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Interview with Colleen

blusk
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The January 2007 issue of Smart Business Dallas features a cover story about our President, Colleen Barrett.  To read the article, click here.
46 Comments
jmalone
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Colleen Barrett is the true heart and soul of the airline. One of the things that I really appreciate about working at Southwest Airlines is the Freedom to be ME! (yes, Kim...I know that is scary!) but we do have the freedom to be ourselves on the airplane. I have had several situations on the plane where I chose to make a decision that I knew wouldn't exactly be in the best interest of the Company, but it was the right thing to do for the Customer. So, I took a risk and it paid off in making these particular Customers happy and made them rethink what Southwest Airlines was all about. I appreciate the fact that I am free to be me and to be able to make decisions that affect our Customers on a daily basis. James Malone MDW FA
FriendofBlogBoy
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This article was well-researched, well-written and completely superfluous for people who know her! It only reiterates what we already know -- that Colleen is a loving person who truly seems to believe that she has 32,000 children! The reproductive impossibilities aside, Colleen has become a Mother, friend, confidant and encourager to those lucky Employees who work for her. The manner in which Colleen has molded and nourished the Culture of Southwest is one of the poorest-kept secrets in the corporate world. Companies can buy equipment, hire people, create programs and policies and do all of the physical and tangible things necessary to have an organization. Those efforts are much easier than the intangible work that is typified by Colleen. The comment by James above is indicative of the environment that Colleen has had a big part in creating. How many of us work in companies where we feel free to make a statement like James did? How would your boss react if you purposely violated company policies just because you knew it was in your customer's best interests? I would submit that Southwest, and Colleen in particular, do much more than give us the "freedom to move about the country". I believe that she gives her Employees the freedom to be the BEST Employees around, because she believes in them, trusts them and supports them. And, I'm here to tell you that she gives awesome hugs, too! Congratulations, Colleen, on being selected for this cover story, but even more, thank you for being YOU! Kim 🙂
Leah3
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This is a great article! Yea, Colleen! Thanks, & keep up the great work! 🙂
Micah1
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I am a high-school student. I have a speech tournament on February 1. I am intending to give a speech explaining how teamwork is the key to Southwest Airlines' success. If any of you have some really humerous stories about Southwest, I'd LUV to hear them. (I know there a numerous stories, but it's better hearing personal stories.) I don't have many awesome stories, because (a) I live 293 miles from the nearest Southwest destination, (b) I have flown Southwest once, and (c) Southwest is about two decades older than I. Thank you sooo much. LUV you guys!!!
jerry_richard
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In this day and age where everyone doing the norm is considered exceptional, Southwest is the poster child of an exceptional airline. Not only is the airplanes sizable no matter how close/far your destination,and the service is outstanding. Southwest allows people like me(on a limited budget) to fly to many places that I otherwise could not afford. When I hear peolpe like Jay Leno make cheap comments about Southwest I get offended. People who think like this obviously have never flown on Southwest. I would put Southwest Airline up against any Airline, receive better service and save a lot more money. Thanks Southwest-- Keep up the good work, there are millions of us who appreciate your dedicated work!!!!!!
Francisco_Delga1
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This was a great article. it gives all of us a great insight into one of the worlds beloved companies.
