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Letters of Appreciation

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September 11, 2001 is one of those rare days that are ingrained in public memory. Anyone who was old enough to understand remembers where they were that day, what they did, and whom they called. But for some, the fear and worries that pervaded the nation were amplified because they were on another flight, or a loved one was flying. Or, like many of our own Employees that day, had the responsibility to ensure the comfort and safety of many displaced Passengers.

This past summer I worked as Southwest's Archive Intern and stumbled across several files regarding 9/11. The bulk of the materials had to do with new regulations, security concerns, and the fate of the airline industry. But what held my attention for hours were the many letters in these files--letters from Customers commending our Employees for their help and caring natures; letters of appreciation from Employees and their families to Southwest's Leadership; and even letters from other companies offering assistance.

Some of the most touching examples, to me, came from the Southwest Family itself. In a LUVLines reflecting on 9/11, many Leaders reflected on the actions their Teams had taken to keep Southwest up and running. It would be impossible to list all of the extra work our Employees did in this time, but former Southwest Airlines CEO Jim Parker summed it up quite well when he wrote, “The tragic events of September 11, and their aftermath, have caused the People of Southwest Airlines to demonstrate once again their willingness and ability to confront any situation with unparalleled strength, courage, compassion, and resourcefulness.” Our Employees and Leaders even extended their assistance beyond time—many Employees wrote in requesting a way to contribute money, or work some hours for free, to help get Southwest through the tough times.

The spirit of camaraderie even expanded outside of Southwest into the rest of the business community. Southwest received offers of help from companies around the world--even as far as Frankfurt and Tokyo. Some were partners hoping to help us through tough times with free or discounted services. Others we had no affiliation with, but wanted to do their part to support Southwest as a part of America’s airline industry.

After the tragedy on 9/11, all commercial planes across the country were grounded, leaving many Customers and Employees stranded away from their homes and final destinations. It would take three days before Southwest--even as the first airline to resume a full schedule--could fly again. But when we took off again, our Employees did their best to ease the concerns of our Passengers. The letters are full of tales of patriotism, including at least one Flight Crew who sang the national anthem at takeoff and a Flight Attendant who made balloon animals for nervous children on the flight.

Our Customers not only sent in "Thank yous" for the unique behavior and spirit of Southwest Employees, but offered help where they could. There were countless Customers who cancelled their flights but refused a refund. One woman wrote, "We want Southwest Airlines to continue to fly, continue to operate, and continue to offer us the Freedom to fly." Another man, the father of a Southwest Employee, wrote to thank us for the years of free flights and to offer his "services to SWA in any way possible that would be helpful." And another Customer, despite having no urgent reason to fly,  appreciated Southwest's courage so much that he wrote, "I am thumbing my nose at our enemies by flying four unneeded flights in the skies of my favorite nation on my favorite airline."

It would be easy to simply talk about the actions of our Employees and Leadership following 9/11. But the Southwest Warrior Spirit in the following days was also the American Warrior Spirit. It is only thanks to our Customers and their willingness to keep flying and put faith in Southwest that we were able to continue to give America the Freedom to Fly. So thank you to all those Employees working during September 11th and to all the Customers who continued to support us through one of the most trying times in American history. As Colleen wrote the day Southwest took to the skies again, "Through the smoke and debris, we have seen honor, compassion, faith, and love, both at the scene of these unspeakable crimes and all around the nation."

5 Comments
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On March 17, 2013 I was flying home to Portland, OR. from Oakland, CA. On the 9:10am flight. Boarding the plane I had no idea of the pleasures I was about to experience through the GREATEST flight crew I've ever flown with.. Starting with the simple task of getting seated. And at 67 with health issues is always a problem for me. I didn't need to be concerned this time. I not only was slowly and gently assisted to a seat, the attendant didn't leave my side until he was assured I was warm and comfortable. Then the laughs began. The lady attendant began the Greeting and Safety Instructions. Her monologue was so funny and spot on. Everyone knew exactly what she was saying and at the same time were caught up in waves of laughter. Next came various announcements from the pilots which brought on more laughter. This joyful banter went on throughout the flight up to the Goodbye. All the time the crew were caring for there passengers as if they had royalty aboard. I just had to write and thank you Southwest for the best flight I've ever had and I hope this crew will in some way be commended for the excellent service they give. Darlene Jacobs. A very happy flyer....
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On March 17, 2013 I was flying home to Portland, OR. from Oakland, CA. On the 9:10am flight. Boarding the plane I had no idea of the pleasures I was about to experience through the GREATEST flight crew I've ever flown with.. Starting with the simple task of getting seated. And at 67 with health issues is always a problem for me. I didn't need to be concerned this time. I not only was slowly and gently assisted to a seat, the attendant didn't leave my side until he was assured I was warm and comfortable. Then the laughs began. The lady attendant began the Greeting and Safety Instructions. Her monologue was so funny and spot on. Everyone knew exactly what she was saying and at the same time were caught up in waves of laughter. Next came various announcements from the pilots which brought on more laughter. This joyful banter went on throughout the flight up to the Goodbye. All the time the crew were caring for there passengers as if they had royalty aboard. I just had to write and thank you Southwest for the best flight I've ever had and I hope this crew will in some way be commended for the excellent service they give. Darlene Jacobs. A very happy flyer....
New Arrival

