Is Southwest a Good Airline?

As a travel addict who lives in the US, I have used every major airline multiple times each year for over 30 years now. In this article, I will share my experience with one of the major airlines in the United States.

The airline celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021 and was ranked in the top ten safest and most friendly carriers in the world. It’s no surprise they have such overall satisfaction, and you will not likely hear too many complaints about the company.

Southwest is a very good airline and is well known for being the world’s largest low-class carrier in the skies. Not only do they offer excellent service and affordable prices, but there are also no hidden fees, and the rewards obtainable are out of this world.

Whether you are flying just a few states away or looking for an escape on a tropical Caribbean island, Southwest is a superb option for any flyer, in my opinion.

They are now rated as a 4-star airline when it comes to in-flight service, customer service, policies, and affordability.

The airline ranks high with carrying the most domestic passengers, flying to over 109 destinations in 40 states. It may sound like a commercial, but no matter your destination, Southwest can ensure you get there comfortably and easily.

With the affordable prices and fewer service options, I’m sure you are wondering whether or not Southwest is the best airline for you. Despite the disadvantage, the pros outweigh the cons.

Here is my overall comparison of the good and bad aspects of Southwest Airlines.

Why It Is a Good Airline | 9 Pros

Southwest is the largest low-cost air carrier in the United States and a favorite amongst many frequent flyers, including myself! Here are eight positive aspects of flying with Southwest Airlines.

1. No Extra Fee to Change or Cancel Flights

Considering the world today, having the option to change or cancel plans last minute is comforting in the travel industry.

Southwest has no extra fares when you are canceling or re-booking your flight for a later date, no matter the reason. Most major carriers don’t offer this option, especially for international flights.

💡 Flights can be altered as many times as necessary at no extra cost.

This is my favorite perk of flying with Southwest, as there are oftentimes weather conditions or personal issues that have disrupted or delayed my travel plans. It’s comforting to know that Southwest allows alteration with no extra cost, saving me hundreds of additional tickets compared to other airlines.

2. Affordability

Southwest Airlines often have very affordable ticket prices, and they are the largest low-cost carrier in the United States. Throughout the year, especially around holidays, the airlines have sales and promotions going on for cheaper flights and extra services.

For high-quality members and rewards holders, there are even more options to save and receive options for flight deals any time of the year.

3. Baggage Benefits

The benefits of Southwest’s baggage policy are one of the best things about the airline. Many other airlines that offer more affordable flights tend to jack up the fares when it comes to baggage.

💡 Southwest offers a free personal item and one carry-on per passenger, in addition to two checked bags as well.

I love flying with them when I am traveling for work. Since I have more luggage than usual, it is more than likely always the cheapest and most convenient option overall.

4. Southwest Rapid Rewards Program

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Program allows passengers to earn miles and points and exchange them for free flights, upgraded services, and extra perks.

There are three different card tiers, each with a yearly fee between $69-$149, The Basic Rewards Card, The Premier Rewards Card, and The Priority Rewards Card.

All cards are well worth it and have more benefits the higher you move up.

5. Companion Pass

An incredible benefit and one of the coolest rewards is the Companion Pass. I think it’s the best deal in air travel and I don’t know any other airline offering something like this.

With Companion Pass, qualifying Rapid Rewards members can have a flight companion join them on their trip, free of charge! That means you can take someone with you on your flights an unlimited number of times for a membership year.

You only have to pay the taxes and fees for your companion; that’s it.

Whether you’re booking a ticket with cash or redeeming points doesn’t matter. Just check the required points on the official website, as it can change sometimes.

6. No Blackout Dates

As rewards and points are collected when flying with Southwest Airlines, passengers will be happy to know that there are no blackout dates when it comes to redeeming said points.

Once your rewards are earned, they are yours until you decide to exchange them for something special.

This is my favorite part about their program, as there are often times when the fare is already affordable, and it’s easy to save them for later. Thankfully as the points add up, I have assurance I can save them for emergencies or last-minute bookings when need be.

7. Open Seating With Early Bird Option

There is no need to stress about paying extra fares for specific seating, as Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy on board. Therefore, there are no assigned seats when booking and making flight arrangements.

Large families or those that need assistance won’t need to worry about being split up on board, as you are free to pick and choose as you please. My family always loved this option growing up, as my parents were always hesitant about being split up from the kids during the flight.

Southwest also offers the option for early bird seating. For an extra fee, this allows passengers to be in the first boarding group of the plane, having first dibs on open seating. This is a great option when flying with short connecting flight tines, when flying with children, or need extra legroom.

8. High-Quality Customer Service

Southwest has always had high-quality customer service and goes to great lengths to keep its flyers happy. Staff members are always willing to assist, while on and off the plane.

They are super prepared and contingent when it comes to last-minute changes or flight alterations, and has always been super helpful in my experiences.

Their flight attendants are happy to be on board and want to enjoy the experience just as much as you do, by helping you be comfortable and satisfied.

9. Safety

Due to their strict flight protocols and procedures, Southwest Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the world. While their flights are affordable, that doesn’t mean having to sacrifice security in exchange.

In 2021, the airline ranked in the top 20 of over 300 airlines when it comes to safety. I have never felt afraid or uncomfortable during my time flying with Southwest.

Drawbacks | 3 Cons

While Southwest seems to have loads of perks and high-quality services, there are some drawbacks. Depending on your wants and needs, it’s good to know your research ahead of time and know what to expect.

Something which might not be a downside for you is the missing in-flight meals. While Southwest offers complimentary soft drinks and a small snack, there are no in-flight meals on domestic or international flights.

While I think this isn’t too much of a concern, as most of the airline’s flights are shorter compared to those that fly direct coast to coast, it’s still a high-quality aspect for some.

Additionally, there is no first-class option on board, only business class. Those looking to fly with a little more luxury may find the options disappointing.

Below, I’ll show you the three main disadvantages of Southwest that affect almost every traveler:

1. Reliability

In today’s world, dozens of airlines are struggling with flight delays and cancellations, including Southwest Airlines. As of 2020, the airline had an on-time and guaranteed percentage rate of only 79%, compared to Delta’s 88%.

Typically, Southwest ranks in the middle of North American airlines regarding on-time performance. While Delta, American, Alaska, and often United rank above them, there are others with poorer performance.

Reliability is crucial when it comes to booking tickets with layovers and connecting flights, as being on time can be the difference between missing your next flight or not. Since most Southwest airlines tend to have a stopover, a subpar reliability rating is something that can be vital, depending on your flight plans.

2. Fewer Direct & International Flight Options

Southwest has no direct coast-to-coast flights, as they require at least one stopover in a city along the way. Depending on your destination, getting a direct flight with Southwest can be difficult sometimes, typically making travel times longer than usual.

While the airline does fly internationally, they are limited in where they go. In addition to the United States, Southwest flies to an additional ten countries as well, mainly in the Caribbean.

Due to this fact, I only use Southwest when it comes to domestic travel between states.

3. Open Seating: The Downside

While open seating is also listed above, there are some downsides to the policy. While it is nice not to have any extra fees when choosing seats, keep in mind that it is first come, first serve.

If you are flying with large parties, need extra assistance, or need more legroom or an emergency row seat, you better be first in line.

While I typically fly solo, I have seen many families being split apart on flights last minute due to limited seating together toward the end of boarding. If you are in a position to keep a family together on board and are flying alone, do your part to help out a fellow adventurer.


Despite some drawbacks, I would highly recommend Southwest as a very good airline to most people. In my opinion, their great benefits outweigh the cons.