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Maybe it's all in the attitude?

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Written by Southwest Customer Kim Seale   Two recent newspaper articles, combined with Southwest's newest ad campaign (to view "Coins" commercial, click here and open first ad), have caused me to reflect on the changing environment of air travel.  It seems to me that "the Southwest effect" is much more than just the downward influence on airfares when SWA begins service to a new city.  That is because I believe that Southwest Airlines, as a company, is about more than just low fares.  Sure, that is a big and very obvious part of what they bring to the market, but I see a larger, but slightly less visible aspect of what SWA has meant to the airline industry.  In my opinion, just maybe Customer Satisfaction is the true "Southwest Effect." The first article that caught my eye was one that was titled 'Fliers' gripes soar', and it talked about the increasing number of complaints being lodged against air carriers.  The author references "record-high airline traffic" (load factors) and its pressure on "flight delays, cancellations, rude airline employees, overheated airplane cabins, lost baggage and hours of frustration at the airport," which is more than just a mouthful of issues.  These things come together to indicate a severe degradation in the level of customer service being offered to the flying public by many of the airlines in business today.  The fuller the planes are, the less concerned some companies seem to be about trying to please the very people who are buying those tickets.  Although I am reluctant to name names, it appears that some of the AAmerican-based airlines that are Continental in their approach look as if they are United in their efforts to take passengers in their Jets of Blue, or other colors, through the US airways, from the Northwest part of our country, to the Midwest part of our country, across the Delta of the Mississippi and to all other Frontiers of the United States with less and less concern for those passengers' satisfaction.   However, this article went on to say that the airline with the lowest rate of complaints was…Southwest Airlines.  Are you surprised?  You shouldn't be, and it is because of Positively Outrageous Service.  Is Southwest perfect?  Are they always on time?  Do they always perfectly deliver a piece of luggage to its waiting owner in baggage claim?  Of course, the answer to all of these is "No!"  But, the difference is that when human mistakes occur, they are happening in the context of customers that already feel appreciated and pleased with the treatment they've gotten.  I've been on flights that departed late from their gate, and yet the flight attendants had people onboard laughing at stupid jokes and singing along with ridiculous songs.  The second article talked about the aviation collection at the University of Texas at Dallas that is primarily the remnants of Braniff's public affairs archive.  In that story, the curator of the collection along with a retired Braniff employee are interviewed as they reminisce about the bygone days of style, service and steaks in first class meals.  The article ends with the quote, "I can just imagine back in the 1960s and an airline said they were going to charge you for a meal – passengers would have flipped out."  That leads me back full circle to the new SWA television ads that feature a passenger having to feed quarters into a receptacle to access the ....  So many airlines these days appear eager to "nickel-and-dime" their passengers to supplement ailing bottom lines.  Upcharges for a snack, a fee to get headphones to listen to a movie and charging you to make a change to a ticket all add up to a lack of sensitivity to their passengers.  One particular AAirline recently informed us that to change an existing "free" (earned through mileage accrual) award ticket reservation booked in one passenger's name to another, without changing the flight numbers or dates, we would have to pay $100!  That seat was already saved in our name, but trying to 'give' the same exact seat to someone else when we were unable to use it was going to cost us $100, on a ticket that could be purchased for about $200.  A 50% premium for someone else to use that "free"seat! At Southwest, however, the atmosphere is one of providing service and pleasing the customer while having a great time doing it.  Other than a charge for alcoholic beverages, there are no additional fees to enjoy your flight experience on a SWA jet.  They consistently rate at the top of many passenger satisfaction polls, provide some of the best ontime performance of the industry and manage to keep making a profit while they're doing it.  The 'other' guys irritate their passengers, frustrate their employees, appear to run late pretty regularly and just keep losing money.  Their solution?  Nickel-and-dime the folks who fly with them!  Let's see, a strategy built around continuing to alienate the people who are keeping you in business.  What's wrong with this picture? It just seems like the attitude displayed by a number of air carriers is that they are doing US a favor by letting us ride on THEIR planes.  Is it just me, or has the cart gotten in front of the horse (proverbially speaking) somewhere along the way?   (Kim has been flying with Southwest since the early 70s both for pleasure and his business duties.)  
122 Comments
FriendofBlogBoy
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Brian -- I don't think that guy knows what he's talking about. Are you sure he's ever flown before? K.S. :)
blusk
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Too funny, Kim! I have it on good authroity that he is a pretty good Customer. Brian
Jim13
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Interesting timing for this blog post. A USA Today article, posted just this morning, talks about an airline that is considering charging a fee for checking in at the airport - http://blogs.usatoday.com/sky/2006/09/airline_conside.html Wow - Ever since this blog started I thought Kim Seale was a Southwest employee, I never realized Kim was a regular passenger just like me.
