While I’m not a Southwest customer, there’s no airline I have more respect for than them. They’re just customer friendly. Justified or not, customers love Southwest. There’s many things they do right, and then there’s some things they get credit for that I just can’t understand, like people uniformly claiming they have the lowest fares.
Anyway, they’re always known for being the customer friendly airline, so when they make a change that isn’t pro-customer, it’s shocking. And even though it’s not all that significant, it kind of is because it’s Southwest making the change.
What am I talking about? Starting August 1, they’re making huge changes to their “drink coupon” (coupons for free alcoholic beverages) policy. In the past they’ve accepted coupons regardless of when they expire, even years past their expiry date.
Well, they’re making three key changes. First, starting August 1, coupons past their expiration date will no longer be accepted. That’s fair enough, though less than a week advance notice isn’t very much lead time.
The second change they’re making is that coupons with an expiration date will now expire on August 31, 2011. So they’re adding an expiration date to something that doesn’t have an expiration date. Really? Gotta make sure those 50 cent minis don’t turn the company unprofitable, I guess. 😉
The most foolish change of all, in my opinion, is that Business Select coupons will be valid for the day of travel only. As a Business Select customer you get two onboard “perks” — a free drink and early boarding. But let’s think about this for a second. The average passenger on a “Business Select” fare is probably leaving early in the morning, heading to the office for the day, and flying back a day or two later. They can’t really drink on the outbound flight if they’re headed to the office, but now they can’t even save that drink coupon and use it the next day on their return flight to get two drinks.
Southwest flyers in this FlyerTalk thread sure aren’t happy about the change. And while it’s not all that big of a deal, I don’t get why they’d make this change. Southwest is the no fees, no restrictions, no asterisks airline. This change is everything they don’t stand for, and it’s all for something so minor. Fine, don’t accept drink coupons that have expired, but add an expiration date to the ones that don’t have an expiration date and alienate your highest revenue customers? Not smart…