ATLhomeCMH From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 770 posts, RR: 3 Posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 7181 times:
What is it about WN...i.e. business practices, general operations, travel policies, etc...that always cause forums to turn into a mud-slinging fest and get people so fired up? I have to admit that I, too, am guilty of this.
I find this a very intriguing sociological phenomenon on A.net and I'm curious into how this came to be.
"The most terrifying words in the Engligh language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"-Ronald Reagan
Drerx7 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 4962 posts, RR: 8 Reply 1, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 7088 times:
Actually, I think alot of people have TDS (Talking Down Syndrome), they happen to like other airlines more and are threatened by the success of Southwest. Basically--"my toy is better than yours" mentality. There is nothing really controversial about Southwest as far as how they run their business. Besides--what would this forum be without the annual Southwest sucks or Southwest is great threads.
Planespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3492 posts, RR: 5 Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 7031 times:
To defend my favorite airline (and employer so yes i am biased), Southwest changed the face of the airline industry. Before southwest, most airlines were the Pan Am's, the Easterns', the Braniff's, etc... High Fares, high class of service, and only a certain percentage of the population were able to fly. This made flying a privaledge. Southwest airlines came along and basically made it possible for anyone to fly, whether it be your college student going from Lubbock back home to Houston to see his parents on a weekend, or your family of working class folks going on vacation to florida from Chicago.
This didn't happen overnight of course, it took many years of slow build up, not to mention a few lucky breaks (most notably deregulation). Because of this no frills-cheap fares service, a few things happened. First off, airlines who had high costs now had to charge lower ticket prices to compete when they were normally used to charging higher fares, so their profit margins were extremely lower. This lead to a few airlines (firstly Braniff, followed by Eastern, Pan Am, etc..etc..) going broke and going out of business. Was southwest directly to blame for these airlines demise? Of course not. There were a multitude of factors involved with each airline, poor management and labor relations being high on the list.
In the 80's it was mainly the legacy carriers that fought amongst themselves, however the ideas that southwest airlines put forth were adapted by the big airlines and the ones who could do it stayed in business and the ones who couldn't failed. Meanwhile southwest stayed under the radar of most people and before you know it they are flying coast to coast using mainly underutilized airports and point to point service, while most other airlines rely on the extremly inefficient but convenient hub and spoke system (convenient because you can be nearly anywhere in the world with only 2 flights).
Southwests lower price structure (and much lower operating costs) lead to much lower salaries for airline employees (low at the time compared to other airlines) however as of now southwest is paying the top rate to pilots and other employees, because other airlines can't afford to be paying pilots $180,000 / year. A Sr. Captain at southwest can expect to top out at around $150,000/yer before taxes. An F/O starts off around 35,000 and can make up to $95,000. Captains start at 100,000 (or so). This is about 30-40% less then pilots in the past earned. Other industry jobs are also taking a cut. So from the money aspect alone you can see why other airline professionals are a bit bitter towards southwest, and i don't blame them. However, they must recognize a better, more efficient and extremely successful airline when they see one, rather then just dismissing it as cattle car airlines or "southwest = ghetto" or something along those lines. Cattle car airlines consistently turns out much higher profits revenues and load factors then any of the other "non-cattle car?" airlines.
And that, in the big picture of capitalism, is the driving force behind the success of southwest. always follow the money.
Jetdeltamsy From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2985 posts, RR: 8 Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 7022 times:
i think southwest is controversial because they are much less responsive to "consumer outcry" that other airlines. they don't pre-assign seats. if you don't like it, call somebody else. they charge large people for two seats. if you are large and don't want to buy two seats, call somebody else. if you want larger aircraft than the 737, call somebody else. don't waste time throwing a fit, writing your congressman, or bashing them in this forum, just call somebody else...that's the american way. with southwest, you can do business their "friendly" way, or hit the highway.
southwest has a business model and they stick to it. say what you will about their "attitude", the operation is profitable. they are profitable while satisifying the vast majority of their paying customers, proven by the fact that they consistently have the fewest reported complaints, by far, of any other airline. that pretty much says it all.
when you try to be everything to everybody, it is extremely expensive.
