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  • Joe Breitfeller

Southwest Airlines Outlines $2.0 Billion Guest Experience Transformation

Southwest Airlines has today announced an over $2.0 billion investment to usher in the next generation customer experience. Commitments include enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity on every aircraft, power ports at every seat, larger overhead bins, a new fare category and more.


Southwest Boeing 737-8 MAX - Courtesy Southwest Airlines

On Wednesday (May 11, 2022), Southwest Airlines announced that they have been awarded the 2022 J.D. Power Award for ‘Highest Customer Satisfaction among Economy Carriers in North America.’ In conjunction with receiving the award, the carrier unveiled an over $2.0 billion five-year plan to bring in the next generation of customer experience in travel with Southwest. As part of their guest experience transformation, the carrier has committed to providing enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity onboard every aircraft, power ports at every seat, larger overhead bins, more entertainment options, a wider selection of refreshments, and new digital self-service capabilities. Additionally, Southwest has launched a new ‘Wanna Get Away Plus™ fare category with added flexibility and value.


In Wednesday’s announcment, Southwest Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer, Bob Jordan, said.


“You can never stop working to get better, and as our beloved Founder Herb famously said, ‘If you rest on your laurels, you'll get a thorn in your butt!’ We have a long and proud history of offering Legendary Customer Service and warm Hospitality, and we have bold plans and significant investments to modernize and enhance the Southwest Experience. As we continue to welcome back loyal Customers and win new ones, these initiatives, combined with the best People in the industry, support our Purpose of connecting People to what's most important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.


“We listen to our Customers, and their insights help us deliver on and exceed their expectations. Behind these commitments stand the legendary People of Southwest Airlines—ready to welcome Customers onboard with warmth, Hospitality, and LUV.”


Also commenting on the carrier’s guest experience investment, Southwest Airlines’ Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Ryan Green, added,


“Top of our list is giving our Customers reliable connections in the air to those things that are important and accessible to them on the ground. We’re investing in our onboard connectivity and bandwidth available to each Customer with upgraded technology that's now installing across our existing fleet, a strategy to diversify our Wi-Fi vendors on upcoming aircraft deliveries, and plugging Southwest Customers into in-seat power to keep them charged while in the air.”


Southwest Airlines is Investing More than $2.0 Billion Over the Next Five Years in an Enhanced Customer Experience - Infographic Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Southwest plans on installing Anuvu’s latest-generation Wi-Fi hardware onboard 50 in-service aircraft by the end of May, and on around 350 aircraft by the end of October, which will offer higher speed and a bandwidth up to 10 times the current hardware. Southwest also recently entered into an agreement with satellite connectivity provider Viasat to provide high quality internet and live television programming onboard newly delivered aircraft from fall 2022. The carrier will also install the latest generation onboard USB A and USB power ports on every seat, starting with 737 MAX Family aircraft in early 2023.


Commenting on the new in-seat charging capabilities, Southwest’s Vice President of Customer Experience and Customer Relations, Tony Roach, said,


“The ability to keep your devices charged while you are connected inflight is a request that we've heard consistently in ongoing conversations with our Customers. With so much that our Customers love about doing business with Southwest, we're constantly listening to our Employees and our Customers for improvement opportunities, and we're excited to share some additional news and updates on this ongoing work.”


1) New Seat Back Power Ports, 2) New Larger Overhead Bins - Courtesy Southwest Airlines


Complementing their beloved ‘Bags Fly Free’ policy, Southwest is also introducing larger overhead bins to accommodate more carry-on items, which will be included on new aircraft deliveries from early 2023. Additionally, the carrier is adding functionality across their digital platforms and airport kiosks. Later this summer, customers will be able to purchase Upgraded Boarding A1 to A15 positions (when available) directly from their own personal devices. Customers will also soon be able to add lap child travelers when booking online, an option recently introduced at self-service kiosks.


Additionally, as previously announced, Southwest has introduced a new Wanna Get Away Plus fare, which will be available later this month. The new fare class includes added flexibility with the ability to transfer travel funds, and to confirm a same-day change to an available seat on a different flight. between the same origin and destination, without a change in base fare. Southwest is also adding an expansive new onboard beverage range featuring a number of alcohol and non-alcohol options, starting with a Bloody Mary Mix this summer, followed by a ready-to-drink cocktail in September, along with new Hard Selzer and Rosé options. Finally, the carrier is doubling the number of free movies available by the end of the year, and starting at the end of May 2022, will update the flight tracker to provide 3-D views that offer aircraft information and customized destination guides.



Source: Southwest Airlines