Ok. Candidly, I have only flown Delta, United, Avianca, Copa, Air Canada, British Airways, Porter, and Southwest, so my airline experiences are nowhere near comprehensive. Also, I have flown business class only once (on Avianca), and the rest of the time has always been economy like normal people. Even though some write it off as a “budget” airline (and it certainly is no-frills), Southwest has always stood above out above the rest of the competition, in my opinion. Here are my reasons:
- No bag fees! Ok, that’s not 100% true, but no other airline offers two free checked bags per person plus a carry-on. I can’t imagine ever bringing more luggage than that. My wife and I don’t often get away with just the free carry-on allowance other airlines offer, and even then, we often bring things that aren’t allowed in a carry-on, so we have to check those bags anyway. Flying Southwest has saved us literally $100s.
- Great staff. I have yet to meet a Southwest employee that I really didn’t like. On the whole they are very helpful, attentive, and often quite funny.
- Same day stand-by. I am not as familiar with this from airline to airline, and this really calls for some more research on my part. However, I know Southwest’s policy now due to a missed connection in LAX. I was flying in on United internationally and the plane arrived 40 minutes later than I anticipated. I called Southwest to see what they could do, and the lady said as long as I checked in within two hours after my normal check-in time, I could catch the next flight to Oakland.
- Phenomenal cancellation policy on award travel. They blow all other airlines out of the water. Most charge insane fees to change an award ticket or refund the miles. Southwest will literally allow you to cancel your award travel up until 10 minutes before your flight!!! There is no other cancellation policy like it. I don’t ever agonize over booking award travel with them, and I can also easily change my redemption to a cheaper option if it opens up before I travel. It paid off this summer when I was able to rebook a one-way ticket from LAX to OAK, saving myself 2,000 miles.
The business-class and first-class flyers out there have names such as “cattle class” for Southwest Airlines. The name for them, though, is “snob”. If you take economy travel across the board, you can’t beat Southwest. They have the great policies I mentioned above and good coverage to U.S. destinations. They are opening up a few new routes each year, and I hope they eventually fly to destinations across the Atlantic and in South America.