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LUV Letters

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As a Culture Services Writing Supervisor, I have the privilege of reading several hundred letters each week from Customers who take the time to recognize the hard work and above and beyond efforts of our Employees.  We also receive tons of “fan mail” from Customers who LUV and appreciate our overall service (safe, reliable air travel at an affordable price!).  Most recently, as you can probably imagine, we have received hundreds of letters in support of our “No Hidden Fees” way of doing business.  We have received letters of support from loyal SWA Customers; brand new Customers (who have decided to give us a try because of our no hidden fees); Rapid Rewards Members; and so many others that I thought it would be FUN to share a few of them with all of our Friends who frequent the best blog in the world! 

Here are excerpts from a few of our Customers’ correspondence:

Dear Southwest Airlines,
I am writing this letter to you simply to say, "Thank you - please don't change!" I travel frequently for work, usually on Southwest, and have come to regard Southwest as my favorite airline. With all of the nickel and dime fees being added by other airlines (baggage, soft drinks, pillows, etc.), your commitment, quality, efficiency, and customer service stands even taller over your competition. My fellow travelers and I are disgusted with these ridiculous antics being played out in the airline industry, all in the name of "rising energy costs." Then I think of Southwest and smile. When I book a flight on Southwest, I know I don't have to worry. I know that I'm usually going to arrive on time, maybe even early. But most of all, I know that I'm going to be served by people who love their jobs and truly value me as a customer. That is so rare in the airline industry, and it makes a huge difference.

I have always been satisfied with Southwest Airlines including the ease of using the computer for booking flights, I'm not real swift with computers (I grew up watching radio). I like the new boarding procedures and still manage to get the "first class seat” at the over the wing exit on occasion at no extra charge.  The reason I wrote this letter is that Southwest Airlines does not play games for the price of a ticket I really appreciate Southwest pricing the ticket up front at the level needed for Southwest to make a profit and stay in business. Your system of pricing is truthful and honest, and I how how much the flight will cost when the flight is booked by Southwest by not tacking on fees when I arrive at the airport (baggage) or fees, and once on board the aircraft, cokes, peanuts, pillows, blankets, or a cover charge for the entertainment etc. Also no extra fee for changing a ticket.

I wil continue to fly Southwest Airline whenever possible and have always been pleased with the service provided and enjoy your crews, especially the stand up comics onboard. By the way I like your peanuts. I don't how how you could improve your service, but I know that if it is possible you will.,


Dear Southwest:
I want you to know that I do not write letters, ever. What I usually do is just take it all in and let companies make their decisions, and then I make mine based on my needs. I don't complain and can't think of a time I've sent a written compliment. But I believe in this case it is totally necessary, and I've been meaning to do this for awhile now.

I fly almost every week, and my schedule changes frequently based on business needs. I have tried all the airlines, and even made the mistake of giving some a second and third chance, only to be disappointed (at myself by that point).

Your airline is absolutely terrific, and I cannot thank you enough for having the programs in place and the no hassle policies that allow me to do what I do. Without the ability to change my schedule on a dime, apply credit toward the next trip, and not pay all of the fees or deal with incompetent people, makes all the difference in my success on a daily basis or not. I commend you, especially in the industry that you are in and the times that we are dealing with, in your business philosophies and choices.

I have a sales team that travels quite a bit as well, and I can tell you that I have converted most of them over to Southwest. It's only a matter of time before the rest of them drink the Southwest Kool-Aid. Not only because I care about our bottom line (cost saving associated with using you versus the other options), not only because I want my people to be on time to their meetings, but mostly because like you, I care about the people I work with and if they are happy, so are our customers and so am I.

I have frequently found myself selling your company to others as well and I defend you to the highest degree when I hear negative things come out of others. Boy that's a true sign that you are doing things right. I did complain one time on the phone to one of your representatives when you started limiting the number of Rapid Rewards seats, and her answer was "sir we had to do something to be competitive as some flights were full of free flyers". I remember thinking to myself, hey, they've got to make money too.. instead
of defending my position, I was thinking of how I could help you continue to do what you do. I wish my customers were thinking of us this way! Congrats to you. You've earned it.

Thanks for being a terrific business partner!


I know that some of you may be thinking that I had to search through piles and piles of letters to find these awesome commendations, but that was not necessary.  You see, all of the compliment letters we receive are forwarded to the Executive Office for handling (and of course, Gary Kelly sees to it that every SWA Employee commended receives proper recognition), and while we receive approximately 1,000 external commendations (and 1,000 internal—that’s a whole different blog!) each month, every letter is so encouraging and so heartfelt that I was able to select three letters that were already sitting on my desk. 

