ATLhomeCMH
Topic Author
Posts: 751
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 3:25 am

Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:18 am

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
 
User avatar
drerx7
Posts: 4223
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2000 12:19 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:21 am

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.
Third Coast born, means I'm Texas raised
 
luv2fly
Posts: 11056
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 2:57 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:25 am

Drerx7 I do believe you hit the nail on the head. Though it happens for other airlines as well, it just seems WN brings out the worst in people for whatever reason.
You can cut the irony with a knife
 
NIKV69
Posts: 10893
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:27 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:28 am

I don't know what the controversy is. WN is a good airline. They are no-frills but that is the way it is. In the end they get you where you want to go safely.
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:32 am

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.

[Edited 2004-10-13 18:44:30]
Do you like movies about gladiators?
 
jetdeltamsy
Posts: 2688
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2000 11:51 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:32 am

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
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue May 08, 2001 4:28 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:32 am

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.
 
S12PPL
Posts: 3603
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 5:26 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:34 am

Well, without meaning to or not....you may have started another "I love Southwest", Or "I hate Southwest" thread Smile
Next Flights: 12/31 AS804 PDX-MCO 2/3 AS19 MCO-SEA QX2545 SEA-PDX
 
ssides
Posts: 3248
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2001 12:57 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:42 am

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.
"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
 
prosa
Posts: 5389
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2001 3:24 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:04 am

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
Posts: 12423
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:24 pm

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:06 am

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
Posts: 708
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:09 am

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!

Moman

AA Platinum Member - American Airlines Forever
 
prosa
Posts: 5389
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2001 3:24 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:14 am

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
Posts: 37735
Joined: Thu May 11, 2000 8:01 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:19 am

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.  Smokin cool

How can you not like these beauties?


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Don Boyd
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © James Richard Covington, Jr



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Justin Cederholm
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © James Richard Covington, Jr



Bring back the Concorde
 
User avatar
EA CO AS
Posts: 13499
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2001 8:54 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:23 am

It's quite simple, people detest Southwest because they are SUCCESSFUL, similar to the way people detest WAL-MART.


Successful while endangering tens of thousands of jobs at competitors in the process and cheapening the experience.

I can't stand Southwest or Wal-Mart...but if either has a price I can't possibly beat, I'll grudgingly hold my nose and avail myself to their service/product.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
UA744KSFO
Posts: 411
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2003 5:55 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:53 am

"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!"

And what happens to those who become unemployed because of this??? I'm sorry, but I think that it is the responsibility of a society to think about this too.

 
Superfly
Posts: 37735
Joined: Thu May 11, 2000 8:01 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:00 am

Moman:
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.
Bring back the Concorde
 
FlyMeToTheMoon
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 9:01 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:06 am

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.

Happy flying on whatever airline you choose.
Fly me to the moon... but not through LHR!
 
luv2fly
Posts: 11056
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 2:57 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:10 am

Superfly

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"!
You can cut the irony with a knife
 
dtwclipper
Posts: 6668
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 3:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:13 am

"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?
Compare New York Air, the Airline that works for your Business
 
JET1977
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu May 13, 2004 5:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:21 am

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.
 
NIKV69
Posts: 10893
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:27 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:56 am

Planespotting,

WELL SAID! Welcome to my respected user list! You are so right. WN changed the face of flying. Whether you love them or hate them you have to respect them.
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:00 am

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  Big grin
Do you like movies about gladiators?
 
dtwclipper
Posts: 6668
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 3:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:06 am

Planespotting:

I personally think it's nice that tank tops short shorts and flip flops are considered flying attire these days

This sums up my feelings on the matter very nicely, thank you.

Memorable Quotes

The Parent Trap (1998)
Hallie : You wanna know the *real* difference between us?
Annie : Let me see...I have class and you don't.
Compare New York Air, the Airline that works for your Business
 
Byrdluvs747
Posts: 2377
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:25 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:10 am


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.


That is so true. I wish most people on flights these days were on a bus instead.
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
Superfly
Posts: 37735
Joined: Thu May 11, 2000 8:01 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:12 am

I'll try to find an old photo of me when I was a kid wearing a plaid bell bottom suit for our family trip aboard an American Airlines 707 (ORD-LAX) in 1978.

