I’m nuts about Southwest

Funny, I just got off of a Southwest airline from San Jose to Seattle and found out that Southwest now has a blog. There's more on Memeorandum.

It's a pretty cold blog so far. It's the kind of blog I think most corporations will start out with. Safe. Take no chances. Don't piss anyone off. Don't reveal anything that the PR team isn't comfortable with.

That's OK, I guess. Most Microsoft blogs are just as boring. So can't throw stones when we live in a glass house.

But, I spend a great deal of my life on Southwest planes. Some things that I'd love to see?

Their IT system rocks. Who developed it, how is it built? Was it done in Java, or VB or C#? What does their data center look like?

What are some traveling tips? Here's one: There are two rows of exit row seats. The first row doesn't recline.

Second, if you fly Southwest ALWAYS check in online (you can do that starting 24 hours before your flight). That'll get you into the "A" or "B" group which will almost guarantee you a decent seat and that your carryon luggage will get on board.

Some other things I'd love to know? Is there free WiFi near their counters anywhere? What's the best restaurant in each airport?

Who makes the most reliable luggage?

Some craft definitely have funnier crews than others. Any way to know whether you'll be on one of those flights?

As a geek I like sitting near the front of the plane where I can see the door. They let me use my Tablet PC or cell phone up to the minute that the door closes. I answered several emails this morning using my Verizon card while waiting for everyone else to load onboard.

Others? What are their favorite online travel resources? (Flight trackers, etc).

Where do they go when they want to have fun on a layover?

Anyway, nice to see more companies try to figure out how to engage with the blogs and, yes, I am nuts about Southwest.

They are a no-frills airline, but generally have the lowest prices when we fly (which is why Maryam switched us to them). One thing, though, their service is almost always better than other airlines I fly, especially in baggage handling — my bags on other airlines can take 20 minutes to show up, but not on Southwest.

Southwest takes a bit of time to get used to (they give everyone a boarding card with "A", "B", or "C" on it, and first on gets the best seats, if you're last on often there won't be space for your luggage so it'll have to be checked). Plus they don't have meals or video screens, at least on the short flights I'm usually on.

Comments

  1. >Second, if you fly Southwest ALWAYS check in online

    Damn you man, don’t give away the secret! The fewer the people know about it, the better for us!
    ;)

    Guess I’d better start working on the Southwest auto-checkin app, for the inevitable day when everyone figures out online checkin and I have to be able to check in at exactly the right time to get the A group.

  2. >Second, if you fly Southwest ALWAYS check in online

    Damn you man, don’t give away the secret! The fewer the people know about it, the better for us!
    ;)

    Guess I’d better start working on the Southwest auto-checkin app, for the inevitable day when everyone figures out online checkin and I have to be able to check in at exactly the right time to get the A group.

  3. Next time you take a coast to coast flight with them, let me know what you think.

    I’m with you, though on the OAK to socal hops.

  4. Next time you take a coast to coast flight with them, let me know what you think.

    I’m with you, though on the OAK to socal hops.

  5. That’s cool they are blogging. But based on most of the people I see lined up to fly Southwest, I have a feeling they barely know how to turn on their computers. While they may have a cool IT department, I wouldn’t fly them on a bet. I mean, airlines treat you like bus riders already-I’ll gladly pay more not to feel more like one.

    I hope that’s not the first anyone is hearing about the 2 exit rows config.

    As for tips:
    Scoble, have you tried SeatGuru? They tell you what seats suck on various aircraft for various airlines.

    for example, on an American 757, try to get seats 10A or 10F/ Why? there is no seat 9a or 9F in front of you! (similar configs apply for other airlines 757)

    if you get to the airport late and only have center seats left, see if the agent will seat you between two people wtih the same last name. See how long you stay in the center seat!

  6. That’s cool they are blogging. But based on most of the people I see lined up to fly Southwest, I have a feeling they barely know how to turn on their computers. While they may have a cool IT department, I wouldn’t fly them on a bet. I mean, airlines treat you like bus riders already-I’ll gladly pay more not to feel more like one.

