At Southwest, we have a passion for people- a passion that comes from the heart and motivates us to not only make a positive difference, but change lives. Each year at our annual Volunteers of LUV event, we celebrate Employee volunteers who embody the Southwest Airlines Servant’s Heart.
Southwest is committed to being a good neighbor in the cities we serve, but we couldn’t do it without the help of our Employees. In 2014, Southwest and AirTran Employees volunteered nearly 145,000 hours which is equivalent to $3.3 million in time to nonprofit organizations!
This year, we honored 22 Employees as Volunteers of LUV for going above and beyond in giving back to their communities. Congratulations to our 2015 Volunteers of LUV winners, and thank you to all our Employees who share their Servant’s Heart with our Communities every day!
The 2015 Volunteers of LUV:
Tricia Angelo, from the Finance Department, was able to get almost all 80 individuals from her Department to volunteer at Vogel Alcove, an organization that assists homeless and poverty-stricken children.
Julie Baughman, an Oakland-based Pilot, has recorded more than 500 volunteer hours with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum providing foster care for animals, rehabilitating injured and orphaned animals, and educating others about nature.
Geoff Berry, a Las Vegas-based Pilot, volunteers with The Village Foundation in conjunction with the Clark County School District, focusing on increasing the achievement of academically and financially challenged students.
Brent Brown, from Denver Ground Ops, has been a staple at a number of volunteer events including those with Volunteers of America, Ronald McDonald House of Aurora, and Thanksgiving Share Basket Project, consistently showing up to help out with a kind and caring attitude.
Joel Davis, from Pittsburgh Ground Ops, has logged more than 300 hours volunteering with Horses with Hope, an organization that gives children with special needs a safe place to interact with and ride horses.
Dennis DeFrank, from Denver Ground Ops, volunteers with Honor Flight Columbus, an organization that provides free trips to Washington, D.C. enabling WWII and senior veterans to visit the memorials dedicated to their services and sacrifices.
Gina Duvall, a Las Vegas-based Flight Attendant, was nominated for her investments at Bandelier and Osuna Elementary Schools in Albuquerque where she collaborates with teachers to implement exciting learning curriculum for young students by utilizing Southwest Airlines principles such as “Start Strong” and “Early Bird.”
Berni Elder, a Dallas-based Flight Attendant, was nominated by LifeGift Organ Donation, where she helps with everything in its Donor Family Service from counseling donor families to completing administrative and media-related tasks for the organization.
Mindy Goetz, from Pittsburgh Ground Ops, led her Team of Pittsburgh volunteers in assisting with the development of the Millvale Community Library for the Companywide Volunteer Project last fall, providing a catalytic boost to complete the project.
Katie Golden, from San Francisco Ground Ops, has led with her Servant's Heart volunteering with multiple organizations including the Navy SEAL Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and Ronald McDonald House Charities, in addition to serving lunch to the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul in Oakland each week.
James Goodman, from SWA University, has volunteered his time with various organizations including the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Make-A-Wish, and the Special Olympics, helping organize monthly dinners for his Team, shopping for toy drives and even recruiting the Easter Bunny and Santa for seasonal visits!
Rodney Gore, from Midway Ground Ops, was nominated by the Kappa Leadership Institute of Chicago where he works tirelessly to build a superior college-readiness program that focuses on minority male high school students with promising academic potential.
Evelyn Gravett, from Los Angeles Ground Ops, was nominated by the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House where she has volunteered for more than 16 years, preparing and serving meals to the families, and helping organize fundraisers for the House.
Karla Haibel, with Flint Ground Ops, played an instrumental part in organizing a team of Southwest volunteers to assist in the grand opening of Oak Street Senior Apartments with Communities First, Inc. for the Companywide Volunteer Project this past fall, benefitting more than 300 local community members.
Danielle Karstens, from Communications & Outreach, inspires her fellow co-workers by volunteering her time weekly with Maple Lawn Elementary School through the Communities in Schools Program where she tutors students in reading and writing.
Byron Marroquin, from Phoenix Groups Ops, travels from Phoenix to the Houston Ronald McDonald House where he helps prepare meals, participates in arts and crafts activities, and serves families with a warm smile.
