Southwest will pay flight attendants double overtime as it struggles with a staffing hole over the July 4 week

A gate agent wears a Southwest Airlines mask
A Southwest Airlines agent in Los Angeles.

  • Southwest is paying some staff double for overtime shifts in the first week of July, CNBC reported.
  • The airline said the extra pay would boost staff levels and reduce the number of flight disruptions.
  • Demand for travel is rebounding fast but the aviation industry faces a staffing shortage.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is doubling overtime pay for some staff over the July 4 week as it eyes a huge bump in travel, CNBC reported.

Flight attendants, ground-operations agents, and cargo agents will earn double for picking up extra shifts in a bid to avoid disruptions over the Independence Day weekend, per CNBC.

Demand for travel is rebounding fast as the US economy reopens but the aviation industry faces a staffing shortage after letting too many pilots and flight attendants go during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Southwest has been hit by a series of flight disruptions caused by technical problems and bad weather. It delayed nearly 4,000 flights and canceled hundreds more over a three-day period in mid-June because of a glitch in weather data and a computer-system outage. It also canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend and Monday after airports were hit by severe thunderstorms.

Read more: Forget flying commutes – these aviation startups are taking off by moving cargo by air

In a memo to staff Monday, reported by CNBC, Alan Kasher, executive vice president of daily operations at Southwest, said: “We have heard from many of you who are frustrated with our network reliability and irregular operations created by summer storms across many parts of the country.

“To address the situation for the short term, we will be incentivizing our Ops Employees during this busy holiday travel week by increasing overtime pay from July 1 through July 7.”

Flight attendants will get double pay for picking up open shifts over that week, Sonya Lacore, vice president of inflight operations at Southwest, wrote in a separate staff memo Monday, per CNBC. A spokesperson told the publication that ground and cargo operations staff would also get double pay for overtime shifts.

Southwest did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 2,066,964 passengers on Monday – 84% of the number it screened on the same day in 2019.

But Southwest is struggling to find enough staff as demand for flights returns. As well as doubling overtime pay, the airline is bumping up its minimum wage to $15 later this year, which it said would boost paychecks for around 7,000 staff.

Still, some pilots who were on leave during the pandemic have yet to be retrained before they can return to work.

“We have about 900 pilots who are coming back from extended time off that are being trained in June and July and we’ll probably slip into August,” Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), told WFAA.

“We have the pilots,” he said. “We just don’t have the pilots trained currently.”

SWAPA told members Monday that Southwest had also offered double pay for pilots during the July 4 week, which it called “inadequate”. The union said that it had not come to an agreement with the airline on pay, CNBC reported.

“It has been clear (since spring!) that our operation was on track for a brutal summer caused by overselling a schedule that they absolutely cannot fill,” SWAPA told members.

“This [July 4] weekend coming up is going to be a true test for the entire breadth of Southwest Airlines,” Murray told WFAA.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airlines are not prepared for the surge in travelers because they don’t have enough planes – or pilots to fly them

A Southwest Airlines plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport next to American Airlines planes.
A Southwest Airlines plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport.

  • Airlines are discovering they retired too many aircraft during the pandemic and let go too many pilots and flight attendants.
  • Southwest Airlines says it doesn’t have enough planes to sustain its model in 2022 and 2023.
  • Airline schedules are highly unreliable as a result, leading to flight changes and cancellations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Travel is surging in the US and airlines are once again faced with shortages, but it’s more than just pilots this time.

Many US carriers shed older aircraft from their fleets in a cash-saving effort during the worst times of the pandemic. At the time, vaccines a distant dream and travel demand wasn’t expected to rebound for years.

“The airlines were being forced to make very complex decisions under enormous pressure,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider. “Key among them is: How do you bring your costs down to survive an approximately 96% decline in demand?”

But Southwest Airlines, after accelerating the retirement of 737-700 aircraft in 2020, is now saying that the airline’s current fleet won’t be enough to support the carrier’s business model in the upcoming years and could hinder expansion efforts.

“We don’t feel like we have enough airplanes for 2022 and 2023, and that’s just doing what you know us to be famous for,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive officer, CNBC, referring to its current business of mostly domestic flying.

Now that demand is ramping up, airlines might find themselves without enough planes to keep up and Southwest isn’t the only airline that shed planes during the pandemic. Delta Air Lines similarly parted with three fleet types including the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80/MD-90, Boeing 737-700, and Boeing 777-200 series of aircraft.

