2/7: Will Southwest appeal to business travelers?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis
The debate over Southwest Airlines’ appeal to business travelers heats up as Southwest gets ready to launch Atlanta service on Sunday and compete with Delta.

Today, a Southwest executive outlines what makes the airline, which took over AirTran, different and successful, while a business-travel expert talks about why many local fliers will choose to stick with hometown Delta.

What are your thoughts?

16 comments Add your comment

Bill

February 10th, 2012
5:03 pm

As a Diamond Medallion member I am not going anywhere. I like my first class upgrades and so do most of the Platinums and Diamonds. When you have to fly every week on 2-5 hour flights coach is uncomfortable and the service is poor. The roll over miles are great also. People forget that SW will only inherit 30 gates give or take a few and Delta has been competing effectivly agains the low cost carrier Air Tran for years. SW does not have any international flights to feed into ATL and is limited by range and seats on aircraft due to only operating 737-700 and soon to be 737-800. The per seat mile cost is lower for DL due to being able to use 757,767 on routes to the west coast and PHX. SW will do ok in ATL flying leisure travelers and the once or twice a year flyer, Delta will match or beat SW fares on markets they compete in. Delta will also match Air Tran FF status so the Air Tran frequent flyers can get their first class upgrades back.

ATLien

February 10th, 2012
4:53 pm

As a DAL medallion member who gets no upgrades because the list has about 50 people on it every flight and who has paid $50 to change my flight even though I do it myself at the kiosk, I welcome SWA and look forward to flying them. Their Rapid Rewards program is superior and no change fees! Sign me up!
I’m tired of their rude flight attendants, dirty planes, and horrible customer service (SkyMiles service is the worst!!). I hope Delta feels the pain of competition from SWA.

Jgibson

February 10th, 2012
4:30 pm

Even as a diamond medallion I flew coach to/from Denver this week, upgrades were my only reason to fly delta exclusively, I now have a great reason to try SW. Delta has gotten so good at selling first class, only a few seats in first are available, glad they can make money, but as a Diamond without the first upgrades and the money I spend flying and I just paid a change fee, SW here I come.

Bob from Accounttemps

February 10th, 2012
4:23 pm

@dc – you’re spot on. As a former Gold Medallion, they have a “take it or leave it” attitude with me. With AirTran’s A2B, I got assigned seats and not the last minute scramble for a middle seat on DL. They block all good seats for elites at least 4 weeks out and here I am, paying a high last minute fare and getting a middle seat in the back of a vintage DC-9. Elites should be rewarded, but so should high fare passengers. If they treat me like garbage, why would I ever show them loyalty to regain my status? I switched to AirTran long ago and fly DL only when I have to. As for SW, I’m flying them first in a month so we’ll see. I know I’ll miss AirTran.

Rickster

February 10th, 2012
4:14 pm

I enjoyed AirTran’s business class. I’d take a gamble and see if there were any seats available when I would check in and pay $30 – $40 extra.

Mike

February 10th, 2012
4:10 pm

Ghee, it appears I am alone (so far) in liking Delta. I hope to completely avoid SouthWest. AirTran was a great airline, but sorry SW is imposing all their ways. All SW has to offer is free bags…nothing extra. I guess that is why they can adversite they have no fees – they have nothing to offer but a seat. Some of us travel greater distances than those ugly SW planes can fly. For the record, I have no problem using my SkyMiles for free trips. Of course I never thought I would be able to use my miles next week or next month for a free trip. I plan ahead better than that and am rewarded with great free flights on Delta. I hope everyone enjoys SW half as much as they think they will. And yes, I am one of the hated Medallion people..and I am perfectly happy with Delta.
There is more to life than free travel…..a first class upgrade is just as nice.