I just recently landed a contract position in Sacramento, California and will have to start commuting every week to and from Sacramento, I will fly in either late Sunday night or early Monday and depart each Thursday to return home to Southern California. As I start to plan for my first work trip, one that will become all too familiar to me, I have to decided: to fly Southwest or Connect.
Southwest offers the ideal schedule with 10 peak daily round trips between the city par, with the first flight leaving San Diego at 6:20am and getting me to Sacramento by 8am with ongoing departures throughout the day from San Diego to Sacramento every 60-120 minutes. This flight time is ideal to my work schedule because I can still make it to the office Monday by 9am if I leave on the 6:20am flight. Return options are equally as abundant with the last flight out each night at 9:55pm, and start as early as 6am and run every 60-120 minutes ,10 times a day.
If I choose a different airline I must connect and I have the option to fly Delta, AA, Alaska or United via LAX, SLC, PHX, PDX, or SFO, but a layover adds an addition 1-2 hours in transit time and now I am arriving to the office late Monday. My employer is flexible, but a layover means 3-4 hours of travel time vs a direct 1 hour and 10 minute flight.
Route options Red:SWA, Cyan:United, Purple:Alaska, Orange:US Green: Delta/AA Blue: Delta
Looking at travel time alone, Southwest is the easy winner, but then I think about their frequent flyer program and I am instantly turned off by two reasons: first, it’s revenue based and second, it’s not a global frequent flyer program or airline. In the past I have used my miles to travel the globe, with Southwest, I will be limited to using my points to fly within North America! These two reasons alone make me not want to fly Southwest.
Yet, then if I use any other program, my milage earning will be insignificant at best anyway, 4 segments and 2000 miles a week, or 16 segments a month and 8,0000 base miles with another 8,000 bonus miles for being elite. Throughout the course of the year, I’ll earn 96,000 miles which will easily roll up to United 1k or American Executive platinum with one additional trip each year, but is the time spent actually worth it?
- No Region Jets
- Direct Flight
- 10x flights a day
- Regional frequent Flyer Program
- No Global Rewards
- Revenue Based Program
- First class upgrades
- Global Airline meaning global rewards & status recognizition
Using AA/DL/UA Cons
- Regional aircraft
- Must connect
- fewer flights per day
- Many weather delays at SFO & SLC
What would you do in this situation? Connect or fly nonstop? If you current use the SWA frequent flyer program, I would love to hear why you love it or hate it and what advantages it has for you. For me, I am a single guy in my mid to late 20s, no kids, no partner, and have almost no need for companion passes. My flights in the US are cheap enough that I can afford to buy them myself, and honestly, when I have weekends off my job flies me “home” which can be just about anywhere in the USA, so again I already get free domestic flights!