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Southwest Airlines Is Less Than Promised
By RAY HANANIA
Southwest News-Herald Friday, December 06, 2013
Flying on an airplane used to be fun. But these days, it’s changed. And it’s not just because of Sept. 11. It has more to do with greed.
Southwest Airlines is a good example. Cited 10 times by Fortune Magazine for its financial management, it knows little about how to treat customers.
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Southwest Airlines began in Texas in 1967 as Air Southwest and changed its name in 1971. It has always portrayed itself as the “little guy” in the airline business, promising the highest service and the lowest cost.
Like all of the airlines, Southwest Airlines saves money by nickel-and-diming its passengers, offering the lowest fares by treating passengers like cows. But Southwest Airlines has taken it all one step further.
They don’t assign seats when you buy your ticket. That’s too civilized for cows. Instead, you line up based on whether you pay them extra money. Some people might call that bribing the company to give you a better place in line.
You get seats in one of two ways. You are assigned a “boarding position” when you register for your flight online at least 24 hours before your flight.
Or, you can pay the airline $15 per passenger to have them assign you a “boarding position” 36 hours before the flight in boarding positions 1 through 60.
But 40 minutes before the flight, Southwest Airline sells the first spots in line to passengers who are willing to pay $40 more.
Worse, is that no one really checks to see if people are being honest. The boarding steward doesn’t care. He just checks you in. So many people simple get in the line even ahead of their real assigned number.
You can see how all that ala carte spending starts to add up.
It’s uncivilized, which is what Southwest Airlines should use in its motto. “We’re the uncivilized airline, but we’re rich” rather than their worthless motto which now laughingly proclaims, “Doing the Right Thing.”
What does that mean anyway? The “right thing” for who? Not the passengers.
When you pay $15 to “early register” for the flight, don’t you think that means getting a seat assigned. No. It means getting in a pecking order on where you stand in line trying to get a seat.
The steward jokingly urges passengers to pay the extra $40 per person “to sit with your significant other,” meaning the chances of a family sitting together are probably only 30 percent. Those are bad odds.
The uncivilized way they assign seats is only the beginning. The seats themselves are the most cramped of any airline. In fact, when you get into your seat, somewhere at the back of the plane after paying a fortune, the fold-out tray opens and touches your stomach. It has a sliding feature, but it has no room to slide on normal people.
They are constantly also trying to “balance” their airline wait, asking passengers to take a later flight for a flight coupon. That tells me they constantly overbook.
Maybe they should call Southwest Airlines “Sardine Airlines.” At least you will know what you are paying for.
I liked the old days when airlines treated people with respect. You got what you paid for. Now, they want to take your money and give you what they want.
There was a time when people meant something. These days, we’re just Sherpas for someone else’s profits.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. You may reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RayHanania.)
- Behind The Southwest Airlines Culture (forbes.com)
- Southwest Airlines Hikes Pet Fee In A Big Way (wreg.com)
- Southwest Airlines Boosts Flying Pet Fee (dfw.cbslocal.com)
- Southwest Airlines latest carrier to allow passengers to use electronic devices throughout flight (azcentral.com)
- Southwest Airlines joins carriers that allow gate-to-gate use of electronic devices (aviationblog.dallasnews.com)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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