Yes baby, I was travelling in style.  Smokin cool

Bring back the Concorde
 
ScottB
Posts: 5450
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 1:25 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:22 am

"WN has no First nor Business, no international service, and as far as I know no airport lounges. Why bother?"

Why bother? Well, because for most sane people, the point of getting on an airplane is safe, speedy transportation between two distant locations, not some nebulous "travel experience." If I want to get dressed up for fine wine and a good meal, I will go to a restaurant that can provide better than most airline caterers and galley ovens ever could.

One important fact that most forget when longing for the "good old days" is that all the airlines back then were far smaller, with less comprehensive route networks. Want to fly to Europe on a U.S. carrier? Your choice was Pan Am or TWA. Want to fly from Albany to Albuquerque? You'd probably need to change planes and airlines at least two or three times. The domestic U.S. market wasn't much larger than AA alone is today -- and that means that deregulation created hundreds of thousands of airline jobs. Does Southwest threaten jobs at poorly-run network carriers? You bet -- but Southwest also creates thousands of jobs, whether in its own ranks or at and around airports which see traffic numbers explode after they start service. BWI had been more or less ignored by US Airways as they pulled down the Piedmont hub there; Southwest's operation there has likely generated billions of dollars in positive economic impact for Maryland in the last ten years.
 
dtwclipper
Posts: 6668
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 3:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:27 am

ScottB

"One important fact that most forget when longing for the "good old days" is that all the airlines back then were far smaller, with less comprehensive route networks. Want to fly to Europe on a U.S. carrier? Your choice was Pan Am or TWA. Want to fly from Albany to Albuquerque? You'd probably need to change planes and airlines at least two or three times"


Please don't lecture us on the way it was...as a youngster you were not there, and don't remember. For those of us here on the board, we are well aware of how pre-deregultion avaiation was, we don't need the lecture.

"Well, because for most sane people, the point of getting on an airplane is safe, speedy transportation between two distant locations, not some nebulous "travel experience." If I want to get dressed up for fine wine and a good meal, I will go to a restaurant that can provide better than most airline caterers and galley ovens ever could."


I consider myself quite sane, thank you.

Compare New York Air, the Airline that works for your Business
 
sw733
Posts: 5306
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 6:19 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:29 am

"Because all other airlines are horrible, and people who choose them over WN deserve a horrible flight"...no, no, no, I am not gonna be that guy. I HATE that guy!  Wink/being sarcastic. Basically, the reason I fly southwest (and I am about to leave for MCI to do so in about 20 minutes), is that they fly where I need them to go, they are very flexible (my dad changes flights at the flip of a coin and doesn't get hit with the penalties he would by UA, AA, etc.), they offer good fares, on time service, nice flight attendants, clean planes, and as for a positive of the open seating format, two of my friends and I realized we are on the same flight to MCI tonight, and we can all sit together, which we probably couldn't if we were on any airline with assigned seating...that is to say, there is a greater chance of sitting together then if we were flying UA, AA, or the likes. That is why I love WN, and always fly WN unless there is absolutely no way around it (i.e....Europe! Wink/being sarcastic ). I know many other people who agree with me as to why that is the reason they choose WN. However, I know many people love other airlines and are very very loyal to other airlines like I am to WN, and thus, the arguments occur on a bi-weekly basis. I love a.net  Wink/being sarcastic
 
goingboeing
Posts: 4727
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 1:58 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:30 am

Southwest and WalMart are worlds apart. Particularly when it comes to employees. Southwest pays a "living wage" to start, and it goes up from there, in several cases, employees at Southwest earn MORE than their counterparts at other airlines. Don't know where the "dragging down" the other airlines comes from. Southwest has pretty decent health coverage...Walmart makes employees wait 2 years for health coverage, and even then, the employee pays 80% of the premium.

