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Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular U.S. airlines. Among the biggest reasons for this is that Southwest will let you check not one but two pieces of baggage for free. That is pretty much unheard of nowadays, particularly in the U.S. However, could significant changes be coming on the way for Southwest thanks to some technological improvements?

Southwest Airlines

According to Bloomberg, the answer is yes, although fortunately, not all of the changes will be negative. Per said article, Southwest's antiquated technology systems have significantly limited how the low cost carrier can run its operations. Among the things Southwest was not able to do were the following:

  • Red-eye flights to the East Coast.
  • Less than daily domestic service from Sunday to Friday (they currently have to fly the same schedule all days except Saturdays).
  • Frequency adjustments per day (currently it is not possible to have, for example, different frequencies for a specific routes on Tuesdays and Fridays).

Thanks to a $250 million investment in their reservation systems, Southwest will now be able to overcome these limitations and operate schedules like other major airlines. It will take a couple of years for all of the new technologies to be implemented. By 2020 Southwest expects these enhancements to increase profits by as much as $500 million.

Per the Bloomberg article, the new technologies will also help Southwest “…customers’ experience in such disparate areas as schedule offerings, shorter connecting times, rebooking options, and ticket sales outside the U.S.”  

Our biggest fear with these changes is that Southwest will suddenly find itself in a position to justify implementing checked-bag fees. Thankfully, that is not in their plans. However, Southwest will now be able to assign seats, which will likely result in them charging a fee for this.

All in all, these are mostly positive changes that will help both Southwest and its customers. That is an extremely rare occurrence when it comes to airlines in this day and age.

Sources: Bloomberg and CBS News.

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