In the coming months, I will continue to share some of the letters we receive, and I can tell you from experience that the letters you will read will make you laugh, make you cry, and most of all—they will make you glad that you fly (or work for) SWA! 

 

13 Comments
New Arrival
Valerie, You and your team are the best! I have seen personally how many letters you have stored up and it is quite a hefty amount. Keep up the great work! Sam
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Dear Southwest Airlines, I just wanted you to know, that I have truly seen how this company pulls together as a big family when tragedy strikes. My sister Donna Kelly and her husband Tim Kelly who are Flight Attendants with Southwest, were involved in a motorcycle accident last Wed. on their way to their home in Las Vegas, where they had just moved after getting assigned to hubs there. While in ALB, NM. They had a blow out and were thrown from the motorcycle. Donna sustained a closed head injury and expired Thursday in the University Hospital at ALB. and Tim has several fractures, Ankle, 4 Ribs, Vertibrae, and Scapula with a dislocated shoulder. He has returned to Las Vegas as of Saturday to recover. The reason I am writing is that we contacted Southwest Airlines and told them of the situation and they took our immediate family under their wings and made sure we got up there to her on Thursday morning and back home whenever we needed to. They also set us up with Hotel accommodations and food for however long we needed. Everyone was so nice and caring, Our family could not be happier with the way we were treated by EVERY SINGLE employee we encountered. Donna was a 15 year vetran of Southwest Airlines and now we know why she chose such a great company/family to have a career with. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH Ron Horton and Family
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Dear Southwest Airlines and Valerie, First off, Ron, I have my deepest regards for your family's loss, I will keep your family in my prayers. Second, Valerie, thank you so very much for placing a few of the letters on line, and letting us know that you guys really do receive our letters and that they do tend to make there way up the food chain. If you could, and if you are able to, I would like to thank Mr. Gary Kelly for one thing being the honest straight forward person that he is, and how he has seamlessly taken the reigns, spirit, and heart of Herb Kelleher and the love for this business into the future. I also loved seeing how he is not one of the top 10 paid executives in the industry, as that shows to me that he cares more about you, the employees, the family of Southwest, as opposed to his own personal bonuses or pocketbook. To me that show great will and integrity in these worsening labor times. I am a huge aviation fanatic, and fellow pilot, my love for aviation came from my first ever flight that I ever flew on. Flying on Southwest from Dallas to Harlingen (South Padre) via Houston Hobby. I can still remember those flights as a kid, because everyone on the plane acted like a kid, they were having fun and wanted the passengers to enjoy themselves. I have started to fly Southwest, and Southwest only for my travel to Major League Soccer games. To me, I receive the best service in the world, I feel truly welcomed and apart of the Southwest family on each and every flight. Recently I flew to Chicago from Dallas, the weekend after Hurricane Ike. Our Flight attendant crew was Houston based, and the three flight attendants had been temporarily displaced. Each one of them had a smile, laughed, carried on, and enjoyed themselves on our routing from Dallas to Chicago. I make sure I let each and every crew member that I enjoyed their enthusiasm, dedication, hard work, and hospitality on each and every Southwest flight. Even thought Herb is not at the helm, you would not be able to tell. You guys have done a wonderful job through these hard times, and the fact that every Southwest flight seems like a little piece of heaven, I highly commend you guys for that. I will be embarking on my first ever award flight, only after 4 months of being a Rapid Rewards member, and I am really looking forward to it. Even the drink vouchers that were sent really meant a lot. I hope that the future codeshare agreement with WestJet will come soon, and I believe it will be a great benefit to Southwest's operations (I am looking forward to it because there is a team in Toronto). With your plans for minneapolis, and the current success in Denver, the future for your airline looks wonderful, and I hope that I get to be apart of it in some form or fashion! Keep it up y'all!!

