If you have read any one of my numerous articles on Southwest Airlines here at Nonstop Points, or talked to me about airlines in person, there should be no question about how much I love that airline. I have written that it is the most family friendly airline, that it has the best deal of all the airlines, with Companion pass, or even that it was my favorite airline of 2019. Despite all my LUV for Southwest, most would have thought that I would have made United, Delta or American airline of the month, acknowledging any of the big three for its customer friendly changes with regards to change fees. Even without having to get rid of change fees, Southwest stole the show. Here’s why:
For starters, it is hard to justify giving airline of the month to an airline just for removing change fees. After all, Southwest has NEVER had change fees. I have always cherished Southwest because it has been the lone wolf in the world of fees. It has never charged to cancel or change a flight, so why should I congratulate any other airline for making billions in charging fees year after year. The legacy carriers (Delta, United and American) are trying to prove themselves as more customer friendly, but Southwest has always been, in my experience, a customer first airline. I find it simple and easy to change flights, cancel flights, and use both points and vouchers towards travel. Overall, Southwest should be awarded just for always, even before COVID-19, putting the customer first and not charging fees, and nothing has changed.
Second, Southwest is being extremely COVID-safe. To date, Southwest has been the only airline that I have flown since the pandemic began, and I felt nothing short of safe. Flying Southwest, I found a surplus of hand sanitizer spread out all around its hub at BWI, as well as numerous signs mandating mask use. Additionally, when onboard, every middle seat was and still is blocked off. Airlines such as American and United are no longer blocking off middle seats, so you could very well end up in a row with 3 people, which is not COVID-safe. On Southwest, there are at most 2 people per row of seats, which allows everyone to be as safe and socially distant as possible. When boarding the plane, I most definitely smelled disinfectant, and I had never seen a commercial jet look so clean and new. The seats were even barely damp from the cleaner. On my flights, one had a total of 12 passengers, and the other had about 34, so both flights were very spread out and safe. On the first flight with 12 people, the crew even asked a couple passengers to switch rows, not because there were 3 people in a row, but because the plane was so empty that they could be 2-3 rows away from the nearest passenger. In addition, I overheard a crew member ask a passenger to pull the mask up, as it had fallen below the nose. Overall, I definitely feel that Southwest is taking safety precautions very seriously.
Since COVID began, flights have been very cheap; however, as we progressed throughout the summer, they have had a steady comeback. Even with most carriers raising prices, I have still been able to find Southwest ticket prices to be regularly low and less than their competitors. During the summer, flights into the Hamptons were regularly $49 each way, and throughout the fall I am seeing similar one way fares to other seasonal destinations, such as Maine, for the same cost. Both of these examples are extremely good deals, not to mention that you get two free checked bags on every flight. On top of that, if you have a companion pass with Southwest, you can take a person for free, minus the taxes and fees which come out to $5.60 one way. Overall, this means that I was able to fly direct to the Hamptons for a beach trip for about $110 for two people, ROUND TRIP, with bags included. Closest price was a one stop ticket on American for $200 a person, not including bags and taking 3 hours longer to get there. On top of that, when we decided last minute that we wanted to take a later flight on the way home, Southwest let us switch for free. That is the definition of what customer friendly should look like.
The final reason that I am loving Southwest so much right now is its recent promotions. About two weeks ago Southwest launched a promotion that allowed passengers to book award redemptions using points for 20% off. This meant that when I went to buy some tickets for flights I want to go on later this year, I was able to get 5k points off my 25k point ticket price. It is rare to find airline deals that involve using fewer points than normal, so this deal was especially sweet. Just this past week, Southwest ran a promotion where if you took any one paid flight between now and November 15th, you got a free companion pass for pretty much all of January and February, including key holiday dates such as MLK and Presidents Day weekend. With that pass you could take one person for free (not including the $5.60 taxes and fees), which is quite the deal. Because you can buy one-way tickets for $49 right now, you could eventually buy an unlimited use Companion pass for $49 for January and February, which makes it easy to get a lot of value.
In conclusion, Southwest has done a phenomenal job of not only being COVID-safe in the past month, but being budget safe and flexible, not to mention there are extraordinary deals that can help you save money or points this fall and winter. This, in combination with being the most customer friendly airline, is why it is the airline of the month.
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