other carriers including such giants as United and Continental. According to one article, Southwest’s “nickle and diming” is happening behind the scenes under the cover of its “bags fly free” campaign. The implication is almost as if SWA is up to some untoward advertising claims.
But is this really true? Does SWA’s image as a low cost airline mean that it’s a small airline like jetBlue and AirTran…at least in comparative terms to the Delta’s and UAL’s of the world? And does this skew our perceptions of just how much they should be collecting in fees in comparison to the majors?
If we judge by the most reliable statistic, enplaned passengers, then SWA’s fee revenue should come as no surprise. When we add the component that domestic travel typically drives significantly higher fee collection than international, then the picture becomes much clearer.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, SWA enplaned an astonishing 101.338 million passengers in 2009. Its closest competitor, American, enplaned a distant 85.720 million passengers in 2009. So is it really any surprise why SWA’s fee revenue is in line with the majors? Not by my math.