Monday, December 9, 2013

Southwest Airlines - What?

Here's a paradox: The airline that gets the fewest complaints also seems to have the most things go wrong, according to data compiled by Crain's Chicago.

The news outlet calculated the rate of infractions for things like mishandled baggage, late flights, and overbooking, and threw the results into an infographic.
Among the five categories surveyed, Southwest led seven U.S.-based airlines for rate of:
  • Involuntary boarding denials — 1.19 per 10,000 passengers, compared with 0.01 for JetBlue, the lowest. 
  • Mishandled baggage — 3.61 per 1,000 passengers, compared with 0.97 for Virgin, the lowest. 
  • Fewest on-time departures — 66.6%, compared with leader US Airways at 84.6%. 
Yet, Southwest also had the fewest rate of overall complaints — 0.34 per 100,000 passengers, compared with the leader, United, at 2.3 per 100,000.

This probably tells us a few things. First, some infractions are probably more egregious than others. Southwest actually had the second-best on-time arrival rate. It's not immediately clear why there's not a one-to-one correlation with on-time departures, but it seems reasonable that landing promptly is more important than taking off promptly. 

Second, you get what you pay for. No one airline can claim the overall lowest prices all instances, but Southwest is known as *the* low-cost airline, so expectations may be lower going in.

Finally, Southwest consistently outperforms on customer service surveys. A recent poll  by found Southwest placed second in customer satisfaction ranking, behind JetBlue — which had the worst on-time arrival rate of the seven airlines surveyed.

When your stock ticker is LUV, evidently, your reputation precedes you.

(Rob Wile - Yahoo Finance) 

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