Those aircraft now sit in storage facilities and bringing them back into service would be too great of an expense for airlines, according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for Teal Group. New builds from manufacturers, including the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A220, are preferable but come at a slower rate.

Read More: Airlines are delaying new plane deliveries and seeking financing – and that’s bad news for Boeing as the 737 Max inches toward its return

The aircraft shortage is also compounded by the age-old pilot shortage, with not even pilots to fly the ambitious schedules that airlines have set. American Airlines saw the impacts of over-scheduling in mid-June when hundreds of flights were canceled in a single weekend thanks to a combination of labor shortages and severe weather.

“The pilot shortage that loomed over the industry in 2019 may have abated slightly, but it hasn’t gone away,” Harteveldt said.

Airlines moved to shed staff last year, including pilots and flight attendants, through buyouts and voluntary separation programs in a bid to lower costs. But just like with aircraft, some may have parted ways with too many now that demand is rebounding.

“Perhaps they had lost more pilots and flight attendants than they otherwise would have wanted and as a result, that may have reduced their ability to scale up their flying as demand returned,” Harteveldt said.

Shortages stemming from massive staff reductions also could’ve been avoided since airlines were the recipients of three rounds of federal stimulus money.

“I think that the airlines would probably admit – privately if not on the record – that perhaps they should have been less aggressive in encouraging employees to the pilots and flight attendants to take buyouts and leave the company when the government was going to cover 70% of those employees’ wages,” Harteveldt said.

Delta has committed to hire and train 1,000 new pilots between now and next summer and United has launched a pilot training program, Aviate, that provides financing options and a pathway to flying its aircraft for students.

Airline schedules are now highly unreliable and travelers booking flights should be prepared for unexpected changes or cancellations. Changes to airline schedules can occur anytime and travelers should frequently be checking their bookings to see if changes have occurred.

If an airline has changed a traveler’s trip, they have the right to request a new flight or even a refund if the change is great enough.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines is boosting its minimum wage to $15 an hour, giving raises to more than 7,000 employees, in an effort to bulk up staffing as travel picks up

a Southwest Airlines plane takes off in Phoenix
  • Southwest Airlines is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, affecting over 7,000 employees.
  • The hike comes as travel picks back up due to reduced COVID restrictions and the economy reopening.
  • Southwest hopes to implement the wage increase by August.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is hiking its minimum wage to $15 an hour as travel inches back towards pre-pandemic levels.

“Southwest continually works to attract and retain the best candidates for open positions,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. “As part of this ongoing effort, Southwest is increasing minimum pay rates so that all hourly employees will make at least $15 per hour.”

More than 7,000 current employees will see bigger paychecks as a result of the wage hike, Southwest said. The airline added that it will aim for the boost to take effect by August 1 but that some of its work groups will need to negotiate to implement the change.

The wage bump will affect reservations agents, baggage and cargo handlers, and customer service employees, among others, according to Bloomberg, which was first to report the news. The change will spell out an additional $1.30 an hour on average, Bloomberg reports.

The announcement comes in the midst of renewed interest in travel, thanks to reduced coronavirus restrictions and the reopening of the economy. It also closely follows a prediction from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly that the carrier likely doesn’t have enough planes to keep up with demand in 2022 and 2023. The airline has enough staff to carry it through the summer, Southwest’s vice president of labor relations, Russell McCrady, told Bloomberg.

Southwest is the latest company to struggle finding workers to fill open jobs at existing wage levels. Big names like Amazon, McDonald’s and JBS are among those trying to draw new employees with promises of signup bonuses, increased pay and other incentives. Costco boosted its minimum wage to $16 an hour in February. In the same month, Walmart announced it would raise wages for 425,000 workers, although its minimum starting wage would remain $11 an hour.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airlines could hike charges on overweight baggage because passengers are getting heavier, according to an industry expert

Passengers sit in an American Airlines airplane before flying from California to North Carolina
Passengers board an American Airlines flight from California to North Carolina

  • Airlines could use higher passenger weights to charge more for baggage, says an industry expert.
  • American Airlines said its average passenger weights had risen by eight pounds.
  • But experts say airlines are unlikely to weigh passengers before they board their flights.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Airlines could hike charges on overweight baggage as they try to account for heavier passengers, an industry expert told Insider.

