Jerome Schaum is a Baltimore/Washington-based First Officer
How can Southwest Airlines turn an airplane in 25 minutes? The answer is Teamwork. Like a NASCAR pit crew, Ramp Agents, Fuelers, Provisioning Agents, Mechanics, and service personnel swarm the airplane as soon as it parks at the gate. In the cabin, Flight Attendants clean each row of seats as soon as Customers vacate them. In the terminal, the Gate Agents are helping more Customers checkin, while the Operations Agents are preparing to begin the boarding process. In the cockpit, the First Officer is busy preparing the aircraft to fly to the next destination. Meanwhile, the Captain is assisting in cleaning the cabin or aiding in the preboarding of Customers with disabilities. Even the boarding Customers are helping by lining up in the boarding groups.
Everyone is working--and--working hard--from the sweat-soaked Ramp Crew to the Captain. This is the Southwest Airlines that we don't advertise: No cute commercials, and no self-deprecating wit. Just hard work...and plenty of it. With over 3,200 daily departures, this collective, cooperative effort unfolds daily in all four corners of this country.
Of course, it doesn't seem like work when you are having fun. There is a satisfaction in knowing you are part of a Team, a combined effort producing a greater result than any individual effort. Yet a Team is only a group of individuals dedicated to a common goal, ably led, competently trained, and reasonably empowered. These are the real reasons why we can turn an airplane in 25 minutes: Leadership, training, and dedication!