Southwest Cleverly Upsells Perks

by jim on September 23rd, 2010

While I was waiting in line to security in the San Diego Airport, I noticed that the usual “pilots, crew, and airport personnel” line was replaced with a Southwest Fly By line (rather it was an aisle, because it was empty) for Business Select passengers. As I slowly walked my way up to the TSA security checkpoint, I realized that Southwest has very cleverly inserted a lot of upsells in an attempt to generate more revenue.

Whereas many airlines have gone the “ding you with fees” route, from fees for checked bags to RyanAir’s fees for talking to a human being, Southwest has gone another direction. They’ve taken their efficient “no assigned seating” boarding policy and given customers a way to spend $10 to get checked in early, and thus assigned a better seating order. They’ve given Business Select customers a perk of passing the security line at some airports, in addition to boarding first, since Business Select customers can’t really get better seats (all seats on Southwest flights are the same, no first or business class).

All in all, while it’s hurt their bottom line, they’ve built up brand support and been able to give people the option of paying more for these perks. It gets people to pay more without having them get angry (how many people would pay more to bypass the security line?).

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