Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Southwest Airlines, Inc. is an airline in the United States, founded in Dallas, Texas on June 18, 1971. Beginning in 2004, it is the largest U.S. airline (in terms of domestic customers carried). It is known as a "discount airline" compared to its larger rivals and has been profitable every year since 1973.
Southwest is headquartered at Love Field Airport in Dallas. Southwest built its successful business on flying multiple short, quick trips into the secondary airports of major cities. For example, Southwest flies into Love Field in Dallas, Midway Airport in Chicago, BWI Airport near Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, and Oakland International Airport in the Bay Area, rather than the more expensive DFW International, O'Hare International, Dulles International, and San Francisco International airports. Southwest does, however, fly to some larger airports in major cities, such as LAX and Philadelphia.
Southwest is one of the few airlines to depart from the more traditional "Hub-And-Spoke" flight routing system. It still has notably large operations in certain airports. These include Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Chicago's Midway Airport, Houston's Hobby Airport, Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, Nashville International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Southwest also has large operations at Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport, where it handles a large amount of tourist traffic to various cities throughout the eastern United States.
The experience of flying on Southwest is quite different from that of most other U.S. airlines. Tickets must be bought from the airline itself, and can't be purchased through a travel agent or through common online venues like Orbitz or Travelocity. The airline's tickets can be bought over the phone, but the airline offers discounts and extra Rapid Rewards points (the airline's version of a frequent flier program) to customers who use its website. Customers are not assigned seats; rather, they are assigned to a "boarding group" depending on their check-in time (naturally, earlier check-ins get to board earlier), and are left to find their own seats on the plane. Meal service is less than on historically full service airlines, with shorter flights receiving just a single small snack and soft drink, and longer flights meriting a "Snack Pack" of prepackaged goods. In the post-9/11 era these meals in a bag typically exceed the food served on full-service airlines like United or American. Although there is no video entertainment, Southwest is known for colorful boarding announcements and crews that burst out in song.
For all the leanness in comforts, which helped it pass through the post-9/11 travel slump as one of the few profitable major American airlines, Southwest manages to maintain excellent customer satisfaction ratings. Its employees are generally well-known for their friendliness, which is often attributed to a unique "love-based" corporate atmosphere that made chairman and founder Herb Kelleher a celebrity in the business world. However, concerns attributed to labor unrest and complaints by the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) representing Southwest flight attendants were reportedly a factor in the recent resignation of Kelleher's hand-picked replacement as CEO. Jim Parker resigned in July 2004 and was replaced by Chief Financial Officer Gary Kelly. 
Southwest has also been a major inspiration to other low-cost airlines, and its business model has been copied many times around the world. Europe's easyJet and Ryanair are two of the best known Southwest clones on the other side of the Atlantic, while Canada's WestJet is Southwest's cousin in the north. Southwest's CFO is Laura Wright.
|Boeing 737-300||194||Short haul / domestic|
|Boeing 737-500||25||Short haul / domestic|
|Boeing 737-700||201||Medium haul / domestic|
Southwest Airlines uses the IATA designator code WN.
Since the 1990s, Southwest have been running a television ad campaign based on the phrase "Wanna get away?". The commercials present comical situations in which people find themselves wanting to "get away." Most ads are accompanied by the sound clip "[ding] You are now free to move about the country"
- Southwest Airlines homepage
- The Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA)
- The Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Union (TWU)
- Yahoo! Profile
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