Tom McClain, from Phoenix Tech Ops, volunteers countless hours at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church, including recently replacing the gym floor and doing many other necessary maintenance projects around the campus.
Leanne Mieszala, a Flight Attendant from Las Vegas, was nominated by the Trauma Intervention Program of Southern Nevada where she provides emotional and practical support to citizens experiencing a tragedy such as an unexpected death, fire, or robbery.
Judy Reese, from the Albuquerque Customer Support & Services Center, volunteers her time with the American Cancer Society as a member of the Relay For Life planning committee, putting in countless hours to help with logistics and she even shaved her head in support of the cause!
Kim Rex, a Phoenix-based Flight Attendant, has spent a great deal of time volunteering with Global Legacy Programs, through which she leads mission trips to Peru, Cambodia, and Tanzania delivering much-needed aid including medical supplies, school supplies, and necessary agricultural materials.
Ruthann Tucholka, a Baltimore-based Flight Attendant, has dedicated much of her time to helping the YWCA of the Tonawandas eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all specifically by volunteering in the YWCA’s Clothes Closet, which provides gently used clothing for those in need.
Carolyn Williams, from the Atlanta Customer Support & Services Center, has inspired others through her volunteer efforts with Open Hand Atlanta, an organization dedicated to comprehensive nutrition care.
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When Thomas Bakewell started Bakewell Consulting in 1990, Southwest immediately became his carrier of choice. Much like the airline, he has since expanded his company with service in cities across the nation.
Today, Thomas’ business is thriving. He travels at least twice a week to visit clients from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and he recently authored his first book, Claiming Your Place at the Boardroom Table: The Essential Handbook for Excellence in Governance and Effective Directorship.
Thomas is often needed when it’s not business as usual, which means he frequently takes last-minute trips. “The greatest thing about Southwest is that it’s easy: Great flights, great schedules, great prices, and no change fees,” he says. The airline’s flexibility works well for his ever-changing schedule, but he has an even greater appreciation for Southwest’s Employees. From the Customer Service Agents and Operations Agents to the Flight Attendants and Pilots, Thomas sees Southwest as one well-choreographed Team striving to make his travel easier and to ensure he arrives ontime. He says the positivity of the Southwest experience helps him arrive in the right frame of mind, which is crucial since he often heads directly to a boardroom or executive suite after stepping off the plane.
As a Rapid Rewards A-List Preferred Member and a Companion Pass holder, Thomas takes full advantage of his perks by bringing his wife and kids along for trips whenever possible. The family was onboard for one of Southwest’s first flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and another memorable experience came during a trip to New York in July 2011, when Thomas and his son scored tickets to a Yankees game. In order to attend, they had to stay an extra day. Because they were able to switch their Southwest flight without a change fee, they got to witness from the front row as Derek Jeter scored a home run with his 3,000th hit.
Thank you, Thomas, for your steadfast loyalty. We’re honored you’ve trusted Southwest through the years to get you where you need to be, when you need to be there—with a little fun along the way, of course!
Photo courtesy of Wesley Law
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At Southwest Airlines, we believe in giving back year-round, but on Tuesday, Dec. 2, we’re celebrating our Servants’ Hearts with others around the world by participating in #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a worldwide movement where charities, families, businesses, communities, and students unite under one common purpose: to give back.
Southwest is proud to take part in this day by donating $2,500 to ten organizations, for a total contribution of $25,000. While these organizations represent only a sampling of our overall giving, we’re excited to contribute to the organizations listed below to help them achieve their mission. Read on to learn about how each of these organizations benefits from Southwest’s donations.
