Southwest Airlines thinks outside the cargo bay

Southwest Airlines Cargo continues to win the hearts of freight forwarders for outstanding customer service, but the airline isn't resting on its laurels.

Members of the Airforwarders Association voted Southwest Airlines the best domestic airline for the 11th year running. Southwest may cement that loyalty further this year when it rolls out new capability to confirm when a shipment makes it on, or off, a plane, something customers have long clamored for.

The Valentine's Day flower season is expected to help ease any revenue blues again this year. Southwest operates out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a number of daily departures carrying flowers imported by other carriers from South America. Southwest also trucks flowers from Miami to Orlando, where Southwest has many daily departures, Wally Devereaux, managing director of cargo and charters, said.

Last April, Southwest Airlines introduced Fast Fresh aimed at perishable goods such as seafood, herbs, fresh-cut flowers and even tropical fish for pet stores. The premium product gives fresh products priority boarding compared to generic cargo that is listed on a general airway bill. That means it won't get bumped if the plane is overbooked, and there are shorter cutoff times — 45 minutes before takeoff, depending on the shipment's size and the airport. Fast Fresh has a 24-hour guarantee to destination from the time of tender.

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