    I hope that’s not the first anyone is hearing about the 2 exit rows config.

    As for tips:
    Scoble, have you tried SeatGuru? They tell you what seats suck on various aircraft for various airlines.

    for example, on an American 757, try to get seats 10A or 10F/ Why? there is no seat 9a or 9F in front of you! (similar configs apply for other airlines 757)

    if you get to the airport late and only have center seats left, see if the agent will seat you between two people wtih the same last name. See how long you stay in the center seat!

  7. Robert,

    I take the Seattle/San Jose flight about once a month and have picked up on some of the nice things.
    Yes, check in online but do it the night before, pretty much guaranteed ‘A’ group. But I’ve noticed more and more people are checking in online, so it just means you need to get to the terminal earlier in order to get a good seat.
    Ive also never found a reliable WiFi network in the southwest terminals in either Seattle or San Jose.

    Back in December i flew to san jose and the weather was horrible over the bay, the flight attendants had fun with us thoughout the flight and once we landed, saying “Welcome to Oakland… errm…San Jose” and “If your destination is San Jose, you are lucky. If youre continuing to Burbank this afternoon, this is your plane.” (back up into the bad weather)
    Anyways, glad you found a good airline, I love Southwest.

  8. Robert,

    I take the Seattle/San Jose flight about once a month and have picked up on some of the nice things.
    Yes, check in online but do it the night before, pretty much guaranteed ‘A’ group. But I’ve noticed more and more people are checking in online, so it just means you need to get to the terminal earlier in order to get a good seat.
    Ive also never found a reliable WiFi network in the southwest terminals in either Seattle or San Jose.

    Back in December i flew to san jose and the weather was horrible over the bay, the flight attendants had fun with us thoughout the flight and once we landed, saying “Welcome to Oakland… errm…San Jose” and “If your destination is San Jose, you are lucky. If youre continuing to Burbank this afternoon, this is your plane.” (back up into the bad weather)
    Anyways, glad you found a good airline, I love Southwest.

  9. Dmad – Like Scoble I fly SW all the time – almost all the A group passengers these days have home printed boarding passes …it has one of the highest e-ticket bookings in the ariline industry. They have an aw-shucks attitude about tech but are pretty darn savvy as are their passengers

    Scoble -for other fun facts on SW check out a blog I wrote about them last year (an offshore vendor exec asked what he could learn from SW so I angled it that way but it covers lots of ground – and air with SW)

    http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2005/06/what_offshore_v.html

  10. Dmad – Like Scoble I fly SW all the time – almost all the A group passengers these days have home printed boarding passes …it has one of the highest e-ticket bookings in the ariline industry. They have an aw-shucks attitude about tech but are pretty darn savvy as are their passengers

    Scoble -for other fun facts on SW check out a blog I wrote about them last year (an offshore vendor exec asked what he could learn from SW so I angled it that way but it covers lots of ground – and air with SW)

    http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2005/06/what_offshore_v.html

  11. @10. Hey, that’s cool. But,highest selling doesn’t always mean the best. Holiday Inn Express is up at the top in room bookings. But given a choice, not sure it would be at the top of my list of options. Flown SW once. That was enough for me. Like I said, reminded me of taking the Greyhound Bus..only with wings.

  12. @10. Hey, that’s cool. But,highest selling doesn’t always mean the best. Holiday Inn Express is up at the top in room bookings. But given a choice, not sure it would be at the top of my list of options. Flown SW once. That was enough for me. Like I said, reminded me of taking the Greyhound Bus..only with wings.

