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Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?  
User currently offlineAviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1360 posts, RR: 11
Posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25124 times:

Doubtless this has been covered here at one point or another, but I was asked today why Southwest's two-digit IATA code is "WN." Many codes are random, but I have a feeling this one means something. (Yes, I know, the carrier's ICAO code is "LUV.")

- PS

www.askthepilot.com

[Edited 2006-08-19 03:30:00]


Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
48 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFalstaff From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 6166 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25117 times:
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Quoting Aviateur (Thread starter):
Doubtless this has been covered here at one point or another, but I was asked today why Southwest's two-digit IATA code is "WN."

I have wondered the same thing.



My mug slaketh over on Falstaff N503
User currently offlineAtrude777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5702 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25117 times:

For starters edit the topic titel it made em think you meant the airline-ATA, so add the I.

2. SW was taken because it was used by Air Namibia.
3.WN was thought to stand for Were Nuts! Maybe so, maybe not.



Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
User currently offlineHPRamper From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4145 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25102 times:

I heard at the time of the airline's inception, SW was already taken, so the people in charge requested the first code available with "W" in it. Maybe that's totally false, but it's what I read once (probably on here!)

User currently offlineFlyingTexan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25090 times:

Because you can't spell win without WN.





JR ~ the FlyingTexan


User currently offlineJerseyGuy From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 2087 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25090 times:
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They told Southwest that they didn't have SW available and asked them if they would like to use a random code and they replied "Why Not" and so they were assigned WN.  Big grin Although thats only a rumor


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User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25090 times:

Southwest's original code was OE, but was changed early on to WN. As far as I can recall (from those who started in 1971; I didn't arrive until 1977), Southwest's first choice was SW, but that was in use by then Seabord World, a freight outfit. WN was just the next one on the list, and had no special meaning. Of course, some say it was for "We're Nuts" in reference to the book about Southwest, but that book didn't come out for another couple of decades...

User currently offlineAtrude777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5702 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 25067 times:

Quoting Aviateur (Reply 3):
Oops, I've roused the nitpickers. I accidentally typed "ATA" code in my subject line. It's the IATA code I'm referring to.

No nitpicking here, just simple confusion  Silly

Quoting FlyingTexan (Reply 5):
Because you can't spell win without WN.

So true!!!  Smile

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 7):

Sounds the most reasonable response.

WN just seems so Southwesty  Silly

Alex



Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
User currently offlineHawaiian717 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3210 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 24998 times:

Quoting Aviateur (Thread starter):
(Yes, I know, the carrier's ICAO code is "LUV.")

Actually, their ICAO code is SWA. LUV is their stock ticket symbol.


User currently offlineVatveng From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1010 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 24833 times:

I always thought it was because it was the opposite of Northwest: NW --> WN

I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?



Visited VA,NC,PA,SC,FL,GA,OH,AL,TX,TN,CO,CA,UT,NV,NM,IN,KY,MD,MO,CT,MA,NH,ME.
User currently offlineCactus739 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2450 posts, RR: 30
Reply 10, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 24771 times:

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

Normal people don't call airlines WN and NW.

Normal people call them Southwest and Northwest.

I don't think anyone who's completed third grade gets them confused.

[Edited 2006-08-19 06:14:35]


You can't fix stupid.... - Ron White
User currently offlineVatveng From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1010 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 24661 times:

Quoting Cactus739 (Reply 10):
Normal people don't call airlines WN and NW.

I was referring to the fact that they both have "West" in the name...

Having traveled with my dad a few times I've seen confusion over less than that. He couldn't make heads or tails over having AA on his boarding pass, AA logos at the gate, but TWA on the plane. So these things cross my mind.



Visited VA,NC,PA,SC,FL,GA,OH,AL,TX,TN,CO,CA,UT,NV,NM,IN,KY,MD,MO,CT,MA,NH,ME.
User currently offlineBluewhale18210 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 237 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 24596 times:

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

One of my agents called WN "WestNorth" to a passenger.
Good thing he was confused also and wasn't laughing at the mistake...



JPS on A300-600RF A319/320 B737-400/800 B757-200F B767-300F CRJ-200/900. Looking to add more.
User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 24557 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6):
Southwest's first choice was SW, but that was in use by then Seabord World, a freight outfit.

Actually I think the code SW was used back then by Namib Air (formerly Suidwes Lugdiens) from South West Africa (now Namibia). The carrier is now called Air Namibia, but the code is still SW.


User currently offlineNWrr From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week ago) and read 24509 times:

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I always thought it was because it was the opposite of Northwest: NW --> WN

I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

I work in res for NW, and you would NOT believe how many people get confused because both airlines have the word "West" in them. One person actually said, "What's the difference?" I was momentarily taken aback before answering, "They're a different airline, and since you're ticket is with them, you'll need to call them for assistance with your reservation."

So, yes, it happens often.



Welcome to the back of the boat...the non-rev section
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 23916 times:

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 13):
Actually I think the code SW was used back then by Namib Air (formerly Suidwes Lugdiens) from South West Africa (now Namibia). The carrier is now called Air Namibia, but the code is still SW.

http://www.al-airliners.be/s/seaboard/seaboard.htm

Seaboard World was sucked up by Flying Tiger in 1980, and the African airline you mention apparently got "SW" subsequent to that. Southwest could have gone after it, but at (then) only 9 years old, Southwest had better things to spend its money on, and it stayed with "WN".


