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Southwest Airlines Community

What It Takes to be Ontime

shozdulick
Not applicable
Southwest Airlines continually ranks high in ontime performance. In fact, over the last 12 months, Southwest has ranked third among the DOT reporting carriers with only Aloha and Hawaiian reporting a better DOT ontime performance (I think they've got us beat on weather!). So how do we stay ontime with more than 3,400 daily departures? First, it is the basic understanding we have that "Every Flight Counts." It reminds me of the story about the guy walking down the beach throwing starfish back in the ocean. When asked why he was doing that, it won't make a difference, he replies "it will to that one."  Every flight matters, every Customer matters, and providing an ontime arrival is important and we know that. Are there going to be late flights? Of course there will be. Even with this understanding we can't control the events that Mother Nature throws at us. What we can do is understand how important it is to deliver on our promise to provide flights that are safe and ontime. It does truly take combined efforts to build and execute a schedule that delivers ontime flights. Over the last couple of years we have launched several new initiatives designed to improve ontime performance. One of our new initiatives is called Early Departure. If it is confirmed that everyone is onboard, Stations are authorized to push up to five minutes ahead of their scheduled departure time. New technology allows us to know if everyone that is going to be traveling on that flight is onboard. We do not close the door unless we are sure that everyone that has a boarding pass is onboard. Just like getting a little head start on your day helps, getting a little head start for the next departure helps us keep our schedule.
9 Comments
Kevin1
Not applicable
You have always been good about managing delays. I will never forget the time I left my originating city over 45 minutes late, somehow made my connection (which was only 30 minutes), and landed at my destination only 5 minutes late. The best part was, my checked baggage was not only there it was the first ones off the plane. I will never forget how you came through for me that day.
Sam1111
Not applicable
Early Departure is brilliant!
Leah4
Not applicable
One reason why I LUV to fly & want to work for SWA is that you're great about being on time! :) Thought for the day: Why are they called strawberries when they're not made out of straws? SWA LUV! 🙂
scottnearsmf
New Arrival
One thing I always do when I fly Southwest is while I'm walking towards the jetway. I very audibly tell the people in the line closest to the jetway, that YOU, the customer, have the power for this flight to leave early. That flight, which took place in Jan of 2007, had reached the runway for takeoff at the scheduled time. Great job for those that flew on the Martin Luther King morning of '07 flight from Sacramento to Chicago Midway and every one responsible for the flight pushing out 5 minutes early and reaching the runway at scheduled departures. This also includes the unsung heroes the people responsible for sorting and getting our bags to the plane early as well.
vanlakecentral
New Arrival
I have switched to Southwest because of its reliability. I like to look at airline schedules, and I note Southwest does not try to send its entire fleet at airport within in five minutes of each other like most hub airlines do. Interesting if a SWA flight is scheduled to leave when another airline sends out its entire fleet, 15 minutes or more is added to schedule flight time to accommodate that surge.
Anonymous1739
Not applicable
I LUV Early Departure when it occurs. I also appreciate that Southwest crews and ground-staff are always committed to getting the flights loaded and off in a timely manner. The flight crews consistently and politely remind loading passengers that the sooner they choose a seat, store baggage and clear the aisle, the sooner we will get to our destination. As a twice-a-week passenger, I just want to get on my way! Thank you!
Dee
Not applicable
I must be flying a different airline from the other bloggers. In the past 5 weeks EVERY flight I've taken between PHL and PIT has either been cancelled or delayed greater than 45 mins - 3 cases greater than 4 hours and the balance greater than 1 hour. EARLY?? not here in my experience. If there was another choice of airline for the price I would take it. I guess that's the trade off... poor logistical planning for a cheap price. It would not be as bad as it is if SWA would at least give their passangers correct arrival/departure information. I called and spoke to a rep on Friday and was told a flight took off from PIT on time at 3:50 ....it was actually delayed and did not take off until 5:50. Since I was speaking with a human being I would assume they would know the difference between "take off" and "push back ". I've logged well over a million miles on UA , Singapore Air, AA, and Lufthansa. All I really want is correct information so I can plan what I need to do whether for business or personal reasons. I realize that PHL is a poorly run airport but I didn't pick it as a hub. SWA did. Worst of all there is no recourse. Oh by the way I go to PIT for work so I fly SWA every week ( you guessed it ..I started the job in PIT 5 weeks ago. Maybe they fly right in Texas but they need to get it right in the Northeast. I have never written a blog before and hate to be negative at any time- I don't know how to run an airline- it is not my line of business- I'm just a customer- business leaders should listen to their customers.... I do.
Merri
Not applicable
Ok, I knew it had to happen some time, for the first time in almost 4 yrs of flying SWA I had a flight cancelled, PHL to CMH, on 21st, then couldn't get the next flight because there wer no seats. Thank you for Text messaging, I was only about 10 mins from home and didn't get to the airport to find it cancelled. After a few calls I did find out that there were seats on the later flight, all seats had been pulled for us that booked that flight that was cancelled. But I could only get a seat at the airport. I did go down and mannaged to secure a seat, but it was a learning lesson for all of us,(3 reservation agents, supervisor and me) as to how to get one of those seats, with out going thru security, checking bags and not cancelling the flight I had rebooked for the am, just in case this flight didn't go. It was really bad weather in midwest and east. I did get thru with my new boarding pass, then found out the the flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. But SWA pulled all the strings to get us off the ground 3 1/2 hrs later and in to Columbus as the last flight in. Thank you for all the efforts and believe it ,a really smooth flight, that got in ahead of its arrival time. I think the pilot broke the speed limit if there is one for air ways, so we could get there. I had a lovely visit with relitives, after my nsg seminar was cancelled. And a Great flight home on Sun. Thank all the people involved it getting this flight to completion. I LUV SWA and always fly it if they go there.
Mike4
Not applicable
Dee: Sorry about your troubles in PHL and PIT. As a pilot here, and a former pilot for US Airways based in PHL, I can tell you that the amount of traffic in and out of PHL is awful. PHL is directly under the same airspace as La Guardia, JFK and Newark. All these are very large traffic airports all controlled by the same Air Traffic Control Center (New York Center). Because of the amount of flights that try to arrive and land at 4 airports, the airspace becomes congested and the air traffic control folks issue delays in order to space out traffic. Even on the ground in PHL is a nightmare. My personal record for my career in PHL while with US Airways was numner 76 for departure. It tooks over 4 hours to get to the end of the runway. Again, I'm sorry for the delays and we certainly do try to take short cuts, get in early so we can push early and other things, but the airspace overhead is certainly not very accomodating to such requests when asked. I wish I had a solution for you, but we are at their mercy as well as the other airlines. Hope to see you again soon. Mike