While planning a trip, a traveler often explores numerous airlines as options to fly with. This consideration is based on several factors that include pricing, cabin classes, route network, reasonability, availability of frequent flights, and so on. If a traveler has a place like Hawaii in his/her mind for the next trip, then there are 2 leading carriers to prefer – Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines vs Southwest Airlines

Concerning Alaska Airlines vs. Southwest Airlines, both these USA-based carriers offer exceptional services. They provide their passengers with flights to a large network of places. Even though these are similar in many aspects, the comparison between Alaska Airlines versus Southwest is vital to meet specific travel requirements.

To know which is better, based on the route network, airfares, and other factors, keep reading this post.

Southwest Airlines Vs. Alaska Airlines: A Detailed Comparison

One can have a pleasurable travel experience when one is aware of the right airline. However, the decision to choose between airlines like Southwest and Alaska is affected or influenced by several factors. Airfares are one of the most crucial determinants. Besides, travelers can consider the destinations covered, customer services, ease of booking, and other aspects to make a wise choice.

1. Domestic and Global Routes

Alaska Airlines vs. Southwest Airlines comparison begins with the routes covered by them. Talking about the route network of Alaska spans over 115 destinations. Some major routes covered by it include:

  • Sitka
  • Kodiak
  • Cordova
  • Anchorage
  • Fairbanks
  • Ketchikan
  • Prudhoe Bay
  • Kotzebue
  • Nome
  • King Salmon
  • Adak
  • Juneau
  • Barrow
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Bahamas
  • Guatemala
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Belize

When it comes to Southwest Airlines, the American carrier covers 100+ places within all major nations. The primary routes covered include places such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and others. Additionally, here is the indicative list of destinations wherein this carrier headquartered in Dallas flies to:

  • Bahamas
  • Aruba
  • Cuba
  • Mexico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Costa Rica
  • Cayman Islands

2. Range of Aircraft in the Fleet

In relation to Southwest Airlines vs. Alaska Airlines, there is a considerable difference in the number of aircraft owned by both. While Southwest has a higher number of airplanes, the other carrier has a comparatively compact but comfortable fleet.

As of May 2024, Southwest Airlines has around 816 aircraft in its fleet. This whopping number of planes makes it the 4th largest airline in the world in terms of fleet. Currently, the carrier only operates through the narrow-bodied Boeing planes. The following models are best utilized by it for functioning globally:

  • Boeing 737
  • Boeing 737-800
  • Boeing 737 MAX 7
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8

Alaska Air also uses the most advanced and high-tech planes to manage its domestic/global operations. With a total of 300+ aircraft, it has Boeing and Embraer planes in the fleet.

Just like Southwest, this carrier is following the concept of ‘All Boeing’. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Alaska is using planes with special liveries featured through these models:

  • Boeing 737-900
  • Boeing 737-700
  • Boeing 737-800
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8
  • Boeing 737-900ER
  • Boeing 737 MAX 9
  • Embraer 175
  • Boeing 737 MAX 10
  • Embraer 175 (For regional operations)

3. An Exceptional Range of In-flight Services

With Southwest, fliers will be offered non-alcoholic beverages free of cost. In case they need alcoholic drinks, fliers can pay USD 6-USD 7 for the same.

However, the age for buying alcoholic beverages on the flight must be 21 years. Besides, the airline provides complimentary snacks on every flight. The Wi-Fi services are also available onboard, costing USD 8.

In the comparison of Alaska Airlines vs. Southwest, the former is not behind at all. This is because it offers a “Buy on Board” meal program through which passengers can buy their favorite food items and snacks.

Numerous leading brands such as Starbucks, Tim’s Cascade, Tillamook Cheese, Alaskan Amber Beer, etc., offer delicious meals. Just like Southwest, this carrier also charges USD 8 for in-flight Wi-Fi.

Depending on the food preferences and in-flight requirements of a flier, the ideal carrier can be selected.

4. Points and Benefits for Frequent Flyers

Air operators like Southwest and Alaska Air enable flyers to earn points. Besides, they ensure additional benefits for those who fly frequently with these operators.

When comparing Alaska Airlines vs. Southwest Airlines, looking at the specific advantages available can help decide which option to fly with.

Southwest offers Rapid Rewards to gain extra benefits on the next booking. The members of this program will earn 1 credit on every one-way flight. Previously, if a flyer had 16 credits within 2 years, he or she received a free round-trip (valid for 1 year).

Now, earned credits or points can be redeemed as per the 4-tier fare to enjoy seat upgrades, additional discounts, and priority services.

