When figuring out which airline to fly with on your subsequent enterprise journey or household trip, there are a lot of elements (and lots of airways) to contemplate. Relying on the place you’re headed, it’s possible you’ll be questioning: Is Southwest Airways good, unhealthy, costly or worthwhile?
Right here’s our breakdown that will help you reply these questions and determine if Southwest is the proper airline on your subsequent journey or your airline loyalty.
NerdWallet’s airline evaluation
For starters, Southwest Airways falls close to the center of NerdWallet’s latest evaluation for the most effective airline rewards program general. Primarily based on classes just like the airline’s elite standing program, rewards level worth, COVID-19 response and extra charges, the airline outranked American, Delta, United and Frontier, however fell in need of Alaska, Hawaiian and JetBlue.
NerdWallet ranked Southwest Airways even larger when it got here to the most effective airline rewards applications for frequent vacationers and for households. Out of eight airways, solely Alaska and Hawaiian scored larger than Southwest in each classes. See that breakdown right here.
What’s Southwest Airways like?
Past its rewards program, right here’s what to anticipate, from reserving to boarding, for those who’re contemplating flying Southwest.
Making reservations: When it’s time to e-book your flight, Southwest makes it straightforward by its app or web site. You may seek for flights in money or factors, and you’ll choose the low fare calendar if you wish to discover the most effective deal and have flexibility along with your dates. Southwest flights don’t present up on most third-party search websites, like Google Flights or Priceline; you may usually e-book a flight solely by Southwest.
Test-in: Checking in is simple and could be achieved as much as 24 hours earlier than your scheduled flight. For those who don’t need to wait in line on the airport ticket counter, you may test in on-line by Southwest’s web site or app in just some minutes. Some airports may additionally have self-service kiosks or a curbside Skycap podium for faster check-in. If you wish to hack Southwest’s boarding course of, it is crucial that you simply test in as near that 24-hour timeframe as potential.
Boarding: Southwest’s boarding course of is a bit totally different than different airways since there aren’t any pre-assigned seats. Passengers get to decide on seats as they board, so the sooner you might be to board, the extra selection you will have. Moreover, whereas most airways board by zones, Southwest boards by group (a letter from A-C) and place (a quantity from 1-60). Your boarding group and quantity are decided upon check-in — the sooner you test in, the decrease your boarding place and the earlier you board (with A1 being first). You too can rating Group A boarding by buying a Enterprise Choose fare or Upgraded Boarding, when out there.
In-flight expertise: When you’re within the air, is Southwest Airways comfy? It definitely provides extra facilities and legroom than some finances airways. For example, Spirit and Frontier do not supply complimentary meals or drinks, and make you pay for a roomier seat. On Southwest, drinks and snacks are served totally free, seats are designed to offer lumbar help and knee house and, on many flights, there’s free leisure that you would be able to stream from your individual machine. In reality, Southwest ranked within the high three in our latest evaluation of onboard leisure.
Loyalty program: As a Southwest Rapids Rewards member, you’ll earn factors that by no means expire and that may be redeemed on flights and extra. Fly typically sufficient and you’ll earn elite standing with precedence boarding and check-in. Fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying factors in a calendar yr for A-Listing standing, and 50 flights or 70,000 factors for A-Listing Most popular. For those who fly 100 qualifying flights or earn 125,000 qualifying factors, you may attain Companion Go standing. You may purchase Southwest factors, however it’s not typically beneficial.
Fare sorts: There are three fare sorts on Southwest: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Enterprise Choose. Every comes with its personal perks and advantages in addition to a distinct point-earning construction: Earn 6 Fast Rewards factors per greenback on Wanna Get Away fares, 10 factors per greenback on Anytime fares and 12 factors per greenback on Enterprise Choose fares.
Different issues to contemplate
Airways aren’t solely about consolation and sophistication, in fact. There are different elements to contemplate when figuring out whether or not to fly Southwest.
In accordance with AirlineRatings.com, Southwest Airways is among the many 20 most secure airways on the earth in 2021. It ranked under Hawaiian and Alaska, however above Delta and American. The airways have been evaluated on their crash and severe incident data, audits, industry-leading security initiatives and fleet age. The entire high 20 airways, together with Southwest, proved to be standouts (in comparison with the full 385 airways within the examine) in security and innovation.