  13. Its core system – SWIFT (home grown) – sits on a TIBCO framework. Check out Power To Predict on Amazon (disclosure: I did a fair amount of background research for the book)

  14. Its core system – SWIFT (home grown) – sits on a TIBCO framework. Check out Power To Predict on Amazon (disclosure: I did a fair amount of background research for the book)

  15. hey, 11 thank the free market for choices for you and me. As I say in my post I provided link to…Southwest will never convert many customers like you. Too many customers still think they are a “cattle car”, “milk -run” etc…but I for one find alternatives have even less leg space (I am 6-2), use older planes, are surly, want to screw me on pricing every chance they get, play games with my frequent flier miles…

  16. hey, 11 thank the free market for choices for you and me. As I say in my post I provided link to…Southwest will never convert many customers like you. Too many customers still think they are a “cattle car”, “milk -run” etc…but I for one find alternatives have even less leg space (I am 6-2), use older planes, are surly, want to screw me on pricing every chance they get, play games with my frequent flier miles…

  17. You’re 100% right about Southwest. I am a million mile flyer with United. Double miles, priority seating, lots of free upgrades, etc. But, I’d much rather fly Southwest.

    1. They’re m ore on-time than anyone else.
    2. Baggage claim.
    3. From a biz perspective, they keep their capital assets (planes) working more hours per day than anyone else.

    Love them.

  18. You’re 100% right about Southwest. I am a million mile flyer with United. Double miles, priority seating, lots of free upgrades, etc. But, I’d much rather fly Southwest.

    1. They’re m ore on-time than anyone else.
    2. Baggage claim.
    3. From a biz perspective, they keep their capital assets (planes) working more hours per day than anyone else.

    Love them.

  19. yea, but I’ll take JetBlue over Southwest. And Scoble, I’m surprised you love a company running IBM. I would think you would want to patronize MS customers. As I understand it, JetBlue is pretty much MS through and through.

  20. yea, but I’ll take JetBlue over Southwest. And Scoble, I’m surprised you love a company running IBM. I would think you would want to patronize MS customers. As I understand it, JetBlue is pretty much MS through and through.

  21. The thing that I liked about Southwest is their business strategy.
    1- Southwest has handpicked few airports that are not generally crowded. So no delays. Save Money, time and fuel.
    2- No additional Junkies- food/movie. Save money.

  22. The thing that I liked about Southwest is their business strategy.
    1- Southwest has handpicked few airports that are not generally crowded. So no delays. Save Money, time and fuel.
    2- No additional Junkies- food/movie. Save money.

  23. I only fly Southwest. If they don’t go there, I don’t go there. It’s that simple. I am scared to death of flying and in 30+ years of operation, Southwest has never had a single passenger fatality. They keep their aircraft well maintained.

    But I hate flying and I avoid it whenever possible. Even if it means 4 days on a train through the rockies.

  24. I only fly Southwest. If they don’t go there, I don’t go there. It’s that simple. I am scared to death of flying and in 30+ years of operation, Southwest has never had a single passenger fatality. They keep their aircraft well maintained.

    But I hate flying and I avoid it whenever possible. Even if it means 4 days on a train through the rockies.

  25. Short hops they are great, long big trips (say East Coast to West Coast), well, they aren’t exactly playing in the big leagues. And they sure do manage to get into twilight-zoned screw-ups beyond any other airline I have ever flown, well Frontier is running neck to neck. Dmad and others were right, cattle car, Greyhound with wings, is exactly right.

    And I guess, I just got unlucky as found their on-time schedules average at best. They present this happy people, ‘Airline’ reality-show image, but cattle-prodding the masses in, be more the reality. Sometimes you get what you pay for. If you do short hops, by all means, but if more the Biz-trip freq flyer ‘have to get there’ type, they sure don’t rank a top spot.

  26. Short hops they are great, long big trips (say East Coast to West Coast), well, they aren’t exactly playing in the big leagues. And they sure do manage to get into twilight-zoned screw-ups beyond any other airline I have ever flown, well Frontier is running neck to neck. Dmad and others were right, cattle car, Greyhound with wings, is exactly right.

