Why Southwest is Better Than United

Some excerpts from We have it great on Southwest Airlines at flyertalk

Change fees. None at Southwest. Just raised to $150 at United.

Ticketless Travel Funds: Southwest invented it. United rarely needs it, the change fees cause almost no remaining value. You can’t look it up on the Internet, but keep your ticket number (the long one) and you can access it on the phone with an agent.

Call Centers: Southwest – based in the USA. United – based in India.

One-way bookings. Southwest: No extra charge.

Seating: Southwest: One seat (12F) with the most legroom of any coach seat on any US (maybe worldwide) carrier. The legroom may even exceed International Business class on legacy carriers (if you have never experienced this, please do sometime!) One more seat (11E) with amazing shoulder room as there is no 11F. Three more seats (11A-B-C) with more legroom than United’s Economy Plus.

Non-stop service: Southwest: Many point-to-point non-stops. United: I hope one end or the other of your A-to-B is one of their hubs. Otherwise, you are going to be visiting one of their hubs. Add 2 hours to your travel time and hope for no weather delays at the hub that day.

United has that same super leg room seat on all their 737’s

United: Serves 210 destinations in 30 countries on five continents

Southwest: Serves 64 destinations in 1 country. Hope you live near and are going to one of the cities they serve! Live in Iowa? too bad. Going to Mexico or England? Too bad.

The comparison was for domestic flights, not international.

United’s 737’s have varying pitches in the economy cabin:

737-300: 34" or 35" for economy plus and 31" for economy
737-500: 34" for economy plus and 31" for economy

Southwest: (all) 32"-33"

Both airlines have approximately 60" pitch for the emergency exit seat on either side of the aircraft.

airlinequality.com/Product/s … ericas.htm

I didn’t see that mentioned ANYWHERE in your first post! Where does it say “domestic flights” in your post?

You can’t just change the rules in the middle of the game just because you’re losing! :stuck_out_tongue:

Didn’t think it necessary.

Most everyone knows that Southwest has only domestic airlines.

Most everyone knows that United has international routes.

Most everyone would know - or, I hope - at least know - that the comparison would be for all of Southwest and the domestic portion of United.

Seems I was wrong. :open_mouth:

PRECISELY why you need to specify the boundaries of the comparison!

It’s like Lance Armstrong challenging Earnhardt JR to a race. Everybody knows Lance rides a bike and JR drives a fast car. So when JR speeds across the finish line hours before Lance does, Lance can’t come back later and say, “I meant on bicycles!” It has to be spelled out before the race, otherwise, ANYTHING GOES!

Big surprize!

Fine, United still has way more domestic destinations than Southwest. This necessitates the hub and spoke system. You can’t fly DSM-SMF or SYR-GJT using a point-to-point network.

Saying that one is simply “better” is ridiculous.

To me, an airline is an airline. There is not hardly any difference (in economy) between any airline. But for Southwest, the defining factor is CUSTOMER TREATMENT. You feel like Southwest wants you there. I can’t say that about any other legacy.

Can I get an “AMEN” to that? Southwest treats its customers very well, the odd exhibitionist notwithstanding.

As a new member of FlightAware, I love discussions like this. As an employee of Southwest, I really love these debates because it helps me to know what people are thinking and what we can do better. :smiley:

As a new member of FlightAware, I love discussions like this. As an employee of Southwest, I really love these debates because it helps me to know what people are thinking and what we can do better.

And I am assuming you guys are actually satisfied with your job and the management. Again, I can’t say that about the legacies.

Where do you think your next hub will be?

For me, it is all about direct flights and Southwest just doesn’t have them to enough of the places I travel on business. The places they do have them, like New York, Boston or Chicago, SWA flies to out of the way airports (Long Island, Manchester, Midway). United pretty well takes me where I want to go when I want to go there. United is good about free upgrades to first class for frequent travelers. United also has Red Carpet Clubs at most major airports, so you can get work done while waiting for flights. Finally, SWA’s lack of an international route structure is a non-starter for me.

Each person’s reason for choosing an airline is personal. For me, not being a business traveler and having to pay for my flights, I like th ability to “bank” my non-refundable fare for a future flight. And, OAK airport is more convenient for me than the other airports in t he SF Bay Area.

It’s evidently good for my company, too. With the exception of one region, Southwest flies to all of the headquarter cities for each region. (The exception is Georgia.)

so subtle…

For me, it is all about direct flights and Southwest just doesn’t have them to enough of the places I travel on business.

The legacies will always beat the LCC’s on business routes. They have more frequency and have a more attractable frequent flyer program. However, if you are taking those hops like LAS-LAX, LAS-PHX, and other short routes between leisure cities, Southwest will dominate on frequency.

And since the vast majority of frequent travellers are business travellers, Southwest’s market is mom & pop going to Florida or Vegas.

I use WN on short hops where it makes sense, but won’t ever use them on a long haul. BWI-PIT is great, BWI-OAK via stops in IND, MCI, and LAS aren’t. Especially when it’s usually more expensive once you get west of the Mississippi from where I live.

WN serves a niche market - last minute biz travellers, vacationers, etc. and services it well. But it is, in fact, a niche market.

A niche market airline would be something like the airlines that fly all-business-class flights or a small airline flying to a exclusively to a resort. To call Southwest a niche market airline is beyond belief.

Among the 97 passenger carriers in the USA, Southwest is ranked
1 for passengers carried (111,310,000)
1 for depatures (1,272,000)
2 in revenue passenger miles (RPM) (78,951,000,000)
2 in available seat miles (109,006,000,000)
4 in cargo and mail (308,000,000 pounds)
2 in market share based on RPM (12.32%)

The one place it does bad is the load factor. It is ranked 36 out of the 97 carriers. This is probably more a reflection of the fact that is has reduced flight frequencies less than other carriers.

Source: transtats.bts.gov/

Southwest carriers quite a bit of business travelers - and not just last minute travelers. I have seen many business travelers using Southwest. It’s hard to believe they are all last minute travelers.

What is your definition of short and long haul? Less than 2 hours for a short haul and more than 2 hours for a long haul?

this is because the majority of travelers are leisure travelers, not business travelers.

I don’t want to get into a big, drawn out discussion here but what is your basis for this? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a breakdown of how many people fly Southwest for leisure and how many fly for business.

In any case, I don’t think you could consider Southwest a niche airline.

Edit: Found this article that says Southwest estimates 45% of its passengers are business travelers. Yes, this makes the majority leisure travelers but barely.

I am not really trying to say that Southwest is a niche carrier. However, their appeal doesn’t really stretch into the minds of many businessmen. The frequent flyer programs are better at the legacies, and allow upgrades to first class, amongst other things. The legacies will fly to business destinations. I am sorry, a businessman’s next trip isn’t usually to Las Vegas, or any of the outskirt airports Southwest uses. They will fly a legacy who will dominate in frequency on the routes business travelers want to fly on. Now that is not to say business travelers won’t use Southwest, but most are more attracted to the legacies. Now with the continued devaluing of the legacies programs, and their cutting of domestic routes, Southwest and other low cost airlines might look better in the future…but for now…