Schedule Extension Question

Old Nov 20, 03, 8:45 am
  #1  
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Schedule Extension Question


I am curious about something.

I have always believed that Southwest's policy of only having their schedule open a few months "out" costs them revenue.

I understand the benefit of not having to continue an unprofitable route just because passengers are booked on it (or being like other major airlines and just cancelling the service and inconveniencing the stranded passengers).

I am wondering if anyone has ever booked a flight with a competitor just because SW's schedule was not open. A number of possibilities exist:

1. A desire to have a definite receipt to bill a customer or turn in an expense report - the type of somewhat price indifferent customer that SW likes.

2. A desire to finish the travel reservation process all at once without the worry of forgetting to book the airline tickets once SW's schedule is finally open.

3. A lack of awareness by the unsophisticated traveller that the SW price will be lower than the competitor's price once the SW schedule opens up (or that the competitors will lower their prices once the SW schedule is extended).

This may not be a good target audience since most of the readers are so skilled in obtaining the RR vouchers that they are truly price indifferent and can wait until the schedule opens. But I think the current policy is unprofitable to SW. It is now Nov. 20 and the schedule is only open until Apr. 2. That seems unreasonable to me.
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Old Nov 20, 03, 9:47 am
  #2  
 
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Actually, I've had the opposite experience - everytime I book far in advance on a competitor (usually b/c it's a market WN doesn't serve or using travel vouchers, etc.) I always seem to get hit with the change in flight times, actual flights, etc - and the reaccomodation (1) is always at worse times and (2) usually doesn't carry my seating assigment through. It's a hassle to track and fix, and an overall negative experience.

By contrast, once the schedule opens on WN, it's by-and-large set. I value the fact that WN sells me specific transportation, whereas the others tend to treat an advance reservation as a commitment to get from origin to destination with the exact means and times subject to modification and substitution as they see fit.

That said, WN probably does let their schedule get a bit too tight at times - and it probably does have some revenue implications. You have to weigh it against the cost (both actual and goodwill) of notifying and modifying existing reservations (or, of course, keeping poorly performing schedules in place for a longer period). I prefer Southwest's approach here.
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Old Nov 20, 03, 10:14 am
  #3  
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Plus, when Southwest has a sale, they can honestly say it's for ANY flight in the future schedule.

Other airlines advertise sales for flights that are only in the distant future, barring blackout days and any other periods that they don't want to cough up good seats. Plus, the inevitable change fees...
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