Alaska Air has a Mileage Plan with zero membership fees. The earned miles do expire and can be used at any time. It has 4 tiers – MVP Gold 100k, MVP Gold 75K, MVP Gold, and MVP. All members of the Mileage Plan can access Club 49.

Additionally, they’ll be rewarded with benefits such as email notifications and free checked baggage.

5. Accidents and Safety Measures

Prior to flying with Southwest or Alaska, a traveler must consider how safe and reliable each carrier is. Since its inception, Southwest has had a total of 9 accidents. This includes 4 deaths and 2 hull losses.

Fortunately, it has never crashed. Hence, it is considered one of the safest airlines in the world.

  • Southwest further takes the necessary measures to prevent accidents.
  • For instance, it uses high-tech and updated aircraft.
  • The airline management ensures prompt repairs, replacements, and regular maintenance to prevent hazardous events.
  • Lastly, it follows rigorous security checks to prevent hijacks and other issues.

Alaska Airlines is comparatively behind when security/reliability is considered. In this regard, when it comes to Southwest Airlines vs. Alaska Airlines, till now, this carrier has faced 11 major accidents.

In these events, more than 200 cabin crew members, passengers, and 2 people on the ground lost their lives. The recent accident took place in January 2024 but luckily no death was recorded.

However, after all these incidents, this airline’s management has been trying hard to ensure safety and keep its passengers secure on the ground/in the air.

6. Affordability is the Key

With Southwest, passengers can get fare classes such as Business Select, Anytime, Wanna Get Away Plus, and Wanna Get Away. Although fares will vary, the perks are extensive. As per the current deal, a one-way trip will cost you as low as USD 59. Business Class offers priority boarding, free internet, 2 free bags, zero cancellation, and free changes. All these make Southwest a great option.

Speaking about Alaska Air, its fares start from USD 69 for a one-way trip. However, it has cabin classes for every budget. For instance, to travel without spending huge amounts, passengers can book Saver fares. To have a luxurious travel experience, First Class is available. Besides, Premium Class and Main Cabin options are suitable too.

7. The Ease of Booking Services

When comparing Southwest Airlines vs. Alaska Airlines, with both, fliers can have multiple booking options. Southwest provides online modes through its official website and mobile app to book conveniently. In case a change is required in the existing booking, the same can be done online too.

If a flier wants to book a Southwest flight after exploring its routes and comparing fares/discounts, he/she can dial 1-800-435-9792 or visit the nearest office of the airline.

Alaska also provides some easy modes for flight booking and other services. For online reservations, its website or mobile app are the quickest and best options to bid adieu to long waiting lines. Apart from these, the contact number 1-800-252-7522 can be dialed to book tickets.

Lastly, one can head to the nearest airport/sales/city office for reservations, flight changes, and other requirements.

8. Airport Services

As the Alaska Airlines vs. Southwest comparison is made, passengers must consider the airport services offered to decide which one is better. Southwest Airlines has dedicated check-in and security points to speed up these processes.

Additionally, it ensures a stress-free stay at 1500+ airport lounges. Please note that this carrier doesn’t have its own lounges. Instead, through priority passes, one can access the partnered and other lounges.

Talking about Alaska Air, it has a total of 8 lounges. Besides, eligible members can access OneWorld lounges across the airports. Along with this, booking counters, helpdesks with active representatives, specific check-in counters/kiosks, and several other services are provided at the airport.

9. Consider What Other Fliers Have to Say

Reading reviews can make several aspects clearer to choosing either Southwest or Alaska Air. When you check popular sites such as TripAdvisor, you will notice that Southwest Airlines has got 4.5 stars out of 5.

It has been rated the best for check-in, customer service, affordability, cleanliness, and on-board experiences.

Alaska Airlines is not behind in this comparison as it has a 4-star rating out of 5 on many well-known review sites including TripAdvisor.

Fliers who have traveled with this operator have appreciated it for its exceptional customer services and onboard experiences. Also, legroom, seat comfort, and food items & beverages offered are satisfactory.

Both carriers are great options to fly with when a detailed comparison of Southwest Airlines vs. Alaska Airlines is looked at. Be it pocket-friendly airfares, or in-flight services, all these make the carriers amazing. Yet, a slight variation is there. Observing these, one can decide whether to choose Alaska or Southwest.

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Anne Burke

I am a globetrotter with a passion for exploring the world's diverse cultures and landscapes. Alongside, I write articles for airports and related services, offering insights into travel experiences and airport amenities.

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