Southwest Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the USA. The company started as a small regional airline and has grown over the years to become one of the most popular airlines in America.
Southwest Airlines has been a pioneer in the airline industry.
For example, it was the first airline to introduce the ticketless travel system, and also the first to introduce a frequent flyer program.
In terms of operational strategy, Southwest has always worked towards offering low fares to its customers having no assigned seating.
This strategy has worked quite well for the company so far.
It also offers cheaper fares due to its “free baggage allowance” policy – which means there are no extra charges for checking items like laptops or tablets when traveling with Southwest Airlines.
The 10 Biggest Southwest Airlines Competitors
In the United States, Southwest competes directly with American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines.
Ever since Southwest Airlines was founded, it has engaged in competition with other airlines.
These other companies have tried to compete with Southwest Airlines based on price, quality, and convenience.
Both of these airlines operate in a similar low-cost fashion as Southwest.
However, Southwest has been able to differentiate itself by offering customers more legroom, free checked bags (for up to two bags), and better customer service.
Southwest also competes with traditional airlines such as Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines.
These three airlines have the most presence in the low-cost market because they all fly domestically within the United States.
They compete directly with Southwest on many routes that are flown by both carriers.
Southwest Airlines operates in a cutthroat industry. This section examines some of Southwest’s rivals, including their finances, market share, competitive advantages, market capitalization, and why they may be Southwest’s greatest danger.
1. American Airlines
Southwest Airlines is an airline that is constantly growing and expanding. An airline that is one of its top competitors is none other than American Airlines.
American Airlines has a lot of flights, both domestic and international. This is one of the main reasons why it competes with Southwest Airlines.
Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, has only served domestic flights within the United States and some international flights to countries such as Mexico and the Caribbean, but not too many others when compared to American Airlines.
American Airlines also offers perks to its customers that Southwest does not.
For example, customers can earn miles and redeem them for flight discounts or hotel stays. With Southwest, you only get points which are based on how much you spend with them.
2. Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines is an ultra-low-cost carrier that offers incredibly cheap base fares but charges passengers extra for any add-ons.
The airline’s motto is “less money, more go,” and it follows through on the promise.
Spirit’s average ticket price is among the lowest in the industry, but a single checked bag costs as much as $100 each way.
Like Southwest Airlines, Spirit operates a point-to-point route network rather than a hub-and-spoke system, which means flights fly directly to destinations rather than connecting through hub airports.
Passengers can even choose routes with layovers in different cities to save money.
Spirit’s low fares have earned the airline a loyal following of budget travelers and the scrutiny of consumer groups.
3. Alaska Airlines
It is known for its low fares, but it also gives you the option to pay more to get a first-class seat with extra legroom, early boarding, and other frills.
You can also upgrade your seat to a premium economy seat (called Premium Class) and get an empty middle seat next to you, which is great if you’re traveling with family or friends.
Alaska Airlines also offers frequent flyers the opportunity to earn miles on every flight they take and use them for free flights.
Alaska Airlines is among the main Southwest Airlines competitors, but the two airlines have different business models.
Alaska Airlines’ routes are focused primarily on the West Coast, with additional routes through Hawaii and into Mexico.
4. United Airlines
United Airlines is probably the biggest direct competitor to Southwest. Both airlines have many of their hubs at airports in the same cities, especially in Chicago and Houston.
Both also offer extended service to both domestic and international destinations.
The two airlines are often compared by those who frequent them to see who provides the most value for the lowest cost.
While Southwest has a reputation for being one of the cheapest airlines out there, United competes with it on price by offering lower fares than other major carriers like American or Delta.
Some people say that if you book your flight early enough through United’s website, you can get a ticket that is cheaper than what Southwest would charge for the same route!
Another way United competes is by offering more amenities than Southwest does.
While Southwest does not provide free meals or entertainment during flights (and charges for seat assignments), United Airlines includes these services as part of their fare.
Even though Southwest doesn’t offer them either way, people still appreciate when an airline gives them something extra like this just because they’re flying with it instead of another company.
