The Clash of the Titans Round II: Southwest’s In-Flight Goodies Vs. Delta’s In-Flight Goodies – Is There Really THAT Much Difference?

Today, TruPrice offers day two of its comparison of fees between low cost carrier Southwest and international carrier Delta.

In multiple media outlets, TruPrice has been asked its opinion on the proposed Southwest/AirTran merger.  In each case, we’ve suggested that while analytical and consumer emphasis remains on fares and competition, the airline most likely to be significantly impacted by the merger, Delta, has more at risk than just “The Southwest Effect” of fare compression whenever SWA enters a new market.  (While the merits of citing Wiki for factual information may be debatable among our readers, I can vouch for the general accuracy of the link’s assumptions.)  In fact, I’ve gone on record as saying that Delta and Southwest are at polar opposites in their fee structures.  While this does not mean that all fees are disparately apart like we saw in Round I of the Clash of the Titans, it does mean that taken in the aggregate, overall fees on Delta do not compare favorably to Southwest’s.

Yesterday’s analysis using TruPrice’s data showed a marked disparity among apples-to-apples baggage fees.  Today’s analysis is a little more complicated and will require a perspective that assumes the continuation of certain current AirTran offerings post-merger.  Whereas Southwest and Delta both accept baggage and have very similar rules and nomenclature around what defines overweight and oversized, in-flight amenity fee comparisons require some assumptions.  For instance, while AirTran offers free XM radio and complimentary headphones, Southwest offers neither.  I have opined that in-flight offerings will not be eliminated from either Southwest or AirTran, rather, that the prevailing combined model will retain the most developed and comprehensive amenity package of the existing airlines as they now stand.  Therefore, when a fee or amenity is listed for Southwest, it may indeed be an AirTran fee for an amenity or service not currently offered on Southwest and vice versa.

So here we go with the Clash of the Titans Round II:
In-Flight Goodies
Delta non-alcoholic beverages:  Free.
Southwest non-alcoholic beverages:  Free, $2, $3, or $4.
Delta alcoholic beverages:  $5 and $7
Southwest alcoholic beverages:  $5 and $6
Delta snacks:  Free, $2, $3, and $5.
Southwest snacks:  Free
Delta meals:  $3 and $6 for breakfast,  $3, $6, and $8 for lunch and dinner.
Southwest meals:  Not offered.
Delta in-flight entertainment:  $2 for headsets, unspecified price for video-on-demand, free television and tunes on equipped aircraft.
Southwest in-flight entertainment:  Free headsets, free XM radio, no video.
Delta wi-fi:  $4.95, $9.95, $12.95 depending on flight duration.
Southwest wi-fi:  $4.95, $9.95, $12.95 depending on flight duration.
Delta blankets:  Free.
Southwest blankets:  Not offered.

The results of the Clash of the Titans Round II?  A draw between Delta and Southwest.  While baggage fees were a decided victory for Southwest, there is no clear winner in on-board amenity fees for either carrier.   However, proper recognition is in store for Delta’s extensive on-board meal selection.  Expect this to be an area where Southwest will need to explore its offering as it prepares to enter into Delta’s heavily saturated ATL territory.

Please return tomorrow as we go in-depth in the Clash of the Titans Round III where we compare Southwest’s and Delta’s reservation and itinerary change fees and boarding and seating options.



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