Source: Forbes

Story of Strive: Southwest’s 72-Hour $100 Round-Trip Sale

Southwest Airlines has brought back its twice-a-year-fare sale. They are offering fares below $100 for dozens of the carrier’s shortest routes. The sale isn’t limited to short routes; it also extends to long routes. The price tags on routes start from $49 and extend to $79, $99, and $129 depending on the distance. International routes are also part of the sale but they are subjected to day-of-travel restrictions. Fares for international routes range from $59 to $250.

History of Southwest Sales

The sales have become a tradition for Southwest Airlines. They have been announcing three day sales for June and October for several years now. The airline has used this strategy to generate sales and increase its clientele. More importantly, the focus of sales is to sell seats in the lean seasons. The fall sale usually targets travels from November to early February. It excludes the busy holidays.

Similarly, the summer sale, like the one launched on this Tuesday, includes the schedule till the end of summer. This is the time when flight demands fall due to the end of the vacation season.

The Beginning

Established in 1967 by Herb Kelleher as Air Southwest, the airline began operating as an intrastate airline in 1971. This is the same year the airlines adopted its current name, Southwest Airlines. Initially, the airline flew within the state of Texas. The airlines began expanding its flights in 1975, and later in 1978 it began flying to neighboring states. In the 1990s, the airlines started its flights to the East and Southeast.

‘Catchy’ Advertising

Humorous and catchy slogans are the hallmark of Southwest Airlines. Over the years, they have moved from one slogan to the next. Some mentionable slogans are: “The Somebody Else Up There Who Loves You,” “You’re Now Free To Move About The Country,” “Grab your bag, It’s On,” and “THE Low Fare Airline.”

Their knack for slogans did get them into a bit of trouble with Stevens Aviation in March, 1992. The airlines began using the slogan “Just Plane Smart,” which was too similar to Stevens Aviation motto “Plane Smart.” Instead of leading the situation to a lawsuit, the CEOs of both companies devised a creative solution. They decided to settle the matter with an arm wrestling match, scheduled in the Dallas Sportatorium. According to the rules, it would be a two out of three rounds match and the loser would donate $5,000 to a charity for each loss. The result led to a $15,000 charity, the two companies keeping their slogans and good publicity.


Despite the setback that could have resulted in a lawsuit and negative press, the airlines found a creative way around it. They disrupted the normal way of going about it and devised a way to not only make it beneficial for themselves but for others as well. This adaptability of the company allowed it to expand and achieve more. In turn leading to greater success.


Southwest has a long history of overcoming challenges to put customers first. You can tell a lot about the ethos of a company by the way they react to controversies. Their consistent humility and recognition of their mistakes with a clear roadmap to resolve issues have been at the heart of how Southwest has managed to navigate treacherous waters. All the while, offering low prices to appeal to a broader base of clientele. With each challenge, they adapted; this in turn has led to a massive loyal customer following.

Current Standing

Southwest Airlines is the official commercial airline of the Honor Flight network. They have operating bases in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Las Vegas, Oakland, Orlando, and Phoenix-Sky Harbor. As of June 2017, the airline has a fleet of 727 air crafts. The airline has scheduled flights to 101 destinations in 41 states. The headquarters of the company is located on the grounds of Dallas Love field.

As of 2016, the company has over 53,000 employees, revenues of $20.4 billion, and total assets of $23.3 billion in net worth.

It is also the official airline for four Major Baseball leagues: Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Diego Padres. Due to their innovative and low-cost ventures, the airline is also an inspiration to service providers around the globe. EasyJet and Ryanair are two European airlines who have followed their example, along with many others.

From their humble beginnings in 1971 when they served only a single state, the airline has come a long way. Due to their customer-centric business model, they continue to rank top among airlines. Southwest has also been named among the 10 safest airlines in the world. However, their road to success was not without its challenges. Often, overcoming challenges required doing things differently, even if those changes was uncomfortable. The airline’s success story is a model of Strive despite setbacks and challenges.

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