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Getting Down to Business

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As you can tell from our announcement today, we have a lot of exciting news for our business travelers and our frequent Rapid Rewards Members, and these enhancements go into effect tomorrow, hand-in-hand with the systemwide rollout of our new streamlined boarding procedures.  Much of my time and focus (and that of the entire Marketing Team) over the past year or so has been devoted to these changes, and I see them as reconfirming the vision of our Founders, Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, who envisioned an airline that would allow business travelers to park the car and travel by air.  Herb and Rollin intuitively knew that business travelers want safe, affordable, frequent, and friendly flights that provide outstanding value for their money, and today’s announcement is dedicated to that goal.
Road Warriors have special travel needs; their plans usually change at the last minute; and because their time is so important, they often arrive at the airport just before boarding begins.  If ever there was an airline that recognized the benefits of productivity, it is Southwest, and while great fares are extremely important for business travelers–and their companies–making the most of their time is critical.  The exciting changes that we have announced today will help these Customers meet both their productivity and budget goals.  We have a great interactive page at southwest.com, and it will provide you specific details.
However, I do want to touch on the more significant aspects of these changes.  Our new Business Select Fare category ensures that, for a few bucks over our Business Fare, our Business Select Customers will be among the first to board and will also receive extra Rapid Rewards credit for their travels and a free cocktail (or beer or wine).   Along with this new fare category, our current unrestricted walkup fare is being renamed our Business Fare, and it gives business travelers total flexibility in their travel plans.  And, we haven’t forgotten our leisure travelers with our Wanna Get Away Fares that offer our world famous discounted leisure fares.  (DING! fares remain generally our lowest fares and can only be accessed through the DING! “widget,” which is downloaded directly to your desktop.  To sign up for DING!, click here.)
Along with the changes in our fare platform, you will see enhancements at southwest.com as we have simplified our initial fare displays to help you find the fare that best suits your travel needs.  The Wanna Get Away fare section will always show the lowest available fare (again, except for DING! fares) for your selected travel date.  Searching for lower fares on other travel dates is also easier now with the newly improved “Southwest Shortcut.”
Aside from new fare product and web display, we have another exciting enhancement for our most frequent travelers, the Customers we call our A-Listers.  To be a part of this A-List, you don’t have to walk a red carpet, hire a publicist, or hide from the paparazzi; you just need to complete 32 one-way flights (16 roundtrips) in a 12-month period.  Once you reach this milestone, you move to the A-List, and we will check you in automatically for your flights and hold your boarding pass(es) for you.  All you (or your publicist) have to do is print out your preassigned boarding pass and be at the gate at least 20 minutes before departure.  We’ll do the work for you.
Another exciting change is the availability to redeem two Standard Awards in our Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program for an unrestricted Freedom Award. We listened to our frequent travelers who wanted “last seat availability” on our flights, and we’re introducing this new program today. With the exception of a few select blackout dates, Southwest is making it possible again to redeem frequent flyer Awards for unrestricted travel.
Today is exciting because these new enhancements give us the ability to differentiate our product to meet the differing needs of our Customers without having to change our decades-long dedication to low fares and great Customer Service. I am hoping that you will be just as excited as we are about these enhancements to our product because we really want to be your airline of choice for both your business and personal travel needs.

293 Comments

  1. Suggestion for the Business Select program. Offer online upgrades from standard fare to BS. My company travel policy does not allow booking of the Business Select, but I travel enough that I would be willing to pay for an upgrade online to BS for the flexibility.
    High on Southwest

  2. Hi DeAnna,
    We certainly appreciate the courage, skill, and sacrifice of firefighters like your husband, and we salute him. If I can give you some background about government fares, I think it will answer your question. These fares are negotiated directly with the specific government entities for individuals traveling on government business. Usually they only apply to state and federal governments because of the quantity of travel involved. It is very rare to have a negotiated rate with a municipality–simply because the volume isn’t there. With a government fare, we can offer a lower rate because we know we will have a set volume of travel, and the government can control travel costs, since they are the ones who will be paying the bill. Because the governments directly pay for these fares, they are the ones who control the form of payment for the tickets. Prior to corporate style credit cards, they would issue government travel orders or GTOs to purchase tickets. Today, the individuals who qualify for government travel have governent-issued travel cards, and we are bound by the contracts with those governments to accept this specific form of payment.
    Brian

  3. I do not understand the policy that “Government Employees” can only get a government rate if they have a government issued credit card. At various other businesses, my husband, as a City Firefighter (thus employed by our local government), is always given a discount, and has never had to provide a government issued credit card. These guys aren’t even paid close to what they’re worth, and I can certainly assure you that our local government would never pass out a credit card to them, even when they travel for the City.