Southwest Airlines has long been known as a discount carrier. They started as a carrier fighting for equitable landing rights, but have now expanded into a national force as the older carriers have cutback.
The Wall Street Journal details how Southwest has now grown to the normal carrier level and how their discounts aren’t so much discounts.
Here are the reasons:
- Ticket prices have gone up close to 40% in five years while the industry is only gone up 10%.
- They have increased the fare scales from 8 to 16.
- They have moved into big city hubs, which they used to avoid.
- Their fuel hedges have expired.
Southwest still operates like a discount carrier for the following reasons:
- No fees for baggage.
- Their landing agreements are long term.
Still, you have to think that the customers aren’t seeing the difference. One was quoted as saying:
It used to be so cheap it was almost like taking the bus. But now I seem to spend $400 on a round-trip ticket. I feel more of a sticker shock on airline tickets than I do at the gas pump.
I have to say I agree. Southwest was always the lowest priced, but now you really have to check and see. Even when fees from other airlines are included they are sometimes more expensive.