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Simple Flying
Southwest Airlines' culture emphasizes no hidden fees, setting it apart from competitors

Southwest Airlines has finally fully joined the Google Flights menu, allowing its fares to be osted alongside those of other airlines. For Southwest Airlines, this means reaching more potential customers.


Southwest Airlines’ reasoning

For the longest time, Southwest Airlines did not allow fares to be posted to flights.google.com, forcing shoppers to go to Southwest.com to find the airline’s fares. This somewhat puts Southwest Airlines at a competitive disadvantage. According to Paddle Your Own Kanoo reporting, other websites that charge a commission, like Expedia, are frozen out to help keep fares low.

The Biden Administration has been attempting to regulate the end of junk fees, while the previous Trump Administration had quashed an effort at airline fare transparency in December 2017. But while Southwest Airlines is supportive of fare transparency, other major US airlines are litigating the Biden Administration’s new rule.


Google upgrading Google Flights

In an August 28, 2023 blog post, James Byers, Group Program Manager, Search, shared that Google has been improving Google Flights. For instance, Google Flights is tracking flights to see when the best dates to book are. This way, if you have a destination and date in mind but want to gamble on waiting for a fare sale, you may—and Southwest Airlines is well known for fare sales.


Improving “Transfarency” from Southwest Airlines

Since October 8, 2015, Southwest Airlines has had a policy of “Transfarency.”

Indeed, one can log onto Google Flights and not see the fare, including the fee for two checked bags, as of May 26. However, one can calculate the round-trip fare for October 4 to Santa Ana (SNA) and return on October 6 to Seattle (SEA) after the Pacific Airshow. Without clicking the bags, Southwest Airlines ranks toward the bottom. However, by clicking the bag price option, Southwest Airlines rose in placement by price on Google Flights.

Also, on the Google Flights platform, seating classes can be compared with all other airlines. This allows one to see what seating class is best for a potential passenger.


A matter of Southwest Airlines' culture

Ultimately, not having hidden fees is culturally vital for Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines has two bags fly free and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages plus snacks.

Since its birth, Southwest Airlines has allowed the first two checked bags to fly free while other airlines collect billions from charging for luggage. The thinking is that as per their self-published book Leading With Heart: Living and Working the Southwest Way, five or six bags with fees would be needed to replace the revenue from one customer.

Additionally, Southwest Airlines has trademarked the word “transfarency” with the serial number 86668468. Thus, only Southwest Airlines can use the word in marketing.


Bottom line

Southwest Airlines offering its fares on Google Flights is another powerful tool for the airline to compete with her peers. For an airline that has trademarked the word “Transfarency”, going on Google Flights is a logical step forward.

May 29, 2024

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