James5
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Kim - GREAT to hear from you as a Guest Blogger! Thanks for taking the time to write. Regards, James Malone MDW FA
FriendofBlogBoy
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Jim -- Thanks for pointing us to the USA Today blog, and that was interesting timing. After reading those comments, I have to say that I agree with the sentiments expressed over there, too, but also that "our" SW bloggers write better blog entries! LOL Whether it is our domestic carriers or some European low-cost airlines, it just goes to show that passengers really DO resent the haughty attitudes and piled-on fees. Note that Karen mentioned how important service is. Wonder if she's ever experienced Positively Outrageous Service as it is served up on Southwest? :) Wow yourself! I guess I should be honored that you thought I was an Employee, but nahhh, they don't pay me to like 'em. In fact, I'm considerably more impressed with how Southwest Airlines is run than I am with my own employer....shhhhh! But, yes, I'm a fellow Customer, although remember, good ole SWA doesn't consider us "regular", they consider us special! Oh yeah, it happened again today -- I took a flight to ABQ, and doggone it, we arrived EARLY! Kim 🙂
Jim13
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Kim - I've had more than my share of early arrivals on SWA. Yeah, the bloggers here do write better entries - we care and we like 'our' airline; there is a pride of - not ownership - but a pride of belonging. I don't think any other airline has fostered that feeling like SWA. I remember when Delta announced they were removing pillows and blankets from their planes. I thought, "not one person is going to get on a plane and say 'Oh good - finally - no more pillows' " when they boarded. As for the $3 or $5 box-of-food, come on - you've got 75Â
FriendofBlogBoy
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James, Thank you for the kind words! Unfortunately, I don't get up through MDW very often, but maybe some day we'll meet at 37,000 feet! Jim, I can only ASSume what part of the rat's anatomy you were referring to, since a formatting error seems to have lost the end of your last sentence. Yes, I understand your frustration, as there are times that I have to fly to cities that SWA does not serve. Believe me, even an occasional brush with those "other" guys certainly keeps me from EVER taking my SW friends for granted. Haven't ANY of those other companies' employees ever heard of a "smile"? I guess they don't LUV us like SW does... Hang in there, buddy -- one day, SW will serve the entire world and life will be wonderful. Well, it will if my Longhorns can get back to winning football games! Kim :) P. S. Jim -- the only part of your post that I didn't understand was when you talked about meetings at the AA Training Center out at Love Field West, but then you mentioned BTW. What does Batu Licin Airport in Indonesia have to do with anything? LOL Sorry, I couldn't resist after that long thread here a month ago about airport codes! 🙂 🙂
Michael_HArtman
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Pleeeeease - DO NOT GO TO ASSIGNED SEATING! As a long time flyer of Southwest and a very loyal patron, this is the single most important difference between Southwest and the other airlines. If you change this policy from the current ABC boarding groups, then you become like all the rest. Then I will be forced to evaluate you only on price. Look at my record (#0075397092) - I always fly Southwest! But if you change this policy, you've lost your allure in my eyes, and I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way!
viko_newman
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I work for a company in Washington state that beleives if they take care of their employees well....then in turn their employees will take care of the customers well! I believe that is so true! It is nice to fly on SWA and see the employees enjoy themselves and take care of the customers well too! I was truly impressed when all other airlines were doing layoffs years ago but SWA decided not to do this and to keep on trucking...(maybe cutting some hours here and there?) But to keep their employees! I have been a faithful passenger for years and I will continue to do so! If I move to an area where my current job doesn't have a store...I will check out SWA! Keep up the AWESOME job!!!! Viko
Susan10
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I adore SWA. They could serve ground glass meals and I'd still love 'em. I used to travel quite a bit between Love Field (feel the love!) and Oklahoma City. And, because things are moderately anonymous here, I'll admit that more than once I called just to listen to its on-hold music and entertainment. It's been awhile since I flew. Do the cabin crew still have freedom to be creative with their announcements? Keep smiling. Susan
Bob_White
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Kim - I can go one better on your $ 100. charge to replace one person with another on the same ticket - the AAmerican way; My daughter and I were in Spokane WA this summer - we both remarked how empty the airport felt compared to Dallas - so when we finished our vacation and headed back to the airport we allowed 1 hour to check in since we already had boarding passes - BAD DECISION ! After car return etc we arrived at our airline's check in area about 35 minutes before flight - and told that we must check ourselves in on the "economy flights" - I never did manage to check in when finally an attendant came by and helped us - upon handing my ticket and pass to the attendant, she announced that flight departure was less than 30 minutes away and we could not fly on that flight - furthermore ALL Alaskan Air (AA's partner) flights to Portland were "booked" for the next 2 days and we would be forced into standby - I then walked to Southwest and we were on a flight to Portland in the next hour - the outcome with AA ? $ 100. each to NOT FLY OUR ORIGINAL ITINERARY - rebooked in Portland to the red-eye flight, no refund for the flight legs not taken - least cost were the flights to Portland via SW We'll be taking the same trip next year and guaranteed we'll not be on AA or AA - now if we can only find a way to outfox the Wright Amendment ( we may fly to San Antonio or Oklahoma City first and still come out ahead).)
Dave34
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As a customer who regularly has to use many different airlines, I can say the number on difference for me is: the employee's genuinely seem to CARE. Yes things do occasionaly go wrong. But from the ticket agent to the flight attendant to the pilots to the ground crews, they all seem to be interested in fixing the problem. Flight running late? They work to make up time or help you make a connection. I can't count the number of times I've landed late on one of the OTHER airlines, only to sit on the taxi way waiting to be parked at the gate. Then waiting some more for the jet bridge to be placed and the door opened. Their complete teams just don't CARE that they are late. To the Southwest team: Thanks For CARING! Dave
Brenda_Colazzi
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You guys are all so right! As a former SW fa, I thought I was just partial....but now I know it is far more than that. With my current job, I frequently have to travel to markets not serviced by SW. I now "get" to pay for an aisle seat or a blanket. After years of handing out peanuts, I never dreamed I would miss them, but I do....they simply can not be found on most planes today - after all, itÃ
A__T__GOODWIN
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WHEN WILL SOUTHWEST START SERVICE TO RICHMOND? IT WOULD BE A GOOD MOVE FOR BOTH SOUTHWEST AND THE CITY.
