Is it any surprise that the LUV Airline celebrates big on Valentine's Day? After all, our stock symbol is LUV; our home airport is Love Field; and Valentine's Day is the favorite holiday of our President, Colleen Barrett!
One of my all-time favorite Southwest events is our annual Heroes of the Heart celebration, which is held each year in Dallas on Valentine's Day. This coveted award honors one deserving group or department that works behind-the-scenes at Southwest without direct contact with our External Customers.
This year is a very special Heroes celebration, because it is the 15th Anniversary of the award. The Culture Committee created this honor in 1992 to pay tribute to a hardworking group of Employees that works behind the scenes to ensure the success of our Company. Past winners include:
1993 - Station Coordinators
1994 - Technical Services
1995 - Crew Planning, Scheduling, and Payroll
1996 - Customer Service Coordinators and Flight Information Agents
1997 - Reservations Administrative Support Staff
1998 - Systems (Technology)
1999 - Maintenance Control
2000 - Revenue Management and Pricing
2001 - Pass Bureau
2002 - Finance Payroll
2003 - Fuel Management
2004 - People Benefits
2005 - Schedule Planning
2006 - Legislative Awareness
The winner of the Heroes of the Heart award is one of the best kept secrets at Southwest Airlines. Each year, a small committee, headed by Sunny Abercrombie, is formed to coordinate this event. The committee reviews nominations from Employees nationwide; decides on one deserving group; plans the unveiling event for the following Valentine's Day; and coordinates prizes for each Employee in the winning department. The secret is not revealed until a hidden banner is unveiled at the end of the Heroes of the Heart celebration!
The actual event is complete with musical entertainment, balloons, and appearances by Colleen and Gary. As the suspense mounts, a video is shown that teases the audience into guessing who the year's winner will be. A few of the questions on past videos include: "If this group were an Olympic event, which event would it be?"; "What super hero best describes this group?"; and "If this group were a song, what would its title be and why?"
Once the Heroes are finally announced, they are called individually by name to the stage to accept his/her award. They are showered with LUV; and an actual Southwest Boeing 737 with their department's name emblazoned on the Heroes of the Heart logo will fly in their honor for one year. So keep your eyes to the sky for the new Heroes plane as soon as the winning Team is announced!
...and the 2007 winners of the Heroes of the Heart award are...(drum roll, please)...Internal Customer Care!! This fabulous group truly is the heart of our Company. The mission of these seven Employees is to "express Southwest Airlines' LUV during life's events." They act as the liaison between the Company and our Employees during monumental occasions, whether happy or sad. They send congratulations, sympathy, and/or love to our 32,000+ Employees to recognize marriages; celebrate births; mourn the death of family members; provide support during surgeries or illnesses; and acknowledge Employees in the military, as well as their loved ones at home (just to name a few!). I can not think of a more deserving group to be awarded the 2007 Heroes of the Heart. Congratulations, Cynthia, Andrea, Judith, Rebecca, Penley, Linda, and Anne. We LUV you!!