"Southwest’s support makes all the difference to our organization, which is committed to advocating for Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities. Through this partnership, we are able to send underrepresented artists to residency programs across the country, bring nationally-acclaimed judges to Chicago for our jury panels, and build our organizational capacity by helping our staff participate in conferences and other professional development opportunities out-of-state." - Esther Grisham Grimm, Executive Director, 3Arts
All Hands Volunteers
"Our partnership with Southwest allows our organization immediate access to the airways so our assessment teams can be on the ground as quickly as possible after a natural disaster. We are grateful for our friends at Southwest, and we simply could not do the work we do without such steadfast support." -Sara Hannafin, Director of Engagement, All Hands Volunteers
"As an Annual Emergency Response Partner, Southwest Airlines helps ensure we can act quickly to save lives and restore health whenever disaster strikes. The company’s valuable support allows us to conduct needs assessments and rapidly deploy emergency response teams to disaster zones." - Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO, AmeriCares
"We are so grateful to Southwest Airlines for providing our dream recipients with an invaluable gift that affords them the opportunity to reunite with family and share a final memory with children and other loved ones at the end of their lives. Our program focuses on those who lack the resources to manifest their dreams themselves, and a plane ride is often the vehicle that allows them to break from a schedule built around managing medical bills and illness. The work we do would not be possible without the collective generosity of patrons and sponsors like Southwest." - Kisa Heyer, Executive Director, Dream Foundation®
"For the past three years, Southwest has provided roundtrip tickets to top students and key volunteers so they can experience the excitement of major events like our annual FIRST Championship. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is grateful for the continued, generous support Southwest provides to our organization." -Donald E. Bossi, President, FIRST®
Miracle Flights for Kids®
"Every day, we hear from parents who only dare to dream of getting their desperately-ill child to a medical specialist thousands of miles away. Together, Southwest Airlines and Miracle Flights for Kids® turn their dreams into reality. Struggling financially under the weight of mounting medical bills, the families we help find new hope and children have the best opportunity for longer, healthier lives." – Ann McGee, founder and National President, Miracle Flights for Kids®
"Team Rubicon couldn't do what we do without Southwest's help. Among the many places Southwest’s ticket donations has allowed veteran volunteers like myself to go is Oklahoma, where we were able to honor the dozens killed in the tornadoes and the thousands of our fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who died in the service to the nation." - Peter Meijer, United States Marine Corps Veteran
The Mission Continues
"The continued support of Southwest Airlines to The Mission Continues has allowed hundreds of veterans like me to come together as a team, build camaraderie, and cultivate a strong passion for solving the toughest issues in our communities. It wouldn't be possible without Southwest." – Lee Freeman, Minneapolis 1st Service Platoon Leader, 2013 Fellow and Air Force officer
The Student Conservation Association
"With the support of Southwest Airlines, the SCA is able to afford students the opportunity to take care of their planet and grow individually. Together, we are setting an example and supporting Environmental Stewardship, while also planting the see for future generations." -Peter J. Bokolas, Director of Corporate Relations, The Student Conservation Association
The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars
"The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars hosts nearly 2,000 domestic and international students for life-changing experiential education programs in Washington, D.C., each year. Southwest provides these students with free roundtrip travel to the Nation’s Capital to expose them to unique working and learning experiences that launch flourishing careers in business, public service, communications and so much more." -Michael Smith, President, The Washington Center
How are you giving back for #GivingTuesday? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting @SouthwestAir!"
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This is a guest post by Terrance Moultrie and Holly Barksdale, parents of seven-year-old cancer survivors Trevor and Andrew, for whom Southwest Airlines and The Texas Rangers Foundation recently teamed up.
Our families have experienced firsthand the pain in the world, but we’ve also experienced all the good in the world. Both of our sons, Trevor and Andrew, were diagnosed with leukemia at 15 months old. Our families became close when we met in the hospital waiting rooms while the boys received treatment. Now that the boys are both in remission, baseball has been the driving force of their friendship.
A few months ago, an article about our families was featured in the local news. As fate would have it, Susannah Moorland, wife of Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Mooreland, happened to read about our boys’ journeys. Trevor’s little league team is named the Rangers, and Andrew’s team is the Rays, so Susannah and Mitch graciously invited our families to Dallas to see the Rangers vs. Rays game on Aug. 14. Southwest Airlines donated the travel for our families to fly from Birmingham to Dallas.
Words cannot adequately describe our unbelievable and overwhelming experience in Dallas, but the look on our children’s' faces said it all! The Morelands, along with Southwest, the Texas Rangers, and Ride Centric, had a great impact on our sons. To see the boys' excitement build as we were arriving in Dallas, and being greeted Texas-style at the airport was amazing.