Karen_Goodwin
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I have a beautiful three year old grandson who lives in Baltimore. I live in Lexington. Because of Southwest's great rates, I am able to visit him once a month. I subscribe to the DING report and I check it faithfully and always have a flight booked. Yes, I have spent a little time in the Louisville airport and at BWI because of late departing flights. No one can control the weather. I have learned to get comfortable and be happy in either airport while waiting for our flight to depart. With one exception, the Southwest "gate" employees, flight attendants and pilots have been kind, helpful, patient (to an occasional rude passenger) and often humorous. I've seen the "gate" employees lead a group of elementary students in song, let them speak on a "pretend" microphone, serve a soft drink & pretzels, etc... and answer endless questions about departure time. I'm thankful for Southwest and never want to take them for granted. My sweet grandson is always at the other end. He thinks the airport is my house and when he sees an airplane, he thinks I'm on it. Karen
Lori_Anderson
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What really amazes me about the employees at SW....is that given the conditions of the industry, the world, and their particular jobs....they really have no reason to be in a good mood. It reminds me of my hospital work...understaffed, overstressed and having to take on whatever challenges come your way- might as well lighten up and make the best of it! It's a real bonding experience to "laugh in the trenches" together!
Betty3
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I have only flown SWA three times, so maybe I don't have enough experience...but, I haven't witnessed what the fuss is all about with customer service. I have yet to meet a friendly or outgoing flight attendant. I was actually excited last year when I flew with them for the first time. I thought everyone was going to be so frinedly that I'd feel like I was in Disneyland! lol I had watched "Airline" on A&E and all of the employees shown on the program were so friendly, even under the worst circumstances. Well, we just had the usual grumpy folks we always see in the local Walmart. Don't get me wrong, I'd still fly with them if I could save some $$$$, they were on time and were fast with the check in process and all of that, I just didn't see anything special or out of the ordinary friendly. (I've had much better/ nicer folks with United and they have assigned seats, music and movies, too!)
Patricia_M__McN
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Hi Southwest! I fell in love with SW's attitude both on the sky and in the airports long ago. You guys can do what is legally necessary and still with a sense of humor. I agree with the gentlemen mentioning other airlines attitudes about us flying on THEIR planes...you guys care about us...even with no food service. And you make us laugh from time to time. I am concerned tho about some of our passengers who do not respond to the usual commands to upright seats, put up tray tables or turn off electronics without additional nudges or like little kids, being told face to face...Those instructions are not blase', they are safety features....It's a shame we don't pay attention to folks in charge anymore...In any case, I love you guys and fly you every chance I get. Also love your system of automatic rewards....best ever!!!!!!!
Jodi11
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Just want to say SWA give yourself a pat on the back. Your service is unbelievable!!!!! We always use SWA for our flying needs but we went to New Jersey and coundn't use you and we had the worst attendant's ever. They had the air on so high that most of us was freezing and when an elderly lady asked for a blanket the attendant went to the mic and stated very rudely that there is no more blankets and it's not her fault that we were cold that the flight was more than half way over basically deal with it. Then she (the attendant) brought me over 2 blankets & gave the elderly lady a dirty look. Of course I gave the elderly lady and her friend the blankets. I will never fly that airline again. SWA makes us laugh with the songs and suggestions given - the best on is the smoking quarter is located on the right and left wings and they will be playing "Bye, Bye Birdie" and "Gone with the Wind". I laughed so hard with this crew. I just wish that you would fly out of Gary Indiana so we (the people from Indiana) wouldn't have to drive to Chicago to fly. Jodi
Joy_Payne
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SWA is always my airline of first choice, always will be. However, I can tell you I have witnessed my share of encounters with rude "customer service" agents and "gatekeepers". While customers can be ridiculously demanding, and the majority of the time SWA employees remain in control and polite, it is not always the case. I personally had a really bad experience in Jackson, MS with a customer service agent when my bag did not arrive when I did. Another time I was on a late inbound flight and had to make a connecting flight . I only had to walk across the concourse to the gate to depart. They had already boarded but the plane was still at the gate. The agent would not let me board. The plane sat at that gate for another 15 minutes, while I had to change my ticket to a later two and one half hour later flight. I was miffed--and the gate agent would give me no explanation. But when I compare that to the experience I had on a SWA flight where the lady sitting in the seat next to me died while in flight, and witnessing the heroic efforts of the flight crew to save her life, I can tell you, the good always outweighs the bad. I have always thought it would be so cool if Southwest would do a FLY SOUTHWEST AIRLINES TODAY advertising campaign and call it FLY SWAT.
Ray_Penderson
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This is a great way to communicate with the public! I appreciate the opportunity to post my thoughts. I have been flying SWA since the 70's, primarily out of Tulsa, Austin, and Hobby. For this year I have flown SWA about once a week, so you can see I fly pretty regularly. Recently I posted my comments on the issue of assigned seats on SWA. I hope SWA thinks long and hard about changing that policy. I know I will never stop flying SWA even if this changes but I would strongly prefer it not. I can say without a qualification that I am a true believer in the SWA philosophy of how you treat us, the customers. Just one more comment. I had the pleasure earlier this year to sit next to a SWA pilot as he was traveling to his work city. I enjoyed the conversation and his hosiptality very much. I believe his name was Steve Peterson. Thanks again. Ray Penderson
Keith
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We live in Wichita, our closest SWA departure locations are Oklahoma City, and Kansas City. Please change the Wright Amendment and come to Wichita. Our fares are outragous, particulary to the west, north and south. IMHO, SWA is successful because it delivers what it promises. Inexpensive airline travel, in a pleasant manner. Come to ICT
joan_miller
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I have been flying SWA back and forth to Phoenix with some regularity. I love the airline but have you all lost your sense of humor? The cabin attendents are busy chatting with each other and just giving the standard talk. Can you go back to brightening up the day with a little dry wit?
