If there's an identifying trait of the legacy carriers -- other than globe-spanning routes, of course -- it's extra services meant to attract and win business customers. Like peer JetBlue , Southwest Airlines is beginning to add more of its own.
Starting next month, Southwest will grant access to the Transportation Security Administration's security pre-check service throughout its domestic system, the Chicago Business Journal reported last week. Elite business travelers tend to use pre-check to bypass lines and accelerate security screening.
Therein lies the benefit. Southwest already carries more domestic travelers than any other airline, and is currently in the process of expanding into Houston to take on United Continental on its home turf. Adding pre-check ups the ante further in the fight for business travelers with big needs and bigger budgets.
JetBlue, for its part, is adding not only lie-flat suites on some aircraft, but also planning next year to offer first-class cabin service on flights from New York's JFK airport to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Who wins in all this? Business travelers, certainly. Southwest also looks to be in good position having already made significant inroads in some of the nation's largest markets for business travel. That includes my home airport: Denver International. United has a hub in Denver and, coincidentally, just reported weaker-than-expected earnings while Southwest's profits doubled in the third quarter.
But it's also early. United has come back before, and and posted record profits in their most recent reports. Legacy carriers are in better shape now than they were a few years ago.
This a 15-round heavyweight battle, and the bell just rung. Do you agree? Are flying Southwest for business travel more now than in the past? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.
Let your portfolio fly
Warren Buffett has claimed that investing in airlines is a surefire way to lose your hard-earned cash. For troubled carriers like United Continental, he's probably right. But the Motley Fool's special report on the airline industry highlights two airlines that are in much better shape. By keeping costs low and avoiding direct competition, these carriers have earned enviable profits in recent years. Can they keep delivering? Click here for a free report that tells you all you need to know about these highfliers.
The article Southwest Airlines Takes a Step Closer to Becoming a Legacy Carrier originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He didn't own shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.