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An Optimized Halloween

Frequent Flyer C

In case you haven’t seen the other blog posts, Halloween isn’t just a big deal here at Southwest Airlines—it’s ginormous!  At our Headquarters here in Dallas, various departments plan decorations and practice skits for months...and the competition is always fierce. 

For the third year in a row, I am charged with organizing Southwest’s Halloween festivities.  It starts with securing outside judges, and ends with escorting the judging entourage—including Gary and other members of Southwest’s Executive Office—from skit to skit.  Given that the hallways are as crowded as a busy interstate during a rainy rush hour, this is no easy feat.  

But the hardest part of Halloween planning is determining the Halloween performance and judging schedule.  In years past, it took me a couple thousand post-it notes and the better part of a day to accomplish this hefty task.  After all, we need a schedule that allows the skits to be timed so people can see most, if not all, of the skits and department walk-throughs.  AND the judging schedule must be designed to flow flawlessly throughout the building and allow enough travel time between performances.  

As this year’s festivities approached, all of Bill Owen’s Schedule Optimization blog posts came rushing back to me.  Surely if Southwest’s Schedule Planning Team can get our 3,200 flights a day organized, they could help me with this year's eight skits and six walk-throughs.  With the help of Kerry Jackson in the People Department, I was put into contact with Southwest's Director of Network Strategic Planning: Lee Lipton. 

After our initial meeting, Kerry and Lee were jazzed about the project, and assured me they and the Optimizer program could definitely create a schedule to meet my needs.  A couple of days later, the following color-coded spreadsheet was in my hot little hands.  Total time to create this work of art: one hour.  Without a doubt, with regards to Schedule Planning, the Optimizer kicks my butt.  But the real winners are the Employees and guests that now have a great day ahead of them.   Happy Optimized Halloween—now go out there and make the most of it!

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