Rick13
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We travel often and we've enjoyed transcontinental flights and had better service on Southwest Coach than on Continental First Class in Seats 1A&B. We look forward to assigned seating on Southwest in the future.
Donna_from_the_
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I just want to tell you how much I LOVE your company and your employees! I have flown all over the world on numerous airlines, and none of them even come close to Southwest! From the person who answers the phones, to the people who take care of me on the flight- everyone is absolutely chipper and eager to make my flight fun AND safe! Recently, I flew from STL to LAS to be with my sister during cancer surgery. I went online and had a roundtrip ticket for under $200! Well, her surgery went well, but she was not recovering as planned...she was in a LOT of pain. Now a little background here-- this is my BABY sister- the one who,when my son-in-law was killed when a race car slammed into the stands last year, showed up the NEXT MORNING to be there for me... so my flight was scheduled to leave out the day after her surgery. Well, I couldn't go home to Illinois and leave here there in pain... I called Southwest reservations, and never having changed flight plans before, wasn't sure what I could do or how to do it. The lady---no, the ANGEL- who took my call listened as I explained that I needed to change my flight plan... I wanted to leave a day or two later. The agent said that I could go out later, but that the cost was going to be about $600. I just broke down for a second..and said I didn't care...whatever it took I had to stay to be with my sister. The agent then listened as I told her that price was not an issue...well it was... I live from paycheck to paycheck...but I would pay whatever it cost to be with my sister . This angel then changed my flight at NO CHARGE and told me to stay in Vegas and take care of my sister. Now, this came a month after I had cancer surgery, and 41 days after my son-in-law was killed. This lovely lady took time to go out of her way to make sure I could take care of my sister. I bawled for days everytime I thought of her kindness, and everytime I tel the story I still get tears. Anyway- the jist of this is--- you could strap me to the wing, throw me in the baggage compartment..whatever-- you guys have my business for as long as you have planes! Thanks for being such an extraordinary company- you really do make a huge difference with your winning attitudes !!!
Kelli_Bond
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As with anything else involving humans, Southwest isn't infallible--but it sure comes pretty close! [Will y'all at SWA settle for that?! ;-)] Seriously, since I started flying SWA in the '80s, I've had nothing but excellent service on the phone (when I used to do my reservations that way, and in more recent times when having to change a flight) as well as in person. Even when flights are delayed because the plane hasn't yet arrived (sometimes by more than a few minutes), gate attendants have always provided frequent status reports. Such announcements make all the difference between relative calm and major ballistics. (Most of us know the domino effect once even one person starts the latter--dangerous anywhere, but even moreso at terminals that are already madhouses!) And, where else have I always avoided fees--those in addition to the customary fare difference--when having to change flights at the last minute? (The only thing in such a transaction I might suggest on behalf of RapidRewards members is having the information to the credit card, on which the ticket was originally billed, visible to the reservations agent for faster service. While security precautions are completely understandable, keep in mind that they go right out the window anyway if a member makes the phone call from an open area and has to say the information aloud! ) To end this back on a light note, keep up the fun--including the occasional wacky print media announcement and frequent on-board jokes! (I'll always remember the headline in a San Jose Mercury News ad for a San Jose-Burbank special in '97 or '98: "Fly Silicon Valley to Silicone Valley..." And my overall loyalty to SWA was sealed on the ground at Reno a couple of years ago when one of the FAs, in pointing out the emergency exits, said, "Don't like our service? There's six ways to do something about that!")
Marlene1
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I am thrilled with the ease and assitance with changing a flight. I had to change my flight to return to Florida five times due to hurricane threats and family matters. There was never a charge or questions asked. I have over 200,000 frequent miles with USAirways but never find it convenient to be able to use them. Even if I could I prefer to fly with SWA, they usually make you laugh and relax during their flights. I hope you never change your mission as you grow bigger. I feel like an ad for SWA but I am just a regular customer.
Micah2
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I will echo what many have said: Southwest AirlinesÃ
Bryan3
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Just happened to find my way here. As a semi-frequent flier, I thought I would add my two cents. I fly Southwest for one reason, the cost. To me Southwest is the Greyhound of the skies, I will fly only short distances on Southwest, mostly due to the ABC seating, I am sick of being at the airport one and one half to two hours early, and still only being in the C group, behind those who show up 1/2 hour prior to flight, just because they checked in online. As a result I now check in online, but the principal of it still bothers me. I am glad to read that Southwest is looking to test the assigned seating in select cities, I truly believe in the first come, first served concept. The only other problem I have, the one that leads me to compare Southwest to Greyhound, is the festival attitude that seems to go on on the flight. Maybe it is because I live in, and fly out of a gambling town, but it tends to irritate me. Otherwise, I am happy to fly Southwest for
Bryan3
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(continued) an hour or so, due to the price. For long distance flight I go to the others for the assigned, first come first served seating, and the more relaxing experience. Another side note, I flew to Europe earlier this year, and for ten hours, I could not move. I did notice that the leg room for the last one hour trip to my home airport, I had much more leg room on Southwest.