Jenny4
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Micah, Browse around the blog - so many stories already here and so many resources to tap! Good luck with your speech tournament. I've never heard of one - what is the format? Ultimately, you will find the teamwork is achieved by the shared goal and shared knowledge of all Employees. While there are specific jobs and unions, each person knows and understands what it takes to reach the end result - they understand they all need each other to get the job done and no one person is more important than the other. That is true teamwork. I worked on a project late last year, two texts were recommended: Jody Hoffer Gittell The Southwest Airlines Way as well as Freiberg & Freiberg Nuts! There are personal accounts and wonderful stories to supplement your speech. Good luck - you will find inspiration within the blog - isn't it fantastic?! Let us know how it goes! Jenny Frasco
Jenny4
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Brian, Thank you for sharing such a terrific article. You are fortunate to work with a woman that recognizes the power of relationships. You are also fortunate to work with a woman who has the ability to trust she has the right people in the right positions in order to handle any situation that may arise. This organization is to say the least "amazing" - I applaud each and every employee for being who they are and not who they think they should be. It is refreshing and welcoming - like an old friend. Keep up the great work. Oh, by the way...have you ever tried "What would you do for a Klondike Bar Friday?" In my former life (before full time mom), I was the Ticket Manager for a minor league baseball organization. My staff, a dedicated bunch of college kids needed a boost during the long hours of the season. We played "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?" These kids came up with some great challenges from singing the entire theme song of the "Brady Bunch" to running out front of the stadium singing our theme song. It wasn't long after word spread how much fun the box office was having, that group sales and corporate sales wanted to join the fun. Needless to say, a few "KFs" motivated and showed the staff it is ok to have fun at work. Try it. It's a blast. Jenny Frasco
jari
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i would love to see south west get in to the european market with the new 737 900 er that will make there and find a cheap hub like in my native scandanivia, iceland is a great stop but the 900er can fly to all of europe with 219 passangers aboard with a lot less fuel than any other aircraft, go for it south west its an open market there. all you need is 2 737 900 er and give it a chanche, i know them jets would be booked up from any eastern us city, trust me on that, need help i am willing, look at what icelandic air is going for, trust me they are after the 737 900 er, just want an american company to take advantiage of this with low cost tickets with great service. look at seprit taking on every one in the carribean market. take the risk and the company will benefit with the 737 900 er. long range 737 and efficient, i did my home work. thanks
Patricia_Davis
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I am a 62 year old and I was always alittle scared to fly, but I flew out of Midway,Il. on Jan.20th flight 2600 too Las Vegas and I had the most enjoyable trip....your flight attendants were very nice and polite...and the Captain was so nice keeping us informed during the flight and came out and talked with a couple with a baby going to Vegas to get married and told them that they would recieve a bottle of Champaine for Congradulations....I thought that was the nicest thing for the Airlines to do and it made my whole flight that much more comfortable....I will continue to fly Southwest when ever I go back to Chicago....Thank you for the GOOD service and most deliteful employees...and we even arrived early in Vegas....Thank-you, Patricia Davis
Tamra
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Micah, Together Everyone Accomplishes More One of the great things about working here is that everyone feels like they contribute something to this company. We have the ability to make it great, or make it crumble. It rests completely on me as well as completely on my coworkers etc. (if that makes sense) We all "own" the responsibility of doing our job, and doing it the best we can. We value each other, even if we don't always agree. We treat our Coworkers as a valued Customer. Because afterall, when a Mechanic comes to me for paperwork or help researching something, he is my Customer....an employee, but my Customer and I must give him/her the best service I can. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE plays such an important part in SWA. It takes everyone from the Technicians that clean our planes, to the Agents who board the planes, Flight Attendants, Pilots, Mechanics, Ramp Agents, Records departments, etc. it takes all of them, and I think we all realize that. No one is any more important. My Vice President of Mx and Engineering knows ME by name. That's pretty cool! AS he does most of the Employees in Maintenance. Micah, the bottom line- Teamwork is everyone knowing they are important, they matter, and they have a contribution to make no matter what position they hold. We take care of all of our Customers internal and external to the best of our ability. If we give %100 each and everyday, everything will fall into place. Good Luck
Alice11
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i was wondering were i can check the status of my app that i put in
joanne11
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I love your airline and I hope you'll get some flights into Greenville, SC. and Charleston, SC. Greenville is a growning city and could use a great airline like yours there.
Dean
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I second all the other posters who send out their LUV for Southwest. I fly it almost exclusively between PHL and MCO (we're Disney fanatics who go mutliple times a year). We also love to travel to Charleston and the SC coast. But without a Southwest flight we're stuck flying the crappy competition. PLEASE grab the vacated JetBlue gates. Start flying to Charleston SC.
cynthia_smith
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I too Love to fly South West I fly severel times a year with several children usually. I do have to ask what does it take to get a wheel chair to a destination undamaged. Our daughter MaryElizabeth is the little girl in the power wheelchair near the end of this video. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1857260702897980296&q=whats+in+a+wish Her wheelchair has been damaged on all of our last three flights. It is now Febuary 11th and her wheelchair has not been in proper working order for an extended time. It was damaged on an outgoing flight on our return trip it was damaged even more. That was Jan 1 2007 We are still waiting for her chair...For her this has been like having her legs taken away. I has been very taxing on her body due to the lack of support in the chair she is using. Mrs hall has tried hard to solve this for us but our daughter is still paying the price. She has missed 5 of the last 7 school days due to fatigue a direct result of not having her power chair. PLEASE find a way to transport chairs without all the damage.
