Thursday, November 8, 2007

Southwest Airlines "Special" and "Not so Special" customers

The airline announced several changes including added perks for frequent or high paying fare customers; stops short of calling themselves a 2-class airline. (Let's just call them "special").

First, yes - the "Cattle class", unique to Southwest remains, but with some minor changes. The airline will start giving passengers an assigned number within the current A, B and C boarding groups and then have you line up in your respective group and board together. To this point in Southwest's history, passengers simply queued according to their assigned group.

Other changes:
A "Business Select Class" will be created, whereby those paying the highest fares (often last minute and/or refundable) pay an extra $10-$30 and receive a guaranteed "A" boarding pass (first on the plane), free cocktail and ability to earn RapidReward credits a bit faster.

All members of its RapidRewards program who have flown 32 one-way flights or 16 round-trips in 12 months will be placed on the carrier's "A-List," where they will be automatically checked in for their flight in advance, and will most likely receive an "A" boarding pass.

Although the airline has operated on a one-class system - no first class cabin and no elite levels in the RapidRewards program, quite unlike most other U.S airlines, the changes announced yesterday begin to erode away at a single class Southwest society many people are use to.