    And I guess, I just got unlucky as found their on-time schedules average at best. They present this happy people, ‘Airline’ reality-show image, but cattle-prodding the masses in, be more the reality. Sometimes you get what you pay for. If you do short hops, by all means, but if more the Biz-trip freq flyer ‘have to get there’ type, they sure don’t rank a top spot.

  27. The New Southwest Airlines Blog Can Take More Risks

    I just read the user guidelines on the Southwest Airlines blog, and it got me thinking as to why as a customer or potential customer (I’ve never flown Southwest) would I communicate with Southwest airlines on their blog, here are…

  28. I used to always fly on SWA when I lived in Texas, and now that I live in the great snowy NorthEast I sure do miss them.
    From what I have heard, one of the secrets to SWA’s turnaround time is how they pay the baggage handlers. SWA supposedly pay in the $20 an hour range whereas other carriers pay min. wage. Who do you thing will unload the plane faster? This also helps prevent theft, as well paid employees are less apt to pocket a bauble they see.

  29. I used to always fly on SWA when I lived in Texas, and now that I live in the great snowy NorthEast I sure do miss them.
    From what I have heard, one of the secrets to SWA’s turnaround time is how they pay the baggage handlers. SWA supposedly pay in the $20 an hour range whereas other carriers pay min. wage. Who do you thing will unload the plane faster? This also helps prevent theft, as well paid employees are less apt to pocket a bauble they see.

  30. Given a choice I will never fly SOuthwest again. Why? I called up to complain about how they handled seating for passengers changing planes mid-trip. Their answer? “Southwest isn’t for everyone.” Darn right – it’s no longer for me. I hear bits of chatter that suggest they have fixed the problem perhaps even using the same solution I suggested. But you know what, I have no interest in even looking into it. They have lost me for good. Another airline, Delta, that has time and again gone the xtra mile for me over 35 years of flying with them will get by business if they are within 20% of the cost of anyone else or as long as they are inside (ok or close) to company guidelines on business travel.

  31. Given a choice I will never fly SOuthwest again. Why? I called up to complain about how they handled seating for passengers changing planes mid-trip. Their answer? “Southwest isn’t for everyone.” Darn right – it’s no longer for me. I hear bits of chatter that suggest they have fixed the problem perhaps even using the same solution I suggested. But you know what, I have no interest in even looking into it. They have lost me for good. Another airline, Delta, that has time and again gone the xtra mile for me over 35 years of flying with them will get by business if they are within 20% of the cost of anyone else or as long as they are inside (ok or close) to company guidelines on business travel.

  32. Alfred – did you go out mid trip and then come back in? Yeah, they screw it up some times – but they force you to go through less hub changes than the majors. I have 2.5 million lifetime miles on Delta (probably less than you) and they are my 3rd choice now a days…3 major reasons – yo/yo pricing, tough to use awards (even as a 2_ m miler). old planes…

    21 – I have written them a letter a year on average and a senior exec has always taken the time to respond…given that they are pioneering blog communication some attorney probably over compensated…

  33. Alfred – did you go out mid trip and then come back in? Yeah, they screw it up some times – but they force you to go through less hub changes than the majors. I have 2.5 million lifetime miles on Delta (probably less than you) and they are my 3rd choice now a days…3 major reasons – yo/yo pricing, tough to use awards (even as a 2_ m miler). old planes…

    21 – I have written them a letter a year on average and a senior exec has always taken the time to respond…given that they are pioneering blog communication some attorney probably over compensated…

  34. Robert,

    My nephew works in the SWA IT department, and happens to be a former MS’er. I’ll be glad to hook you up if you’d like.

    As for flying SWA, like most everyone else here except for Dmad (and maybe Christopher), it’s my first choice. I get the impression that Dmad may not fly a lot, because if he/she did, they would realize that as prices drop, you’re going to get the “Greyhound with wings” treatment from every carrier (assuming they aren’t bankrupt, or close to it).

