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Why Southwest just became more appealing for business travelers

May 4 2020
4 min read
Why Southwest just became more appealing for business travelers
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Most airlines around the world depend on three major platforms in sell seats on their planes — direct sales to consumers and business travelers, through ticket agents, a website or app; codeshares through airline partners; and consumer and business sales via a third-party travel agency, often an online travel agency (or OTA), or a corporate booking platform.

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That latter option generally requires that an airline integrate with a global distribution system, or GDS, which provides real-time seat availability and access to current fares. In some cases, it also allows travel agents to mix and match airlines to build a complete itinerary — even those that don't otherwise have a business relationship.

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Southwest Airlines has long stood apart from most airlines around the world, insisting on marketing its flights exclusively through its own platforms. While that approach can work for a leisure airline with a very loyal following of customers more than happy to begin their travel search at Southwest.com, it's a bit less practical for a carrier hoping to appeal to business travelers — especially corporate travelers forced to book flights through a specific travel agent or reservations platform.

Related: Southwest extends companion pass, elite status

Last year, however, Southwest announced plans to grow integration with business travel platforms, making it possible for corporate travel managers to book, modify and cancel Southwest reservations with ease. And, as promised, the carrier's flights are now available through Travelport’s Apollo and Worldpsan global distribution systems, with support for Amadeus' GDS planned for later this year.

Southwest timing couldn't be better — like all airlines around the world, the carrier is struggling to fill planes following the coronavirus pandemic. By making its flights available to more customers, Southwest will be in a better position to sell seats to a broader range of flyers, expanding the potential for lucrative corporate contracts.

While Southwest doesn't offer a first-class cabin, elites do get to board earlier, giving frequent flyers a better chance of scoring their preferred seats. Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

It's also good news for business travelers — more Southwest loyalists will have access to the carrier's flights for work-related travel, when their options may have been limited before. Road warriors may have a worthy new alternative, too — the coveted Companion Pass could be within reach with work travel alone, allowing business travelers to bring someone along on their work flights for just the cost of taxes and fees.

Related: Complete guide to Southwest elite status

There are other advantages to booking Southwest, especially for last-minute travel. Since there isn't a first-class cabin, elites don't have to worry about missing out on an upgrade when booking travel a day or two before departure — Delta Diamond members can clear as far as five days in advance, for example, leaving fewer seats for flexible flyers. Last-minute bookers can avoid getting stuck in a middle seat, too — Southwest maintains an open seating policy, and status holders and customers purchasing Business Select fares get to board the plane (and have their pick of seat) first.

The impact could even spill over to other U.S. carriers, who may be more inclined to drop fares on certain routes, to avoid losing business to Southwest. And, with another appealing program to choose from, elites sticking with legacy carriers could end up battling fewer travelers for upgrades and preferred seats — a win-win for customers across the board.

Related: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Featured photo by JT Genter

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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

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  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
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  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees