If WN wants to attract business passengers, it needs to also consider scheduling. Business travellers do not like to travel in the middle of the day, or the middle of the night. We like frequency, and we like choice. One thing WN might do is offer free same-day flexibility on business tickets. U2 do that here in Europe, and I have used it often. Meeting finished early? Great, change my flight and get me home sooner. It's a great convenience and it is something U2 have over BA, which is typically very inflexible unless you whip out your credit card and pay huge fees.
Agreed, realistically business travelers don't have time to be waiting around for T-24 to ensure they aren't stuck in a middle in row 30. I'm sure some have assistants who could do it for them, but again that's just adding in another layer of hassle to the journey. If I'm traveling for work on any of the US3 I can just check-in during the car ride to the airport.
For example, I got a new flight 2 hours before its expected departure this week on a US3, and I was able to, no hassle, get an assigned seat in First Class and be the first one onboard the plane. On multiple levels you would never be able to do that with WN.
Power outlets, first class, assigned seating, lounges, full meals, international network, codeshares/alliances, it's an easy choice for me.
Agree on this. Living in a larger WN station almost everyone I know who flies for business flies a lot of WN. Nonstops matter and their companies aren’t going to pay business class seats on legacies anyway if they choose them. My wife’s company will pay for early bird seating if they aren’t already a-list. Mine won’t pay for anything extra except bag fees if you fly non southwest.
I will say once you get to markets where WN maybe isn’t as strong I can see business travelers wanting legacies because eventually they can get upgrades if they fly enough even if the company won’t pay for anything extra.
MGMT consulting and larger investment banks pay for First normally if it is upwards of 90 minutes-2 hours, which is what my company does.
Then again WN isn't really big in any of the locations where that sort of travel is happening at scale. Only place would be Chicago, but AA & UA have a hold of a big chunk of the corporate travel budgets in Chicago.
They also can't operate routes at the same frequency the US3 can, so even in Chicago they only are flying major routes like Chicago-NYC at half or a 1/3rd of the frequency of AA/DL/UA.
About half of my intra-north America business travel is on WN, almost exclusively for schedule/frequency reasons, and several of the criticisms in this thread strike me as misguided.
Starting with frequency: why would anyone expect WN to match AA, UA, and DL in frequency in a market like CHI-NYC that is hub-hub for all of them but not WN? Look at CHI-HOU and the picture is much different.
My experience with close-in (2-4 hours before departure) bookings is that WN is much more consistent because status all but guarantees an aisle or window in the front half of the aircraft. Too often on legacies it’s a middle or a seat in the back because that’s all they have.
Passengers on full-fare tickets and/or with status gain nothing from checking in at T-24.
And while I have had lounge access on and off over the years for me it adds next to no value on the stage lengths WN flies. If I’m in the airport and not trying actively to get an earlier flight, I’m almost inevitably eating a meal or on a call/Zoom. Twenty years ago lounges were great for both of those activities but now, honestly, they aren’t suitable for either because of service reductions and crowds. It’s different for long haul but that’s not the sandbox WN plays in.
Glad WN's schedule works for you and I'm sure many others, for me and many others it does not work, but again that's fine, WN does not need to be everything to everyone:
1. CHI-NYC is not a hub-hub market for DL, and 2. I bring up CHI-NYC because this thread is about WN attracting business travelers and pre-covid CHI-NYC was the 4th largest O&D market in the US and obviously one of the most important business routes in the country let alone from Chicago.
The most important aspect to attracting business travelers is schedule (frequency), not just for the business travelers buying the tickets, but for the corporations who employ these individuals and negotiate the rates and corporate contracts with the airline. The top 5 markets from Chicago are NYC, LA, DC, BOS, and SF, of which WN is behind AA/UA in each (some more than others).
Btw, Chicago-Houston is hardly even a top 15 market from Chicago.
My company does not buy full-fare WN tickets, not that many people are flying with WN anyway, but I would assume most companies don't allow it unless it is the only option.
Crowds in the airport are much worse than crowds in an airport lounge, plus even if you are flying short stage lengths the lounge is a safety net for IRROPS.
For better or for worse you have to admit that one thing WN does admirably is know their demographic. I can't see them sinking dollars into trying to pry people away from global network carriers.
Except that's exactly what they are doing, they've spent significant sums of money to tie into the GDS system, and have explicitly stated it in interviews.
If WN wants to attract business passengers, it needs to also consider scheduling. Business travellers do not like to travel in the middle of the day, or the middle of the night. We like frequency, and we like choice.
This....JetBlue also has a problem with this. I was looking at some of their flights to some large cities from JFK and their times are absolutely abysmal. 1x daily ORD-JFK and it leaves at 10 pm. Yet AA and DL both have at least 2-4x daily on those routes and if you look at LGA UA/AA/DL and SWA from MDW all have 4x day + schedules leaving at somewhat decent times. B6 is a great airline to fly when the Northeast isn't going through their summer or winter storms but their scheduling is abysmal for any business travel between cities pairs not named LAX/SFO/JFK/EWR/BOS.
Frequency & schedule, frequency & schedule....most important way to win over travelers.
I'm one of those very frequent business travelers - like 5 weeks out of 6. I could fly WN on a few routes but there are several drawbacks for me personally. Delta has a lounge and WN does not. I use them every week either when arriving to freshen and fuel up and on the return to complete some admin work. Fly into LAX quite a bit and frankly T2 is a freakin' zoo.
Assigned seats is a big deal to me and I am usually always upgraded to F so knowing where I am sitting, that I'll have space for my carry on and I get of the plane fast are thing I very much value.
Bottom line is business travelers like me like to eliminate as many negative variables as possible. Knowing where I am sitting, knowing I have a place to work when I arrive and depart, and on time performance means a ton to me since I do this almost every single week. It makes the difference between business travel that is, if not outright enjoyable, at least not a pain the ass.
I think there are two types of business travelers. The road warriors, which everyone here seems to be focused on, and the business that has a lot of employees traveling, but not all of the time.
People focus on road warriors because they are obviously the most lucrative business segment, not that the other types of travelers doesn't matter.