5. Delta Airlines
There are a couple of reasons why Delta Airlines is one of the main Southwest Airlines competitors.
The first is that they were two of the first major airlines to exist in the United States.
The second is because they both have a similar amount of flights available. They also fly to similar locations.
If you’re looking for a flight that’s going from one state to another, then it will be more likely that you’ll find Southwest Airlines competing with Delta Airlines than other airlines such as American or United.
6. JetBlue Airways
The U.S.-based airline JetBlue is focused on low-cost travel, with an extensive route network across the United States and down into the Caribbean.
Another low-cost carrier, JetBlue competes with Southwest on some U.S. domestic routes but does not fly as much internationally as some other carriers on this list.
With the introduction of its Mint business class cabin, JetBlue has also competed for premium customers who need to get from one side of the country to the other in a flash.
While tickets don’t come cheap, JetBlue’s Mint business class flights offer lie-flat seats that are ideal for business travelers who need to get some work done — or sleep — during a long trip from New York to Los Angeles or New York to San Francisco.
7. WestJet Airlines
WestJet is a low-cost Canadian airline that offers service throughout North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
It is one of the main Southwest Airlines competitors.
Although Southwest is one of the most popular airlines in the U.S., it doesn’t fly to Canada.
This means WestJet, as well as other international carriers, are Southwest’s main competitors for flights to and from Canada.
WestJet was founded in 1994 by four Calgary entrepreneurs, who wanted to offer Canadians an alternative to Air Canada.
The founders were inspired by Southwest Airlines’ low-cost business model and hired former Southwest executives to help them grow their business.
WestJet expanded quickly and currently has more than 770 aircraft in its fleet.
In addition, it also owns Encore, another regional airline that flies into smaller airports throughout Western Canada.
The company went public less than two years after launching its first flight and has seen steady success since then.
Like Southwest Airlines, WestJet offers affordable fares without charging for checked bags or change fees for most tickets (unless your flight includes a partner airline).
However, WestJet does charge for advance seat selection and in-flight entertainment on most planes.
8. Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Airlines is a low-cost passenger airline that serves 59 locations.
It is the tenth-largest airline in the United States in terms of passengers carried, with 1.7 million in 2020 and 3.13 million in 2019.
Sun Country Airlines sought growth finance from the public markets in 2021.
The business priced its first public offering at $24 per share and raised $218 million by selling around 9.1 million shares.
Sun Country and Southwest are both budget carriers for leisure passengers. Sun Country, with 1,800 employees, is almost 30 times smaller than Southwest.
However, rather than established competitors, investors are flocking to upstart airlines as prospective investments.
9. Air Canada
Air Canada is Southwest’s largest competitor in the airline industry.
They are known for their low prices, frequent traveler program, and also their high-quality customer service.
They have consistently ranked as one of the best airlines in the world.
Their focus on affordable prices has led to some of their passengers paying more than twice what a Southwest Airlines passenger would pay for their tickets.
It’s the largest carrier in Canada and has a significant presence in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Air Canada covers many of the same routes as Southwest does, including multiple daily flights between Los Angeles and Toronto.
With that in mind, we believe Southwest could use an integrated marketing strategy to gain an edge over Air Canada on these routes.
10. Frontier Airlines
Frontier Group is one of the main Southwest Airlines competitors. Southwest and Frontier are similar in many ways, but they represent different market segments.
Frontier Airlines is a low-cost carrier with routes to 50 destinations in the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, and Jamaica.
It doesn’t offer international flights like Southwest does, but it does cover more of North America. This makes Frontier one of the main Southwest Airlines competitors on its home ground.
But the two airlines serve different market segments. Frontier is one of a few carriers that provide “ultra-low-cost” flights,
This means that flight costs are cheaper than those of most other airlines, but ancillary costs such as seat assignments, checked baggage, and meals aren’t included in those fares.
That’s a stark contrast to Southwest’s policy of allowing passengers to check up to two bags for free and not charging for in-flight entertainment or snacks.
Southwest also doesn’t charge change or cancellation fees, as many other airlines do.