American Airlines confirmed to Insider on June 10 that its average passenger weights had increased, while airline officials told the Wall Street Journal that average passenger and baggage weights had risen between 5% and 10%, but did not say over what period.

Henry Harteveldt, president of travel research firm Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider that he wouldn’t be “surprised if airlines use the higher passenger weight estimates to charge passengers more money.”

Airlines might reduce their weight limit for checked bags, increase charges for overweight luggage, or both, he said.

“Somewhere, in the bowels of an airline’s headquarter building, a zealous financial analyst is licking her or his lips, relishing the chance to use this as an opportunity extract more money from that airline’s passengers.”

Weight estimates are used to calculate the weight and balance of the aircraft before take off – vital data needed to ensure the plane can fly safely. Keeping within weight limits can be harder in hotter climates and at higher altitudes where more energy is needed to lift the plane, requiring more fuel.

Airlines had until June 12 to submit new average passenger and baggage weight estimates to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the government body that regulates commercial airlines, the Journal reported.

An American Airlines spokesperson told Insider that its average passenger weight was 182 pounds in summer and 187 pounds in winter, “an 8-pound increase for both seasons.” The spokesperson also said that American expects carry-on baggage to be five pounds heavier in new estimates, and checked bags to be 4 pounds heavier.

American told Insider it plans to use larger aircraft for flights where it anticipates there may be weight issues, and limit ticket sales “if necessary.” It added, however, that most of its flights are able to accommodate heavier passengers. A company spokesperson said there would be no change in customer experience following the weight changes.

Harteveldt said airlines “constantly” look for ways to reduce aircraft weight, for example, by buying lighter seats, scrapping in-seat entertainment hardware, and reducing the size of toilet cubicles.

Harteveldt added that he has even known airlines to buy lighter cutlery and cups to save weight, and stocking the plane with fewer food and drink items.

Helane Becker, airlines analyst and managing director of investment bank Cowen, told Insider that the “trend in heavier people has been going on for years,” and that she expected airlines to both change overweight bag charges and accept less mail and fewer small packages.

Southwest Airlines told Insider that the FAA had approved its submission in early June and had no plans to “increase overweight or oversized baggage fees.”

Industry body Airlines for America, which speaks on behalf of 10 major airlines, also said that it doesn’t “anticipate there will be any noticeable changes” for customers, in an emailed statement.

Delta Air Lines said they had developed an “implementation plan” to minimize any impact on customers, although did not share any details.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Retired Southwest Airlines pilot admits to exposing himself to female first officer and watching porn mid-flight

Southwest Airlines Phoenix
  • A retired Southwest Airlines pilot admitted to performing lewd acts during a flight last year.
  • Michael Haak exposed his genitals to a first officer and watched porn in the cockpit, prosecutors said.
  • Haak expressed remorse for his actions before being sentenced to one year’s probation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A retired Southwest Airlines pilot was sentenced to probation on Friday after pleading guilty to showing his genitals to a female first officer and watching pornography during a flight from Philadelphia to Florida last year.

Prosecutors alleged that Michael Haak, 66, waited until the flight reached cruising altitude before he got up from the pilot’s seat and “intentionally disrobed” while watching porn on a laptop, USA Today reported.

“Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the first officer continued to perform her duties,” prosecutors said in a statement, according to the BBC. Haak had never met the female first officer before the flight.

Read more: Can you work remotely? These 14 cities and towns will pay you up to $20,000 just to move there.

Judge J Mark Coulson sentenced Haak to one year of unsupervised probation and a $5,000 fine. Coulson said the ex- pilot’s actions had traumatized the first officer.

Haak apologized for his actions and said they had “started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot,” the BBC reported.

“I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years,” he added.

Haak, who is originally from Florida, was a pilot with Southwest Airlines for 27 years. He retired at the end of August last year.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told USA Today that the airline “does not tolerate behavior of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated.”

“Nonetheless, Southwest did investigate the matter and as a result, ceased paying Mr. Haak any benefits he was entitled to receive as a result of his separation from (the airline),” the spokesperson added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant allegedly lost two teeth after a passenger assault, and it illustrates a growing trend of unruly behavior on flights

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800.

