While we often make fun of the airlines on this blog, this is an example of really good marketing. It has to do with Southwest Airlines. If you do not fly them often or at all you probably think they still have the “cattle call” boarding process that rewards people who arrive at the airport hours early with the best seats on the plane.
Actually it hasn’t been that way since they began to allow Internet boarding passes. Today, you can get your boarding pass 24 hours in advance, and first come first served in terms of boarding priority based on when your boarding pass is issued, not when you get to the airport. With two exceptions and an additional benefit. (We’ll get to the cool marketing idea soon, stay with us.)
Boarding on Southwest is by boarding number, the lower the number, the earlier you board. And, now they have you line up by exact number so there is no need to stand in line at all until boarding starts. They actually now have the easiest boarding process in the industry. And it’s still fast. (But we digress.)
So, how else can you get a low number? Two ways: One is to fly them a lot. If you do, they reward you with a low number (usually below A-30) no matter when you get your boarding pass. The second way is to pay a Business Select fare. Usually about $15 more than full-fare and potentially a lot more than the lowest fare. The reward is a boarding number usually between A1-A15. Again, no matter when you get your boarding pass.
So what’s the cool marketing idea? Well it is actually the whole way in which you board and get your low number, but they have added a really good promotional idea recently. Now, when they announce boarding they call the “Business Select customers A1-A15.” That way everyone knows that if you buy a Business Select fare you can be an early boarder. Free promotion every time they board a flight. We like it a lot.