DeltaPoints interviewed me for his ‘fireside chat’ series.
On Southwest Airlines:
I flew Southwest once. That was 1993. They used to have seats that faced backwards, but of course not like British Airways or United (lie flat seats). Southwest is great, it isn’t generally cheaper than its head-to-head competition but I think they’re a good reliable airline and they’ve brought a lot to the communities they serve. I used to love sparring online with their founding President Lamar Muse, and his autobiography is a great must-read. I loved the stories about their commitment to putting skylights in their first planes so passengers could look up to the heavens (helped them get financial backing) and of how the La Quinta chain got its name (a Southwest board member founded it, and was looking for the cheapest furniture possible which happened to have a Southwestern motif — and needed a name to match). But there’s no possibility of an upgrade on Southwest, and Southwest points can’t be leveraged. So the two things I value most are impossible.
On the future of frequent flyer progams:
Frequent flyer programs are the most successful marketing innovations of all time. They are profitable as standalone businesses. While there are changes in the offing, many of the programs are funded by smart business people who won’t undermine the fundamental value proposition that supports their profitability. And there are too many frequent flyer programs around the world to count, which means there are plenty of places for mileage junkies to go to continue getting real value. So I don’t worry too much.