On January 11, 2015, I wrote the following on my blog. Southwest asked if they could republish it, so I am happy to now share it with you.
It’s very rare for me to develop brand loyalty. Even as a kid, I thought it was silly to obsess over which store my clothes came from or what logo was stamped on my headphones. While I recognize that there are more established companies for every type of product and service, it’s hard for me to justify purchasing something just because it’s “well-known.” A company may have been around longer or it may be more internationally recognized, but that doesn’t always mean it’s better. This is especially true in the airline industry.
I first started flying Southwest about 11 or 12 years ago but I don’t remember those first few flights. Southwest was just another company, and I didn’t fly often enough to recognize a difference. And then the seating wars began. I love window seats. I will take a window seat in the last row of the plane over an aisle seat in the first row any day. I fly at least once or twice a month these days and I still don’t get bored of looking out at the landscapes below. So when it became more difficult to secure window seats on other airlines (who started charging for reserved seating, already being near-full by the time I purchased my ticket, etc) I found myself booking more and more with Southwest. And the more I flew with them, the more I began appreciating their unique qualities:
The boarding system. You either love it or hate it. I don’t deny that there is some benefit to choosing your seat prior to boarding but (as long as I remember to check-in 24 hours in advance) I always get a good seat on SW. Did you know that lack of seating assignments helps prevent delays? That’s another plus in my book!
Free bags, free changes. I do not fly with checked luggage often and I rarely make changes to my flights after I book them. But life is unexpected. The peace of mind at knowing I can bring extra bags or change my flights (even last minute!) for no charge is very nice.
Rapid Rewards. Southwest has truly spoiled me when it comes to using rewards for flights. Their points system is so easy to use that it puts others to shame. I don’t need to book only on certain days, or certain flights, or in certain categories. I can use my points on whatever flight I want and it’s wonderful. (The constant stream of free-drink coupons in my mailbox also deserves an honorable mention).
Flight attendant skits. They’ve gotten so famous now that it’s almost silly to mention them, but there was a time when these mini stand-up routines were relatively unheard of. I’ve always enjoyed them. The passengers and flight attendants even had a “Viva Las Vegas” sing-along on approach to Las Vegas once. It’s the little things that add up.
All in all, I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere aboard LUV jets. There is no class seating and the crew has always been very friendly and approachable. But I also don’t find flying to be the hassle that others make it out to be. Perhaps this topic warrants a future post about taking the stress out of air travel altogether… In the meantime, Southwest already does a lot of that and that’s why I’ll continue to fly them.