Dave14
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What is the scoop with not flying to Charleston, SC? There has to be money in it somehow.
JANET_ZAK
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I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE CHANGE OF FLIGHTS FROM LAS VEGAS, NV TO TULSA, OK. THERE IS ONLY ONE NONSTOP IN THE MID MORNING NOW. THE FLIGHT 198 WAS CANCELLED WHICH WAS NONSTOP FROM LAS VEGAS TO TULSA WHICH MAKES IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO FLY IN THE AFTERNOON AND NOT ARRIVE UNITL LATE INTO THE EVENING. IS THERE ANY POSSIBILITY THAT THE NONSTOP FLIGHT 198 WILL RETURN IN THE NEAR FUTURE?? THANK YOU.
Ken16
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It seems that there are some "gap" opportunities for SWA ... Charleston & Pensacola (or Tallahassee) would be great additions.
Steve_Deng
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Would love to see SWA fly to Charleston, SC soon!
Judy15
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Please consider Greenville, SC, for a route. It's a great airport, and the need is certainly there.
Steve
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Please fly into Charleston, SC ..... PLEASE!!PLEASE!!!!
Steve
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Hello Colleen, Love SWA, but I need to know when we are going to start service into Charleston, SC. Desperately wanting to know, Steve
Van_Cheng
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I know a lot of people are asking for a flight into Charleston, SC. There's a lot of conferences being held there now. I have to go in Feb 2008. PLEASE add Charleston so I can book a flight.
Leslie_Hayes
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I am adding my vote for Southwest to come nearer to South Carolina. I live in Greenville, but having a Southwest spot in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston or even Charlotte, NC would make an enormous difference for both my business and personal travel. I am interested in any updates on these possibilities!
Carla_Bonney
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i am looking to possibly relocate to south carolina, and have been looking to see how to get to south carolina via southwest most of the way. i see many have expressed similar comments. i haven't noticed a response. is there that possibility in the future? a southwest credit card holder, and frequent flyer.
Gloria11
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when are you going to travel to south carolina i hope soon need to go in july
Brian10
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I would love to be able to get to Charleston, SC from Chicago/Midway on Southwest. I'm sick of United being the only direct flight and ripping me off.
James_Parsons
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What is more likley to happen Charlotte or Charelston?????
Anonymous1893
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I second all the Charleston comments. As a Charleston native currently living in Nashville, I can guarantee that a BNA/CHS flight would be extremely popular. There is no easy way to get to the SE coast from here! Being such a popular tourist destination,and having a regional airport that would LUV to have you is a great combination. Thanks for the consideration.
lorna_sauter
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Ditto on flying into Charleston! As a SW FF, card holder, and avid promoter of SWA, I just have to express my thoughts! Now that my husband and I are about to retire and looking for warmer climates and close proximity to the Atlantic, the only reason Charleston isn't on our list is because SWA doesn't fly there! With children/grandchildren scattered, I insist we need to be close to a SWA airport. It's a long, long way from Norfolk to Jacksonville!
Jerry_K1
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I agree with everyone else about Charleston. I'm moving to the Charleston area from Philadelphia soon and would love to be able to fly Southwest. It would be great if my family and friends had the option to fly Southwest when visiting.
Anonymous2023
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please fly to Charleston, sc flights are getting cut fast and swa would be a great way to ease the pain. charleston is pretty close to several hubs of yours such as nashville, baltimore, st. louis, and you could have flights out west to your phoenix and las vegas hubs. charleston has flights to only 2 cities west of the mississippi river, dallas and houston, so phoenix and las vegas would be great options!
Patrick_V
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I'm jumping on the Charleston campaign. I'm relocating south with a job transfer and would love to settle in Charleston. However without SWA it will be a challenge to cover the SE by air. I just can't stomach having to fly Delta and Air Tran through ATL to cover the FLA markets. Any updates?
