Southwest revolutionized the airline industry with its low fares, unassigned seating, and no-frills approach. Millions of travelers responded enthusiastically.
The airline's operating costs have increased 16 percent in the past two years alone, however, and now Southwest is looking to alleviate the pinch. On the radar: New revenue models, including (gasp!) assigned seating, with the goal of raising revenue by $1 billion over the next several years.
Other areas of growth: The airline may also expand into international markets, offer wireless Internet, and improve waiting areas with special seating for business travelers and families.
If passengers prove resistant to the assigned-seat policy, Southwest is also currently testing out a new gate model: Keeping the open-seating arrangement, but offering reserved, numbered places in line within boarding groups (A, B, C).