    As for cross-country, I’ve gone SWA from KY to CA several times, and there’s never been a glitch. Perhaps I’ve got some good karma saved up from all the times Delta has left me wandering around Hartsfield, and United has left me in O’Hare.

    From a profit standpoint, Southwest has several more years to go on 7-year fuel futures that they bought when fuel prices were low, which is one of the reasons that they’re continuing to kick butt when everyone else is cutting corners left and right.

    Not only have they never had a fatality, but flying for SWA is one of the most sought-after jobs for young, skilled pilots. The good pilots that don’t want to work for SWA are either deeply ensconced in the “old school airline business model” (which shows every sign of dying soon), or they’re flying air cargo or for a private org.

    That’s my $.04

  35. Robert,

    My nephew works in the SWA IT department, and happens to be a former MS’er. I’ll be glad to hook you up if you’d like.

    As for flying SWA, like most everyone else here except for Dmad (and maybe Christopher), it’s my first choice. I get the impression that Dmad may not fly a lot, because if he/she did, they would realize that as prices drop, you’re going to get the “Greyhound with wings” treatment from every carrier (assuming they aren’t bankrupt, or close to it).

    As for cross-country, I’ve gone SWA from KY to CA several times, and there’s never been a glitch. Perhaps I’ve got some good karma saved up from all the times Delta has left me wandering around Hartsfield, and United has left me in O’Hare.

    From a profit standpoint, Southwest has several more years to go on 7-year fuel futures that they bought when fuel prices were low, which is one of the reasons that they’re continuing to kick butt when everyone else is cutting corners left and right.

    Not only have they never had a fatality, but flying for SWA is one of the most sought-after jobs for young, skilled pilots. The good pilots that don’t want to work for SWA are either deeply ensconced in the “old school airline business model” (which shows every sign of dying soon), or they’re flying air cargo or for a private org.

    That’s my $.04

  36. Nuts About Southwest

    I’m Nuts About Southwest! If you click that link it will take you to Southwest Airline’s new corporate blog. This is a compelling example of the start of Enterprise 2.0 value creation, and why I have decided to co-found Kalivo.

  37. Southwest also has a simple, fairly generous frequent flyer program. After you fly a certain # of legs (extra credit on legs that are Internet booked) then they send you some codes good for a trip. Go online and book it. I’ve booked less than 24 hours before a flight with frequent flyer codes, no problem.

    I use SWA a lot because they have a hub in Nashville. Direct flights to Seattle, Oakland, San Jose, etc. And I can’t see that they’re any worse than anybody else on those long flights. No first class, but I won’t pay the difference for first class on the other majors anyway.

  38. Southwest also has a simple, fairly generous frequent flyer program. After you fly a certain # of legs (extra credit on legs that are Internet booked) then they send you some codes good for a trip. Go online and book it. I’ve booked less than 24 hours before a flight with frequent flyer codes, no problem.

    I use SWA a lot because they have a hub in Nashville. Direct flights to Seattle, Oakland, San Jose, etc. And I can’t see that they’re any worse than anybody else on those long flights. No first class, but I won’t pay the difference for first class on the other majors anyway.

  39. I wish I’d flown Southwest to San Francisco. I flew American. They lost my bag. Now they say they found it yesterday at 1 p.m.

    The only problem: I was in San Francisco, with my bag, yesterday at 1.

    The real problem: there is nowhere on the website where you can find a customer service phone number. A lady at their HQ told me they took a survey and people preferred to email.

    Who’d they survey? Sure wasn’t customers.

  40. I wish I’d flown Southwest to San Francisco. I flew American. They lost my bag. Now they say they found it yesterday at 1 p.m.

    The only problem: I was in San Francisco, with my bag, yesterday at 1.

    The real problem: there is nowhere on the website where you can find a customer service phone number. A lady at their HQ told me they took a survey and people preferred to email.

    Who’d they survey? Sure wasn’t customers.

  41. “And Scoble, I’m surprised you love a company running IBM.”

