Once again, we see the big difference between Southwest Airlines and many of its competitors. It often doesn't come down to what they do, or what they say, or what their policies are.

It comes down to how they make people feel.

Case in point: There's a lot of stuff to get annoyed about with air travel. But my #1 pet peeve is when flight attendants insist that you listen to them while they try to sell you on an airline-sponsored credit card.

Mental muscle memory

Of course, there are times when it's crucial that you pay attention to the cabin crew. Even if you've flown 100 times this year, it's still useful to hear the safety instructions--if only for mental muscle memory in the event of an actual emergency.

And if you've memorized it all, at least you can understand the benefit of being quiet so that other not-so-frequent fliers can absorb the information.

But a lot of airlines go beyond that. They turn off the in-flight entertainment and insist that passengers sit still and quiet while the flight attendants pitch you on a credit card.

It's doubly annoying when you already have the credit card that they're pitching you.

Flight attendants on both United and American get paid commissions for each credit card they sell: between $50 and $100 depending on the circumstances.

Not even optional?

On United Airlines it's not even optional: As my colleague Chris Matyszczyk recently wrote, flight attendants are actually being required to try to make sales on every flight. (The flight attendants say they don't like the policy anymore than the passengers do.)

People worried recently, when Southwest Airlines announced that it was going to launch a branded credit card of its own.

Would it mean that we'd start hearing credit card pitches on LUV? Would singing flight attendants be replaced with hawking salespeople?

My friends, we needn't have worried. 

'No plans for an onboard sales program'

Writing in the Chicago Business Journal, the utterly indefatigable Lewis Lazare reports that Southwest says it has "no plans for an onboard sales program for the new Priority card."

That means no brochures for busy flight attendants to hand out, no "lean[ing] heavily on passengers to consider signing up for the new card," and no annoying on-board announcements trying to hawk the new credit card.

By the way, as Lazare aptly summarizes, Southwest's new credit card comes with:

  • a $149 annual fee 
  • 7,500 anniversary Rapid Rewards points each year 
  • a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 
  • 20 percent back on inflight purchases, and 
  • up to four upgraded boardings per year when available

Is that a good deal, then? Should you apply for a Southwest Airlines-branded Chase Rapid Rewards Priority? 

I have no skin in the game either way. And maybe neither should your flight attendant.
 

Published on: Jul 28, 2018
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