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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines

Gary Kelly, CEO
Southwest Airlines
2702 Love Field Dr.
Dallas, TX 75235

Dear Mr. Kelly:

Why would an airline company, which is so sensitive to its consumers that it does NOT charge for reservation changes or baggage fees etc. (as other airlines such as Delta, United, and American do), announce that it will no longer serve peanuts to airline passengers after August 1, 2018?

Peanuts are a part of Southwest’s brand from back when the stalwart Herb Kelleher started this upstart airline in Texas. He said its fares are peanuts and gave away peanuts to symbolize that marketing advantage.

Why give up such a history? Could your critics say that is because your fares are no longer so comparatively lower? You wouldn’t want that to hit the grapevine, would you?

Second, why would Southwest give up its little omnipresent blue billboard? Your passengers sometimes ask for a few more packs of peanuts for their friends. Passing out free peanuts contrasts with the miserliness of other airlines and has made for great word of mouth advertising. Ask Herb how important customer word of mouth promotion is for success.

Third, pretzels are not as nutritious as peanuts. Peanuts are good for you.

Fourth, your announcement said that “Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA.” Then why discontinue? Your response is that some customers have peanut-related allergies. For years you have solved that problem. If just one passenger says he or she is allergic to peanuts, you don’t serve them in the air, but your good caretakers are often willing to give them to peanut loving passengers as they disembark. From my experience, peanut distribution is suspended in about one of eight or nine trips. The current protocol worked. Why break it? You don’t ban pets from your planes because passengers are allergic to pets, do you?

This letter is a clarion call to all peanut fans who fly Southwest to urge you to rescind your ill-advised decision – made without the least consultation to your customers, by the way. Have you other undisclosed reasons that you haven’t shared?

National Peanut Day is on September 13, 2018. Please respond as soon as possible. Peanuts are especially good in August.

Ralph Nader