  • Southwest Airlines said a passenger was verbally and physically abusive toward a flight attendant on Sunday.
  • A flight-attendants union says 477 incidents have occured on Southwest Airlines’ flights.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration warned instances of unruly behavior on flights are increasing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A flight attendant for Southwest Airlines was assaulted over the weekend and lost two teeth from the incident, according to a letter a flight-attendant union sent to the company’s CEO, Gary Kelly, on Monday.

The letter, from the Transport Workers Union of America local 556 (TWU), said there have been 477 incidents of violence and unruly behavior on Southwest Airlines flights between April 8 and May 15. Earlier in the month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it had received 2,500 reports of unruly passengers since January.

“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” the union wrote. “Today’s traveling environment requires a new level of firmness in both tone and direction to ensure proper control in the cabin of our aircraft as the attitudes and behaviors of the flying public have, unfortunately, declined.”

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirmed the incident occured on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday morning.

“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard in-flight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” the spokesperson said. “We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”

The spokesperson told Insider the company is working with the FAA to improve safety measures for flight attendants and passengers. The passenger, who was identified as a 28-year-old woman, was taken into police custody and has been charged with felony battery, USA Today reported.

The incident is just one of many to occur on airplanes in the past few months. Earlier this month, the FAA said it was seeing a spike of unruly and aggressive behavior on airlines, citing moments when passengers hit, yelled, and shoved flight attendants. The agency proposed fines of up to $15,000 for five passengers accused of interfering with and assaulting flight attendants.

Flight attendants told Insider’s Allana Akhtar that the pandemic has made passengers increasingly non-compliant and aggressive, especially when it came to enforcing the federally mandated mask policy for airlines. While the CDC lifted the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in many spaces, customers are still required to wear masks on public aircrafts.

In its letter, the flight-attendants union called for increased penalties and restrictions for passengers who demonstrate “egregious behavior,” as well as an increase in the number of federal air marshals on flights.

“The last year has brought many unknowns, and much has been out of our control,” the union said. “Please keep your crews in mind and understand the impact of today’s environment on our Crews’ working conditions.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

United is going on the offensive against rival Southwest in another spat with competitors

United Airlines Boeing 737
Southwest Airlines and United Airlines aircraft.

  • United Airlines is targeting Southwest Airlines with new advertisements aimed at Denver flyers.
  • In the ads, it criticizes Southwest for its open seating policy, routes, and on-time performance.
  • The campaign is scheduled to appear on trains, television networks, social media, and even Spotify.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new United Airlines advertising campaign is directly targeting Southwest Airlines as the two compete for travelers in Denver.

The “Mile High Standards” campaign critiques Southwest for things like its on-time performance and open seating policy while boasting about United’s offerings like non-stop flights to Hawaii, as well as the airline’s long-time presence in Colorado’s capital city.

United is billing the strategy as “bold” and “unlike any you’ve ever seen from us before,” with its low-cost rival solely in the crosshairs. One example criticizes Southwest’s lack of direct flights to Hawaii and Cozumel from Denver.

United Airlines Denver Ad Campaign
United Airlines’ Denver advertising campaign.

Not all of United’s advertisements are directed towards Southwest with some aimed at highlighting the key role that Denver plays for the airline.

United in 2018 opened a flight training center in Denver that houses more than 30 flight simulators and trains around 10,000 pilots each year. United is also the only US airline offering intercontinental flights from Denver to cities like London; Frankfurt, Germany; and Tokyo, in normal times.

Rocky Mountain Rivalry

Denver has proved to be an important base for both Southwest and United during the pandemic. Travelers have flocked to the Mountain West thanks to pandemic-friendly activities like camping, hiking, and skiing.

United has invested additional resources to accommodate, including a luxury bus service from the airport to Breckenridge, Colorado that passengers can book just as they would a regular United flight. Operated by Landline, the bus departs from a terminal gate, and checked bags are transported directly from flyers’ incoming flights.

Southwest also added flights from Denver to Colorado cities like Colorado Springs, Steamboat Springs, and Montrose in direct competition with United. Some of the routes have done so well that daily service is now offered between Denver and both Steamboat Springs and Montrose.

United’s latest spat with competitors

This isn’t United’s first time directly going after competitors where they live. In February, United announced a brand-new route between Boston and London, scheduled to start sometime in 2021 and in direct competition with JetBlue Airways’ impending Boston-London flights.

