Why Won't Southwest Let Third Party Service Providers Help Southwest Fans Manage Their Frequent Flyer Points?

from the too-bad dept

Southwest Airlines is the sort of airline that seems to get a "love it" or "hate it," review from folks. The funky boarding process and the general no frills attitude of the airline work for some, but not for others. Personally, I like Southwest for short haul flights, don't mind the boarding process and especially like the fact that it's retrofitted many of its gates with comfy chairs that have outlets and USB chargers at many seats. I've also found that on about 10% of my Southwest flights, there will be a very, very funny flight attendant who entertains the entire plane (a few weeks ago, the flight attendant on my flight got loud applause for his somewhat hilarious safety warning message that included, among other things an "intermission" where he sang the "let's all go to the snack bar" song).

So it's a bit disappointing that the airline has apparently decided to take an unfriendly approach to folks who want to use third party products to track their travel and manage their frequent flyer points. TripIt is an increasingly popular service (I have an account, but have never actually used it) that many people have been using these days, but one of our readers passes along an email that TripIt recently sent out to users:
"Hello,

We're sorry to let you know that Southwest Airlines has asked TripIt and several other online travel companies to stop tracking points for members of their Rapid Rewards program. Effective immediately, TripIt Pro has discontinued point tracker support for Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. Your program history and balance will be available until December 31, 2010 on the TripIt website and mobile applications.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we appreciate your understanding. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks,

TripIt
This seems really unfortunate. An airline like Southwest that has a funky passenger-friendly view of things should be encouraging apps that make it easier and more enjoyable to fly Southwest and to use its Rapid Rewards system. It's too bad that they're trying to shut out those third parties.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Perhaps Southwest is planning on an mobile app of their own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 4:42pm

    Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Tom, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

    Mobile App

    There is a mobile app for iPhones. I'm not sure about other devices.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Brer Scientist, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Re: Mobile App

    Unless Southwest is trying to make money off of its mobile app, why should they care? As an airline, their strength is making things as easy for customers as possbile (no change fees on tickets, all flights are priced as one-way flights, so there is no penalty for flying one way, or stringing multiple cities together). Having access to your reward points in a way that is convient to the customer should be an easy decision.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Rosedale, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    This isn't new

    Of course South West is the airline that makes a point-- "The *only* place"-- to purposefully block aggregators from searching pricing and information of tickets. So it should be no surprise that they'd take this step as well. Personally when they started the advertising of "the only place" they just lost my business. They try to sell it as being more convenient because you don't need to search anywhere else. But in reality they make it that much more difficult because now not only do I have to search various other websites, but now I have to search theirs as well.

    What happens now? Well I search the other websites and unless I can't find anything reasonable I don't even search theirs at all. To this day I've never flown them because they were either not the cheapest or I didn't even think to check their sight. So "the only place I can find SW tickets" is also the *only* place I don't even care to look.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    tmread, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    What's Southwest's proposed alternative?

    I've been a loyal Southwest customer, currently standing at 65 flights taken with Southwest in 2010 and just a small handful on other carriers - maybe >10 flights combined elsewhere. For my regular LAX->SFO haul, there are many options, but Southwest earns my preference for a quick path to their A-List which lets you skip through some of the horrible LAX Terminal 1 lines.

    I'm also a fiercely loyal Tripit user as it's made keeping my agenda for these constant trips (business and pleasure) in order. It's a nice, low-touch tool for me that has questions available at a moment.

    And while I see this as a minor issue -- honestly, I've got more rewards flights than I could use right now; I'm past any key qualifying point but am not on pace for the companion pass this year -- it's the potential fallout that sours me. If my flights are not easy to keep track of or change up in those frequent SFO delays, or if Southwest makes traveling more of a hassle, what's my incentive to stay with them?

    If Southwest thinks their mobile and web apps are worthy answers, they're fooling themselves and are simply out of touch with their most frequent customers. The website took a redesign and partner information, etc is still buried. Checking in could still be streamlined. The mobile app is a slow, clunky mess. Is this what Southwest proposes as the alternative to Tripit? Some sort of proprietary walled garden for my travel?

    Stick to what you do best, Southwest: Low-cost no-frills flights. You're neck and neck with Virgin America (slightly better due to the reduced bro-quotient on WN vs VX) and leagues better than US Scareways - don't cede it by making business travel a complete pain in the ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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