I’ve been a fan of Southwest Airlines for many years. Quick personal story…
Last year I rode in the Livestrong Challenge, a bike fundraiser sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I flew Southwest because it was a direct Boston-to-Austin flight, they had the best fare, and my bike was only $50 one-way vs. at least $125 with all other carriers. Even though my bike was in a hard-shelled case, I was worried it was going to get damaged. The result? When I got off the plane Southwest’s PA system called for me and a baggage handler personally wheeled out my bike…nice!
What does the Southwest represent to me?
- Commitment to customers and employees
- Efficient operations
- Quality product
- Courage to be different
It’s no surprise that these marketing messages are consistent with Southwest’s overall marketing strategy. But, at least to me, they work; they aren’t just empty marketing communications. For example, who can watch the Southwest Airlines Rap on YouTube and not imagine being one of the passengers enjoying the rap?
Jad Mouawad recently wrote an article in the New York Times entitled “Pushing 40, Southwest Is Still Playing the Rebel” about the history and future of the airline. While some have lauded Southwest’s business practices, the company is not without its critics. But most airline and business experts agree that Southwest’s targeted acquisition of Air-Tran will be among the biggest challenges it has yet to face. I, for one, wish them every success…they’ve earned it, at least from this happy customer.