The announcement was peculiar given that no exact timing was given for the once-daily flight and international travel between the UK and US is currently extremely limited. United also seldom launches transatlantic routes that don’t pass through one of its hubs.

United is also back at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with two relaunched routes to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Its ultra-premium Boeing 767-300ER aircraft are meant to draw top flyers away from the likes of Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, which partly dominate the route with premium offerings.

The airline’s next target remains to be seen but United is positioning itself for a strong recovery, and clearly isn’t afraid to publicly challenge competitors to do so.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on Southwest and Alaska, the two airlines competing to be the best of the West Coast and the winner is abundantly clear

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

  • Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines are in competition to be the airline of the West Coast.
  • Both are similar but each has its strengths like Alaska has a greater West Coast route network.
  • Southwest is a great option for leisure travelers but Alaska has more perks for business flyers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The West Coast of the US stretches more than 1,000 miles with no shortage of major cities from San Diego to Seattle.

newport beach

All the major US airlines serve this important region of the country but two are battling for dominance, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Alaska is based in Seattle, although its name suggests otherwise, and is a mid-tier US airline with the bulk of its operations on the West Coast.

alaska airlines

Southwest, on the other hand, is the country’s largest low-cost carrier with a nationwide presence. And while the West Coast is an important region for the airline, it’s just one of many Southwest serves.

Southwest Airlines

Both carriers have sought to grow market share on the West Coast during the pandemic. Southwest added Santa Barbara and Fresno to its California route network while Alaska has added routes from existing cities.

Golden Gate Bridge

I flew on both airlines this year to see which one was truly the airline of the West Coast. Here’s what I found.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

West Coast connectivity: Alaska serves 29 cities up and down the coast, including smaller cities like Everett, Washington; Santa Rosa, California; and Medford, Oregon.

Paine Field in Everett, Washington
Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

Read More: I flew on Alaska for the first time since it stopped blocking middle seats and it was the closest to normal I’ve seen during the pandemic

Southwest serves 15 West Coast cities and plans to serve two more this summer. Bellingham, Washington flights will also open sometime this year.

Southwest Airlines
A Southwest Airlines aircraft departing from Los Angeles.

Winner: Alaska Airlines. The airline’s connectivity between West Coast cities large and small cannot be beaten by Southwest’s existing network.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

What comes with the ticket: Every Southwest ticket includes free seat selection anywhere on the plane after boarding, two checked bags, a carry-on bag, and all the onboard amenities.

Flying Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Southwest has open seating so any open seat is available for passengers.

Flying on Southwest Airlines COVID-19

Alaska does allow free seat selection for economy but charges extra for seats close to the front and exit row seats.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Alaska, like many full-service carriers, has also embraced restrictive basic economy fares that replaced its cheapest fares. The product is generous with and limited advanced seat assignments and a free carry-on bag but flyers will have to pay more for better seats and checked bags.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Southwest doesn’t have change or cancel fees for any ticket.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska has eliminated change fees but not for basic economy fares, known as “saver” fares.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Winner: Southwest Airlines. The flexibility and free extras offered by Southwest put it well and above Alaska. It’s worth noting, however, that even Alaska’s basic economy fares are more generous than many of its competitors.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Boarding: Alaska boards its aircraft in groups that are assigned based on seat location and fare class. First class boards first, followed by elite status holders, those sitting in “premium class.” Economy then boards back to front, for the most part, and basic economy flyers board dead last.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

On Southwest, however, passengers are given a boarding number and group that’s determined by how early they check-in for the flight. Once on the plane, they can select any open seat.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Winner: Southwest Airlines. Alaska’s boarding process relegates basic economy passengers to the very last section while even the passenger with the cheapest ticket on Southwest has the opportunity to board earlier if they check-in at exactly 24 hours prior to departure.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Onboard amenities: Both airlines are in the process of modernizing their fleets but older aircraft remain. On Southwest, for example, I flew on the 737-700 fleet on my most recent trip and it was the furthest from modern.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

But its updated aircraft have a great, modern look, as I found on flights from New York to Orlando in 2020.

Flying on Southwest Airlines COVID-19

Read More: I flew on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic and came away impressed by how well the largest low-cost US airline handled social distancing

Alaska has the same issue. Its newer Max aircraft is a show-stopper but older aircraft seem tired.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max Flight
Flying on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft.