Joan_Clement
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I flew out of New Orleans on flight # 550 on 8/28/06 and enjoyed the attendants so much. They were so funny, helpful and made the trip seem so much faster to Las Vegas than normal. They needed a few seats together because a few people got on last with small children that needed to sit together. When they asked for volunteers to change seats so many people got up to give them the seats they needed it felt like everyone was friends. As we got closer to Vegas one of the attendants got on the speaker and said they had put a gift in 10 pockets on the back of seats and for everyone to check for the gift and while they are searching the pocket to take out any trash that was in the pocket. Everyone cracked up laughing. By then we knew what jokers the attendants were what they really wanted was for us to clean up the plane. It was such a nice experience I have really bragged about that trip. We flew out of Vegas on 9/5/06 on flight#2969 and the attendants were nice, but they didn't have the outgoing personality and humor the other crew had. I will be going back to Vegas on the 5th of Nov. on 550 M and will be looking for that funny crew again (see what you can do). That's so much better than a stuff-shirt attendant.
Lizanne
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Since the early '80's I have been traveling Southwest and singing its praises to friends and family. Some have grown tired of me repeating the jokes I have heard aboard. But now, even the snootiest first class types have succumbed and agree the service can't be beat. In recent years I have needed a wheelchair lift from curb to boarding. Always treated with kindness and consideration. Example: when leaving RDU recently 7 or 8 chairs were lined up (one of us seated ones said we looked like a moving nursing home!) Took a bit to get us moving down to the plane...guess who came to get me and take me aboard?...none other than the pilot! Now, that is service top to bottom. Many thanks and do keep ABC.
Barbara6
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IF SOUTHWEST "DOESN'T GO THERE",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,NEITHER DO I. SERIOUSLY!!
Summer3
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In ten+ years of air travel, I have exclusively flown Southwest Airlines with only one unavoidable exception, a butt-and-spine-numbing 16 hour flight to a remote island in Micronesia via Continental, which has an absolute monopoly on that part of paradise. I am writing my first blog entry today (ever!) to share with readers a truly remarkable story about the extraordinary lengths to which SWA employees will go to assure complete customer satisfaction. I am still shaking my head in disbelief and astonishment, days later... In early August, I flew SWA from Burbank to Denver for a personal business trip. During the first (uncrowded) leg of the flight into Las Vegas, I worked on some time-sensitive paperwork projects I'd brought along in a work file... writing out my monthly rent check, completing some pre-op medical forms for a pending surgery, organizing my business trip itinerary with maps and travel directions to lodging, reviewing my rental car confirmation printout, and finalizing some government forms. Before deplaning in Las Vegas, I packed away my work file of documents in the outside pouch of my carry-on luggage, ready to roll fast because the connecting flight schedule was tight , with just minutes to spare. I ran the length of the concourse to catch the connecting flight to Denver, and was the last passenger to board the flight before departure. The flight was packed, with just a few seats still available near the front. I'm kinda short and petite, so it was a physical challenge to hoist my carry-on luggage up into the overhead storage compartment on my tiptoes. It was a quick flight into Denver with a bit of wind and turbulence mid-flight, but even so, SWA arrived right on the dot. Because the flight was full and everyone was in a hurry to deplane, it was a human traffic jam in the aisle, waiting for space to stand up so I could retrieve my carry-on case. The turbulence had caused some shifting and my case had wedged in at an angle; I had to stand on tiptoe and tugged really hard on it to haul it out of the overhead compartment. After deplaning, I stepped into the mind-boggling futuristic world of Denver International (my first time ever to that part of the country) and I rode the lightning-fast underground shuttle to the last concourse. A quick walk outside, and I caught the next shuttle bus for the drive to the rental car mecca. (Wow, what an impressive, well-engineered airport!) Standing in line at the Dollar Rental Car counter many miles from the airport, I reached into the outside pouch of my carry-on case to retrieve my work file with all my car rental confirmation papers, maps and directions. NO!!! The entire pouch was EMPTY! A quick-time movie played in my memory bank as I hit re-wind to review where my important papers could be, and I realized immediately that the entire file must have spilled out into the overhead compartment when I had tugged on it to dislodge it, and I was too short to see. My rent check! My pre-op surgery form! The maps and directions to my lodging and business destination! My government forms! And a brand new non-fiction book: "Tales of a Female Nomad." I called 1-800-IFLYSWA from Dollar and explained the problem and was connected to the Denver Baggage Claim department, then Lost & Found. My flight itinerary and a description of my lost items were quickly recorded on an electronic report and I was encouraged by the SWA representative to call every day or two while in the Denver area to check on it. She assured me the flight staff would be alerted, and if found, the items would be held for five days. There was hope that the lost may be found... But as the days passed in Colorado and I continued to check in by phone, confusion reigned and hope faded. I learned that the flight from Burbank to Las Vegas had been checked instead of the flight from Vegas to Denver! I finished my business in Colorado and on the return trip to Burbank five days later, I gave a detailed report in person to one of the SWA reps at the Burbank Lost & Found counter. She was empathetic, but matter of fact; she braced me for the probability that flight attendants had most likely cleared the overhead compartments when the flight reached its final destination that night, and whatever had been left behind most likely would have been discarded by the maintenance and clean-up crew. I made a few more calls to Lost & Found over the next couple weeks, but there was no change in status, so I resigned myself to the fact that this was a hard lesson to learn; from now on I'm going to have to secure my paperwork inside my carry-on, or make a point of asking someone tall to check the overhead bin for me. I had already put a stop payment order on my rent check, explained the situation to my landlady, and sent a replacement check. Now here is the miracle, Folks... Nearly five weeks had passed since the trip to Denver and one night after work, I unlocked my mailbox to find a big envelope from Southwest Airlines crammed in there. Inside, I found the ENTIRE CONTENTS of my work file ~ all the documents and paperwork that had been in the carry-on pouch, except for the rent check and the brand new book. I was stunned. What were the odds? There was also a cheery little note tucked in the package from Bettie & the crew in Lost & Found. What rare gems they are! I called all my friends the next day to tell everyone how amazing the staff is at SWA. And the next day after that, another package arrived, with the missing book tucked inside and miracle of miracles, my landlady's rent check! I would like to publicly thank all of the Southwest Airlines employees, in Burbank, Las Vegas, Denver, and Houston, in the air and on the ground, who each did their part in connecting the dots to fully retrieve a file that traveled halfway across the country and found its way back to me. I love you, Southwest Airlines!!! You are the best, and you hire the best! Bless you all, Summer in Ventura
Jeanene_Vomocil
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I love SWA ! I don't look for "bargains" on the net for other airlines, because I enjoy the SWA treatment. Attendants are fun to talk to, helpful, and always courteous. Love ya!
