Southwest Airlines: Leading the Airline Industry one Statistic at a Time
May 6th, 2013
Quantitative Research Methods
“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.” (Kelly, Gary) By providing the highest quality of customer service, Southwest Airlines business model is set up to provide customers with a great experience ranging from customer service, baggage handling, on time performance, and point-to-point flights to get their passengers to their destinations in a more timely manner. Southwest Airlines is a company that has emerged from a small Texas Airline only serving three cities to one of the top ten most admired companies in the world and largest domestic carrier in terms of originating passengers. Southwest Airlines has proven to be the most efficient airline; which has allowed them to remain profitable for over 40 consecutive years. By taking a samples from previous years and from various markets, the statistics support that Southwest Airlines is the leader in the industry in terms of customer service complaints, on time arrivals, baggage handling, load factors and number of passengers carried.
II. Customer Service Complaints
Southwest Airlines continually tries to enhance the Customer Experience and Customer service efforts by encouraging customer input and feedback on a normal basis. In 2010, after every letter , email, and phone call was accounted for in regards to customer satisfaction it totaled up to more than 65,000 positive letters. This was compared to the number of rudeness complains equaling out to be 10% or a 10:1 ratio. (Customer Insight) According a most recent airline passenger sample survey from 2012, Southwest continues to be known as the “darling airline of the public” for three years in a row now from the perception of frequent fliers. 35% of those fliers said that Southwest Airlines had the best service and was the most passenger friendly airline out of 15 other airlines that were surveyed. The next in line was Jet Blue with only 12% of those surveyed thought that they were the most preferred airline. (Bowen, E.)
III. On Time Arrivals
While some delays are inevitable due to weather or maintenance, including these, Southwest Airlines is still ranked among the top performing airlines in terms of on time arrivals. In 2012 they had 83.3% of arrivals that were on time. Delays because of the air carrier specifically were only 4.89%, Weather: 0.41%, Air Traffic Control 2.76% and late arrivals were 7.74% of delays. (Research and Innovative Technology Administration) One of Southwest Airlines largest competitors in terms of similar operations, yet is smaller in terms of number of originating passengers carried is Jet Blue. According to Rita, their on time arrival percentage was at 79.13% which was lower than Southwest.
IV. Baggage Handling
Southwest Airlines had a mishandled baggage rate of 3.65 per 1,000 passengers in 2011 which is higher than their rate of 3.43 per 1,000 passengers for 2010. (Bowen & Headly, 2013) Baggage handling plays a large role in customer satisfaction and performance in an airline. With lost, stolen, or broken luggage, an airline is at a great risk to lose passengers to other airlines. Baggage handling also has a lot to do with on time performance as well. The amount of time that ramp agents are able to transfer, load, and unload bags carefully is accounted the time that it takes to turn a plane. Because planes are only making money in the air, it is essential that airlines excel in baggage handling. While most airlines have improved in baggage handling because of baggage fees that were introduced five years ago leading to fewer bags in the system, Southwest does not charge for baggage fees and has...
Bowen, B. D., & Headly, D. E. (2013). Evaluation of the us airline industry: The airline quality rating 2012. Purdue University: Department of Aviation Technology. Retrieved from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=atpubs
Customer Insight (2011.) Southwest Airlines One Report. (n.d.) Retrieved from website: http://www.southwestonereport.com
Kelly, Gary. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.southwest.com/html/about-southwest/
Mayerow, Scott. (2012). Airlines improve flight arrival times and baggage handling. The Durango Herald. 9th August 2012. Retrieved from:http://www.durangoherald.com
Research and Innovative Technology Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved from website: http://www.transtats.bts.gov/OT_Delay/OT_DelayCause1.asp?pn=1
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