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A history of southwest airlines in the united states

Lead Southwest Airlines and United Airlines: Why a Single 4-Letter Word Explains a Huge Difference Chances are you learned this word in school, and it summarizes a key difference in the airline industry.

  • The plane was needed back in Dallas anyway for weekend servicing and the crew had been ferrying it back empty every week for five months;
  • Linda Shapiro, Southwest Airlines:

Getty Images You might recall the single famous quote that summarizes a big difference between Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. But while that inspiring quote tells the story from a passenger's perspective, there's an important difference between the two airlines from a business perspective, too.

Southwest Airlines Co.

By the way, the "stupid" at the end of the quote isn't really meant to be insulting; it's just a nod to how even the brightest among us can complicate things that should be easy, by adding too many variables.

Although, as we'll see, perhaps that's changing. Southwest and United are the No.

It's pretty close--just under 158 million passengers for Southwest; just over 148 million for United. Their fleets are almost exact the same size: But that similarity belies the big difference.

The exception to this was when Southwest leased some Boeing 727s from other airlines; but that practice ended more than 30 years ago.

Flying the same planes cuts down on maintenance and employee costs. It also means that literally every single one of Southwest's pilots is rated to fly any one of its jets. And that doesn't include the multiple types flown by the contracted carriers that operate as United Express.


Understanding the cost of complexity. I was prompted to think of this important distinction after United's earnings call this week. You take an airplane that's nicely profitable and you turn it unprofitable with that kind of cost structure. And so it's purely about economics. It's not really fair to compare that to United's story.

  • Southwest became the nation's largest domestic air carrier in 2003 and maintains that ranking based on the U;
  • It also means that literally every single one of Southwest's pilots is rated to fly any one of its jets;
  • Southwest also assists victims of floods and other disasters.

Yet it's precisely when an airline--or any business for that matters--becomes so complex that the KISS principle can become most important. Complexity begets more complexity--at least until somebody with a little power can step back and observe with a bit of perspective.

Southwest Corporate Fact Sheet

It seems United has been doing better on the customer perception front lately. By the way, I asked United if they had any comment on this whole simplicity issue beyond what was said in the earnings call, but I haven't head back.

  • Kelleher, who had been John B;
  • Kelleher appealed to the Third Court of Civil Appeals, which, seven months later, upheld the lower court's decision;
  • At that time, Kelleher left his San Antonio law firm for good and began running Southwest full-time.

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