Here’s a promotion that’s sort of cool, and at first glance sort of puzzling. As noted by Chris McGinnis at SFGate, Southwest is offering 2,500 Rapid Rewards bonus points to those who have to wait in the TSA Pre-Check line at Oakland Airport for more than 10 minutes. This is being done as a test program, and will initially be available between May 14 and June 29, 2018.
According to Southwest’s Chief Revenue Officer, passengers are eligible for this if they feel like they’ve waited in the Pre-Check line longer than 10 minutes, and no proof is required. Those who feel like they’ve waited more than 10 minutes should simply approach a Southwest supervisor and ask for a 2,500 point voucher.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for ~1.3 cents each towards the cost of a ticket on Southwest, so that’s roughly ~$32 worth of airfare on Southwest.
For now this is a pilot program, and if successful, it could be expanded to other airports. Presumably success with this program will be measured based on survey results, rather than based on how many of these vouchers they do or don’t give out. It’ll be interesting to see if this impacts peoples’ impressions of the Southwest experience.
My first thought when seeing this promotion was that I was confused by their motivation here. Presumably Southwest has little control over the speed at which security lines move, and they’ve also created an honor system that seems like it could be exploited by passengers. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to offer a 20 minute baggage guarantee like Alaska and Delta, as that’s something that’s completely within their control?
But their logic for this promotion sort of makes sense:
“After 9/11, long- and medium-haul travel came back, but short-haul travel has never fully recovered. With PreCheck, ride sharing and other advances, the pain points of business travel are not what they used to be. We want to draw attention to that by making this guarantee.”
They’re trying to emphasize that shorthaul travel can be efficient. Presumably they expect that passengers will get through security in less than 10 minutes a vast majority of the time, and this guarantee is intended just to reassure people of how easy the process is.
As far as choosing Oakland Airport goes, the logic there is that Southwest is the only airline flying out of Terminal 2, so it’s easier for Southwest to control the flow of passengers when they’re the only airline. For airports where they share the terminal with other airlines, this could be trickier.
What do you make of Southwest’s promotion for 2,500 bonus points when you have to wait in line for more than 10 minutes?