“Whatever it takes to assist a Customer is what keeps me going.” —Becky Vasquez, Cargo Customer Service Supervisor
Photo by Melissa Valladares
Becky Vasquez has been a member of the Southwest Airlines Family for 23 years, but her love for airplanes goes back further than that. Growing up, her father was a commuter, and when her family would drop him off at the airport for trips, Becky would tell him she wanted to work for an airline so he wouldn’t have to pay for tickets. These days, she’s based in Los Angeles and uses her generous spirit to provide superior Customer Service and create open dialogues with the People she encounters. To Becky, Customers are No. 1, and she will go above and beyond to satisfy someone or resolve a problem. Thank you, Becky, for always wearing a smile and putting our Customers first!
—Katie Coulter, Communications & Outreach
True LUV “We are the Heart airline, and it’s great to promote the LUV Southwest is known for every day, whether I’m at work or at home.”
Kick Back “I love soccer, and by working for Southwest, I’m able to go watch soccer tournaments all around the world.”
Coastal Getaway “I love getting to travel the world, but I especially love Cancun. There’s so much to do—the oceans, beaches, and culture are unforgettable.”
Long Haul “A lot of revenue is generated by the cargo we’re moving. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes factors to keeping cargo Customers happy.”
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“Everyone has the ability to love others more. If we think we are loving enough, we’re failing.” —Chad Vander Kooi, Captain
Photo by Ashlee Duncan When Captain Chad Vander Kooi joined Southwest Airlines in 2005, his love for serving others helped him fit in with the Culture from the start. If you’re lucky enough to be on one of Chad’s flights, you’ll likely notice him shaking hands with Passengers, taking wheelchairs down the ramp, hugging Employees, and helping Flight Attendants clean the plane. Chad also enjoys showing kids the buttons, lights, and switches in the cockpit, especially if they’re unaccompanied minors having a tough time traveling alone. Chad, thank you for everything you do to make both Southwest and the world a happier place.
—Steph Logue, Communication and Outreach
Team Up “Southwest is like an aircraft. Every Employee plays an integral role in making our Company fly.”
Pass the Test “As Pilots, we go to Dallas each year for three days of training and testing. I appreciate it because I know it’s keeping us prepared for any circumstance we may face.”
Pie Five “I grew up in Lynden, Washington. Stop by Dutch Mothers restaurant and ask for my aunts, Jane and Marilyn. Their pies are awesome!”
Family Matters “I had the privilege of flying my wife and three kids. I was humbled and proud to show them a little bit of what I do.”
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Photo by Frank Rogozienski
Between fighting fires in San Diego, managing a nonprofit, and motivating leaders nationwide, Robyn Benincasa is always on the go. She considers the sky her second home and frequently travels to speaking engagements at company rallies. Robyn’s flights also allow her to support Project Athena, her nonprofit, which helps women who have survived medical or traumatic setbacks live an adventurous dream as part of recovery. Using her Rapid Rewards points, Robyn is able to fly survivors across the country, and she relies on Southwest to get them to their ventures safely. We’re proud to have your back, Robyn!
—Claire Daniel, Communication & Outreach
Why Southwest “When you’re a speaker and you run a nonprofit, you depend on travel. You have to be with an airline that has Southwest’s flexibility.”
Labors of Love “Find the ‘vein of gold’ within you. It’s important to know what you love and what you’re great at, and then keep searching.”
Let’s Talk “I speak to companies about building successful teams. I want to help them reach their finish lines.”
Dream Big “My husband and I want to build an animal rescue on land we have in Sedona, Arizona.”
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“Work your hardest, and you’ll be rewarded for the job you do.” —Jorge Alejandro Torres, Provisioning Agent
Photo by Taylor Castle Each day, Provisioning Agent Jorge Alejandro Torres strives to make his community better. Whether he’s working in the warehouse at Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) or volunteering at the local Ronald McDonald House, Jorge takes pride in his work and focuses on giving back. In fact, he has made it his mission to lead the recycling charge at the MDW warehouse, and many fellow Employees have joined in by separating recyclables on the job. After serving Southwest for almost 21 years, Jorge is the quintessential role model. Thank you, Jorge, for exemplifying Southwest’s Warrior Spirit and having a Servant’s Heart.
—Melanie Tobiasz, Communication & Outreach
Southwest Style “Just be yourself and let loose. I’ve been here 21 years. I’ve grown as a person, traveled, made friends, and gotten to know different cultures.”