As we arrived at the Globe Life Park in Arlington, we were still trying to process it all. The boys met players and took pictures, watched the game from a suite, and rode around the field with Captain, the Texas Rangers mascot, between innings! There were many people involved in making this trip so special, and we’re so grateful. These two little boys fought a terrible disease and won, and the memories from this trip will be with us forever. Trevor and Andrew are special, and we know they will grow up to be the same kind of people who want to make a difference in the world. Thank you to the Rangers, Mitch and Susannah, and Southwest Airlines for a winning weekend we will never forget!
Photos courtesy of The Dallas Morning News.
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This guest post from David Campbell, founder of the nonprofit organization All Hands, originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of our onboard magazine, Spirit.
To me, community in its purest form is people helping people. As the founder of All Hands, I believe there is strength that comes when people believe they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Community is best when we are working together toward a common goal.
All Hands is an organization dedicated to enabling volunteers and providing hands-on assistance to communities around the world in the event of a natural disaster. When such a catastrophic event occurs, our goal is to provide sustainable support to the communities by harnessing the energy and commitment of dedicated volunteers. We can’t predict when a natural disaster will occur, but we can equip and organize our volunteers so they are effective when the time comes.
In June 2013, Southwest Airlines and All Hands partnered to provide relief in Moore, Okla., where EF4 and EF5 tornadoes left nearly 20 miles of damage. More than 150 Southwest Employees joined All Hands to help the community recover, and we were able to mobilize over a dozen All Hands staff members and volunteer leaders to respond to this devastating disaster thanks to travel provided by Southwest.
Since 2010, Southwest has supported All Hands with cash donations and free airline travel. The tickets allow us to have flexibility and respond rapidly when we need to get to the site of unexpected natural disasters.
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This is guest blog post from Stacy Johnson, mother of Ayden, a Kidd’s Kids family who experienced the trip of a lifetime to Disney World in 2012. Southwest is the official airline of Kidd’s Kids, providing travel for chronically ill and/or physically challenged children to an all-expense paid vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida.
As a mother of three, we are always looking for ways to entertain our children. My seven-year old son, Ayden, was born with a congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. After five open heart surgeries, he now lives with half of his heart function, while the other half has been rerouted through his head. Although Aiden battles this condition every day, he is a happy, carefree seven-year old who wants to enjoy a normal life.
In 2 012, Ayden was a recipient of the Kidd’s Kids trip to Disney World, which provides an all-expense paid unforgettable adventure. It was the trip of a lifetime for our entire family! This past week our family received another gift from Kidd’s Kids and Southwest Airlines—tickets to the Ben Folds concert at the AT&T Performance Arts Center Strauss Square, which Southwest sponsors.
Our family absolutely loved listening to Ben Folds, and the orchestra performing with him made the concert experience even more powerful. After the concert, we went to the AT&T Center’s balcony with the Dallas skyline as a beautiful backdrop. It was breathtaking.
At the end of the night, we went to the meet-and-greet where our daughter, Makayla, wasted no time running up to Ben and getting his autograph. Ayden got his picture with Ben, who bent all the way down to be at Ayden's level to snap a few pictures. By the end of the night, both kiddos were running purely on adrenaline, making everyone chase them around the Center. It was a great experience.
Thank you, again, Southwest Airlines and the AT&T Performance Art Center, Ben Folds, and Kidd’s Kids. The Johnson Family loved every minute of the concert!
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The following is a guest post from Customer Relations Employees Gary Reyes and Trent Wilkins.
Over the past year, the Customer Relations and Rapid Rewards Department (CR/RR) has taken the initiative to share LUV with our neighbors—the wonderful students and staff of Maple Lawn Elementary School, which has been educating children at the corner of Cedar Springs and Inwood Drive since 1932.
After organizing a school supply drive last August, and providing meals to Maple Lawn families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, CR/RR was privileged to lend a hand, or more specifically a lot of hands, to Maple Lawn’s “Big Dig” event on February 22. With a landscape design provided by REAL School Gardens, the financial support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, and the strong backs of our CR/RR Employees, the students of Maple Lawn now have a beautiful, functional, and highly educational garden on the grounds of their school, providing them the opportunity to grow fresh herbs and fruit for their dining hall.
Our Team was able to participate in a number of activities to transform the courtyard into a live, learning garden, some of which included building an arbor, painting gutters, laying irrigation pipes, and sodding grass. Our team felt a special sense of pride every time we saw Southwest metal flying overhead almost every 30 minutes, and we let others know!
