Well I can see where this thread is heading, so I'll post my reply and bail out.
1. If it weren't for Southwest then no airline would be in good standing right now because the market price for a price would be way way way over priced, and no one would be able to fly out of JFK or the NY area due to prices. To say SWA would never survive the "environment" (whatever that is) is over the top, if not rediculous. Come on, they're the most successful airline still operating.
While I agree that SWA is obviously on top when it comes to revenue, employee morale, and customer satisfaction (although there are indications that the latter might be declining), they are in that spot for a reason: partly because they avoid the major traffic hotspots (MDW vs ORD, DAL vs DFW, OAK vs SFO, etc, and completely avoiding the NYC 3)
They are successful because they do not operate in these "enviornments" as you call them. I did not mean to imply that they would go out of business if they were hubbed there (but you could not say that they would be in the same place if they were).
2.I work at a SWA hot spot as well, and there is NO special treatment given to anyone. If you're a pilot and have never been to the radar facility that works any class B airport, then before you brainstorm these crazy ideas on speculation, go visit a real TRACON and you'll get the picture.
In my own defense, yes I have. I have visited and spent considerable time in 7 FAA facilities, and worked in my own tower, so I am aware of their traffic procedures. I agree with RDP saying that if you are in an airline's hub and are told to follow said airline, statistics have it that was inevitable. There is also another side to the same story though. While not necessarily showing favortism, controllers will treat the home carrier differently than the visiting team, strictly due to familiarity on both sides. A CVG controller will treat a Comair flight (where the pilots/controllers work with each other on a daily basis) much differently than a Midwest Airlines flight (where the pilots/controllers are unfamiliar with each other), or a DFW controller will treat AA a lot differently than a JBU. Its not favortism, it is the fact that they take each other for granted that each knows each other very well.
To go into your filling the gap example, I'll use my own experience to provide a real life example. In CVG, when they are landing south (roughly 75% of the time), there are 3 primary arrival routes that feed to 18L, 2 from the south and 1 from the north. So, these routes will merge as some point, usually on base leg. While on downwind for 18L, traffic is descended to 9000, then abeam the dept end to 7000, then midfield to either 3000 or 4000. We adjust our descent rates depending on the length of final by listening to traffic flows, TCAS, etc. The controllers know this. Something they do with us (Comair) that they admittedly will not do with another similiar aircraft is tell us that we are going to get a gap early and to plan for a short approach. This allows us to configure/slow the aircraft early to get a steeper descent rate for a shorter base. This isn't necessarily favortism in my mind, as a foriegn carrier would not know what to expect (the opposite happens in ATL as it is a different operation, when an ATL controllers says "expect short approach" you can expect a 10 mile final, not a 4 mile approach).