Both airlines also offer paid in-flight WiFi and streaming content.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
Water onboard an Alaska Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles.

Alaska does surpass Southwest, however, by offering in-seat power to keep devices charged.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Winner: Alaska Airlines. Both airlines offer similar products but Alaska just eeks ahead with in-seat power.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

In-flight service: Both airlines have restored portions of their in-flight service since the pandemic began. Alaska, for example, serves soft drinks and snacks.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Southwest just brought back Coke, Diet Coke, and 7UP, as well as more snacks.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Read More: Southwest is reverting to its normal boarding policy and bringing back fan-favorite in-flight amenities

Before the pandemic, however, Alaska sold meals and snack boxes while Southwest just stuck to drinks and small snacks.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
The contents of one of Alaska Airlines’ picnic packs.

Winner: Alaska Airlines.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

West Coast feel: Alaska has its roots in the West Coast and that shows in its branding. The colors are vibrant, there is a focus on West Coast brands in the in-flight service, and the airline is based in Seattle.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Southwest has a generic appeal as it connects the US through bases across the country with no specific ties to the West Coast. There’s no West Coast feel.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Winner: Alaska Airlines: There’s an undeniable feeling when flying on Alaska that it’s more in tune with the West Coast vibe than Southwest.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

National connectivity: Alaska is highly concentrated on the West Coast while Southwest has bases across the US.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Southwest doesn’t have the sprawling West Coast network that Alaska does but it does offer connections between most of the region’s major cities and connections to the rest of the country through its mid-continent bases in places like Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, and Dallas.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Southwest Airlines aircraft at Denver International Airport.

Alaska only has hubs in the West Coast cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, requiring a stop in one of those cities before heading east. The airline does partner with airlines like American to offer mixed-airline itineraries but that could be difficult if the airlines are in two different terminals.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.

Winner: Southwest Airlines. Having more mid-continent bases allows for more convenient journeys with lower travel times for customers.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Business traveler amenities: Corporate travelers have different priorities than most leisure travelers and will often spend more for seats in premium cabins and access lounges.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska has premium lounges in six airports, and partners with American and Qantas on lounge access for members. Southwest does not have any lounges.

Alaska Lounge Seattle
The Alaska Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Alaska’s jet aircraft also have first class cabins, the domain of the business traveling road warrior, while Southwest does not.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

A special section of economy is also available on Alaska. Called “premium class,” seats in the section offer additional legroom and come with complimentary alcoholic beverages.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska is also a member of the Oneworld airline alliance and Alaska’s elite status holders can use their benefits on other airlines like American and British Airways, and vice versa. Southwest is not a part of any airline alliance.

american airlines

Southwest does have a special fare for business travelers, called “Business Select,” that includes extras like priority boarding and free alcoholic drinks (suspended during the pandemic).

Flying on Southwest Airlines COVID-19

And Southwest does have better connectivity outside of the West Coast. A business traveler in St. Louis looking to fly to New York couldn’t even choose Alaska if they wanted to.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic from Miami International Airport.

Winner: Alaska Airlines. Business travelers have more premium amenities at their disposal on Alaska, if the choice is between Alaska and Southwest.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Airline of the West Coast: Alaska Airlines. Both airlines are incredibly similar but Alaska has more West Coast-oriented amenities to help it pull ahead of Southwest.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines passengers dance and cheer as couple accused of refusing to wear masks get thrown off flight

Southwest Airlines flight
Passengers on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flight line up to exit the aircraft after arriving at Houston’s Hobby airport March 20, 2021.

  • A TikTok video shows a woman arguing with a flight attendant about not complying with a mask-wearing mandate.
  • Passengers on the Southwest Airlines flight can be heard heckling and jeering at the passenger.
  • As the woman and her partner are escorted off the flight, those on the plane cheer and dance.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A TikTok video shows an entire plane clapping and cheering after a couple is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight, Newsweek reported.

In the video shared by user Brendan Edler, a woman is seen arguing with a crew member.

The footage, which is filmed discreetly from three rows back, starts mid-argument.

The dispute revolves around a passenger who refused to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols by not wearing a mask.

Read more: Inside Southwest Airlines’ legendary culture – and how to get hired there

It should be noted that the woman is wearing a mask at the start of the clip.

The reaction of those on the plane, however, suggests this was not the case earlier on.

