In the beginning of Southwest's early expansion days in the 1990's and early 2000's I heard of this upstart airline with odd and what I felt were Neanderthal practices. I was a seasoned business traveller and never would I submit to the cattle call that was Southwest. I loved my assigned seating, my always reserved aisle seat, my first class upgrades, my frequent flier mile Hawaii trips and my beautiful Gold airline status card. I was a veteran and only families, cheapie corporate travellers and Vegas gamblers flew Southwest.
Fast forward to the last 5 years or so and my eyes have been opened. I now prefer Southwest on short hops. I'm not sure I would fly them across country as they often stop once or twice but I now always look. I love it when they sing or joke when we land and the flight attendants always make things a little better. I can handle the cattle call seating as now you get a number, line up in numerical order and there is no front stage like rush through the gate. You can have 10 bags of peanuts if you want and the flight attendants aren't surly like several other airlines that will remain nameless.
I suppose this last Southwest event has just solidified their corporate philosophy and how it works. I'm sure you've all heard of this as it's now a viral blog. The story is where a man was trying to get from one place to another to see his grandson before he was pulled off of life support. He was delayed by baggage, the TSA and every other manner of airport stresses that we all incur every time. Somehow, Southwest became aware of his plight, whether it was from the sobbing phone agent he booked through or from his previous flight or some other means, his connecting flight was held at the gate by the pilot and probably the gate agent as well for 12 minutes while he ran the gauntlet of airport security. I can tell you right now, no other airline in the US would have the forethought, balls and communication it must have required between their staff for that kind of information to move from one plane, to somewhere else to ticket agent to gate to pilot to affect this miracle.
The full story is here