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New Southwest CEO on bag fees, change fees, assigned seats: 'It's not like we are changing the DNA of the company'

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly has been asked countless times over the past decade whether the airline might join its competitors in charging for checked bags. His answers have ranged from never say never to, in recent years, an emphatic defense of its bags-fly-free policy in the face of billions in revenue rivals collect from checked-bag fees. At least a few times, he went so far as to say bags will remain free as long as he's CEO. ( More...

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Scott Sherman 24
Southwest will always get my business first because 1) no bag fees, 2) no change fees, 3) open seating, 4) competitive fare pricing. In addition, I have on-time experiences and shorter delays when there are issues. I love SWA!
Donald Poorman 23
If it ain't broken, don't try to fix it!! Good on ya Southwest!
clarify 1
There are too many examples of a winning product/service strategy that doesn't follow the market and ends up dying or a fraction of once they once were -- Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders, Sears, Kmart, etc. I hope Southwest never rests on its laurels and is always questioning their profit model, even during good times.
Randy Marco 1
Kmart & Sears ONLY died because Eddie Lampert INTENTIONALLY put them in bankruptcy so he could sell off the pieces.... just another repugnant DESTROYING America.

Meanwhile the retards watch faux news and believe the Alternative "Facts"... sad, really sad!!
Yes, he very intentionally bled Sears dry. Sears was all set for the coming decades, in that they actually OWNED the vast majority of their store property. So Mr Wall Street Parasite created a 'holding company' and 'sold' all of Sears property to that company, and then spun that holding company off.

What did that do?

For the first time in DECADES, Sears had to pay rent for the property they already owned. And rent, in many cases, above market rates. That holding company made Mr Wall Street Parasite and his parasite friends billions of dollars over the years.

Mr Wall Street Parasite also divided Sears into 'turfs' and had all those groups competing against each other, and at each others throats. He also cut to near 0 the money spent in maintenance and upkeep of their stores. Then he bought K-Mart. The local K-Mart here had the roof collapse, seriously, and instead of repairing it, they built walls around the damage!

Yeah, the Wall Street sect are pissing on every working American, and they think it's just rain, and vociferously support them, and the ultra-rich as if they have a seat at the table.

HAH! They don't even have a place UNDER the table! It's damned embarrassing to see Fox News, OANN, and all the usual right wing networks playing their viewers for suckers. Tucker Carlson is a multimillionaire who gets paid high 6 figures to keep his mouth breathing viewers uninformed at how bad they really have it, and how much worse it's going to get if they aren't stopped.
Lois Lettini 0
I am reaching the point whereby Socialism (with ALL of its faults) is becoming more and more attractive AND Capitalism less and less. We have become a very selfish nation whereby this is the norm and glorified.
Southwest continues to be my favorite airline.
Free bags.
Open seating.
I've flown on other airlines recently, and they just aren't as good as Southwest.
One of my favorite SWA memories is boarding a flight that arrived late. The cabin was still being turned around by the crew as we came down the aisle. And there was the captain with a garbage bag, helping his cabin crew clean up the seats and gain back a few minutes of late time.
Call me crazy, but I'd like to believe that I fly with an airline that can pay people to do the jobs a pilot shouldn't have to do. I'd rather have the pilot studying the weather, and doing inspections of the plane, and making sure the plane is able to get there, than have a pilot picking up trash. I mean, yeah, call me crazy. There are better uses of a pilot's 'spare time'...

And over their history, SWA has been fined numerous times for violations of rules and regulations. Flying planes unfit for passenger service, WITH PASSENGERS! Flying planes with items on the 'must be in operation' list, NOOP... Deferring maintenance on their older planes. They have been lucky, very lucky...

Maintenance is one of the first things that crappy airlines scrimp on because how many planes crash in a year, but eventually their luck will run out. It always does. What bothers me is how many other carriers are doing the same thing, although probably on a smaller scale. Yikes... A friend of mine flew both SWA, and Spirit. He swore 'Never again! Never, even on a dare!'.