The woman, whose identity is unknown, is insistent that she did not break the rules. “I did comply,” says the woman to the flight attendant. “You’re saying I didn’t comply and put my mask on when you ask asked me to?”

Shortly after, the woman accuses the flight attendant of not telling the truth. “You’re a liar and you have to live with that,” she is heard saying.

Those on the flight then begin to heckle the woman and start saying their farewells.

“Bye,” shouts one person.

“Get off the plane,” yells another.

“That’s what happens when you don’t say you’re sorry,” someone else can be heard saying.

The woman then stands up, shows her middle finger to those on the plane, and walks off with her traveling companion.

The remaining passengers appear jubilant, with one woman proceeding to dance.

Insider contacted Southwest for further context on the incident. The airline said that it does not have any further details on the situation but provided information on its mask-wearing policy.

“Federal law requires Southwest to ensure every person age two and over to wear a mask at all times throughout a flight, including during boarding and deplaning,” a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said. “We communicate the face-covering mandate to all Customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey.”

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Southwest just placed a landmark multibillion-dollar order for 100 of Boeing’s smallest 737 Max plane

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
A Southwest Boeing 737 Max 8.

  • Southwest Airlines just placed an order for 100 Boeing 737 Max 7 aircraft with options for 200 more.
  • The $10 billion deal is a victory for Boeing over Airbus and its A220 aircraft that was reportedly being considered.
  • The first 30 737 Max 7 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2022.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines has settled on the Boeing 737 Max 7 as the successor of its Boeing 737-700 fleet, announcing a finalized order with the manufacturer on Monday for 100 aircraft and options for 155 more.

The deal brings Southwest’s new Boeing 737 Max order total to 349 aircraft consisting of 200 of the smaller Max 7s and 149 of the larger Max 8s, some of which are already flying passengers. An additional 270 Max aircraft of either variety are also available to Southwest, on option, between 2021 and 2031.

Boeing’s current list prices value the 100 aircraft at around $10 billion. Airlines, however, rarely pay list price and Boeing has been known to discount Max aircraft as a result of the grounding.

Whatever Southwest did pay, however, Boeing can declare victory over Airbus as the European manufacturer’s A220 aircraft was reportedly being considered by Southwest to be the replacement aircraft. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways had alternatively chosen the Airbus aircraft, which boasts similar characteristics and cost savings when compared to the Max 7.

But Southwest’s decision comes as no surprise since the 737 Max 7 is the next-generation variant of the 737-700 that it’s replacing at Southwest and the airline doesn’t have to worry about inducting another manufacturer’s aircraft into its already streamlined fleet. Pilots already flying the 737 and 737 Max can fly the Max 7 with very little additional training and the same goes for mechanics tasked with servicing the fleet.

“This cost-effective order book with Boeing allows the company to maintain the operational efficiencies of an all-Boeing 737 fleet to support its low-cost, point-to-point route network,” Southwest said in a statement.

Southwest resumed flying the Boeing 737 Max on March 11 after an absence of nearly two years following the aircraft’s March 2019 grounding. By the end of April, as many as 261 Southwest Max flights will be flown daily, according to Cirium data.

The smaller Boeing 737 Max 7 has yet to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as of mid-March, according to Reuters, a process delayed due to the aircraft’s grounding. Boeing had initially planned to certify the aircraft in 2019 after its first flight in 2018.

Read More: The 16 most outrageous things Boeing employees said about the company, 737 Max program, and each other in released internal emails

But FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, a former airline pilot, personally flew the aircraft during the recertification trials for the Max following its March 2019 grounding. Southwest is slated to be the first airline to fly the Max 7 with the first delivery scheduled for 2022 after its certification.

The Max 7 can seat as many as 172 passengers, according to Boeing, while flying the furthest of any Max variant thanks to its smaller size. Any route in Southwest’s current network can be flown by the Max 7 and new ones can be forged.

With a range of 3,850 nautical miles, city pairs like Denver-Honolulu, Boston-Anchorage, and even New York-London are possible should Southwest want to stretch the aircraft’s legs. The competing Airbus A220-300 boasts only a 3,400 nautical mile range and maximum seating of 160 passengers, according to Airbus.

Southwest will end 2020 with 729 aircraft, 68 of which are Boeing 737 Max 8s.

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