[Edited 2004-10-13 18:34:24]
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
AeroArgentina From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 192 posts, RR: 2 Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 7019 times:
It is the only large airline making money in the US and offers basically the same level of service the old six (AA, UA, US, CO, DL, NW with some exceptions, notably CO) offer in coach (ie virtually no food, charge for alc). It does give on time performance and simple pricing with virtually no hassle that the other big ones can have a hard time doing. It just has a better business model that threatens the old fashioned airlines.
Ssides From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4059 posts, RR: 22 Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6985 times:
I think the divide is primarily between those who view the aviation industry as a service, and those who view it as a business.
If you view the industry as a service, you probably long for the pre-deregulation days, where fares and routes were set by the government, and airlines only competed on the level of service they offered. They didn't have to worry about profits, because these were guaranteed by the CAB-set fare. Competition existed, but most airlines had many, many monopoly routes. Employees were happy, because the high fares guaranteed a revenue stream that, in turn, guaranteed cushy labor contracts. And, if you were in a high tax bracket, you loved it, because you could afford to fly, while "riff-raff" people were forced to drive or take the bus.
If you view the industry as a business, deregulation sucked. The price of flying was grossly inflated, and airlines were insulated from innovative competittion. This led to inefficient operation structures and, many people believe, a lack of safety (I would venture to guess that there were more crashed per capita during the regulated period than the deregulated period). Most importantly, it was very difficult for new entrants to launch airlines of their own that might bring travel to more people.
Where does WN fit into all this? Of all the airlines out there, WN has become perhaps the biggest "poster child" for deregulation. It has made a consistent profit by providing a basic service: getting people from point A to point B. In the process, it has lowered costs, fares, and made flying much more accessible to the general public. Some people on A.net love this.
On the other hand, WN has made life difficult for many legacy carriers. With the rise of WN -- and the Internet -- people have begun to realize that they can fly for a fraction of the cost they used to. Price -- not service -- is the chief factor in customers' decisions today. As a result, airlines have had to cut many of the "frills" they used to offer. In the marketplace, a majority of customers will dictate what the airlines do. As for the minority, they won't like it. Even if you're willing to pay for added service and amenities, airlines won't listen to you unless enough of your fellow travelers do the same. WN's success is evidence that many people simply aren't willing to pay this premium. For that reason, many people -- especially aviation "experts" like those on A.net -- are going to be upset. Also, add the "riff raff" element to the mix, and the issue exacerbates.
What I think is remarkable, however, is WN's culture. They have been able to keep costs and fares low while still offering "service with a smile." Almost all of their employees seem very happy, and continue to take pride in what they do. This culture is an intangible -- no matter how much other airlines try, they won't be able to emulate it. That, I think, is a big source of disillusionment.
I have my own opinions about WN. I enjoy flying them on short-haul flights, but I definitely prefer AA on longer-hauls. AA gives me things that I can't get on WN (first-class upgrades, a larger route network, international flights), but WN can usually get me to places a bit quicker and more cheaply. Being a free-market American, this is the best part -- I have a choice. That, I think, is what WN's all about.
I have a hard time understanding anyone who "hates" an airline. But the WN-haters just make no sense to me. I have not seen one person offer a "solution" to the WN "problem." What do they want? More regulation? Higher taxes on WN only? A major boycott? Higher airport fees? They're not going to get it. My standard advice to anyone who doesn't like WN is simple: DON'T FLY THEM.
PROSA From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5526 posts, RR: 5 Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6941 times:
i think southwest is controversial because they are much less responsive to "consumer outcry" that other airlines. they don't pre-assign seats. if you don't like it, call somebody else. they charge large people for two seats. if you are large and don't want to buy two seats, call somebody else. if you want larger aircraft than the 737, call somebody else
WN's lack of preassigned seating cuts both ways. Yes, it causes people to start lining up at the gates well before departure, and if you arrive late at the airport you may not have much of a choice when it comes to seating. On the other hand, if you had to purchase your ticket without much advance notice, you won't necessarily be stuck in an undesirable seat - not to mention the fact that you won't have been hosed unmercifully for not buying the ticket weeks in advance, as the legacy carriers would be doing if it weren't for WN and the other LCC's (and as they still do on some routes).
