Faithful readers here at Nuts About Southwest! (as well as everyone who knows me!) realizes that I LOVE my job. You could not find another job that I enjoy as much--I am lucky enough to have figured out what I most enjoy doing and have found a way to make a living doing it! Writing a schedule is sort of like getting paid to work Rubik's Cube, play chess, and solve mysteries, all at the same time. I'd do this job for free! (But please...don't tell!)
A couple of years ago, we wanted to give people outside of Schedule Planning a taste of what it's like to write a schedule. So, one of my former colleagues, Susan (shout out, Stich Woman! We miss you, you shameless extrovert!), created "The Scheduling Game," a board game that closely approximates what we Schedulers go through as we write a schedule. Market timing, curfews, turntime, equipment restrictions, utilization constraints, it's all in the game.
Want to try your hand?
Attached to this blog post are three .pdf files--one is a game board, one is the "rules of the game," and one is all of the flight "pucks" you have to incorporate into your schedule. If you're interested, simply print out the three files (note: the game board *must* be printed out on 8.5" X 14" paper!), read the rules, cut out the "pucks" (a color printer works best for these!), and try your hand at my stock-and-trade. Simply arrange the "flights" on the game board until you're satisfied you've met all of the rules and that your schedule is the best that it can be. When you've achieved schedule perfection, just glue (or tape) the flights onto the game board where you think they should be, then mail your entry to me at the following address:
Southwest Airlines Schedule Planning, HDQ1SP
Post Office Box 36611
Dallas, Texas 75235
Read the rules page carefully, as they give you all the needed hints to write a GREAT schedule, Southwest style. If you have questions, just post them as comments to this blog piece--I'll be watching and will answer ASAP.
OH....did I mention the Grand Prize?
Each entry we receive that meets all of the schedule rules (as defined in the "Schedule Rules" .pdf document) will be evaluated by a panel of three judges from Southwest's Schedule Planning group, including our esteemed Vice President of Schedule Planning, Pete McGlade. We'll be separating the entries into two categories: one for Southwest Employees, and one for non-SWA Employees. The entry selected by the judges as "BEST SCHEDULE in each category will be the winner! Winners will be announced on this blog on Wednesday, March 11. Then, on March 23, we'll fly the authors (and one guest each) of those schedules from the Southwest Airlines airport of their choice to Dallas, provide overnight accommodations, then on the 24th we'll treat them to a day at Southwest Airlines Headquarters. (The Employee winner is responsible for securing his/her time off.) We're still planning their "day at HDQ" but our current plans include a tour of the campus, meeting Southwest legends Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett, a behind-the-scenes tour of Dallas Love Field, lunch with the entire Schedule Planning Department and various other surprises before being flown back home. (Note: plans, and schedules, are subject to change!)
All entries must be postmarked by February 23, 2009. Each entry must also include the following, clearly legible information: Contestant's name, daytime and evening telephone numbers, SWA Employee number and mail code (if the entrant is a Southwest Employee), age, mailing address, and e-mail address. Winners must be 18 years or older. Employees of other airlines and former members of Southwest Airlines Schedule Planning are not eligible to participate. Only one entry per person, please. Transportation will be provided to and from Southwest Stations; transportation from the winner's home to the nearest Southwest Station is the responsibility of the winner.
Winning entries must adhere to all of the rules on the rules document. Winners will be judged on the operability of the schedule, attractiveness of departure times, and onestop content. The decision of the judges is final.
So.....are YOU smarter than a Schedule Planner? Let's find out--and good luck!