SocraticGadfly: Southwest Airlines still doesn't get it

July 29, 2014

Southwest Airlines still doesn't get it

A decade ago, Southwest was the undisputed leader among non-legacy airlines, not just in discount pricing, but customer service, overall quality, on-time rate and more.

Heck, it was the leader in most if not all of that on at least a semi-regular basis among ALL airlines, legacy and non-legacy alike.

Plus, it had Herb Kelleher at the helm, seemingly the most popular, and fun to work for, CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Then, the FAA started asking questions about Southwest's plane maintenance.  Then, one of its 737s blew a hole in its fuselage; even if it was a Boeing issue more than a Southwest issue, as seemed to be the case, it still didn't look good.

And now, the FAA ...

Wants to fine Southwest again ...

For a combination of the first two problems! The second problem, beyond the fuselage hole in one case, being skin cracks in other planes. The first problem, over other issues, being lack of adequate maintenance oversight:
The FAA said that beginning in 2006 Southwest made "extreme makeover" alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. An FAA investigation determined that Southwest's contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage as well as other work on the planes, the agency said. All of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest, which was responsible for seeing that it was done properly, the FAA said.
Southwest is going to continue to lose the edge that got it to a position of pre-eminence unless it truly gets serious about these maintenance issues.

Add to that the fact that, with the phase-out of the Wright Amendment, there's no excuse for it not being listed on Travelocity and Expedia, etc., but it continues to hold out, and there's less and less reason to fly Southwest.

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