Southwest: 'No More Cattle Calls'

Under pressure from trimmed-down rivals and high oil prices, the pioneering airline is changing the practices that made it an industry highflier

Southwest Airlines (LUV), the carrier famous for its cattle-car boarding process and lack of first-class amenities, now wants to reach out to the Gucci loafer and Hermes tie crowd. On Nov. 7 Southwest introduced a new fare structure that will give preferential treatment to customers who pay more for their tickets. The following day the company will roll out a new boarding process nationwide that assigns each passenger a number indicating when they can get on the plane, sparing customers the need to line up an hour before a flight to get the best seat. "No more cattle calls," says Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly.

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