Southwest offers transportation. If I want a fine meal, I'll go to a restaurant. If I wan't to watch TV, I'll head to the sofa in the den and tune in. If I want a movie, I'll go to the multiplex cinema. When I want to go from Kansas City to LA or Chicago or Orlando or Albuqurque, I'll go to Southwest. Entertainment for me has always been either a book or a tape player. I don't want to watch TV when I fly. If it were sitting in the seatback in front of me, it would be turned off. And I personally don't find it very comforting to have every seat loaded up with electrical wiring that holds the possiblity of causing a fire. But hey....it that happened, at least some of the folks might get to hear about their predicament on CNN's breaking news.
 
jfrworld
Posts: 367
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:21 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:18 am

WN did one thing and continue to do one thing - change the status quo of the airline industry. They have always been the maverick and after 30 years have not only survived, but have succeeded in their original mission. They have not changed their business model much since their inception, either.

People hate them for that reason and that reason along. I will say that aside from frequente flier perks and class upgrades, there is no real diffference between legacy carrier coach class and that of a LCC - period. AA, UA, DL, etc. coach is no different from WN. Maybe that is why so many people despise WN. WN forced the industry to adapt and adapt it is trying to do.
 
USairways16BWI
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 4:58 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:31 am

its always something. its just like talking about NW's DC-9's, when US is gonna fold, and AvB wars. its just fun to talk about.  Big thumbs up
 
OPNLguy
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:31 am

>>>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.

Actually, the -300s (and -500s) are more similar to the -700s (and possible -800s) than they are the -200s (which will all be gone in January 2005).

If anything, the efficiencies of a common fleet will be getting -better-  Big grin
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
planemaker
Posts: 5411
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:32 am

SWA democratizing air travel??? Gee, I prefer the days before the Model T when all the riff-raff didn't even have any cars...  Big grin

The so called "Golden Age" of flying isn't over... it still exists but you "actually" have to pay for it (unless you use upgrade vouchers or FF points) -- it is called First Class (especially on international flights.) Furthermore, today's international Biz Class is much better than the "Golden Age" First Class yet the fares are cheaper than the "Golden Age" economy fares!
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. - A. Einstein
 
moman
Posts: 708
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:44 am

GoeingBoeing:

Wal-Mart and Southwest are similar ONLY in that they are both sucessful and quite controversial, and like it or not, they have both changed the industries they are in. (my earlier point)

I agree with you on the dress codes. I don't want to feel obligated or required to dress up in a suit to get on a plane. I wear nice, clean jeans and a nice polo shirt when I fly. If that is not "high class" enough for other people, well that is their problem isn't it? No one likes to be around a slob, but that doesn't mean everyone has to be in top dress.

Moman
AA Platinum Member - American Airlines Forever
 
N1120A
Posts: 26468
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:47 am

Flymetothemoon said:

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.

The 73G and the 733 have a great deal of commonality. They have a common flight deck, systems, and the engines are from the same family. The main difference is the wing and the glass cockpit on the 73G. WN has the EFIS screens on the 73G programmed to mimic the 733's look and all their pilots have a rating that covers the 733/5/G, with DAL based ones also having familiarity training on the 732.

As far as why people bash WN, it is because they like other airlines and cannot get over the fact that there are other airlines in the world and they are successful. I have begun to liken A.net to football (any kind). People chear for their team (UA,US,AA,DL, etc.) and when their team is not winning, they bash the others. WN is a good airline, safe, with good service when it counts (friendly, helpful). Lets also not forget that they are not like FR or Easyjet in Europe and do give as many free soft drinks as you want and snacks (on longer flights, lots of them). As far as selling a second seat to large people on full flights, all airlines do it, it is just WN that has gotten heat because people think that their low fare nature means they are the only ones who do it. Also, they have a great deal of full flights, so the situation may happen more often.

Finally, never, ever compare them to Wal-Mart. They have grown to this level by increasing competition, taking care of their employees and not exploiting anyone. In fact, they have never laid off a single employee. They have taken on employees from airlines gone bust and that have laid people off. WN is about taking care of people, not stepping on them to make the short term buck
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
moman
Posts: 708
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:04 am

N1120a,

"Finally, never, ever compare them to Wal-Mart. They have grown to this level by increasing competition, taking care of their employees and not exploiting anyone. In fact, they have never laid off a single employee. They have taken on employees from airlines gone bust and that have laid people off. WN is about taking care of people, not stepping on them to make the short term buck"

If that's the way you feel, then what about the people from TWA, US, and all the other airlines that have LAID PEOPLE OFF because of competition from WN? Don't you think WN could have helped other airlines go bust? Granted, all these airlines had other problems, but the point stands.

