I recently spent a couple of hours during a photo shoot with the 16 remaining "Original Employees" of Southwest Airlines. We refer to them as "Originals" because they were hired during our first year of service. This group consists of eight Flight Attendants; two Maintenance Employees; one Operations Agent; One Disptacher; one Flight Operations Manager; one Marketing Officer; our President; and our Chairman. Being around this group is like meeting up with best friends from high school who were separated when they went off to college! They greet each other with huge hugs and smiles as big as Texas. Without missing a beat, they will ask each other about their spouses, children, and in some cases, their grandchildren, calling each by name.
This very special group of Southwest Employees have made it possible for the other 32,000 of us to have job security, profitsharing, and a 401(k) plan with Company match. It wasn't always easy for this group--Southwest was a struggling airline when they chose to join our cause. We didn't have money to spend on advertising, so our Flight Attendants would stand on street corners in their hotpants and hand out flight schedules. This actually ended up being a brilliant marketing ploy. The future of Southwest was so uncertain that first year that we actually ended up selling one of four airplanes just to survive. That was the beginning of the famous quick turns of our planes. This group has helped our airline grow from flying the Texas triangle (between Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston) to 3,128 daily departures today. As we celebrate our 35th Anniversary this year, our Original Employees will be featured on our website, southwest.com, in June. Make sure and check them out--especially the Flight Attendants--who are as gorgeous today as they were 35 years ago.