View from the 23rd Row
My father and I were talking about this the other day and I thought it would make a good "View From the 23rd Row." I apologize if I've talked about this before.
Since its inception Southwest has had a chilling effect on other air carriers. While they are not completely comparable, I reckon it to what happens when WalMart moves into a town. They take over, other stores, in this case airlines, start to shrivel up and go away. They price their tickets cheaper than the other guy. How does this happen? As an employee of a semi-successful airline, I have thought long and hard on this. How can they do this?
Well, first off, no unions, so they don't have all these ridiculous rules and salary requirements to adhere too - they can pay their employee's lower than the average industry rate.
Second, they run in markets they know there is an opening, where there is a need for cheap flights (and also where gates, landing fees, etc will be less), Southwest is no one's fool, selling tickets at $80 is never going to cover the cost at O'Hare, but it might suffice for Midway.
Third, they fly a unified fleet, no variations on their planes, which makes maintainence a lot easier and also an even pay scale for pilots, no having to readjust a pilot's pay based on the plane he is flying. It's all the same!
Fourth, they don't have the silly hub and spoke system that most of the legacy carriers do - where people have to make connections, people don't like to do it and it's expensive.
Southwest, like WalMart has done a great job of branding, whenever one thinks of getting a cheap airticket, one's mind immediately thinks, 'Southwest.' But...and here is the big but, just like WalMart, Southwest is not necessarily the cheapest guy in town, they have just gotten you thinking that.
For example from Baltimore to Tampa on Southwest can be $79 one way, double it, with taxes, let's say roughly $165.
On United, from Dulles to Tampa can be a combined $115, found on expedia.com.
The message for this week's post than is to not always assume you are getting the cheapest ticket simply because you are going to the commonly considered "low-cost" carrier. ALWAYS compare prices! This will mean having to go onto Southwest's site as well as expedia or travelocity, but isn't it worth it to save some cash?