Does Southwest want to start charging for bags?


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Earnings conference calls are always interesting in that every word is scrutinized to try to get a hint of where an organization is headed.  In yesterday’s Southwest earnings conference call, the CEO of Southwest, Gary Kelly, said there are no plans to start charging for bags in the next year however made the ominous comment, “an a la carte approach…we’d be crazy not to provide our customers with what they want.”

The Wall Street Journal has a good write up here.

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Will Southwest trick or treat us next year?

How would bag fees change your impression of Southwest?  Is this over analysis or do you think bag fees on Southwest are on the way?

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About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. I won’t say I that I’ll never fly them, but my opinion of Southwest would be much lower, and I’d be less likely to choose them. I’d be more worried about change fees though. I’d probably avoid them most of the time if they institute those. They’d better lower their ticket prices dramatically if they start doing this. I don’t mind flying them and even paying a little more if they offer more than the competition, but the moment they start acting like a legacy, I’ll choose to fly on a Legacy and at least not have to put up with cattle call seating (which I hate), and the lack of any sort of E+ or premium seats.

  2. Even when we fly internationally we seldom check bags (although flying in biz or F class does make taking carry-ons easier). Why should we subsidize those who pack everything but the kitchen sink?

    Free checked bags are a lost opportunity cost for revenue producing cargo so why shouldn’t the airlines charge a fair fee for checked bags? Perhaps grant one free bag with a weight limit – I would think the bean counters and flyers would find that palatable.

  3. I dont fly Southwest much but I far prefer their boarding process. Flying the legacys, especially on non-business time and routes, boarding is always a nightmare just everyone shoving their way up front. Even internationally, last time I flew Lufthansa, from Frankfurt, they boarded all of the coach section of a 747 in one call.

    Unless you are upfront or have status, I far prefer the order of Southwest to the chaos of everyone else.

  4. I personally like Southwest’s current policy on checked bags. Especially since there are multiple ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points and Rapid Rewards points cheaply, it’s convenient that on award tickets, the checked bags are complimentary. However, if customers show in the future that they want fees for baggage check-in, then it’s good that Southwest would be open to trying it, especially if it allows them to lower their fares. When I’m at the baggage claim after a non-Southwest flight, it amazes me how many people still do baggage check-in, it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent.

  5. @Dan – most airline credit cards give you a higher priority boarding group, and if not, I’ll happily pay extra to have that included, and this includes Southwest, who’s boarding process I find to be no more organized than any other airline.

    Because checked bags and priority boarding are included with most co branded credit cards, or bundled together with E+ seating (which I’ll always buy) even if you’re not an elite, the one perk that Southwest still has going for it is the no change fees, hence my far greater concern about those.

  6. @Brandon,
    They won’t use baggage fees to lower fares, they will just pocket the money, at least most of it.

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