Southwest’s reliability is general onerous to pinpoint. One score website, OAG, gave it 3 out of 5 stars for on-time efficiency, rating under Delta, American and Alaska for punctuality. And in accordance with flight details by Data Design, it additionally had the third-highest flight cancellation fee of U.S. airways in June 2021.
Nonetheless, Southwest redeems itself in terms of baggage. The U.S. Division of Transportation discovered that, in July 2020, Southwest ranked second out of 17 airways for least variety of luggage mishandled. In July 2021, its rating dropped just some spots to fifth out of 17.
Skytrax, which publishes licensed airline rankings, offers Southwest a score of 4 out of 5 stars primarily based on the standard of its workers and companies, together with cabin consolation and cleanliness, further costs, in-flight meals and drinks, and buyer interactions. On-line buyer evaluations are inclined to agree with that evaluation. The airline had the bottom shopper grievance fee in 2020, in accordance with a latest Airline High quality Ranking report.
Southwest isn’t all the time the most affordable airline, however when you think about a free carry-on and two free checked luggage, flying with Southwest could be cost-effective relying in your journey type and vacation spot.
The Southwest Fast Rewards program provides limitless reward seats on each flight, no blackout dates, and factors that by no means expire. Plus, you may earn factors by flying Southwest, by making on a regular basis purchases through on-line buying and the airline’s journey companions, and by utilizing a co-branded bank card such because the Southwest Fast Rewards® Precedence Credit score Card.
Distinctive Southwest perks
As you’ll have gathered, Southwest is pretty distinctive amongst airways. It’s one of many few U.S. airways that provide two free checked luggage along with a carry-on and private merchandise. The airline additionally provides a coveted Companion Go: a ticket that means that you can designate one journey companion to fly with you totally free (minus taxes and charges) each time you e-book a flight utilizing money or factors.
To attain this profit, you’ll must fly 100 one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying factors (factors earned from reserving flights on Southwest, utilizing a Southwest co-branded bank card or making purchases with Fast Rewards companions) in a calendar yr. Then, you may get pleasure from a Companion Go for the rest of the yr you earned it, plus the complete following calendar yr. Your designated journey companion could be modified as much as thrice in a yr.
Moreover, Southwest doesn’t cost for altering or canceling your journey plans. For those who cancel Enterprise Choose and Anytime tickets no less than 10 minutes earlier than departure time, the price of your flight could be refunded. For those who bought a nonrefundable fare (Wanna Get Away), you may get the fee quantity again in Southwest credit score to make use of on a later flight.
Associated to the airline’s welcome flexibility for flight bookings, a latest NerdWallet evaluation decided that Southwest costs the least charges of the most important home airways.
These numbers are averages primarily based on a hypothetical buyer who selects a seat, carries on one bag and checks one bag. It contains charges for each important cabin and fundamental economic system fares.
Who ought to keep away from Southwest Airways?
Naturally, not each airline will enchantment to each traveler. Right here’s who may not think about Southwest the only option:
Vacationers who do not reside close to a hub might discover Southwest flights are in barely shorter provide. Southwest doesn’t fly to as many locations as airways like United, so these exterior of the airline’s common service space might discover it harder to search out the flight they need.
Vacationers who get pleasure from premium flight perks, like top quality choices, will likely be disenchanted to search out out that Southwest doesn’t have them. The Enterprise Choose fare ensures an early boarding place, and you’ll improve your boarding place for a price on the gate if seats are nonetheless out there. But when it’s extra legroom, bigger seats or lounge entry you’re trying to find, higher to look elsewhere.
Vacationers preferring to pick their seats or are decided to sit down with household or mates might choose a distinct airline. There may be household boarding between boarding teams A and B, however for those who miss it, you’ll have to sit down aside.
For those who’re contemplating flying Southwest
Is Southwest a superb airline, or must you keep away from it? The reply typically falls someplace within the center. Buyer satisfaction is excessive, flexibility to vary or cancel flights has all the time been distinctive and free checked luggage on each flight is a giant plus.
As for the drawbacks, no seat assignments or top quality perks, plus a disappointing reliability score, are price factoring in. Whether or not these realities are deal breakers largely is determined by your journey type. General, Southwest is a stable airline that gives a snug expertise at an honest value.
Learn how to maximize your rewards
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