    I wouldn’t characterize Southwest as “running IBM”.
    Sure, they have Websphere, but the bulk of the interesting work going on in their IT shop is plain
    old java.

    The Customer facing website is C++/Corba, no hint of IBM anywhere.

    Ding! appears to be running on linux webservers, and
    the client is available both on Microsoft Windows and Macs.

  42. “And Scoble, I’m surprised you love a company running IBM.”

    I wouldn’t characterize Southwest as “running IBM”.
    Sure, they have Websphere, but the bulk of the interesting work going on in their IT shop is plain
    old java.

    The Customer facing website is C++/Corba, no hint of IBM anywhere.

    Ding! appears to be running on linux webservers, and
    the client is available both on Microsoft Windows and Macs.

  43. “Its core system – SWIFT (home grown) – sits on a TIBCO framework”

    Sort of. TIBCO is important, but SWIFT uses Smartsockets, from Talarian, which Tibco bought.
    Tibco has all but killed off Smartsockets.

    The newer Tibco products are used, just not directly by SWIFT.

    Also, SWIFT is core to the operation, but it’s probably
    more correct to call their Reservations/Departure Control system the “core” of the airline. That runs on
    a TPF mainframe.

  44. “Its core system – SWIFT (home grown) – sits on a TIBCO framework”

    Sort of. TIBCO is important, but SWIFT uses Smartsockets, from Talarian, which Tibco bought.
    Tibco has all but killed off Smartsockets.

    The newer Tibco products are used, just not directly by SWIFT.

    Also, SWIFT is core to the operation, but it’s probably
    more correct to call their Reservations/Departure Control system the “core” of the airline. That runs on
    a TPF mainframe.

  45. [...] Anyway, as Shel intimates, the questions are almost better than the answers. They beg the larger question: just what do companies hope to achieve by blogging? Scoble had some comments today about Southwest’s blog: It’s a pretty cold blog so far. It’s the kind of blog I think most corporations will start out with. Safe. Take no chances. Don’t piss anyone off. Don’t reveal anything that the PR team isn’t comfortable with. [...]

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  48. [...] Scoble also has some details : Funny, I just got off of a Southwest airline from San Jose to Seattle and found out that Southwest now has a blog. There’s more on Memeorandum. It’s a pretty cold blog so far. It’s the kind of blog I think most corporations will start out with. Safe. Take no chances. Don’t piss anyone off. Don’t reveal anything that the PR team isn’t comfortable with. Airlines India [...]

  49. Help us get our jobs back at American Airlines. AMR is using 9/11 in taking our jobs for good away from us.

  50. Help us get our jobs back at American Airlines. AMR is using 9/11 in taking our jobs for good away from us.

  51. Apply for a job at another airline then. Maybe you should try Southwest (since they have a strong presense in STL, although you’ll have to base where they have the biggest need probably BWI).

  52. Apply for a job at another airline then. Maybe you should try Southwest (since they have a strong presense in STL, although you’ll have to base where they have the biggest need probably BWI).

  53. Scoble are you still interested in SWA Technology Dept?
    We are expanding and will be seeking 20-30 Java candidates in the next two to three weeks.

    I have all the details if you are interested.

    The information has not gone out yet, but if you would like the inside scoop before it goes live, just e-mail me at grace.ward@wnco.com and I will make sure you get it.
    It will be posted on southwest.com/careers in the next week or so, but if you want to be on the front end, just let me know.

    Thanks,
    GW – Southwest Airlines – People Dept.

  54. Scoble are you still interested in SWA Technology Dept?
    We are expanding and will be seeking 20-30 Java candidates in the next two to three weeks.

    I have all the details if you are interested.

    The information has not gone out yet, but if you would like the inside scoop before it goes live, just e-mail me at grace.ward@wnco.com and I will make sure you get it.
    It will be posted on southwest.com/careers in the next week or so, but if you want to be on the front end, just let me know.

    Thanks,
    GW – Southwest Airlines – People Dept.