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.