Research has proven that transforming low-income elementary schools’ existing resources and their outdoor spaces can produce long-lasting results. The REAL School Gardens partner schools, for example, have seen standardized test score pass rates increase between 12 and 15 percent after renovations take place.
It was an honor and privilege to share our Servants’ Hearts to immediately impact our local community. Plus, the CR/RR Community Outreach Team had a combined working effort of 90 hours toward the Tickets for Time program, so Maple Lawn Elementary School will be receiving two roundtrip green passes courtesy of all of CR/RR’s volunteer hours!
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As we say goodbye to 2013 and ring in the New Year, most of us will resolve to make some kind of change for the better in our lifestyles, habits, and relationships. This year, how about resolving to not only better yourself, but also positively impact the environment?
I find that I’m more likely to keep my resolutions when the changes are small and easy to incorporate into my routines. Below is a list of five easy ways to Go Green in 2014:
Ditch the bottled water. For good.
Bottles used to package water take more than 1,000 years to bio-degrade, and U.S. landfills are overflowing with approximately two million tons of water bottles alone. Invest in an at-home filtering system and reuse a glass or aluminum water bottle instead.
Brew your own coffee.
We all love a cup of warm coffee in the morning, but the cardboard cups and carrying sleeves are tossed at an alarming rate of 50 billion per year. Instead, try brewing your own morning “cup of Joe” at home and carting it in a reusable traveler’s mug. Bonus: Try a fair-trade brew to support your local farmers or use a French press to save on electricity.
Resolve to use reusable bags.
More than one million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute. Simply bringing your own reusable bag can help cut down this statistic. The most challenging part? Remembering the reusable bag. Store the bags in your car so you always have one on hand.
Cut back on paper waste.
Each year Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups and utensils to circle the equator 300 times! Cut back by keeping track of your documents electronically, using fabric napkins and cloths at home, and recycling whenever possible.
Read up on environmental issues.
No better time than the New Year to educate yourself on your carbon footprint and current environmental issues. The more you know, the more you’ll be motivated to make a change!
How are you going Green in 2014? Let us know by commenting below. DING! You are now free to be Green!
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My grandfather was and still is my hero. He served in the U.S. Navy as an Electrician’s Mate during World War II, and was present at the signing of the peace treaty on the USS Missouri. This past year, I stood at his funeral and listened as Taps was played slowly and boldly. Each note reminded me of the service and sacrifices my grandfather, along with so many like him, has given to our country. As the American flag was delicately presented to our family, I realized that few things are as honorable as serving one’s country.
Throughout November, we asked our Employees and Customers to help us celebrate those who’ve served our country by sharing photos of their military heroes. The photos and stories we received were both heartbreaking and celebratory at the same time. And, while each story is unique, the themes of honor, service, sacrifice, and celebration ring through each photo.
Featured below are just a few of the photos we received during Military Heroes Month. To see the complete collection, please check out our Flickr album.
Just 12 hours before her husband was deployed to Afghanistan, Sarah Romeo found out she was pregnant. After serving at Camp Bastian, Sarah’s husband, Josh, returned home to a wife who was seven months pregnant with their first son, Griffin. Thankfully, Josh was able to attend the birth of his son just three weeks after his return.
Olivia Wynia shared this photo of her brother, Jacob Wynia, and his fiancé, Jessica Preston, upon Jacob’s homecoming from pre-deployment leave last month. On December 10, Jacob will be deployed. The couple plans to marry when Jacob returns from deployment in July.
Lauren Berry and her boyfriend, Tom, were visiting family in New Jersey when they decided to swing by the city during fleet week. Tom serves in the Navy as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician and is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
Laura Avelar bids her husband farewell on the day of his deployment. John Avelar has served in the Marine Corps for six years, and the two have known each other since they were 16.
Thank you to those who’ve shared their stories, and especially to those who so bravely fight for our freedom. You are all our heroes. #LUVFromtheHeart
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This is a guest blog post from Karen Blessen, Founder and Artistic Director of 29 Pieces and Executive Director of the Dallas LOVE Project.
This month, we remember the defining moment when President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago. Unfortunately, this event labeled Dallas as the “City of Hate,” however, if you’ve lived in Dallas for any length of time, you will agree that this title is not at all fitting. Hence, the Dallas LOVE Project was born.