Rick_Betine
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Up until my last trip, I had never encountered "friendly" employees at any airline. I don't fly that frequently, maybe once a year or two. But, my wife and I flew to Houston to attend my brother's wedding. When we boarded our flight in Denver, we were greeted with a smile and our names (a nice touch, we thought). The trip was delayed by an hour on the runway. That was unavoidable due to the weather. The staff was very nice about keeping us informed. The return flight was where the friendly service made it's grand appearance to me. We had already checked our luggage and were in the security line when I discovered that I still had my knife on my side (a definite no-no). This knife was a present from a dear friend and I could not stand to lose it. I stepped out of line and went back to the baggage check, where the fellow that had checked our bags asked if something was wrong. After explaining the situation, he grabbed a box, filled it with padding, deposited my knife in it, and checked it with our luggage. Problem solved!!! And it was done with a smile and in a timely manner. I only regret that I didn't get his name. The rest of the flight was pleasantly uneventful, but, I will never forget the friendly way this man took care of my small problem in Houston/Hobby airport. Thanks SWA for caring.
Kenny_Steinhart
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I love Southwest, but live in Dallas. We are limited because of the outdated Wright Amendment which limits us to a handful cities outside of Texas. I am happy to see Southwest to fight this anti-consumer law. I am not happy with the backroom proposal that Southwest and American engineered. Waiting 8 years to fly non-stop??? It basically gives Southwest and American there own airports to dominate. We need more gates than 20 at love field and more airlines (especially with only three airlines taking up all 20 gates). Southwest - Show that scrappy spirit when you started and everyone wanted to shut you down. Allow competition at Love and don't be afraid of Jetblue or anybody else, you are the best airline anyway.
Gavin3
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Dear Friends @ SWA, Hey, I'm Gavin. I live near a miltary installation in Missouri and, am a Disabled American Veteran. I've flown w/SWA a total of 4 times. I absolutely LUV flying w/y'all. Had I not been disabled, I'd have worked for a major airline, as a Flight Attendant. I really like the flight crews, they're really quite nuts! It's quite refreshing to get to fly w/crews that can have fun, yet get you from point A to point B in a timely manner. I had the privilege to watch "United 93" {I was only hysterical for an hr and 45 minutes!} this SWA traveler won't forget, NEVER! {I tell most of my flight crews, when I fly, that "Y'all have a full-plum time job on your hands today" the Flight Attendants will ask "Why?" I tell them that "I'm onboard the flight today!" I really like the in-flight entertainment, I'd like to sign up for it the next time I fly w/SWA.{I love to sang, and I Love, Patsy Clines' songs, "I Fall To Pieces" "Crazy" "Faded Love"} and just abt any other song she did. There was only one Pasty Cline, and they's only one SWA. I fell in love w/SWA, as I did w/Delta,{after my first flight on both} I do still plan on traveling, and am keeping SWA in the forefront of my mind to call when I need to travel. {In my cell phone list, there's only one airline mentioned, that would be SWA.} Again, I thank you for letting me share my views. I appreciate what y'all folks at SWA do. Keep on doing it, it's working!! Have a safe flight. Pay mind to what your uniformed flight crew members tell you to do. If you'd care to email me, please feel free to do so, my email address is gdh18@yahoo.com Please put SWA Blog in the subject line. Thanks! I really like SWA Rapid Rewards, it's the BEST in the industry, hands down, and, that's why I plan on flying more w/SWA, because of the RR Program that they 've got. I'll be looking forward to seeing someone on-board a SWA Flight really soon. Thanks again. Sincerely yours, Gavin!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Susan, I'm not sure, but I think that the FAA has some obscure rules regarding the serving of ground glass, so you're probably off the hook there. As far as I can tell from first-hand experience, the cabin crews have the freedom to deliver the required information in whatever way they choose as you are exercising your freedom to move about the country. Bad news for you, though, Southwest has special tracking equipment and they KNOW that you used to call just to hear the "on-hold" announcements. They have your name posted under the desk at every airport gate in their system, and anytime YOU check-in for a flight, they know who you are and they laugh at you behind your back after you go sit down. Good news for you -- I'm teasing. Kim 🙂
FriendofBlogBoy
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Viko -- Excellent comments! You've captured the essence of a corporate philosophy that on the surface, would seem to fly in the face of conventional modern business thinking. Over 35 years ago, Southwest pioneered an approach that did NOT put the Customer first. So many management gurus try to shape a company's attitude around putting their customers first, but Southwest said that their Employees come first. You are exactly correct. The trickle-down theory really does work! If the Employees are happy, they are much more likely to treat their Customers well. Conversely, you get a grumpy worker somewhere, and guess how much you're likely to enjoy your experience with that place? The results at Southwest prove the efficacy of their approach. Happy Employees = happy Customers = repeat business = profits. Gee, wasn't THAT simple? It resembles an older, but down-to-earth business philosophy that my Dad used to recite over and over: KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Kim 🙂
FriendofBlogBoy