WN only requires a large person to buy two seats if (1) he or she physically cannot fit in one seat, which usually happens only in cases of morbid, life-threatening obesity, and (2) the flight is otherwise sold out. You cannot expect WN to give seats away for free. Besides, it wouldn't surprise me if other carriers had similar policies.
Wanting larger aircraft that a 737? Most normal fliers, not a.netter types, couldn't really care. It's the size of one's seat that matters, and WN is comparable to other carriers in that respect.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
Ltbewr From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 12677 posts, RR: 13 Reply 10, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6940 times:
WN is an airline with a different idea of service, more like a good bus rather than traditional airlines. My opinions are from those posted here and from the A&E 'Airline' program since I have never taken them.
On the bad side: Many here believe that the way they operate reduces the quality the service of other airlines. You cannot transfer to other airlines from WN unlike majors. They do not offer assigned/reserved seating. WN's pricing makes majors to fill their planes offer fares cheaper than they can afford to, hurting the majors. WN doesn't offer IFE, except sometimes corny non-electronic style that provided by the f/a's and pax. WN's pricing and convenience encourges those whom the only other option would be to drive or used Greyhound instead to fly WN. Depending on the flight, they sometimes have significant numbers of pax whom are 'ahem' from the lower stata of the income and evolutionay scale. They do not offer service to some important areas of the USA, such as Denver or the immediate NYC area (LGA/JFK/EWR, although they serve Islip, in Long Island, about 40 long miles from NYC). Sometimes they severely overbook. In some cases, to go from one point to another requires 1 or more changes in a/c. There is no 1st/Biz class, even for long flights. No meals, even on long flights.
On the good side: WN has a enviable safety record, an excellent on-time record, reasonable prices even at the last minute for many pax vs. others/majors. They have been around for over 30 years and somehow get it right enough to last that long. They have loyal and excellent management and employees whom are paid fair and competive wages. They offer good service at a fair price - ie: good value for the money. They offer frequent flights to many of their destinations. Between some points, can offer direct flights that majors hub and require change of a/c. If flight not full, you can choose your own seat, if get there early enough. There is no 1st class - everybody is equal. You don't get 'airline food' meals.
Moman From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1049 posts, RR: 4 Reply 11, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6931 times:
It's quite simple, people detest Southwest because they are SUCCESSFUL, similar to the way people detest WAL-MART.
Southwest has found a way to make money and breed loyalty by breaking all the historical 'rules' of airline travel (high service, high fare, class). Southwest has brought cheap airfares to the masses much like Wal-Mart bringing cheap goods to the masses.
Most people who complain about Southwest indirectly benefit from them. I am one of those people. I do not prefer to fly Southwest, but they bring the fares down on American allowing me to fly AA more. See? Similar to Wal-Mart; people complain about it all the time but they still either shop there or benefit from it in lower prices elsewhere.
If companies cannot/will not adapt to changing market conditions (US Air, United), they will be diminshed (Kmart) or even perish (TWA). Long live capatilism!
PROSA From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5526 posts, RR: 5 Reply 12, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6913 times:
Depending on the flight, they sometimes have significant numbers of pax whom are 'ahem' from the lower stata of the income and evolutionay scale.
This is a common assertion, but I'd be very interested in knowing whether it's borne out by any sort of market surveys.
All I can say is that on the WN flights I've taken (all ISP-Florida), the passengers look no worse than on any legacy flights I've taken.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
Superfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39425 posts, RR: 76 Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6901 times:
Southwest is an excellent airline with a great business model. For short domestic runs, it's a great airline. I've flown Southwest many times and every experience exceeds my expectations. They have the most consistently friendly staff of any airline I have flown, always have a great sense of humor and is a great overall experience.
Best of all is there livery, interior and all 737 fleet.
Superfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39425 posts, RR: 76 Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6806 times:
Please don't insult Southwest Airlines by comparing them to Wal-Mart.
Southwest treats there employees right and they are unionized. Southwest doesn't aim to put United or American out of business either.
