Southwest Airlines: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
The nickel-and-dime pricing that runs rampant in the cash-strapped airline industry is the bane of frugal travelers and a boon for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest made the point to consumers with its recent "Freedom From Fees" campaign from GSD&M's Idea City, Austin, Texas.

The decision to go full throttle with the message came last spring as other airlines began adding extra fees with a vengeance, including American Airlines, which began charging not just for the third piece of checked luggage, but the first piece. Sure, there's revenue to be made from adding fees, but the Southwest take has been to use the luggage issue as a brand-building case, making the airline a haven for fee-weary travelers.

"It became very personal for people when it started getting into luggage," says Kevin Krone, VP-marketing, sales and distribution at Southwest. "It was instantly a way to differentiate us from the rest of the industry."

Southwest's commitment to economical flying continues to keep the carrier cruising above much of the turbulence. The airline's revenue rose 8.5% last year to $9.9 billion; for the first three quarters of 2008, revenue tracked upward 12.5%.
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