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Bob (White) -- Sadly, your story can be repeated so many times with slightly different details by frustrated travelers across the country. Tales of families split onto separate flights on free ticket vacations, reservations bumped because you aren't a "paying" passenger and treatment by airline employees as if you are the bane of their existence is unfortunately too common. I don't understand the approach of "rewarding" your most frequent customers, who have flown many miles with you to 'earn' a benefit (remember that it was the airlines who invented this carrot to dangle in front of their passengers years ago), with abusive treatment that so often alienates the person and reduces your desire to fly with them in the future. Wait a second. Check out the statistics on the banked supply of "free ticket" future liability that the airlines have to potentially honor at some point in time. Maybe Dr. Frankenstein created such a scary monster that he is now embarked on a mission to eliminate future monsters? Can't you just picture the BoAArd room meeting -- "So, Jenkins, what do you suggest to tick off our passengers so they will quit flying on us so much and accruing so many free tickets?" Makes ya wonder... Kim
FriendofBlogBoy
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Betty -- I can certainly appreciate your comments based on the experiences that you've had so far on Southwest, and I'm truly sorry that you've not had the consistently excellent treatment that I've gotten over the years. Naturally, people are people, and some of us have our good days and some of us have some days that aren't quite as good. I really hope that you'll not let your time with Southwest up till now give you a negative impression of the Company or its Employees. Their people really DO care and I am sure that if you give 'em another chance, they'll prove that to you while you're "saving $$$$" with "on time" performance and "fast...check in process and all of that"! Best wishes, and take my word for it, they do LUV you! Kim 🙂
Lynn_Stoiber
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Three years ago I became employed with a company that requires me to fly to varied destinations across the country each week. I fly to and from these destinations every week out of MDW and am pleased to say Southwest is by far my favorite airline. Because weekly travel can become boring quickly I like to develop ways to make my travel life more interesting. One of these ways is by challenging complainers in the ABC lines and trying to see how many I can turn around to seeing the Southwest point of view before we board the plane. When I hear people complain about unassigned seating I immediately begin my speech relating to the ease of making travel changes, online check-in, organized and quick turn-around of planes, direct and non-stop flights, on-time departures and arrivals, but most of all I love sharing my thoughts on Southwest's customer service and employee attitudes. Often people ask me if I work with the company and am surprised when I tell them I am only a satisfied customer. I tell them to keep their eyes open on their flights for things they won't see on other airlines (such as the pilots assistance in cleaning the planes between legs). Most of the time I am successful and can at least get people to stop complaining and consider the alternatives. I am very loyal to Southwest and will fly to cities and drive hours to my destinations if it means I will have to fly another airline. Thank you Southwest for your customer oriented service!! And thank you too, MDW for your friendly staff and airport atmosphere!
FriendofBlogBoy
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This is a joint reply to "Karen" (with the three-year old grandson in Baltimore), "Donna from the Midwest" (whose sister's cancer surgery required an extended stay in Las Vegas) and "Summer in Ventura" (whose lost her papers on a flight to Denver): I have a feeling that your letters will wind up in Colleen's "Packet of Good Letters" by way of Angela Vargo when she reads this blog. Your letters were wonderful examples of the Positively Outrageous Service that we like to brag about from our friends at Southwest! Karen -- isn't that what it's all about? Forget peanuts and assigned seating issues. Southwest's schedule and affordability gives you the chance to spend time with your grandson!! Donna -- you've seen firsthand how just a small gesture of caring friendship in the midst of a personal crisis can make a huge difference. That's LUV in action! And Summer -- sometimes miracles do happen. Doesn't it just make you feel good when strangers go out of their way to do something to help you? To me, your touching comments embody what so many of us believe about Southwest and its Employees -- they may be "just plane nuts" at times, but they really are full of LUV for their Customers. There simply is NOT a better airline or group of people around! Thanks especially to you three for adding to this blog, Kim 🙂
FriendofBlogBoy
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To "joan" -- You fly in and out of a very sunny city with extremely low humidity like Phoenix, and you want MORE brightness and MORE dry wit? Check on flight availability to the Sahara Desert!!! LOL Kim 🙂
Connie10
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I also really enjoy flying with Southwest. The only complaint that I have is the "checking in on-line" for group A,B or C. This is impossible to do when we are visiting out of state relatives who do NOT own a computer or likewise it is impossible for them (the same relatives) to check in on-line when they are flying to visit us. This seems to be a bit discriminatory to the folks who have not adapted to the computer age. I would love to see a change in that. To me, there should be another option - perhaps the assigned seating. I also love the "Ding" feature. Great idea. Conniel
FriendofBlogBoy
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Micah -- What you have said about Knoxville certainly makes sense! I read an article one time about the massive amount of communication (cards, letters, phone calls, bizarre objects and off-beat public relations stuff) that is directed at SWA to influence (or beg or coerce or plead) them to fly to a particular city. They hear from citizens of those communities (out to extraordinary distances), civic and elected leaders from those towns and from corporations based in those areas, all hoping that Southwest will soon decide to fly to "their" town. The management at Southwest is surely not deaf, and they know and appreciate very much that folks want them to serve their particular airport. However, fiscal responsibility mandates that they expand cautiously and judiciously. They have not remained profitable for over 31 years as a result of hasty and emotional decisions, and as the flying public and as stockholders, we wouldn't want them to change their approach now. If you want a textbook example of growing too rapidly and expanding so far from your "roots" that it becomes fatal, think of Braniff. (or Braniff II or Braniff III and however many incarnations there were) Southwest has stuck to their game plan and grown slowly and purposefully into markets where it will be mutually beneficial to that area AND to Southwest Airlines. Success is usually measured as a "win-win" for all parties involved, and except for a very few cases of having to retreat from a city or an airport, SWA's success rate is pretty darn high! It is similar to the extensive research and demographics studies that McDonald's uses in choosing its retail locations. How many times do you see a McDonald's restaurant close because it was built in a bad place? All I can say to you, Micah, and the others who have posted here about service being offered to their area, is to be patient and stay positive. When and if they can, Southwest will do their best to serve all of us! Kim 🙂