But people flock to Walmart, and Walmart funds people that sent their jobs, and our future, to China. Sheep led to slaughter, chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.
chugheset 8
@Robert Cowling; OK, you're crazy and I think you are completely wrong about your impression of the Captain picking up trash. Among other things it shows humility (something that is in short supply these days) as well as a genuine caring attitude towards the company and the passengers. Scheduled airline flight plans are automated and my guess is he was already very familiar with it. Also, historically it's the co-pilot that does the pre-flight inspection. That Captain would have been completely within his rights to be sitting in the cockpit checking his texts. Buy he chose to help out in order to leave on time. Also, SouthWest is consistently at the top of the national safety ratings, which is especially remarkable given the number of daily flights.
Good grief. There are two ways to think of this. One, the carrier has employees that care, or Two, the carrier doesn't want to pay for employees that can do that task and will pimp out their pilots to do the job because 'what else do they have to do'.

Humility? "a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness: he needs the humility to accept that their way may be better."

So, you would want pilots to be serving drinks and snacks? Where does it end? Would you feel safer if the pilots ran the check-in process too? They have nothing else better to do, right, and it shows 'humility'. How would you feel if you were going in for surgery, and saw your surgeon cleaning the OR? What else do they have to do, right? Yeah, cheap isn't always the answer. Sometimes cheap is just cheap...
skylab72 1
There are almost never only two ways to look at anything. Minds are like parachutes they serve their intended purpose only when they are open.
John Manley 9
Mike Mohle 16
So, a news story essentially about "nothing". Like a Seinfeld episode....
It is kind of a 'Dog bites man' story. It's probably only a matter of time before they add fees, but who knows...

And Seinfeld was WAY WORSE than that article. Like WAY WAY WAY worse...😆
skylab72 3
Oh wow, are you trolling for flames? I know some enthusiastic Seinfeld fans.
Hah, so do I. They won't see that though. I realized I was pretty rough on Seinfeld. The Newhart Show was worse. Episodes of Friends were worse. Seinfeld just washed over you like wind. I could watch it, or not. Kramer was hysterical.
More than competitive pricing…it’s called not nickel and dimming you to death.

Can other airlines learn the word SERVICE? AND… another idea…the customer comes first!
Jim Allen 4
What a click-bait article. Could there be changes? They’re investigating them. Southwest’s model has worked for them.
But their past could be the noose that kills them in the future. They have bought a lot of new planes. That takes money, obviously, and they have a problem in that they *used* to be the cheapest show in town. They aren't in many routes, so how long will their base traveler stick with them when more carriers undercut their prices. That's a bad time to be on the hook for new planes. They will have to raise money some how. Will they go the industry standard and do more fees and fines, or raise their ticket prices, or will they drop routes and try something else to woo, and retain, their base travelers.
Other Airlines who undercut them like Frontier have tons of extra charges that then supersede Southwest w
Robert Cowling -1
They could try to use smaller planes too, but they are pretty much surgically joined to the 737. They may find themselves backed into a corner here...
Which shows you don't understand the business model.

Airlines killed themselves flying multiple models of planes. You had to have spares for those planes at your hubs, or you'd lose production. You had to train all your mechanics to work on all the planes, or you'd have to have specialists.

This is new Airline 101 - Fly largely the same fleet. It reduces:
1. Spares (less expense)
2. Pilot training (same plane)
3. Simulators (same plane)
4. Maintenance training (same plane)
5. Crew training (same plane)

It's why Southwest is growing and gaining passengers when other airlines are doing the opposite.

And personally, I'd rather fly on ANY Boeing product than one of those rattle trap Airbus planes. They sound like they are falling apart when they land.
HP Baumeister 3
Which shows you don’t know what you are talking about (Airbus- what a hair- brained comment)
Bill Hill -1
Oh, you mean the Scarebus?
HAH, aren't you witty...

My first trip on an Airbus plane, I was filled with fear and regret. Fear of crashing, and regret for not knowing it was an Airbus plane.

But the seats were comfortable, the windows were bigger, the aisles were wider, the leg room was slightly larger, the tray tables were larger, and the loo/restroom was larger, and better.

The flight seemed smoother, and it was an all around great experience. The food was good too.

