Southwest and its 737s: Soaring to New Heights

March 21, 2019

Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest domestic air carrier, as well as being recognized as one of America’s top companies with the public and its employees.  Exclusively using Boeing 737 aircraft, Southwest has been a profitable business for several decades, and consistently ranks number one among U.S. airlines in fewest customer complaints. Learn how you can own part of Southwest Airlines legacy.


737-300 series PlaneTag

Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA [ CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


An Innovative Airline

Southwest Airlines was founded in 1966 as an intrastate airline, Air Southwest Company, and originally envisioned as commuter transport servicing Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. They didn’t begin running commercial flights until 1971, when it also adopted the name Southwest Airlines. Its history, while sometimes rocky in the beginning, has been filled with innovations in both operations and marketing, with one focus at the forefront - maintaining a connection with the customer.

In spite of some legal hiccups that embroiled the burgeoning company in its first few years, once they were settled they came off the runway with speed. Forced to sell one of its four Boeing 737s for operating capital, they came up with a way to maintain the schedule it had established called the “10 Minute Turn”. The idea to land the plane, unload and load passengers and cargo, refuel and restock, and get back in the air in ten minutes was born from necessity and challenged every employee, from the top all the way down. But they did it and turned a profit for the first time that year, and every year ever since.

Innovations appeared in other forms. Pleasure Class fares offered to night and weekend fliers (starting a fare war with Braniff), Incredible Pair Fair for companion tickets, Fun Fares, Kids Fly Free were among the promotions over the years that, combined with free baggage, fun flights, low fares and friendly service, made flying with them appealing to travelers. In 1994 they were first to offer Ticketless Travel. Soon after, they were the first major airline to offer schedules, routes and information on the internet, via their website “Home Gate”


1994 advertising

Customer service has been at the forefront of their mission and its company’s culture. Southwest Airlines has consistently ranked number one among U.S. airlines in fewest customer complaints, according to the DOT Customer Satisfaction ranking. They were also ranked as number 8 in FORTUNE’s 2018 list of World’s Most Admired Companies, the only commercial airline to make the top 10.


“We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes (on schedule, with personality and perks along the way).”  - Southwest Airlines


Southwest and Boeing 737


Southwest is the nation’s largest discount airline and as of February 2019, they carry the most domestic passengers of any United States airline. One of their reasons for success is because they have exclusively flown 737s, including tail number N665WN.

Stated Chris Wahlenmaier, Vice President Customer Support & Services, “We only need to train our mechanics on one type of airplane. We only need extra parts inventory for that one type of airplane. If we have to swap a plane out at the last minute for maintenance, the fleet is totally interchangeable—all our on-board crews and ground crews are already familiar with it. And there are no challenges in how and where we can park our planes on the ground, since they’re all the same shape and size.”


Tail #N665WN


Before flying for Southwest, this plane was known as G-MONF and flew for Monarch from May 1986 until it was sold. This time was an exciting time for them. In 1997, they had:

  • Revenue passengers: 42,742,602
  • Trips flown: 624,476
  • Fleet: 199 aircraft
  • Employees at year end: 16,818
  • Cities opened: SNA, PDX, SEA, GEG, TUS, BOI, SLC

N665WN flew for Southwest until it was retired in 2016, and broken up in 2019.


Boeing 737-3Y0 PlaneTag

MotoArt owner Dave Hall heard that the plane was available and was excited about offering it as a PlaneTag. “When I see Southwest’s colors and hold a part of one of their planes in my hands, it brings a lot of great memories to mind,” says Dave. “I’ve traveled to some cool places on this airline and I’m sure many other people have too.”


PlaneTag luggage tag


Now anyone can hold a part of Southwest Airlines’ rich history in their own hands. The Boeing 737 PlaneTags come in four colors: blue, yellow, orange and combos. Each tag can be personalized with a name, address and phone number for a beautiful luggage tag. They would make a great gift for your favorite pilot, avgeek or anyone who loves travel and history.