Southwest Airlines Scraps Senior Fares After 36 Years

After 36-years, Dallas based Southwest Airlines has decided to scrap their discounted senior airfares.

When airlines do something they think their customers will love they can’t wait to tell the world about it. However, when they take away something people like, they very quietly announce it hoping no one will notice.

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Southwest scraps its senior citizen discount. Photo: Southwest Airlines

And while nothing lasts forever, was it really hurting the airline to offer senior citizens a discount on tickets rather than having them sitting around waiting to see when the next seat sale would come along?

The flying public, in America at least, has mostly given up on the idea of great service in favor of on-time arrivals and departures. While Southwest does offer some of the cheapest fares, they still manage to do it with a big smile on their face.

Southwest will still offer other discounted fares

Before we get into this further, this is the announcement Southwest Airlines made about discontinuing senior discounts as quoted in USA Today.

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Older Southwest customers will miss the discount. Photo: Southwest Airlines

“Notice: As of Dec. 11, 2019, senior fares are no longer available for purchase. Our customers mean everything to us. We’re committed to providing friendly, reliable service and low fares with heart. You’ll still get all that with our other fare features.”

The low-cost airline added the refundable fares are still available with its “Anytime” and “Business Select” fares.

Getting rid of the senior discount may come as a shock to older Southwest Airlines customers who took advantage of the discounted airfares.

Using the senior discount saved quite a bit of money

USA Today gives an example of how the fare worked by quoting the price of a round-trip ticket from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

If you flew using Southwest’s “Anytime” fare it would cost you $1,189.38, a senior discounted fare for the same journey was $685.36 a savings of $504.02.

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Southwest decided to sunset the senior fare option. Photo: Southwest Airlines

When Inc.com’s Chris Matyszczyk telephoned Southwest to ask why they were taking away the senior discount, a spokesperson for the airline said:

“After careful evaluation of the overall fare product, we’ve made the decision to sunset the Senior Fare option.”

Clearly by “sunset”, what the airline means is actually ‘killed off’, and not merely put to bed for the night.

Could the 737 MAX grounding be the reason?

Just like American Airlines saying adding more seats to planes was a good idea, Southwest Airlines has obviously done this to increase revenue.

With the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX going into its eighth month and no word from the FAA as to when it will be back in service, Southwest could be trying to show its Wall Street investors that it can make up for all those canceled flights.

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The 737 MAX grounding is hurting Southwest. Photo: Southwest Airlines

After all, Southwest Airlines is the most affected airline in America with 34 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet. American Airlines and United Airlines have also suffered due to the MAX grounding, but nowhere near the extent of  Southwest.

What do you think about Southwest getting rid of discounted flights for senior citizens? Please let us know in the comments.

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Jane McGregor

Southwest, You have lost a customer. I will fly on Spirit as a matter of principle.

stevensmc

Spirit’s seats are very uncomfortable and you have to pay for carry on bags and checked bags. Southwest, on the other hand, has more comfortable seats and you get a carry on bag and 2 checked bags for free even on the cheapest fare class. Even without the discount, Southwest is usually better than Spirit.

Greedy Bastard.

It figures. The same year that I finally qualified for the senior discount and then they change the rules. Such is Ltd.

Christian

Southwest should have given notice rather than being sneaky. Otherwise it makes them look dishonest. Speaking of dishonest, I find the response from Southwest about the reasons for this move, or rather the lack of a response, to be telling. There is absolutely no way to pretend that this decision is beneficial to the customer. Southwest should give the true reasons for this move and deal with the consequences, which would be unlikely to be worse than they are for acting in a disreputable and dishonest fashion.

Ed Bills

Usually I found that there were better prices in other options in the SWA fare structure. Especially with the frequent sales. I will continue to make them my first choice when they are an option. Their service and their very friendly and helpful staff also add points in their favor.

Duncan Bell

Too bad for Southwest. As a senior the loss of the Senior Fares will be one less reason to consider Southwest when I plan my travel. With all the search options on the Internet, I’m sure I will find other airline “good deals”.