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2010 One Report: People—Our Greatest Strength

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This is the fifth in a series of posts about our just-released integrated annual report, the 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we have illustrated our commitment to a triple bottomline and how our passion and focus on Performance, People, and Planet continues to propel us forward.

The business of business is People.  Southwest’s founder, Herb Kelleher, is famous for saying many things (I’ve witnessed firsthand and heard many a story!), but he knew that the key to our success is our Employees.  Our People are as essential as the air we breathe—since 1971 they have been and are the Spirit of Southwest because of the positive and lasting relationships built with our Customers over the last 40 years. We would not survive without them.

At Southwest Airlines, we’re a Family dedicated to our Employees, our Customers, and the communities we serve. Our unique corporate Culture, commitment to giving back, and putting Employees first contributes to our being recognized as a best place to work.

As Chief People Officer, I along with my tens of thousands of co-hearts enjoy the Freedom to pursue good health, create financial security, travel, make a positive difference, learn and grow, create and innovate, work hard, have FUN, and stay connected.  This type of environment nurtures our Employees’ natural response to do the right thing and deliver that Southwest hospitality that has made us legendary throughout the world. 

We also take care of our People with award-winning benefits to stay healthy and plan for the future.  We can proudly say that in 2010 more than 35,000 active and inactive Employees participated in at least one component of Southwest Airlines’ Employee benefits program, to which we contributed more than $590 million on an accrual basis.  And, in 2010, we contributed nearly $350 million to Employee retirement savings alone.  This all goes back to doing the right thing for our People, who in turn do the right thing for our Customers.

We are proud of our commitment to being a good citizen of the world.  We look forward to sharing the journey with you in our upcoming blog posts on Performance, People, and Planet, and we hope it will inspire you to read our 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, which, in an effort to conserve our natural resources, can only be found online at www.southwest.com/citizenship.   

4 Comments
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Your people ARE terrific! One of the many reasons I LUV Southwest!
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Jeff, Your people ARE great! I got the chance to listen to Bob Young your CTO at VMworld this week. Wow! What a great Executive! Gave a great impression on stage and in person when I stopped to say thank you. He also introduced me and my colleagues to several other CIO's he was with and to the President of VMware. Down to earth, authentic! How do you find such good leaders to put their team first! Thank you SOUTHWEST !!!!!
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I was a fan of Southwest until last weekend. I had a terrible experience with your customer service department. I was one of thousands of cancelled flights due to hurricane Irene. I called your customer service line and asked to speak to a manager. That manager was VERY rude and unhelpful. I was told the earliest I could get a flight back to Boston would be almost a full week later 9/3 after my original flight was supposed to bring me to Boston on Sunday 8/28. When I asked about any other possible flights I was told "No, there is nothing else I can do for you". I asked about other airports that were relatively close, like Albany, or Syracuse, or Rochetser, NY, or even Cleveland, OH. I was told that there were a few flights we could get on for Cleveland and Chicago Midway. My wife and I have two cats that were at home and did not have enough food to make it through the week, so we HAD to get home before Saturday 9/3. I explained this to the customer service manager and they did not care or make any additional effort to help. We had no choice but to book flights to Chicago. We then had to rent a car and drive from Chicago to Boston in order to get back to care for our pets. The southwest representative charged us FULL FARE for these flights, which is absolutely outrageous considering we ended up going a shorter distance at no more cost to the airline(actually a savings compared to flying to Boston!). After all the commercials saying how "Fare" Southwest treats its customers, this was a big surprise. I didn't think they would be so rude and unhelpful. When I asked the customer service rep "So I'm supposed to tell my work I can't make it back for a full week because of a relatively small hurricane?" She replied, "Well, sir, if they can't understand that, maybe you should find a new job". This OUTRAGED me! Who is she to be telling me where I should work? It seems like she's the one that needs a new job since she clearly isn't cut out for customer relations. I have told everyone I know about my experience and vow to NEVER fly Southwest again. I have written a letter and will be calling Southwest Customer services to file a formal complaint. As a result of the change of airfare and car rental our trip home from Oakland to Boston cost my wife and I over $1500 in addition to our original fares. I will never give Southwest my business again. -A very disappointed and upset customer
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So, most of my Southwest experiences have been positive. The "new rewards program" sucks, it seems be modeled after the other airlines and not really benefiting me the way it has in the past. I would normally achieve 1-2 free round trips every year and now I don't think it will happen the the same way. Where's the loyalty gone? A few months ago one of the other airlines kicked a customer off for saggy pants. I thought to myself "never on Southwest", but do I understand correctly that the lead singer of Green Day was just recently kicked off a flight for the same thing? THIS IS INSANE! PEOPLE CAN FLY WITH TUNA SANDWICHES, SCREAMING BABIES, AND PASS GAS THE ENTIRE FLIGHT, BUT NOT SAGGY PANTS. REALLY? Disappointed in Southwest... Kyra