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Avoiding Southwest After Its Fatal Accident? You’re Not Alone

SmarterTravel

Bookings at Southwest are way down following a fatal accident this past April. The airline announced Monday that it expects revenue per available seat mile (RASM) to fall about three percent in the current quarter. Basically, RASM goes down when more seats are empty. The airline previously estimated that this number would go down by between one and three percent—suggesting April’s incident is on travelers’ minds.

But in a filing with the SEC, Southwest blames reduced advertising for the change, saying the decrease is “primarily driven by lower bookings largely due to reduced marketing efforts following the Flight 1380 accident.”

In that incident, a engine fan blade broke off and shattered a window, killing the woman onboard. It is customary for airlines to cut back on advertising following an accident.

But while the April 17 incident and subsequent marketing freeze undoubtedly played major roles in this decline, it’s not as if they are the only factors possibly at play. Southwest experienced two additional, publicized safety issues this spring: Another cracked window that required an unplanned landing, and a pressurization event that also required an abrupt landing.

Long story short, it was a spring of struggles for Southwest, and it seems passengers are hesitant to get back onboard. It’s difficult to see this trend lasting because, well, this is Southwest we’re talking about—one of America’s most trusted airlines. That’s what makes this series of events interesting.

Southwest has a fairly clean safety record, and the April fatality was the first in the airline’s history. But trust is a fickle thing, and should be when it comes to air travel. It’s understandable if some passengers are taking time to be sure these incidents are just a blip on the proverbial radar.

Readers, what about you? Southwest has always been popular with the SmarterTravel community: Has this recent spate of safety issues caused you to hold off booking with Southwest?

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