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All Hands On Deck


The phrase “All hands on deck”, could be considered the motto of the Southwest Culture.  Southwest Airlines Culture Committee Members are quick to respond to any S.O.S. call given and stand confident against any obstacle in the way of success.   We have more than 300 Corporate Culture Committee Members here at Southwest, and that’s not even counting the numerous Local Culture Committees we have throughout the system at our Stations, Inflight Bases, Reservation Centers, and Provisioning Stations.

I remember learning about Culture in my History 101 class.  It always seemed to be tied in with the chapters about religion and race.  I can honestly say I had no idea the intensity of what Culture meant until experiencing it first hand at Southwest.  The people of Southwest have redefined what Culture means.  It is a way of life, a way to conduct a business, and a way to incorporate respect, FUN, and The Golden Rule, into every Employee’s day-to-day interactions. 

What is The Golden Rule you ask?  It is only the most important characteristic that Colleen Barrett, the Company’s President, entrusts in her Employees.   Treat Others the Way You Would Like to Be Treated. Seems pretty simple, right?  I will admit it is hard to put your stubborn side away sometimes.  And I do not want to give the impression that everything is sugarplums and fairies at Southwest.  We still have a business to run, but we have been taught to work together and to respect each other and to have FUN while working towards a goal.

I like to think the phrase “All hands on deck” stems back to the days of the Pirates.  They were a group of people, different in many ways, who came together to accomplish a common goal.  I guess you could compare the Southwest Airlines Culture Committee Members to a group of Pirates.  We are all very different, maybe even crazy at times,  but we will respect and look out for each other, work hard, and have FUN, all at the same time.   

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It's an interesting coincidence that there would be a blog post about the "Southwest Culture" on the same day that I got an interesting e-mail with "a brief survey to get your opinion on a new concept." I took the bait, and filled out the survey only to find that the concept was something completely alien to the Southwest Culture: Stupid airline fees. Michelle makes a point in this post that sums up why is the first place I look when I have to travel: Southwest respects me. The rules you have are understandable, and fair. I know when I book a discount ticket exactly what the financial consequence will be if I need to change it. It's completely fair, and it shows that you respect me by laying it all out in front. However, as I took your survey, I realized the root of what you're asking: "How would you like us to lie to you?" There was a point where the survey's author even said that because of high fuel costs, you need to seek additional revenue to offset the additional costs. I run a business. I understand this. Lots of people do. Respect me and raise your ticket prices. I would much rather know that I'm going to buy a $ 400 ticket and pay $ 400 for it, than buy a $300 ticket and then need to pay a $ 5 reservation fee, plus a $ 15 first checked bag fee plus a $ 50 second checked bag fee plus a $ 26 fuel surcharge plus a $ 4 alienate the Skycap tax for a total of $ 400. It feels like I'm getting ripped off on the second ticket, even though I paid the same amount. I realize these are tough times, and to remain profitable in them will require more revenue. I would just like to remind you that as one customer I much prefer flying on an airline run by Colleen Barrett than Gordon Gecko. From what I remember, Mr. Gecko never booked 67 consecutive profitable quarters.
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Hi Chris, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the survey. We also did a similar poll here on the blog--click poll archives. I assure you that there were no ulterior motives. In fact, when we did the blog poll, we thought, and were right, that no one wants to pay extra fees for things that are currently free, especially basic stuff like bags, conversation, changing reservations, or even paying extra for meals which we don't serve currently. What we did find is that there is interest in inflight entertainment and internet connectivity for a charge--which also is in line with many of the positive comments in favor of these amenities that we have seen elsewhere here on the blog. I also checked with our Marketing folks, and again there are no plans to begin adding fees for stuff like for changing tickets, pillows, bags, etc--or even speaking with a human. The Rapid Rewards poll is primarily to gauge attitudes toward charges for value added products. We did this with the Monster energy drinks and Business Select. And as I mentioned inflight Internet connectivity might be another example of a ADDED amenity for a charge. So rest assured, this poll doesn't contradict the currrent advertising campaign that proudly points out how Southwest doesn't nickle and dime our Customers with ridiculous fees. Brian