What is “hospitality”? I’ve personally challenged myself to take a look back at this word and this idea that sometimes seems old-fashioned or out of reach for someone like me, who is far from being Martha Stewart. I have long felt like I was missing the hospitality gene, but a recent Customer story—and really almost all of the LUV mail stories that I come across on a daily basis—have reinforced to me that I don’t have to wait for “pigs to fly” to be a hospitable person, although such an event could present an opportunity.
Webster defines hospitality as the “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.” Food and lifestyle author Shauna Niequist sees hospitality as “creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.” So hospitality lives right where you are, your home-base at the moment, which, for Southwest Employees, could be onboard an aircraft, in a gate area, or even the invisible space that exists between exchanged e-mails or phone calls. You don’t have to go miles out of your way to be hospitable, you just have to see, hear, and love People in the moment, which is what DEN Flight Attendant Sarah Frith did recently, and she did it for a stuffed pig!
Customer Jennifer Meneray had purchased a plush, pink pig for her younger brother while visiting San Francisco. No one was sitting next to her, so she thought she’d have a little fun and buckle the toy in for the flight back home. Sarah took notice of our “porkenger” and struck up a conversation with his seatmate, Ms. Meneray. After learning about this little piggy’s final destination and the new friend who was waiting for him, Sarah fetched a first flight certificate and a pair of Southwest wings for the cuddly, firsttime Customer. Ms. Meneray was thrilled, and she very much enjoyed giving her brother “Earl” (given name of the pig) and the pieces of memorabilia that Earl collected along his journey.