So, are Airbus planes 'bad'? No. It's up to the airline and their pilots and maintenance crews that can make or break a plane. Airbus makes great planes.
Robert Cowling -1
Not all parts are interchangeable. I was surprised Southwest bought more 737's. Given its recent history, all it's going to take is a new crash, and an investigation pointing at the lack of engineering, and they are going to be practically put out of business.

Delta has so many different planes from different manufacturers, and they are handling it pretty well... If anything, they can be more reactive to load factors, and adjust planes for the routes. I've been on a couple flights on Delta where the plane used isn't what was on the schedule.
A plane "type" is a plane "type" - that means the same mechanics can work on it, the same pilots fly it. The same simulator used (with updates) to train in.

If you think the 737 Max crashes were caused by engineering, you'd be wrong. It was caused by inadequate foreign air carrier pilot training - period.

Fact: Two US air crews had this same malfunction, with:
1. No crash
2. No loss of life
3. No problem
Why? Because they had the right training on their aircraft, and reached down to the lower right side of the throttle pedestal and pulled the circuit breakers for the system.

No problem. No drama. No loss of life. They filed the report as required for an in-flight non-event.

Could the system have been better? Yes.

With that said, were the foreign air carrier deaths avoidable? YES. Completely.

As to your assertions that Delta is doing pretty well, I think the stock PE ratios (5 year average) indicate they aren't doing as well as Southwest.

Delta average PE ratio: 9.24
Southwest average PE ratio: 16.89

Which stock would you buy?
David Phipps 2
I can see using SWA if I wasn't a Gold Alaska Member. I get two free bags and always get a nice seat toward the front of the plane. Maybe it's just me but I prefer to know where I'm sitting. I hear frustrations with SWA on canceled flights from coworkers and my past experience with them was not the best. SWA definitely fills a great need, it's just not for me.
wn has changed its policies and procedures and added new planes and routes,all the while trying to compete with the "big guys" and maintain its "folksy" beginnings from the 1970's...their f/a group still make cutesy boarding announcements and ad libs,they do not have a first class cabin, and you can still keep carry on bags..i doubt the "new" ceo will want to vary much unless he has to..their reputation proceeds them from the days when their founder used to sling bags,help the f/a' s and also the agents...long ago and far away!!
Frosty1025 3
I do not fly as often as I did, but when I do I only fly Southwest due to the bag fly free and the other simple ways of not charging fees for anything like other airlines. True they do not fly to as many places as other airlines or commuters, but if I am willing and have the time to drive cross country, I would not mind driving from a close in airport to my destination if Southwest is within range. Now if they come with the silly vaxx passports, that would be a deal breaker.
They pulled a coup when they were able to game fuel costs for their tremendous advantage. They were paying a fraction of the fuel costs other carriers were paying for MONTHS. At the time, industry analysts were questioning their sanity, but after the costs skyrocketed, who was looking the fool then?

But with their purchase spree on new planes, they will need more cash to pay for that bender. I'm sure that fees will go up, and probably even their fares too, which is a potentially bad time now that there are at least two new low-budget carriers that just started this year. It could provide some resistance to the increase, as some choose those two, and other carriers. Time will tell...
Doug Strahm 2
Typical of the press, you only have half the story. Yes, Southwest made out very well on their fuel hedges during the oil price boom. However they took a beating when the spot prices fell to under $50 and they were still paying $70+. Hedging isn’t used to win the lotto, it’s used to smooth out market volatility and that’s what it did for Southwest. Net they may have come out about $200M ahead in the end - a pittance compared to their annual fuel spend. The other airlines weren’t hedged and just about lost everything.
Randy Marco 1
Clueless Robert.... doesn't even understand contract fuel prices and not much else either!
Doug Strahm 2
I thought you were being a bit hard on Robert, but then I read some of his other posts/comments! Carry on!
Clueless Randy. Didn't I give them credit for outsmarting the system? Are you bring a knife to a gunfight?
neltel 1
SWA is my go to airline. Used to be Jet Blue until the Long Beach fiasco. Re: Baggage, I fly for work and travel with specialty tools. My bags fly UPS in many cases cheaper and they usually get to the job before me.
sarahe3125 1
SWA is *always* my first choice for an airline. This will help keep them there!
Tom21171 1
Just build the cost into the ticket.Airlines fly to make a profit so they can continue to stay in business.IT IS SAD THAT THERE PEOPLE WHO WILL COMPLAIN EVEN IF THE TICKET WAS FREE.TOM HEARD
We haven't ever paid to check a bag domestically in North America and our International flights have always had a "one bag free" policy which, with the free carry on, works for us.
Qatar123 1
see what that does
joe danser 1
don't be fooled by bags fly free. its hidden in the higher fare you pay. check around with other airlines and you will see its true..
I have a Delta credit card. I don't pay for up to three bags. All the bleating about how great Southwest is because they don't charge baggage fees is meaningless to me. I have also gotten several upgrades to first class. I don't get there any quicker, but I get to skip a lot of the TSA floor show.

