Southwest Becomes One of America's Least Reliable Airlines

Southwest Airlines has had a number of great ideas. Free checked bags, flexible tickets, and efficient route planning that kept planes in the sky--and its profit margins as high as possible. 

Amid the pandemic, it had another brilliant idea. And it's backfired. 

As competing airlines were downsizing routes and destinations, Southwest decided to expand. 

Its expansion strategy was a bold move that made it more convenient than ever. 

By adding new destinations and routes, it was effectively meeting people where they were. 

But, months later, the bold move is proving to be a bad move, as the airline lacked one major thing every growing business needs: the infrastructure to support its growth. 

Now, Southwest is in a position no business wants to be in: Its selling point is growing into a pain point, as it increasingly cancels and changes flights. 

Now, Southwest is in a position no business wants to be in: Its selling point is growing into a pain point, as it increasingly cancels and changes flights. 

And putting its customers in a position no one wants to be in, facing last-minute trip changes, cancellations, and the stress of rebooking--oftentimes with competing airlines and at much higher, same-day rates.  

A major reason Southwest is canceling and changing flights on passengers is that it lacks the infrastructure and staff to uphold its flights should it face a hiccup in sourcing its scheduled plane and crew. 

Most major airlines, like United or Delta, have hubs strategically placed throughout the country to give them quick and easy access to planes and staff on short notice. Southwest, on the other hand, does not. 

Or at least not yet. Instead of using the industry's traditional "hub and spoke" system, Southwest uses a "point-to-point" system. 

Or at least not yet. Instead of using the industry's traditional "hub and spoke" system, Southwest uses a "point-to-point" system. 

Southwest does not have large hubs with planes and crews on standby like other major carriers because it works to schedule flights more efficiently. This keeps planes flying as much as possible throughout the day, which increases revenue. 

But when one plane gets held up on the other side of the country, Southwest doesn't always have the ability to locate a new plane and crew. 

In response, it might delay the flight significantly as it tries to locate an available aircraft, or it might simply cancel the flight.