Moman
AA Platinum Member - American Airlines Forever
 
737doctor
Posts: 1291
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 4:52 pm

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:13 am

Moman, that is an incredibly weak argument. Capitalism is about survival of the fittest. And although Southwest increased competition, they are not to be blamed for the other airlines' poor business models and/or mismanagement.

And I'd get into this more (and still might) but I have to go help keep WN's fleet flying right now.

737doc
Patrick Bateman is my hero.
 
Byrdluvs747
Posts: 2377
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:25 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:19 am

I posted this in FlyerTalk a while back concerning a flight I took last year. It sums up my feellings about WN.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=314437

----------------------------------------
TWO, I took your advise a while back and tried WN just after HP changed their elite bonuses. The flight was a PHX-LAS evening flight around 8pm, I believe.

I still find that I don't like flying WN, and I will try to convey why I don't.

Before I go on, I think I should explain why I am the way I am. You could say I come from the "Old School" of flying. My grandmother who was a long time TWA res agent took me overseas(often in F) quite frequently as a young boy. I remember how the FA's were extra nice to me, how people dressed properly, and how she would strike up conversations with people while I watched the planes go by. As you can imagine, that left an impression.

Fast forward 29 years.

The bad feelings I had before about WN came rushing back as soon as I stood in line for 25 minutes all the while looking over at the very short HP F/elite line that I would normally be in.

The gate area was no picnic either as everyone was talking loudly. Why? This is where I began to miss access to a lounge.

Then came the infamous cattle call and with it the usual people displaying their lack of tact by trying to cut in line.  Angry

As I made my way onboard, I was really shocked to find a very dirty plane. I know WN likes to turn planes around quickly, but this was absolutely inexcusable.

Personally, this was the dirtiest plane I've ever been on. I have yet to see an AA, AS, HP, or UA plane in the same condition. The plane was littered with crumbs, candy mushed into the carpet, cups. To top it all off, my seat was broken.

Of course being a Vegas bound flight, you can forget about it being quiet. The loudmouth who decided he had to entertain the whole plane with his opinions on everything just had to sit behind me.  Insane

I sat there debating whether it would be worth me building credits with WN. I came to the conclusion that WN doesn't fit me as a traveller. For me it's more that getting from point A to B. I savour everything in between. The F checkin, lounges, assigned seats, upgrades, and spotting all contribute to the kind of flying experience I've come to appreciate.

I know some will say "WN likes to treat everyone the same". So why would I invest in a program that treats me the same as someone who flies once a year?

Rapid Rewards, which fails to present any value to me, is the nail in the coffin. The credits can't get me out of the country, or to any place I haven't been to already. So that means any flying on WN would be a waste of my time and a loss of mileage earning towards intl travel. FlightFund can at least get me to many places on BA,VS, NW, and HA.

The fact that WN is profitable isnt enough to lure me onto their planes. The whole "WN experience" runs counter to the way I like to travel.
That RT flight was five months ago, and I haven't flown WN since. Truthfully, I can't see myself on a WN flight.
------------------------------------------------------------------



If I want a fine meal, I'll go to a restaurant. If I wan't to watch TV, I'll head to the sofa in the den and tune in. If I want a movie, I'll go to the multiplex cinema.


 Insane

We're not talking about restaurants, your den, or cinemas. We're talking about being stuck in a confining tube, and in close proximity to strangers for up to five hours.
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
planemaker
Posts: 5411
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:23 am

What is it with people going on about "dressing up" for flights?? Where have you all been?

ALL of society is a lot more casual now... not just aviation - so don't blame SWA, their paxs are no better and no worse than any other domestic airline's! Take a look at some of the people that go to church on Sundays... if what they are wearing is their Sunday best (jeans, shorts, sandals, t-shirts, polo shorts, ad nauseum...) then I'd hate to see their Sunday worst!!  Smile You are entitled not to like it but you can't do anything about it... it is all around you. And until the "fashionistas" decide that "formal" is back in vogue, you'll just have to suffer.