Mike_Fitzpatric
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Having a Blog Site is a great idea. One of the many you have had over the years I might add.. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your airline. As someone said in a previous blog, it is not about the low fares--it is about your people and how they treat us customers. I cannot begin to tell you the laughs I have had since I first began flying your airline almost 30 years ago. Singing flight attendants, harmonica playing flight attendants, flight attendants with a great sense of humor, etc., etc. I remember a dinner when I had the pleasure of sitting at a table with Herb Kellerher, Al Casey, and Bob Crandall at the Cattlemen's Club in Dallas back in the '80's when I was in the Executive MBA program at SMU. Southwest had recently painted a plane to look like Shamu. Al Casey asked Herb when he was going to start expanding to other states. Crandall said something to the effect of "...Herb can expand all he wants within the state but if he tries to leave it, we'll make whale soup out of him." Who is making soup out of whom now? Keep up the great work and PLEASE do not go to assigned seating. You'll take the fun out of talking to people in line and competing for the only 4 seats on the plane that can comfortably accommodate a guy my size (6'7", 280lbs.). Even though they are exit row seats and will probably not be assigned, the first ones at the counter will probably be able to get them. I prefer watching the clock to get my boarding pass 24 hours in advance and get a real thrill when I score an A boarding pass. Assigned seating will give shorter people an advantage. Thanks for staying true to who you are. You're the best. Regards, Mike Fitzpatrick
Brigitte_Kirchg
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...chant with me: No Assigned Seats! No Assigned Seats! Thanks for the oppertunity to share. I fly to and from work most weeks of the year and work for an absolutely lovely company with a staff of in-house travel agents. Do I make use of them? NO. I book all of my own travel on the SWA website to almost every airport you currently service. Do my co-workers think I'm a little crazy? Sure, but I'm in a good mood every Monday that I get to fly with SWA. SWA has been hands down the most consistant carrier I've flown with: I can easily collect SWA credits and have taken my family with me to work, I'm also closing in on that 100 credit companion pass and I can't wait to make use of it! The best part - coming in under my travel budget...the next best part - being able to use my reward tickets to help out family and friends when they need to get somewhere... Last plea: Please don't go to assigned seating. I too like to print out my A boarding pass, show up early, buy a coffee & paper, and chit-chat with all the other A-Line folks. Plus I think I might have record for getting my favorite seat on every flight I've ever taken - the exit row middle seat with no seat on the right! Two tray tables just for me, woo-hoo! Airports/Cities I'll need you to start flying to: GSP or anywhere in S.C., anywhere in Northwestern GA or Chattanooga TN, and Minneapolis. Thanks!
Dian_Beaubien
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I am a frequent flyer (at least two flights a week). I have had a companion pass for at least six years. You can see I am a very loyal Southwest customer. I also fly enough to be a platinum on US Air (the new America West) and Premier on United. Why am I loyal and fly Southwest anytime I can............... Because they are the only airlines where I know I will get there on the day I want to get there. The reason I fly other airlines is only because Southwest doesn't service all airports such as Newark. Of my last six flights out of Newark, I've not made it back three different times. I started out at the right day and time, but somewhere due to delays I've made it only partially home. I can't blame everything on the other carriers. I know that traffic is a huge contributing factor. But two of my delays were due to mechanical problems. I've been told it is my fault for taking the last flight out on Friday. It never seemed to be a problem in the past on Southwest, even when flying cross country. How I miss Southwest. I think it should be mandatory and yes, wonderful if Southwest flew into every major city. I for one am looking forward to that day. It is more than that though. It is the "I can do it " attitude on Southwest that seperates them from the others. That creates happy employees and it shows. I now treasure my Southwest flights compared to the others. There will always be wish lists. I have a few myself that I would love to see Southwest encorporate. But on the whole, there is not a better airlines. Even with lost baggage and cancelled flights, Southwest handles the problem better than any other. My husband is a United Global traveler. He is to United as I am to Southwest. We have different traveling likes and dislikes. But you can take the first class upgrades and free drinks. I will take getting there on time in a happy enviroment anytime of the year. Plus isn't every seat on Southwest first class???????? And I have my books of drink tickets. Where's the different excepct in the cost. Thanks Southwest. YOu make my life easy. I've learned that it's okay to change a reservation without being killed in change fees. I've learned it's okay to have two different reservations from two different cities because I don't quite know where I'll end up. I just cancel my other without fees. And since I always get an aisle seat with my A boarding group, I will not be charged additional fees for a premium seat. Keep up the good work and keep having fun. But please DO NOT assign seating. Why wreck a good thing.