The Dallas LOVE Project is a grass roots effort to create a redefining moment for our city. Continuing through November 22, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and until November 30, Dallas is being transformed into one giant art venue. This is a unique art gallery—10,000 pieces of art inspired by quotes about unconditional love from great peacemakers, poets, musicians, and artists, as well as inspired quotes from President Kennedy.
Ten thousand pieces of art are displayed in venues big and small, all over the city, and even at Love Field Airport. The LOVE Project at Love Field feels like an arrival at Love Island! At the Love Field counter, you’ll see 140 pieces of art, all expressing messages of love. Some call the LOVE Project the biggest city-wide art project ever, with 10,000 pieces of art tagging 63 locations across the city with words and images of love.
Dallas LOVE Project is produced by the organization 29 Pieces. Between 20 and 30 thousand artists participated, including students from public, private, and charter schools; women in Dallas County Jail; professional artists; corporate folks; teenagers in juvenile detention; church groups; art camps; women working to leave the world of prostitution; people struggling with mental disorders and addiction; residents of nursing homes; children in Boys and Girls Clubs; children and families at Ronald McDonald House, and many more.
You can see more of the LOVE Project at the Sixth Floor Museum, Galleria Dallas, Dallas Public Library, South Side on Lamar, and many other locations shown on our web site at www.dallasloveproject.is.
Many locations will be open on November 23 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for family-friendly open houses. Take Instagram photos of yourself, friends, and family in front of your favorite pieces of art and send them to #dallasloveproject and #dloveproject. Go to the exhibits, be part of our online Instagram Quilt. And, most importantly, show the world that Love thrives in Dallas, Texas.
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Following the tumultuous weather events of 2012, including Hurricane Sandy, Oklahoma tornadoes, and most recently, flooding in Colorado and the western region, being prepared in the wake of a disaster is more relevant than ever. While we can never predict such events, Southwest Airlines maintains relationships with disaster response organizations year-round to ensure we prepared to help in a time of need. Our three primary disaster relief organizations that we rely on to keep us informed are the American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, and All Hands.
The American Red Cross is a distinguished corporate member of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) which enables them to respond immediately to the needs of individuals and families impacted by disaster anywhere in the United States. We remain in constant communication with the American Red Cross to provide support as needed.
In addition to the Red Cross, we also partner with Team Rubicon, an organization that unites the skills and experience of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Southwest donated travel for Team Rubicon to provide relief after the Oklahoma tornados, and we are also donating tickets for Colorado relief efforts.
Lastly, Southwest has partnered with All Hands in several volunteer deployments in the past. The organization exists to provide immediate and sustainable help to communities in need in the wake of natural disasters. All Hands was instrumental in providing relief following the Oklahoma tornadoes, and they are already preparing to deploy once conditions are safe in Colorado. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can sign up any time at hands.org/volunteer.
This month, Southwest has honored National Preparedness Month by informing Employees on how to be prepared at home, at work, and while on the go. How do you stay prepared? Let us know by commenting below.
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First, I’m so very sorry to hear of your diagnosis and that you must travel away from home to receive your treatment. After reading your comment, I can certainly understand it’s been a very stressful time both emotionally and financially.
Please allow me to explain how our partnership with MD Anderson works. Through the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, we donate tickets to the hospitals and then the hospitals determine which patients they are able to support based on need. While we would LUV to directly work with the patients ourselves we are unable to for two reasons: 1) HIPPA laws prevent us from asking questions to determine someone's need and creates liability issues for the Company; and 2) Southwest's charitable budget is designated to only support nonprofit organizations, which is why we must work with the hospitals.
To that end, with your permission I’m happy to send your contact information to our contact at MD Anderson. Please know that while we support the hospital, we cannot guarantee their assistance. As mentioned above, each hospital is allowed to best determine which patients will receive the tickets donated by Southwest Airlines.
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“We want America to remember us forever,” said Bill Toledo, an original Navajo Code Talker. Mr. Toledo expressed concern that our country might one day forget the sacrifices of those who fought in World War II. After meeting eight of the original Navajo Code Talkers last week, I am certain their stories of service and honor will be remembered forever.
