A sudden, irrational obsession with a Southwest Airlines commercial

I don’t watch much television at all. This weekend was the first time in probably over a year I turned on the TV in a hotel room. I also don’t really care much for NFL football, but it is what was on as I settled in for a nap so I saw a few commercials. And this one – Behind Every Seat is a Story: Coach – from Southwest Airlines has me spectacularly confused on the messaging.

I mean, I know the point the carrier is trying to sell: No change fees so book whatever you want and change it later for free. Hooray!

Putting aside that on day of travel (as in this example) the fare difference can be significantly more than the standby/same-day change fee charged by other airlines, there are two other themes in this one that I find questionable.

  1. The team is taking the flight because it lost the game that the coach was super pumped up for. So, yeah, “we’re the airline for losers” is one theme there.
  2. The video shows seat assignments over the players heads in the locker room after the loss. As if it is possible to know before getting on the plane what seat you’ll be in. Which is something Southwest doesn’t do.
How did these guys get seat assignments on Southwest Airlines while still in the locker room after a tough loss?
How did these guys get seat assignments on Southwest Airlines while still in the locker room after a tough loss?

The seat assignment thing is easy to excuse, I suppose. And the “losers” message probably is supposed to be that “We take care of you, even when things don’t go your way.” That’s the comforting, empathetic version of that interaction. Maybe I’m the horrible person here for immediately thinking about the “losers” message instead of the helpful side.

I guess from a marketer’s perspective the good news is that I noticed it when I otherwise really have no reason to care at all.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Yup… I didn’t have as full a reaction as you did (although I don’t disagree with anything you said)… But my first thought was that it might make a little more sense if the context was that they will finally begin assigning seats. Because if there is one airline that can’t get me teary-eyed about how special the occupant of a particular seat is, it’s the airline that doesn’t even know what seat anyone is sitting in.

  2. It would be better if they just didn’t need to fly to the final game and got a refund to be used later rather than paying a $200 change fee.

  3. My thought was how did they manage to get that many seats for a flight that day?. Most the time there is not that much availability for a SW flight same day.

  4. They just need to change the ending (and get rid of the seat assignments- clearly the ad agency folks don’t fly southwest).

    Close up of the coach looking at the tickets they will no longer use, sudden inspiration, then cut to all the players sitting on the beach.

    The real advantage with Southwest fares is the ability to use the amount as a full credit towards another ticket. That is really a unique difference.

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