Island Time “My wife and I travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico, a few times a year. If you travel to Puerto Rico, you’ll fall in love, too!”
Slice of Life “Try the pizza in Chicago, especially Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria. In downtown, we have a great skyline, so make sure to check that out.”
Painting Passion “I love to paint, and I paint a lot of different things. I’m obsessed with Frida Kahlo.”
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Photo by Melissa Valladares
“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. If I can make it happen, anyone can.”
—Melissa Wylie, Line Producer
TV producer Melissa Wylie solves problems while balancing the creative vision and the bottom line. Because of her changing schedule and the amount of gear she and her crews travel with, Melissa depends on Southwest’s Customer-friendly policies to get the job done. She recently received her third Emmy nomination for her work as a producer on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, and is a producer for both the fourth season of FXX’s You’re the Worst and National Geographic’s The Long Road Home. Thanks for your loyalty, Melissa. We’re thrilled to accept your award for favorite airline! —Caroline Garza, Culture Services
All Set “For The Long Road Home, a miniseries that looks at what it’s really like to go to war, I built Baghdad in Killeen, Texas. The set was roughly 12 acres, and I’m very proud of it. It also fulfilled my dream of producing a project in my home state!”
Believe It “My father said, ‘You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.’ So I never had a plan B. It never crossed my mind that it wasn’t going to happen.”
Insider Info “Try the oysters at Drago’s in New Orleans, and visit the Gristmill in Gruene, Texas—one day I hope to shoot there.”
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At Southwest Airlines, we strive to connect People to what’s important in their lives. While we love meeting Customers who are flying to fun destinations like a wedding or a beach vacation, we also understand the importance of showing empathy to Customers who may be traveling for a much more somber reason.
Read on to see how Southwest Employees comfort and assist our Customers during their hard times.
Life or Death
“On July 15, I sat in Nashville watching the dark clouds roll in—each time the thunder shook the terminal, my heart sank. The night before this, I found out that my cousin and best friend, Angie, was dying, so I took the first flight to Idaho to visit her. She told me to hurry, and that word rang in my ears as my flight was delayed due to the weather.
After the delay, I boarded the plane and asked a Flight Attendant, Rebecca, if I would later make my connecting flight—she told me that it was unlikely. Tears burned my eyes and spilled over. She listened and empathized when I told her why I needed to catch that flight. I kept thinking about Angie telling me to hurry.
Rebecca later came back to me with options. She said that United Airlines had a flight that I could take to Angie once the plane landed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with the extra $300 to pay for the flight, but I thanked her anyway. She walked away, and I texted my husband, “I need a miracle.” Rebecca reappeared later and asked for my PayPal information—she wanted to buy my flight to Angie. I cried and told her no, but the kind woman beside me placed her hand on mine and said, “Say thank you, and do it.”
I bought the ticket only for Rebecca to return with news that the Captain and Southwest decided to hold my original flight in Denver—I could make my connecting flight again! Rebecca hugged me as I sped off the plane, and an agent rushed me to the next flight and wished me luck.
Southwest, because of your amazing crew and God’s grace, I made it to Angie’s bedside to hold her hand until she passed. So many tender mercies occurred while I was Idaho, and I want to thank your crew for being one of them—I will always remember this.” –Aramsey23
Horrible News is Met with Kindness
“Recently, I was on a flight from Austin to Seattle to visit my daughter. After a four-hour flight, I was thrilled to land and see her. Once we arrived, I turned on my phone and sent her a text to let her know I landed safely. As I glanced at my phone, I saw numerous missed calls and texts. One text from my husband’s coworker said that my husband was in the emergency room. I panicked and didn’t check any other messages—I just wanted to quickly get off the plane. As I approached the terminal, I met my daughter who was in tears. She told me that her father had a stroke and was not doing well.
We rushed to a Southwest counter and through my tears, I told them our situation. Miraculously, they booked us a flight back to Austin in less than six minutes. When I boarded the plane back home, I asked the Flight Attendants if they had any food and explained my situation. They offered me chips and crackers, but I didn’t want any, so I went into the restroom to pull myself together before the plane took off. When I came out, a Flight Attendant handed me her packaged salad—her kindness really touched me. She also checked on me throughout the flight to see if I was doing okay. I later tried to give the Flight Attendant money to repay her for the salad, but she wouldn’t accept it.
That day, Southwest Employees showed me so much Compassion. My husband is doing well and quickly recovering. I’m so glad your airline made it possible to quickly arrive home to be with him.” –LisaJeff57
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