This day in age, air travel is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our everyday lives. Once an experimental means of transportation, it has evolved in America to be the most practical way of long distance travel. With digital and social media bringing people closer together than ever, individuals are remaining in contact with their friends all over the country and world. The only thing better than staying in touch with distant contacts is to share quality time together. That being said the only realistic way to see people across the country in a weekend is air travel, but it is becoming more than just a means to an end.
For many air travel is a luxury, vacation or leisure cruise, however for others it is a way of life and the only way for them to see their friends, families, clients or coworkers. For a non-seasoned traveler the airline selection is generally left upto frugality. How cheap can I get there? However after an undefined number of flights, one realizes that the modern air carrier selection is best not left to initial sunk cost or savings, but rather quality, reliability and customer service. All it takes is one nightmare flight or unnecessary overnight airport stay to realize that “there has got to be a better way”. At this time it is clear that the king of quality assurance while flying is Southwest Airlines. While this quirky airline has its shortcomings (open-seating, no comparative searching on travel websites, limited direct flight destinations, and not absolute-bottom-dollar fares), it is the best solution for domestic air travel.
Commonly perceived as an inconvenience, you must purchase tickets directly from Southwest.com. While you are questioning why you bothered to goto this additional website to search for airfares, you do not quite realize that the tickets have inherent additional value relative to other carriers. The fares are typically not the cheapest compared to Travelocity or other travel search sites. However they instantly add value when you realize that traveling for any more than three days is going to need more than a single piece of carry-on luggage. They waive the bag fees for up to two 50lb checked bags, what does that cost on any other airlines? At least 50$ for both; one way! That inflates an airlines “budget fare” substantially at an overly convenient time: When you are rushing into the airport terminal to catch a flight!
The next major point of added Southwest value is what I like to call the disaster-aversion factor. The airline does not charge change fees if you have to reschedule the flight or change a leg of it. When you consider inclement weather, life’s delaying circumstances, or just general freedom to alter your travel plans mid-trip; they are there to help and not hurt. Meanwhile if there was to be a change in your travel arrangements through another airline, you would have to call the retailer (Travelocity, priceline, etc..) and probably the airline itself in an effort to get it changed. Not to mention the exorbitant fees they charge even after they already have you as a customer (travelocity charges 185$ to change a flight). Should you even get the opportunity to speak with a domestic call center, you are likely to be paying more to make the itinerary changes you need. A single point of contact when stranded goes a long way! Furthermore should you have to cancel your travel arrangements entirely you will receive credit with the airlines directly, not the booking company. An inconvenience when in the future trying utilize the airfare credit you have already purchased. With Southwest the credit you are refunded is actually usable for a future trip!
Finally the most defining factor of excellence in this travelers eyes is the positive approach and attitude of the corporation and its staff. Lets face it, in our bureaucratic and commodity driven world it is difficult to keep prices low and be successful with the wavering costs of fossil fuels. Not to mention unions, pensions and personnel issues that continue to plague an industry coming into its economic maturity. With fuel and wages constantly on the rise and the profitability of airlines suffering, it is difficult to maintain service with a smile. But somehow Southwest does, the staff is always friendly and genuine relative to other airlines (Have you ever laughed while receiving the flight safety briefing?). The organization realizes that their customers are interested in an enjoyable, smooth experience; air travelers are either on their way to vacation, to see their family, or even just to get home from work. There is no need for doom and gloom within the fuselage walls, and if you have taken more than a dozen flights in your life you start to recognize that this is a breath of fresh air at 35,000 feet. So kudos to you Southwest and your forty years of service in a challenging and changing industry.
Got a flight horror story to share, or think I am off my rocker again? A bit fanboy? Put me in my place: Feel free to comment and tell me I’m crazy, just click below on comment and let it fly!