User currently offlineTheSorcerer From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2005, 1048 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 23757 times:

I was just thinking it might be that Northwest have NW, Southwest is the other way (on the compass) so they swap the letters around.

Dominic



ALITALIA,All Landings In Torino, All Luggage In Athens ;)
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 23718 times:

Quoting TheSorcerer (Reply 16):
I was just thinking it might be that Northwest have NW, Southwest is the other way (on the compass) so they swap the letters around.

Wouldn't the opposite of NW on a compass be SE?


User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6371 posts, RR: 9
Reply 18, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 23256 times:

Quoting Atrude777 (Reply 2):
2. SW was taken because it was used by Air Namibia.

Damn right, and we're not giving it up  Wink


User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 23231 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6):
Southwest's first choice was SW, but that was in use by then Seabord World, a freight outfit.

Actually, Seaboard's IATA code was SB.

I'm surprised that Southwest wasn't able to use the SW code in a controlled duplicate situation, since neither airline operates into the same airports.


User currently offlineHoosierCFI From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 23231 times:

Quoting JerseyGuy (Reply 5):
They told Southwest that they didn't have SW available and asked them if they would like to use a random code and they replied "Why Not" and so they were assigned WN. Big grin Although thats only a rumor

This is the one that I have heard as well.


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 22954 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6):
WN was just the next one on the list, and had no special meaning. Of course, some say it was for "We're Nuts" in reference to the book about Southwest, but that book didn't come out for another couple of decades...

I remember reading that Herb told them at the time to take the next one that comes along with a W in it and WN was what was first to than come available; don't know if that is true or not though.


User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 22795 times:

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 19):
Actually, Seaboard's IATA code was SB.

It would appear so...and that what the website said and what I was told were incorrect...

So, the revised, corrected sequence of events...

Southwest originally has OE, but wanted something else. "SW" was already in use by the African outfit. Southwest takes the first thing with a "W" in it, which is "WN" (and has no other significance) and that brings us to the present-day.


User currently offlineB737100 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 153 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 22174 times:

I used to confuse WN and WC when Wien Air Alaska (formerly Wien Consolidated) was still around. Air California was XK, then switched to OC, since AC was not available (LOL). The aircraft did have AC in their registration numbers, ie N471AC.


Boeing 737 sunjet service
User currently offlineAntoniemey From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1607 posts, RR: 4
Reply 24, posted (8 years 4 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 22034 times:

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I always thought it was because it was the opposite of Northwest: NW --> WN



Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 17):
Wouldn't the opposite of NW on a compass be SE?

Aw, OPNL, you beat me to it.  Smile



Make something Idiot-proof, and the Universe will make a more inept idiot.
25 Charliejag1 : Obviously the answer is Wrong Number.
26 TheSorcerer : Yes it is, but there could still be a connection there. Then again NW and WN could just be a coincidence. Dominic
27 Cjpark : Based on experience with this airline the initials are appropriate. WN = Waiting Needlessly
28 Post contains images Dtwclipper : Guess that depends on which way the plane is facing...oh wait, that's best saved for another day!:D
29 Kdeg00 : What was the IATA code for Western Airlines, and when did they fold/merge?
30 Dtwclipper : Western=WA Merged w/ Delta fully on April 1, 1987.[Edited 2006-08-19 23:13:47]
31 Bnamaxx : Hey, if Aloha can be AQ, then Southwest can be WN. Who says they have to make sense?
32 MtnWest1979 : Even better, it was TS before AQ.
33 Motopolitico : Since it seems that JB was available, why did Jet Blue go with B6??
34 DeC : The same reason HELIOS AIRWAYS was ZU
35 Thenoflyzone : Who cares about IATA !!! It's all gonna be ICAO codes in a couple of years anyways. if I were you, i'd start to learn the 3 letter codes ASAP. AK[Edit
36 Post contains links Aviateur : JB is the property of Helijet International, a helicopter outfit based in British Columbia. What a weird conversation. Weirder still is the idea of a
37 ORDagent : Even if they don't fly to the same places they are often in the same place called a timetable or computer data base such as Sabre. I don't get this o
38 Ctbarnes : Anyone else hear this? At a guess it's going to cost a bundle to re-program GDS to accept the 3 letter codes. Charles, SJ
39 Pgtravel : Or how about Sibir changing their name to S7?
40 Dtwclipper : As a side note, when EL Al started service they used the "EA" two letter code. Eastern was not happy with this, and by 1952 EL AL adopted the LY code
41 Lincoln : At CLE NW and WN use the same baggage belt. I was flying back PLN-DTW-CLE (on Northwest) about two weeks ago, and at while I was waiting for my bag t
42 Boston92 : Some of WN's crafts have registrations ending in SW and some end in WN.
43 Mallthus : Since we're covering codes that don't make much sense, there's HP, which is/was America West. Originally it was Hawaiian Pacific, which was what was o
44 Ntspelich : And others end in corporate officers' initials (CB, HK), departments (MX, QC), SA for Southwest Airlines and LV as in LUV. I'm sure that there's othe
45 OPNLguy : There's also a RR (Ron Ricks) and JW (Jim Wimberly), as well as a WR and JC (for two PHX AMTs who passed away in a general aviation crash). I want to
46 Post contains images Ntspelich : Yeah, I know that Wimbs has one, forgot about Ron Ricks. Couldn't remember the exact situation behind the PHX mx guys. P.S. What's up with all the swa
47 Post contains images OPNLguy : BTSOOM.. I'm off...
48 Atrude777 : There is, N739GB appropriately after N738CB.
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