put us in a position of having far too many in circulation." I stumbled upon this blog to see why my RR coupons could not be used for Energy drinks. I'm glad I did. I do wonder why you are punishing (your most loyal) customers for what is admittedly caused because you were so "flexible" in handing out free coupons. It was not our fault. Instead of taking away these privileges, why not just start putting expiration dates on new coupons? Why not reduce the number of free coupons that you give out? This seems awfully petty. They will be out of circulation soon enough.
As being a regular RR customer on the A-List and who has flown a good amount of BS flights, all I hav to say is: good grief!! I will glady give up my old drink coupons and accept the new rules gladly over WN starting to charge for bags. Reading these responses has been comical. Working in the customer service field, I feel for the poor WN employees that have to give the details of this new policy. Get over it----it's business, the gravy train is over. If you don't like to new policy, Delta and US Air would love to have your $25 for your bags.
Given the recent quarterly results of 21.1% revenue growth and three times the profitability of a year ago, in today’s' down economy, I don't see how this a business decision at all. Southwest Airlines Co. Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript here: http://seekingalpha.com/article/217429-southwest-airlines-co-q2-2010-earnings-call-transcript It seems SW is doing quite well for its Employees, Customers, and Shareholders. After the news that you are leading the industry in profits I find it rather strange that you would go and implement such an unpopular new policy which sounds more like you're joining the main stream then continuing to show them how to lead. I'll tell you, as someone who had considered at one time becoming a shareholder, a business decision such as this makes me very glad I stayed on the sidelines. To add insult to injury, Southwest had to know this would be an unpopular decision. To just go and turn the lights out over night on all those Business Select ticket holders, without any forewarning, really shows what matters most to the company. Just think how much profit you might be able to make if only every flight were so turbulent that you weren’t able to hand out the free snacks and already paid for drinks to those with dated tickets. I know when I've fly for business it's the small touches like the never expiring drink coupon that has made SW my only choice without even looking at the price of the competition. I travel light, as most business customers do, so the additional baggage fees other airlines charge don't really impact me. It's been nice to know that if I don't get a chance to use a drink ticket (which I paid for in increased ticket pricing) on one day’s flight, then it could always be used again on another flight. I suggest that all customers not planning on using a drink coupon on a flight, either offer it to your neighbor so it doesn’t go to waste or ask for the beer and just throw it away. At least then it’s your choice and you’re not allowing something you paid money for add to the profit margins of a company that’s obviously looking to join the rest of those in the industry. For the long term stake of your Employees, Customers, and Shareholders I really hope the Q3 profitability drops off enough to show that the wrong decision was made and the airline chooses to right this wrong before more loyal customers find out about the change and start reconsidering their options when they fly.
Lots of comments on the change in drink coupon rules. The expiration dates - with the one year advance notice - make good business sense. My one concern is the equity in the 'same flight' rule on the Business Select coupons. SW is in effect encouraging early morning drinking, not the most socially responsible position to stake out. Perhaps you will consider a '30' day expiration for such coupons?
I will be handing out my over 100 drink coupons to any one that wants them on the flights I take in the next year. The immediate revenue loss will be greater than Southwest expected and in the long run it will only hurt Southwest in the eyes of their best customers.
As a frequent business traveler, I am disgusted by this policy. I don't mind them not accepting coupons whose expiration dates have clearly expired. An expiration date is an expiration date -- you shouldn't have any expectation that it has value beyond its stated expiration date. However, coupons without expiration dates should not expire. Southwest is a sophisticated company and should be aware that most coupons have expiration dates. However, if they chose not to put one on their drink coupons, then they should accept the consequences. Finally, my most recent drink coupons I received in the mail a week ago (same as my old drink coupons) states that the coupon is good for one "speciality non-alcholic drink." What, exactly, is that drink these days? I only used my coupons for Monster, but now they've taken that away. Like many business travelers, drinking alchohol before a business meeting and/or before I have to drive from the airport is not a smart thing to do -- which is why I've always used them for Monster. Now these coupons are useless to me. My recommendation is that if you have any coupons, give them to your neighbors on the plane who want to drink alchohol. The who purpose of this policy is for Southwest to pretend like they are giving something special to their customers when their actual desire is to have the coupon go unused. The more coupons that get used, the worse it is for them. Odds are that I would have never used all the coupons that I get -- however, I'll make they get used now. We fly Southwest because it was a special airline. With policies like these, Southwest is becoming just another one of the crowd.
Don4
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Printing an expiration date and enforcing it is reasonable. Expiring coupons that did not have an expiration date in only 13 months is unreasonable. Sounds like the bean counters have taken charge. I hope SWA is not headed down the same path General Motors took. Bad products and worse customer service lead to bankruptcy. That will really serve your shareholders! Don
As an A-list flyer, I have driven the 62.5 miles from my house in Centreville, VA (10 miles from Dulles Airport) many, many times to BWI to fly Southwest. The customer service and dedication to get planes in and out on time is great and I enjoy the full size jets. I fly business select for the extra rapid rewards credit, better boarding, and the drink coupon is nice. I appreciate that SW doesn't not charge $25 for bags however the current drink coupon policy, as mentioned above, is a total slap in the face to the A-list members and business select flyers. As mentioned previously, do you really expect us to use our drink coupon on a morning flight ? In addition, my past 2 flights suspended drink service in the evening due to bad weather so I didn't get to use them on the way home. I just earned another free RT ticket and I got my rapid rewards coupon in the mail. I spent an estimate $2500 in purchased tickets over approximately three months to earn this. I received the letter from Southwest on Sept 20 informing me the drink coupons expire on Sept 30 - thanks for allowing just10 days to use coupons I have spent three months earning. Why can't you establish a reasonable expiration date (say 30 days) or just get rid of the whole program and cut the BS tickets price a couple bucks ? In reality, the coupons are nice perk that I don't use that often but being given a fake gift really makes SW seem like everyone else.
I have like 100 coupons! Does anybody know where can I sell those?
It will kill me to see my old coupons be worthless after 8/2011. Me - along with a few friends - will be tying one on full tilt next flight!!! Look out SWA! hehehe