And I can hope that eventually I'll get to first class full time on my own. Oh, SWA doesn't have a first class? Oh well. Everyone is wallowing in the same corral. Who needs a reason to rise to be better when you are fighting for a seat. Sounds kinda depressing... And you don't get any 'entertainment'. Steerage on the Titanic...

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Dale Rowett 3
Hmm ... Who knew the Qberts were interested in aviation? I learn something every day.
ksmith610 -3
Trumpanzees are like. Cockroaches it would seem.
ksmith610 -1
Misplaced period, no editing. Poor code.
Flying monkeys. They do what they are told. Shoot, then aim...
Yeah, because ignoring science and exposing your customers to diseases is so profitable.

The new 'Delta variant' is infecting people that have been vaccinated. It's only a matter of time before the next variant is even worse, so lets ALL wallow in the disease because a piece of fabric over our noses and mouths is so much worse than being happy and healthy.

Any politician that says wearing a mask is a bad idea wants you to die. Fox News wants to push the bullshit, and doesn't care about anything but ratings, and apparently acting like a malignant psychopath gets ratings. Their latest thing is cheerleading to defund the military. I didn't realize that patriotism was all about killing the country.
Jim Allen 1
Can we please skip the politics? This is an aviation forum. What does wearing masks and political commentary have to do with Southwest’s operating model? If the government says wear a mask and the airline requires it, wear a mask or don’t fly that airline. End of story.
Okay, explain to me how this works:
A Level 4 HazMat lab can't control this
A home made mask will.
Philip Lanum 3
First off - Hazmat levels are A-D and in their definition they have nothing to do with biological levels. Hazmat tends to be chemical not biological.

Biological labs are 1-4 with a few level 4 labs. Here educate yourself.,cabinets%2C%20po%20...%20%201%20more%20rows%20

Now, show us your citation for SARS-COVID-19 (the virus name - Covid-19 is the disease you get from SARS-COVID-19) can not be worked on in a Level 4 lab. So all the work from the vaccine manufactures, the CDC and other researchers was carried out in ..... your neighbors garage?
clarify 4
Oh, that's easy to explain. You're using s standard strawman argument. Masks reduce the chances of transmitting the virus between people. And the evidence of that is overwhelming. That's not the same as "control".

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Philip Lanum 4
That study was based on false assumptions.,involving%20face%20masks%20and%20COVID-19%20to%20report%20results.
clarify 1
Thank you, Philip.

Unfortunately there's a sad contingent that will only hear and accept what the want to believe. It's sadly pathetic and has needlessly cost lives. But they're constitutionally weak and fragile people.
HP Baumeister 4
I have no idea what all this hearsay garbage has to do with aviation - I guess ignorance thrives in any circles
Randy Marco 1
It CERTAINLY thrives on this forum!
clarify 5
The evidence that masks work in significantly reducing the risk of transmission is now overwhelming coming from multiple sources. [source:]

But you'll keep clutching the "Danish Study" until the end because it told you what you want to hear.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

John D 4
State your sources
HP Baumeister 3
Ignorance cubed!
Mike Mohle 0
They will blame Trump of course!
ksmith610 0
What a completely brain-dead trumpanzee.


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