If I can fly United or Southwest for the same price, I will certainly fly them over Southwest.
FlyMeToTheMoon From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 242 posts, RR: 1 Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6773 times:
WN revolutionized air travel and so did its many imitators. And revolutionaries are never liked, even more so they are controversial. They are unabashed proponents for change, rather brash and forceful (remember Herb Kelleher?) entities that will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. I presume that the [US] Founding Fathers were controversial with the British establishment in their time.
At any rate, WN has a successful business model, makes money consistently, has many imitators - the highest form of flattery they say - and is unapologetic about the way it goes about its business. I can sympathize with the plight of the people at legacy carriers, had to let a few people go in my times, but this is capitalism. And capitalism, especially the Anglo-Saxon model (this is not a jab, just an observation), is a brutal Darwinian environment. One of the reasons WN is both controversial and successful is because of the fact that it managed to shift both industrial relations (i.e. labor management) and customer relations from confrontation to cooperation. Although, unionized WN works actively with its staff to make sure problems are addressed before they become work stoppages. If I remember correctly WN only had two strikes (corrections if I am not right are welcome).
Same thing with customers - try to keep most of them happy and do not empty their wallets totally and they will keep coming back. Address customer service problems before customers become disgruntled and go to a competitor. And more than anything fly to where the customers are - i.e. underserved markets.
Personally I am not a WN fan, have flown them a couple of times but I do not go out of my way to fly them. Yet, from a business perspective it is always interesting to look at their business model, labor relations and customer service.
On a productive note and to move this post forward here is a question - it appears to me that with the arrival of the 737NG WN's fleet is really not that standardized any more. Although they may look the same I presume that the 737-300 are very different in their systems than the 737-700. Doesn't this erode their competitive advantage somewhat and increase their training and maintenance costs? Any comments are welcome.
Luv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12019 posts, RR: 50 Reply 18, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6762 times:
Well said and good points. It is amusing to hear what people say and then comment on if the price is right they will bow down and use WN or shop at WalMarts, if you really wanted to show these companies then be true to your so called morals and do not give them your money, like Herb has said to numerous letter writers who have complained once to often "I am sure we are going to miss seeing you"!
Dtwclipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6737 times:
"Before southwest, most airlines were the Pan Am's, the Easterns', the Braniff's, etc... High Fares, high class of service, and only a certain percentage of the population were able to fly. This made flying a privaledge. Southwest airlines came along and basically made it possible for anyone to fly, whether it be your college student going from Lubbock back home to Houston to see his parents on a weekend, or your family of working class folks going on vacation to florida from Chicago."
AH, and it was really a pleasure then. We got dressed up to travel, we were treated well, and service was great. No flip flops, tank tops, spandex, cut offs, and everyone else took the bus.
WN has no First nor Business, no international service, and as far as I know no airport lounges. Why bother?
JET1977 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 66 posts, RR: 0 Reply 20, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6707 times:
In my opinion, others might be a little worried that WN setting will set the industry standards for service: no-frills, no-assigned seating, no-movies etc., etc; for all airlines. WN is such a threat to US Airways, that US has to develop "GO" fares. This also happens in other markets with WN, where the majors are forced to lower fares to compete with WN. To keep up with WN & other LCC's, the majors are going to have to cut passenger services ( BTW this is already happening with Buy on Board meals and other little service cuts, that people are accustomed to recieving) and eventuall adopting WN's practices and phasing out thiers. The controversy comes from the fear that the Majors' service will fade away and all airlines level of serivec, at domestically, will be just like WN. Similiar to how people say, "Flying on an Airliners isn't as prestigous as it used to be" about the golden days of flying, people will talk about how the service isn't what it used to be when DL and UA were flying.
Planespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3492 posts, RR: 5 Reply 22, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6588 times:
I value the "golden days" of aviation just like the next romantic pilot airplane lover type, but those days are over! You can sit down and continually mope about how things used to be and how they're just not the same all you want, but it's not gonna change anything one damn bit.
I personally think it's nice that tank tops short shorts and flip flops are considered flying attire these days