If you look at some of the older pictures from the first half of the 20th century, every male wore a hat... some pics even had construction workers wearing bowlers while they worked!!!  Big grin Times and fashion change, but certainly not because of SWA... Richard Branson never wears a tie and invariably wears jeans, yet has one of "coolest" and "swankiest" airlines around.
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. - A. Einstein
 
moman
Posts: 708
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2004 7:17 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:37 am

737doctor:

"Capitalism is about survival of the fittest. And although Southwest increased competition, they are not to be blamed for the other airlines' poor business models and/or mismanagement"

I could not agree with you more.

Moman


AA Platinum Member - American Airlines Forever
 
N1120A
Posts: 26468
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:48 am

I could care less about this survival of the fittest talk. As far as WN goes, they have actually said it is not their goal to drive other airlines off, it is to get more people flying with everyone. Create more demand for people to fly more often and everyone will do well if they run their airline well. TW (well, more AA), US, UA and all the other airlines that have laid off staff have done so not because of WN, but their own inept management.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
BWOOD
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:20 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:56 am

WN in my mind is genius. They have been taking all of the space and gates left by the big bankrupt airlines. For example in St. Louis they have started to expand since TWA and now AA have left. WN practically runs the airport now as far as number of flights and different destinations they fly to. Maybe they are so controversial due to the fact that while the other airlines are falling apart WN is thriving.
 
ScottB
Posts: 5450
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 1:25 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:57 am

Dtwclipper said,

"Please don't lecture us on the way it was...as a youngster you were not there, and don't remember. For those of us here on the board, we are well aware of how pre-deregultion [sic] avaiation [sic] was, we don't need the lecture."

On the contrary, I remember quite well. My parents fortunately were well-off enough to travel by air (and take me with them) in the days before 1978. And frankly, Economy Class wasn't all that great back then, either. Airline food was fodder for jokes, service was unreliable and often infrequent, and airline route networks were poor. One particular meal on United was so abhorrent that it became the butt of family jokes for years. If your flight cancelled, you might be waiting all day for the next one. The "good old days" really weren't so great. Flying in a metal tube for five hours was even more boring since IFE was rare and we didn't have the option of laptops, portable DVD players, iPods, widespread IFE (and those projection movies on widebodies seem so primitive today), etc. for entertainment. Reading or conversation was about it.

Oh, and you seem to be unaware that having class does not equate to being a snob.
 
goingboeing
Posts: 4727
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 1:58 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:57 am

If that's the way you feel, then what about the people from TWA, US, and all the other airlines that have LAID PEOPLE OFF because of competition from WN? Don't you think WN could have helped other airlines go bust? Granted, all these airlines had other problems, but the point stands.

I guess I would say that Southwest didn't encourage a leveraged buyout of TWA, which ultimately killed them. And I don't believe that Southwest encouraged US to merge with everybody and their dog, and in some cases (PSA) buying them and then bacially shutting the entire operation down. I don't think that Southwest encouraged Braniff International to take on the largest overnight expansion EVER when deregulation started. I doubt that Southwest encouraged AA to "buyout" TWA rather than letting TWA fold and avoiding the problems that came with integrating a workforce and then trying to deal with the blow that 9/11 dealt them. Airlines have laid off throughout history, even before Southwest existed.

The only thing Southwest did was provide competition. The other airlines could have set about differentiating themselves from Southwest, but instead, they chose to try to "be all things to all people"...discount carrier, first class service, international, big airline, regional airline, "partner" airline...all in the name of capturing "market share", which means nothing if your bleeding cash to keep that market share.
 
kgin11
Posts: 57
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 11:05 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:04 am

