Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

"On The Fly": Excess Baggage


Legendary Customer Service is not routine.  It’s jarring, unanticipated, and for the lack of a better term, overly reasonable.  Something legendary is also inherently memorable. 

If On The Fly only showed sunshine and rainbows, I don’t know that I’d watch.  Certainly, I prefer the positive stories to delays and other obstacles, but erasing the negative would be inauthentic, and not what we’re about.  After all, each rainbow is preceded by a storm, and the hottest fires forge the strongest steel.  As you can see from the above picture, things got… well… pretty hot (that’s a lot of bags!) in one of tonight's episodes. 

Each week, we host a live chat on Twitter, and a real-time conversation on Facebook, to talk about On The Fly as it’s happening.  In that Facebook thread, a gentleman by the name of David questioned how “real” the show was.  I answered publicly on Facebook, but thought it worth reiterating.

Q: Does the camera crew just hang around until something interesting happens and then afterwards ask for release forms to put people on the show?

A: They actually did just hang around until something interesting happened.  Five days a week, and typically twelve hours a day.  Releases were signed after the events occurred.  Camera crews were based in Baltimore, Chicago, and Denver.  TLC also had a floating crew that would go around the Southwest system, usually with specific stories in mind that were submitted.  In one of tonight’s episodes, our Social Media Team got to play a pretty big role, because we discovered the story on Facebook.  I won’t give it away here, but because we were already aware of that particular story, we were able to position the crew accordingly.

Q: Do they get stories from Employees and then have them reenacted?

A: None of the stories are reenacted.  However, when the main characters are narrating their stories, they weren’t taken aside during the event.  They reflected on the situation after it was taken care of (so the show wouldn’t get in the way of solving a Customer’s issue).

Q: Did you hang signs in the gate area letting people know there were cameras?

A: Yes, we had signs surrounding an active scene. We followed legal guidelines to determine when someone needed to sign a release.

True to its name, the majority of this show was filmed On The Fly.  So fasten those seat belts, and get ready for tonight’s ride.

And how’s about a little trivia, too?

New Arrival
Brooks: In terms of the "floating crew" that TLC utilized to go around the Southwest System, was the scene on the June 7th where this was in effect in Sacramento? If so, that was the story about Joey who flew with his owner to Denver. Would you like advance notice of my next Southwest Flight at Sacramento so that the "floating crew" can capture a "registered community member" to this blog? Hopefully you answered yes. Meet me at Sacramento Terminal B during the afternoon hours on the Friday after Labor Day where I will be flying, of all places, to Denver. My trip purpose to to take in the Sacramento State Hornets Football Game at Boulder as they take on the Colorado Buffaloes. Thank you for the show, #OnTheFly on the TLC Network. I enjoy it quite well. Sincerely, Mike Barnbaum, Registered Community Blogger & Rapid Rewards Member in Sacramento, California
Not applicable
As much as I can get frustrated when I have an annoyance while aboard a plane, I I may not be quite as harsh going forward. My opinion has changed after seeing the episode where a "woman of size" was notified of Southwest's size policy. This woman explains (in the moment) how she was feeling humiliated, to the point of tears, not only because the of the messaging (clearly a difficult one to receive and to give), but that it was being addressed publicly and not in the fastest of manners. I truly sympathize with both individuals in this situation and would recommend that Southwest reconsider "HOW" they ensure this type of a policy is easily known prior to booking and also have a much more sympathetic approach to how they address the situations when in person. I understand that in this environment/business, everyone is stretched thin and productivity is critical - but I literally was almost brought to tears just "watching" the episode (and clearly I was neither the one delivering or receiving the message...I sincerely feel sorry for both). I think that Southwest should reanalize their current method of delivery and opt for a more compassionate method. Next time, make it private. Definitely a rough part to watch and thus far, is the only instance where I felt truly sorry for what the SW employee was subjected to (by having to enforce the policy...even though understood) and the passenger. Tough one for sure!