Today, December 19, 2018, my wife and I took a flight from St. Louis to PHX, Flight 2069 where we met the most wonderful Flight Attendant ever, Jamie -SWA.  I travel a lot and take many flights with various airlines internationally and given the poor quality of service of US airliners, I usually stay away from most US airliners but Today, I was wrong because of Jamie. She by FAR is the most professional flight attendant I have ever come across in any of US airliners and SouthWest is so lucky to have someone like her who ensures that every passenger is given 100% of attention with genuine approach, smile, and top-quality service.  On our flight, Jamie took care of every passenger.  The management of South West should promote Jamie to train others as she is a leader who is able to set example by doing.  It was interesting to see that her co-flight attendant had never met Jamie before and she was for sure surprised and inspired.  This is what we need. We need to bring inspiration back and have people who own their jobs like Jamie.  Jamie, you Rock and I hope every single flight attendant can learn from you.  Thank you. 

New Arrival

On Monday, April 1, it had been a long day for me with our Southwest flight delayed a few times due to some technical issues. When we finally boarded, we kept our fingers crossed that everything would go smooth from that point on.

 

I wanted to text my daughter on our latest status after I settled into my seat. To my horror, I couldn't find my phone. I had my husband called my number but we couldn't hear any ring from the bags we stored underneath the seats even after we moved to a seat.

 

My hearing wasn't the best but usually my husband could hear pretty well. I started panicking and asked my husband to get the carry on suitcase stored overhead. My husband is handicapped and has balance problem. So trying to get the suitcase down was a little difficult.

 

While he was trying to get the suitcase down, a passenger just kept pushing to get through, pushing him off balance. The suitcase hit his head and I tried to reach the suitcase to cushion the fall. But I am very petite and was standing next to the middle seat, it was hard for me to reach the suitcase. The suitcase bent one of my finger nails and I cried out in pain. It was at that point the rude passenger finally turned around and saw my husband falling and apologized.

 

I didn't have time to see if my husband was badly hurt. My mind was on my missing cell phone (I know I got my priority reversed!) Everyone almost boarded. If it was left at the terminal, I wouldn't have time to go back to look for it. So I dashed out the plane and back to the terminal.

 

I looked everywhere and couldn't find my phone. It was at that time that a lady working at the terminal asked what I was looking for so I told her. She, with couple other employees, had been trying to keep the delayed group entertained while we waited for our delayed flight. Both she and another (black) gentleman helped look for my phone but we couldn't find anything.

 

The gentleman (I didn't catch his name) suggested the lady to call my cell phone. The lady, Britt Peterson, did. Right after she dialed my number, I went into the Ladies room to check if I might have left it there. I couldn't find anything there either. When I came back out she told me my phone was on board. I was so relieved!

 

When I first went back to the terminal, I asked the gate agent if I was allowed to go back to search for my phone and she said no problem. But when I was trying to re-enter (no more boarding pass with me) she stopped me and asked for my information. I was surprised but appreciated that she was doing her job the way it should be. A little inconvenience for me but it's safe for all the passengers on board. Well trained!

 

As soon as I reboarded (being the last one) the flight attendant at the door told me my phone was in the plane. Many people looked at me in a strange way. They probably worried that I would be the one delaying the flight further. I felt sort of embarassed but also relieved.

 

Later my husband told me that the phone was at the bottom of my bag. Due to the background noise from the plane and the fact it was under layers of stuff, we couldn't hear it even though he called my phone twice. It was after I left the plane that he dumped everything out on a seat that he finally found it. Luckily that was also the time Britt called. 

 

I didn't get a chance to catch all the names of the helpful Southwest team (except Britt) for that evening. But I want to sincerely thank each and every one of them for their caring customer service attitude. Great job, Southwest!!

New Arrival

On 2/11/2020 I flew on Flt.. 572 from ATL to TPA and once again was provided great service by the crew.  Trevor was the Attendant who capably handled our section with a great attitude.  When I exited the plane I was just about to enter the terminal when I heard someone behind me yelling “sir”.  I finally turned around and saw Trevor running up with my new coffee thermos I must have left in the seat back.  
I really appreciate the extra effort by Trevor in running from the middle of the plane to near the terminal to return the thermos.  That extra effort by a crew member is just another reason why i love flying SWA.