Joseph R. Meyers

Dallas, Texas

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I think you'd get even more if an e-mail tool was available! I recently chose Southwest over USAir and Frontier to fly to SLC because I was fed up with reading about how many 'extra' fees were involved. Honestly, these companies are shooting themselves in the foot - do they really think nobody will pack anything and just hop on the plane? Nope; all they've done is shift all the cargo to the passenger cabin, causing extreme delay and risking passenger safety. Not only was a Southwest ticket just nominally more (about three dollars), I got to fly out of my preferred airport - IAD - instead of driving all the way to Reagan (DCA), saving me a lot of fuel and headache. Plus, there's the added convenience of knowing that I don't have to wear several shirts to save room in my carry-on, and can actually check a piece of luggage! Who'd have imagined a year ago that this service would be considered a luxury add-on?! Anyway, kudos to Southwest. I honestly haven't flown with you guys in years, because I do all of my comparison shopping on travel websites. The recent shift in the market has now made you guys my preferred carrier.
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Doug, We hope to have e-mail for Customers up and running early next year. We know that we are behind, but we want to do it right. So, we took the time to upgrade our computer systems to provide a fast and reliable response system. Brian
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Southwest you're are the greatest and a life saver. I travel quite a bit and prefer flying Southwest because I feel safe on their planes and they treat their customers right. Unknowingly I was scheduled to be in Corpus Christi TX this week and had not scheduled my travel. Thank God for Southwest. The cost to travel to TX from San Diego was the same as if I'd scheduled my trip a month ago; this kept me out of trouble with the boss. If only we had Southwest running our countries finances I would feel more relaxed when viewing the news. Thanks again for being there.
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To "Doug", We're glad that you are now part of the Southwest family! We are a "close" group of workers compared to other airlines. We often refer to our "family" as employees, but we have a lot of people that fly us on a regualr basis and we know them by name. I was impressed just yesterday, when I was working a flight and my supervisor came up to assist me. The inbound paperwork showed an electric wheelchair that was to be brought up to the aircraft for a deplaning passenger. Once my Supervisor saw the wheelchair, she knew immediately who it was. She went onboard the aircraft, and welcomed him by name. This passenger just recently lost his mother and he was returning here to tend to her estate. Once he was in his electric wheelchair, the lead flight attendant came out and told him "I'm sorry that you recently loss your mother". It was very heart-touching. The passenger, who I won't name, was very appreciative of everything that we did for him. Southwest Airlines is marching into unfamiliar territory, making a stance not to "nickel and dime" our passengers. You can still check up to 2 bags for no charge--just make sure they don't weigh more than 50 lbs per bag. I could tell you endless stories of how Southwest is different from other airlines and some of my interactions with customers, but that would be to lengthy. Give us a try, and I'll bet that I'll see you again!!
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Southwest is my favorite airline because of the superlative service, unique comradery among your employees, and on-time flights. My flights to and from Albuquerque last week were ahead of schedule. I would like to commend James (African-American, last name unknown) at the Las Vegas, NV, curbside checkin counter whose professionalism combined with his outgoing, positive attitude made my baggage checkin procedure the best ever the afternoon of October 14, 2008. Thanks James!
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Dear Valerie, What a beautiful job you have !! Reading all these positive letters of SW customers!I I only flew twice with SW. Last year between Houston and Dallas. It was an experience I will never forget. All the employees I met on the ground as well as on board were so very very nice! I really experienced the famous SW customer service I had read about. I went to Dallas to attend the Servant Leadership Conference. Colleen was there too and that was the first time I met her. Also an experience I will never never forget!! I work for KLM as a flight attendant and I feel that within this company a lot more heart is needed. I am doing unorthodox 'heart actions' to show the management and my coworkers how much more FUN our work can be with just a little more 'heart'. SW is inspiring me ever since the first time I read about Colleen and the way she is/was leading the employees from the heart. In my eyes you are so lucky to work for SW !! Heartgreetings from Laura
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Thanks, Laura, for your sweet comments. I agree with you, I am very fortunate to have the job I do—I almost feel guilty! 🙂 As you know from meeting Colleen, I am beyond lucky to work alongside such an amazing person. Colleen has a Servant’s Heart made of pure gold, and she is a Leader who makes you feel valued and LUVed! By the way, I’m glad that you experienced our Legendary Customer Service when you traveled with us between Houston and Dallas last year. I wish you all the best with your “heart actions” mission, and I hope that you can bring a little fun to your work! (KLM is fortunate to have YOU on their Team—it’s obvious that you truly care about the success of your company and the happiness of your fellow coworkers.) Much LUV—Valerie
Active Member
Valerie -- What a great blog post! Thanks for sharing some of those heartwarming stories that you are privileged to read!! I'm just curious, do you get a lot of complimentary letters about those awesome Employees up in Customer Relations on the Writing Team? I've heard that those folks are just fantastic, so I'd guess that you are just swamped with positive reports from Customers who are blown away by the Positively Outrageous Service they receive from those gals and guys on the Fourth Floor... Kim 🙂
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First of all, I have to say.... I LOVE Southwest airlines. I joke that I would never move anywhere Southwest doesn't fly. I remember my very first flight as a child was on Southwest. We were going to Las Vegas and IT WAS A PARTY! I was only about seven years old, but that memory has stuck with me ever since. However, in the past couple of years, I have noticed the normal, friendly, funny, easy airline just hadn't been what it use to be. The fares have increased, the ease of changing your flight has decreased, and the worst part- the flight attendants seemed to just "do their job". I was on a connecting flight a while back and it was like clockwork- they kinda smiled, handed out peanuts and pretzels, then right as your throat was about to close up from dehydration, they get your drink to you, pick it up, not offer you another, not smile, and thank you for leaving. They were robots! BUT RECENTLY, I HAVE EITHER GOTTEN LUCKY OR THINGS HAVE-A-CHANGED! First there was TODD on a flight from Austin to St. Louis the weekend of October 10th. He was HILARIOUS. He sang, he joked, he had flowers on his beverage tray... he made flying FUN again!! What impressed me the most was how he was interacting with the children sitting diagonal from me. He pulled out HIS OWN BAG from the overhead compartment and gave them coloring materials and prizes that he had brought along. That's what I call going the extra mile for others!!! I was so impressed, I had planned to write about Todd as soon as I got home. Then, DENISE came along! She was on the flight to Los Angeles October 25th. She also smiled, laughed, and went the extra mile. I was complaining that peanuts and wine don't go together very well. She told me about these little wrapped cheeses she had been eating for dinner and how yummy they would be with a glass of wine... AND THEN BROUGHT ME ONE! Your flight attendant was willing to share her dinner with a customer solely for pure pleasure (I wasn't hungry, just curious about the wine and cheese pairing, haha!). She was so darling and sweet. All in all, TODD and DENISE have restored my faith in the greatness of Southwest Airlines and I had to take the time to give them the kuddos they deserve!!! Please continue to hire people like them, it keeps that one-of-a-kind culture alive!!! Yay for Southwest! Michele from Austin
New Arrival

