The Early Bird gets the worm.
I flew Southwest Airlines with my daughter for a quick, impromptu trip to Visit my Father in Maine last week. When scheduling the trip, I was first interested in finding the lowest fare and rental car cost.
I also wanted to have an EASY, no hassle itinerary without having to race from gate to gate to catch connecting flights in unfamiliar airports.
Finally, I wanted to implement my longstanding strategy of leaving Nashville early on the outbound flight so as to land mid-afternoon thereby giving ample time to commute to the final destination before dinner . . . and then at the end of the trip to fly out in the early afternoon to be home for dinner.
I found the perfect flights with a comfortable 1+ hour “layover” each way in Baltimore . . . Just enough time for lunch.
Additionally, I was able to pair my flight with a rental car at a very reasonable cost.
As I was completing my order, i noticed something about “Early Bird Check-in” for $12.50 per traveler each way – It said something about guaranteeing a good ranking for boarding pass, so I bought it knowing it could be a $50 mistake . . . Here on the other side of the trip, I was thankful for paying the fee because it gave us “A” boarding on every plane thereby guaranteeing our preferred seating position (over the wing) and negating the pressure of having to check in EXACTLY 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.
Southwest Airlines delivered impeccably . . . ALL promises delivered including the promise of stress free travel.
I wondered: “How do they DO this?”
While browsing through the SOUTHWEST Magazine during the flight, I saw the letter below and marveled at the simplicity of their business model in such a potentially complex industry (Air Travel).
I’m a sports enthusiast. I enjoyed playing several sports in my younger days and still play golf when I can find the time. I have a passion for watching teams (especially my beloved University of Texas Longhorns!) compete at a high level, and I’m a true believer that competition also makes us better in business and life. That’s certainly true when it comes to working in the airline industry, the ultimate team sport.
I’ve been in the industry for three decades, and its current state is the strongest and healthiest I’ve seen it. At Southwest Airlines, we embrace competition, but you, the traveling public, are the real winner. As a low-fare airline, Southwest revolutionized the industry in 1971. Back then, flying was for the rich and elite. Today, more than 85 percent of Americans have flown commercially.
We have never lost our laser-like focus on offering low fares; it’s our Brand, our niche, and our commitment to our Customers. All airlines compete on fares, which is why you’ll often see other carriers matching ours. What you don’t always see coming are hidden fees for things like checking your bag, changing your reservation, and so on. Our Customers have often complained to me that the nickel-and-diming approach of the “other guys” is downright offensive.
On Southwest, however, what you see is what you get. In the same way that low fares set us apart in 1971, today we are the only domestic airline that can truthfully claim that these fees don’t fly with us. We believe it’s the right thing to do for our Customers, and it’s true to our low-fare philosophy.
For us, low fares are important, but they are not the only competitive factor. We compete with our schedule, our products, and our reliability. In fact, we compete in every aspect of the Customer Experience—from booking a reservation to delivering you safely, ontime, with your luggage, and with a smile. We continue to invest in new technology, modernize our fleet, and introduce new products and services—like music, free live TV, and other onboard entertainment options.
One thing that no other airline can match is the sincerity, warmth, and dedication of our People—their hearts for serving others and Fun-LUVing Attitudes. They have been our single greatest competitive advantage from day one, and today their passion for taking care of our Customers is stronger than ever. On behalf of the 47,000 People of Southwest, thank you for allowing us to serve you!
Gary Kelly Chairman, President, and CEO Southwest Airlines
and well executed day in and day out.
All of the above resonates at a very deep level with me because so much of it mirrors the business model of my baby Pareto Realty. simple, clean, no nickle and diming . . . and consistent laser focus on continuous improvement to deliver a level of service that mystifies our competitors.
The Early Bird does, indeed, get the worm.