Southwest Rings in the New Year with an Aggressive Denver Push

The people of Denver are very lucky when it comes to air travel. While most airports would do just about anything to land a hub, Denver has three airlines fighting it out. United (UAUA), Frontier, and Southwest (LUV) have all been running their hub operations out of Denver with mixed results. Southwest, however, is the most aggressive of all, and its first promotion of the year shows that it's not going to let up.

This week, Southwest announced that it would give a free flight to anyone in Colorado who books a full fare, roundtrip Business Select ticket that starts and ends in Denver. Booking must be done by the end of January and the trip must be flown by the end of February. The free ticket, however, can be used any time before the end of 2010.

This is a clear attempt to drive loyalty and nothing else. Southwest wants people to sign up for Rapid Rewards and apparently its previous credit bonus efforts weren't doing it. Now they've gone very aggressively after the Denver business traveler.

This is only valid for travel during January and February, a time when there is very little leisure travel and a lot more business travel. So, Southwest wants to show off the Business Select product - priority security lines, priority boarding, free drinks, etc. This free ticket might be enough to sway a business traveler who has the freedom to make his or her own flight choices to use Southwest in the future. I know that I would gladly fly Southwest once to get a free ticket, even if my loyalty was elsewhere. Southwest just hopes the loyalty permanently switches.

This is just the first sign that it's going to be another banner year for Denver fliers. These airlines are going to continue knocking each other out to woo the travelers until someone calls uncle.