Hi Val,

 

I want to take this opportunity to cite for the highest commendation a SWA employee who went well beyond the call of duty to assist me in a difficult situation.  His name his Isaish Williams and he works in gate customer service at the Sacramento International Airport (SMF).

 

On December 16th, while going through security prefatory to a 7:30 PM flight to SeaTac to spend the Christmas holiday with my family, the left lens of my glasses popped out of the frame due to the loosened screw that secures the same.  Having monovision correction, the loss of vision through that lens turned the world into a melted neopolitan ice cream-like blur.  Stumbling my way through the concourse, I stopped at every store inquiring without much hope as to whether per chance they had an optimetric, miniscule flathead screwdriver required to resecure the lens to the frame.  Of course, no one did, not even the vendor selling eyeglasses.  Making my way toward the gate assignment for my flight, I thought, "Perhaps tools kept onboard an aircraft would include a micro screwdriver."  I didn't hold out much hope that it would, but desperate situations militate desperate hopes.

 

Sequeing over to the customer service desk, there I lamented to Isaiah my woeful tale.  He sadly informed me that no such tool was available, especially one so infinitesimally small.  But then he paused and intoned, "Wait, I have an idea."  Opening a drawer behind the counter, he retrieved a stapler, probably the only quasi "tool" to be found at such a location.   Opening the stapler, he broke off four coapted stables from the load, straigntened one end and "voila," fashoned an improvised allen wrench-like micro flat head screwdriver! 

 

Isaiaih and I worked together assiduously, I holding the frame ends tightly together as Isaiah managed to turn the head of this miniscule screw degree by degree into its housing on the frame. Tortuous and surgically precise coordination between us ensued for the next ten minutes and then, "Eureka," the lens was securely fastened into the frame. I looked at Isaiah and exclaimed, "You are my hero today, I can see clearly again!"

 

SWA is lucky to have a guy like Isaiah on staff. He is the very quintessential paragon of excellance in customer service...friendly, helpful, accommodating, bright, and innovative. Of course, I am nominating him for the lifetime "Angus Macgyver" award which I am certain he will win hands down.  

 

SWA fan forever,

James Grauer