Ted Reed posted an article today on TheStreet.com about Southwest Airlines that misses the point. His article, The Mainstreaming of Southwest Airlines, suggests that Southwest is becoming like all the other airlines because they are now going to serve Minneapolis and LaGuardia. He makes the statement that Southwest distinguished itself for years by avoiding such airports.
Where is he coming from? Southwest distinguished itself by providing timely travel at a fair price with less hassle and more fun than the other airlines. The fact that they could not crack LaGuardia or Minneapolis gates was a loss to those travelers not to Southwest.
Sure, as Mr. Reed points out, Southwest has a lower cost structure than other airlines, but not because of the airports they serve. It’s because they run a more efficient, customer focused airline. They served SFO for quite a while before leaving it because they could not offer their kind of service at an airport that shuts down 50% of its capacity on a regular basis and then favors long-distance carriers. Southwest is back at SFO, the weather has not changed, so perhaps they cut a different deal with the airport this time.
Anyway, to suggest that Southwest is becoming a mainstream airline is like suggesting In-‘n-Out Burger is becoming a mainstream fast food restaurant.