Memex3
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Is there any plans for the future of a southwest gate in Tallahassee, fl? I know at one time the governor of Florida was seeking to get you guys there. we drive to jacksonville now several times a month and it is a 3 hour drive each way. Tallahassee needs south west. i love southwest and fly it often.
Sailfast
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Charleston SC.....Loads of Cargo.....Loads of Passengers sick of being ripped off by the few carriers that service this sweet Airport. Southwest Airlines we need your great service Here!
nhskiers
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We're among the many, it seems, who would love for Southwest to begin serving Charleston. We fly a family of four to CHS 4-5 times per year, and have reluctantly been giving our business to United and U.S. Airways because Southwest does not fly anywhere near South Carolina. It's a great airport in a growing market (college town, retirement heaven, vacation hotspot, golfers' paradise with Ryder Cup coming to town, etc.) that seems vastly underserved. Southwest's closest destinations are Birmingham, Jacksonville and Raleigh-Durham - all 6+ hours away. Spread the LUV to the Lowcountry!
carol_ball
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My son just moved back to Charleston, SC----I love everything about flying SWA---please start flying there!!!!
April13
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I vote for Greenville, S.C. I moved here over three years ago from an area between Philly and Baltimore. I had two close options to fly Southwest, Philly and Baltimore. Oh how I MISS Southwest terribly. The staff was always courteous and fun, the flights were reasonable and because they were reasonable, my husband and I took advantage of those prices for many weekend jaunts to Florida throughout the year. We just loved everything about Southwest. Imagine our sadness and disapointment when we discovered that the closest Southwest flew from us was 5 hours away in either direction! 😞 Greenville does not offer convenient reasonable flights or prices. So long are our weekend getaways. We used to go to Florida more when we lived farther away. Greenville is an excellent location for Southwest! I work at one of the several major Universities in the area and I am constantly purchasing airline tickets for our faculty members to fly out of Charlotte, NC or Atlanta, GA both over two hours away. I am referring to only one department in one University. There are at least three other Universities in this very area with many other departments. Not to mention the industry like BMW, Michelin, etc. that could utilize Southwest's services. I urge you, Southwest, to seriously consider coming to Greenville, SC!!
Peggy3
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Southwest is my FAVORITE airlines and since moving to Charleston I cringe at thinking about flying. Pleae come to Charleston!
Anonymous1674
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Charleston, SC, is ready to welcome SWA -- just as we have recently welcomed Google, Boeing, and the new wind tunnel testing facility. Hurry, SWA, or you will miss another season of Spoleto. Bonnie
Scott8
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Hello Southwest Airlines!!! Welome to GSP and CHS! Thanks for adding to the positive economic growth and development in the state of South Carolina. We will be frequent flyers.
patti_sachs
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I am thrilled that Southwest will be coming to Charleston. It will be my first choice airline for all my travels. I have recently moved here from Dallas and my family and I have had to completely curtail all travel because of expense and inconvenience. We look forward to flying Southwest and hope to see convenient and workable schedules and competitive pricing. We will choose Southwest every time. Thank you so much!
Yolanda1
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I am looking to relocate to Charleston and would love to get an update and confirmation that Southwest will be flying to Charleston and what straight thought flights will be offered to Charleston?
snelson
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Hi, Yolanda, Although Southwest has announced that we will begin serving Charleston (and Greenville Spartanburg) in 2011, we have not yet announced the specific start date or the schedule for this service. Knowing the fanfare that usually surrounds a new city opening, I'm sure you can expect plenty of advance notice.
joann_tharp
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hi brian, can you help me --jerry roach worked for southwest airlines as a flight attendant she married and i dont know her last name and we are having a reunion can you please help me i know she worked there in 1960 and married a pilot thank you Joann tharp
blusk
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Hi Joann, I'm a bit confused by your request because your way that Jerry worked here in 1960. We didn't go into business until 1971, so you may have the wrong airline. The only way we have to look up Employees is by their name, but it doesn't search for maiden names. If Jerry did indeed work for SWA, you might check out the several Soluthwest Flight Attendant there. Brian