COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may impact your travel plans. Wherever you're going, you'll find the latest advice here.

Travel News The Pros and Cons of Flying with Southwest Airlines in 2019

All articles

The Pros and Cons of Flying with Southwest Airlines in 2019

Love them or hate them, Southwest is everywhere across the United States. Here at Skyscanner, we’ve taken the time to give you some more info on this popular airlines and outline its pros and cons. This way, you can figure out whether flying Southwest is a good idea for you.

Use the search box below to find the best available prices to your chosen destination 👇

History of Southwest 

The idea of Southwest came to life in 1967 when Herb Kelleher and Rollin King created a business plan on a cocktail napkin at a hotel bar in San Antonio. They drew a triangle of three lines connecting Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio and the rest is history. 

Since its inception, Southwest has stayed true to its low-fare brand and has grown significantly as a result. Today, the airline exists “to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Pros of Flying with Southwest Airlines

  • It’s cheap
  • No assigned seats
  • Companion pass
  • The lowest price is honored by Southwest
  • Two free checked bags
  • Southwest credit card
  • Reliable and punctual flights from Southwest 

Cons of Flying with Southwest

  • Only Boeing 737 planes
  • No meals included in Southwest tickets
  • No seat confirmation on Southwest flights
  • Boarding from front to back
  • No airline partnerships
Southwest Airlines pros and cons

Pros of Southwest Airlines

1. It’s Cheap

Southwest offers some of the lowest prices for flights in the United States. In our opinion, Southwest nearly always delivers quality flights for a discounted rate. Their tickets are reasonably priced and even include checked bags, which is becoming increasingly rare for airlines. Southwest’s “Wanna Get Away fare” is the baseline for the cheapest rates and is for the travelers who really do want to get away. If you’re traveling in a group, you may be able to save even more money through their Group Travel program.

2. No Assigned Seats

Southwest’s boarding process is possibly one of the most unique experiences among all airlines. You aren’t assigned a seat when you purchase your ticket or when you check in. Instead, you are assigned a boarding group when you check in. Check in opens exactly 24 hours before your flight leaves. Don’t try to check in before those 24 hours because you won’t be able to. Instead, the faster you check in after the 24 hours begins, the earlier boarding group you will have.

3. Southwest Companion Pass

Do you tend to travel with others often? If so, the companion pass can cut your spending right in half. Southwest allows fliers to select a companion pass when purchasing tickets, so they can fly for free! The companion pass works wonders and is a great travel hack to get flights for even cheaper.

Unfortunately, however, not everyone qualifies for this incredible benefit. To take advantage of the companion pass, you must fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. If you meet this criteria, you’ll earn a companion pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you originally earned it.

4. You Can Update Your Rate if the Price Decreases

Purchasing plane tickets can be like a game of roulette – you never know when the prices are going to increase or decrease. The great news is Southwest honors the lowest prices. If you purchase a ticket and the price decreases, you can just go online and change your flight to the lower cost flight. If you’ve already paid for your flight, you’ll receive a travel fund voucher for the difference in fare price which can be used one year from the original purchase date. There are no fees for this and the voucher is non-transferable. If you booked your flight using points, the difference in points will go back into your account!

5. Two Free Checked Bags

So many airlines these days charge extra for baggage, but Southwest lets its passengers check in two bags for free! In addition to those two bags, passengers are also allowed a carry on bag and a personal item that they can take on board the plane. As long as the checked bags are under 50 pounds and smaller than 62 inches, they’re free. Luggage that exceeds these limits is subject to an additional $75 fee.

6. Southwest Credit Card

Southwest offers a Rapid Rewards card where you receive points for every $1 spent that can be used to book travel and receive other rewards. The Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card is a popular choice among travelers as you receive 40,000 points when you spend $1,000 purchases in the first 3 months. The annual fees for a Southwest credit card range from $69 to $99 USD.

7. Punctual Flights

Southwest Airline’s strategy as the airline grows is to offer reliable flights to secondary airports. This has had a positive impact as the airline had the fifth best on time performance in the United States in 2018. 

Southwest has a large share of flight activity at the airports it flies in and out of, which creates more control and flexibility over daily operations. Southwest flights have a strong record for punctual arrival at their destination. 

Southwest seats

Cons of Southwest

1. Southwest Only Uses Boeing 737s

Yes, you read that right. Southwest’s fleet is entirely made up of Boeing 737 airplanes. This is largely due to the fact that Southwest has a lack of international flights, so the larger airplanes are not necessary. Some people consider this a pro because they know exactly what the plane will be like, but others consider it a con since there isn’t really a first class.

2. No In-Flight Meals

Southwest is truly a low-budget airline which means they are strict about eliminating any add-ons and additional services, including the food. The planes are very modern and neat, but they don’t serve complimentary meals, no matter how far you are flying. You get what you pay for, and in this case, you don’t get meals when you fly.

They do, however, offer complimentary coffee, juices, and cold drinks on all flights. If your flight itinerary includes any nonstop flights longer than 2 hours, you will receive a packaged snack. You can also bring your own food on any Southwest flight if you think you’ll get hungry.

3. Open Seating Policy

Southwest’s open seating policy can be a deal breaker for people who want to know or choose exactly where they are sitting. You don’t even have the option to pay an additional fee to select your seat.

That being said, the earlier you check in for your flight, the greater your chances are of being able to sit where you want. Even though Southwest Airline’s check in process is very unique, you can get in your preferred seat with a bit of planning.

4. Boarding From Front to Back

Part of the open seating process means that people can sit wherever they want and they typically sit in the front first. Boarding from the front to the back is the least efficient way to board a plane with this seating policy. While it’s more of an inconvenience than a problem, it can be frustrating to climb over the people at the front of the plane who are trying to sit down and stow their luggage.

5. No Airline Partnerships 

Southwest has its own network of flights and has recently expanded to include flights to Hawaii. However, Southwest is not part of any airline alliance. If you are looking to continue your journey on-wards to an international destination, then you may not be able to integrate your booking or check your baggage through to your final destination.  

Southwest Airlines Reviews

If you do a quick online search for “Southwest Airlines reviews,” you’ll notice that the majority of the reviews out there are positive. Southwest customers appreciate their efficiency, value, and quality service. Here’s a look at a few Southwest reviews floating around the internet.

“Southwest is so dependable! We have had so much good luck with them. Rarely have we had a flight delayed. We like the way they do the seating. “ -Maureen M. 

“I have to confess, I’m very partial to Southwest Airlines! They have been very professional, friendly and prompt on any flight I’ve been on. Their flight attendants are cheerful and have a great sense of humor.” -Jan F.

“I love flying Southwest because they have direct flights to most destinations I frequently visit. Most time I get the early bird check in which guarantees me a chance at decent seat. (Southwest doesn’t have assigned seating.)” -Korey K.

Of course, just like all other airlines, Southwest isn’t perfect and there are some negative reviews about them. For the most part, Southwest complaints are related to delays and chaos or lack of organization by the airline.