I'm not an economist or a particularly knowledgable person when it comes to the finer points of business models in general, however I have to interject a point about WN offering service in markets where there is a population large enough to support multiple carriers operating. For example, I have little choice, price-wise and schedule-wise, to fly anybody but WN from the San Francisco Bay Area to ONT (Southern California). In the olden days, I used to fly UA (mainline and then Shuttle) from SFO to ONT but nowadays, the only service from the Bay Area to ONT is WN SJC-ONT, OAK-ONT, and SMF-ONT. If I were to continue paying money to UA, I'd have to take a UA mainline flight SFO or OAK to LAX and then transfer to United Express (Skywest) at LAX, hop on an EMB-120, usually after waiting 1-3 hours, for the 20 minute flight to ONT all while costing me no less than $300 while I can fly WN OAK-ONT for as little as $29 each way for a 1 hr 10 minute flight gate to gate. By the way, no other carrier, legacy or LCC, flies non-stop to ONT from the San Francisco Bay Area (in particular SFO or OAK). The SoCal-NoCal corridor is a very busy travel sector and would support a number of carriers flying to a number of SoCal airports (including JetBlue OAK-LGB), so I'm just throwing this one into the ring.

By the way, I'm a rapid rewards member but I've never flown enough to get the free ticket and I'm a United Mileage Plus member and I've flown / accrued enough to fly my wife and me from SFO to Bucharest Romania in C-class (look up my trip reports under Kgin11). The LCC vs. legacy question is partly a matter of what you need.

To finish this long, rambling post, United's never sent me a birthday card but I seem to get one each year from WN!!!
Kelley Gin
 
jfrworld
Posts: 367
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:21 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:41 am

"WN has no First nor Business, no international service, and as far as I know no airport lounges. Why bother?"

"The F checkin, lounges, assigned seats, upgrades, and spotting all contribute to the kind of flying experience I've come to appreciate."


People keep harping on the fact hat WN does not offer business/first class, upgrades, lounges, special check in, FF perks. 95% of the flying public never flies business or first class, sees the inside of airport lounges, nor can take advantage of FF premier status. In reality, the above perks really don't matter. Unless you have tons of money or a corporation to pay for your travel, there is no benefit to the above perks. To the general public the biggest decision point in flying is the price of the ticket. This is what WN has capitalized on. Flying is a comodity, so choose the least expensive carrier. Most often that is WN and that is where WN prevails

By the way, I was on a UA 747 from SFO to DEN (about 2.5 hours) and we didn't even get peanuts! Who says the legacy carriers have superior service. In coach, they are all the same - another comodity. At least WN gives you all of the peanuts you want  Smile
 
goingboeing
Posts: 4727
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 1:58 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:42 am

By the way, I'm a rapid rewards member but I've never flown enough to get the free ticket

My 12 year old got two trips in two years.
 
goingboeing
Posts: 4727
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 1:58 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:46 am

We're not talking about restaurants, your den, or cinemas. We're talking about being stuck in a confining tube, and in close proximity to strangers for up to five hours.

Oh...but we are...in those fond days when your grandma booked you a flight, most travellers were quite used to reading a book for inflight entertainment, and airline food was the butt of comedians jokes. To read many of the complaints about SWA, you see "lack of IFE" or "no meal service". That's why I say that when I want to eat, I go to a restaurant and don't dash out to the airport and book a flight to get the meal. Nor do I book a flight because it's got a mind rot box hung in the seatback in front of me. Try a 5 hour flight with a good book. It's just like the "good old days".
 
UA772IAD
Posts: 1269
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 7:43 am

RE: Why Is WN So Controversial?

Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:38 am

I think WN is so contriversial because it isn't your typical airline (which is awsome). I mean how many other airlines (in the US) have flight crews wearing T shirts or polo shirts (and those God awful, short short bermuda khaki shorts as their uniform? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the excecutives of WN go to work in the same clothes (Colleen Barrett, WN CEO is shown on southwest.com wearing a denim overall/dress/jumper thingy). Southwest is known for their cheapness, (and sometimes cornyness) its what makes them unique-- cattle car boarding style, whitty flight attendants, and drunken or confused foreing passengers (as seen on Airline), and its also a wonder that their cheap, bare minimum operations ACTUALLY WORKS! (They save money by flying to cheaper airports close to big cities... Manchester for Boston, BWI for DC) The fact that such simplicity works in a chaotic industry is amazing!