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Southwest Plans $2 Billion Customer Experience Fleet Overhaul

After being named the top economy carrier by the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study, the Dallas-based airline will start a five-year plan to upgrade nearly every part of the passenger experience.
Although economy flyers are big fans of Southwest Airlines for their free checked luggage and open seating assignments – earning them the top honors in the Economy category in the J.D. Power and Associates 2022 North America Airline Satisfaction Study – the Dallas-based carrier wants to make their product even better for passengers.

 

The airline announced a $2 billion investment in the passenger experience over the next five years, touching everything from the overhead bins to power outlets at each seat.\

 

Passenger Experience Overhaul to Include Self-Service Kiosks, Outlets and Technology

Under the five-year plan outlined by the “LUV” carrier, the full passenger experience will improve, starting from the moment flyers enter the airport. Southwest plans on adding more self-service options, including purchasing same-day upgrading to the A1-A15 boarding group from the airline app. The airline says the automation will “bring elevated ease in doing business with Southwest,” including adding lap children at check-in and making online changes easier.

 

Onboard their fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, the airline is dedicated to using technology to create a more pleasant experience. Flyers will get access to bigger overhead bins for carry-on luggage, more entertainment options through their personal devices and a bigger selection of refreshments in flight. New beverages to be introduced through September 2022 include a Bloody Mary mix, a yet to be named ready-to-drink cocktail, hard seltzers and Rosé wine.

 

To increase the in-flight entertainment experience – promising “more than double the number of free movies currently available” and a 3D flight tracker – the carrier will install a more robust connectivity system for their aircraft. Southwest selected the Anuvu latest-generation hardware, which reportedly provides 10-times the bandwidth than current Wi-Fi options. To test the equipment and how it reacts with an entire plane using it, passengers on select flights in the U.S. will get access to free internet during their flight. The new hardware will be on 50 aircraft by the end of May 2022, with an estimated 350 getting upgraded by the beginning of the fourth quarter.

 

Finally, the carrier will add two power outlets to each seat to keep mobile entertainment devices powered on all flight. The USB-A and USB-C power outlets will get installed in seatbacks in order to maintain the current legroom. The outlets will be available on select Boeing 737 MAX aircraft starting in 2023.

 

Move Comes With Focus to Attract More Business Flyers

The passenger experience is part of a larger business strategy to win over business flyers returning to the airport in 2022 and beyond. Prior to the equipment overhaul, Southwest announced the creation of a new “Wanna Get Away Plus” category. The new option will be ready to book by the end of May 2022.

17 Comments
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capt601 May 17, 2022

All designed to distract from latest report of SWA attempting to influence the design of max planes for their sole benefit, safety not even considered.  Manager
ment learned from fox news how to distract away from facts. 

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BillShepp May 16, 2022

How about options on the website to check nearby airports? It's absurd that I have to check SFO, SJC,and OAK separately for any possible itinerary. Integration with travel portals so I could easily include WN as part of multi-airline itineraries would also be helpful. And could solve my first request.

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AsiaTravel2019 May 14, 2022

Southwest just doesn't work for business travel. Premium business customers want certainty and comfort, so dedicated seats and a true first product. WN has the slots and the routes to do something really great and give the legacies a run for their money.

Also business travelers aren't going to put up with the flip-floppers, kids and FOTSG crowd to get a seat. So the Greyhound boarding needs to be for the cheap seats

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From my perspective they need one thing bigger seats

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cyclefanatic83 May 13, 2022

How about rolling out new planes with the quieter engines. Those old planes and mind-shatteringly loud inside