The Navajo Code Talkers were an elite group of communicators who developed a secret, tactical code based on their native language. In the beginning of World War II, Japanese intelligence deciphered our communication, including important commands and top-secret information, due to their knowledge of the English language. Consequently, the well-being of our troops and our strategies for success were at risk. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, the Navajo Code Talkers were formed, creating a code that remains unbreakable still today and instigating a pivotal turning point towards America’s success in World War II.
This past Friday, Southwest had the honor of welcoming onboard some of the original Code Talkers as they traveled from Albuquerque to New York City on their way to the Veteran’s Day Parade. As part of Military Heroes Month, we took a moment to honor these heroes for their service and share the Code Talkers’ stories with our Customers. Mr. Toledo even taught passengers to say “Good Morning” in Navajo.
My grandfather served in World War II, and I grew up with his stories of sacrifice and freedom. Like Mr. Toledo, I too have wondered if we will forget the sacrifices of our “greatest generation” as their numbers become fewer.
After the Code Talkers preboarded their flight, I watched as nearly each Customer stopped to shake their hands, and thank them for their service. As I witnessed men and women of all ages expressing their gratitude to these heroes, I realized that we will always hold a reverence and respect for those who fought for our freedom- a reverence, Mr. Toledo, that will not be forgotten.
Patriotism runs deep at Southwest Airlines, and we are proud of all those who serve, especially the nearly 5,800 Active Duty, Reservists, and Veterans who are part of the Southwest Family. In celebration of Military Heroes Month in November, you’ll hear about and read blogs about service, how we honor the military, the sacrifice these heroes make, and how we celebrate the brave who fight for our Freedoms. Who’s your hero? How do you appreciate the military? Share your story by commenting below.
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The cakes are in, and we couldn’t have asked for a better 41 st birthday celebration! From vintage Flight Attendants to “Bags Fly Free,” entrants in the Pinterest “Baked with LUV” Contest showed their Southwest Spirit by decorating unique 41stbirthday cakes for the LUV airline. To enter, bakers were asked to create an original cake that exhibited their Southwest Spirit in honor of Southwest’s birthday. The entries were then “pinned” to Southwest’s Pinterest page. After much mouth-watering competition, we are pleased to congratulate our winner, Julia Jones from New York. Using the Southwest logo, Julia created a perfect representation of the heart of Southwest Airlines. Julia recently finished her first year of school at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Currently, Julia is on an externship, working at the Ritz Carlton in Hawaii. When she heard about the “Baked with LUV” Contest, she knew it would be the perfect opportunity to get a head start on the baking classes she will be taking next fall at school. Originally from Washington, Southwest is always Julia’s airline of choice when she flies home to visit her family. Check out these photos from Julia’s Pinterest page below (or click here) that detail the SWA-Spirited creation. Congratulations, Julia, and best of luck in culinary school! Measuring and crafting the fuselage Crafting the "LUV 41" tail Almost done with the masterpiece We LUV'd your cakes! There could only be one winner, but here are a few other entries:
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Southwest Airlines is turning 41, and we’re looking for the perfect birthday cake to help us celebrate! Show us some LUV from your kitchen and create your favorite, original cake recipe. No Betty Crocker accepted here! The recipe must be an original creation.
From June 11 to June 18, entrants must create a board titled "Baked With LUV" on their personal Pinterest profile page, including the hashtag #HappyBdaySWA within the description. Once the cake is baked and decorated, pin a picture of your SWA-Spirited treat to your board with a short description on why your cake should win. Participants must then email the link to their Pinterest entry to the contest email (email@example.com) along with their full name and phone number in the body of the email.
On June 18, Southwest’s 41 st birthday, the best birthday cake creator will win two free tickets to anywhere Southwest flies. See below for official contest details. Creativity and Southwest Spirit encouraged, and may the best baker win!
To check out Southwest Airlines’ Pinterest page, click here.
“Baked with LUV” Pinterest Contest
Help us celebrate the past 41 years with and cheers to many more with our “Baked with LUV” Pinterest contest. Show us some LUV from your kitchen and pin your favorite birthday cake recipe to win! No Purchase Necessary.
1. Contest Period : Contest runs June 11, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. CT – June 18, 2012 11:00 a.m. CT (“Contest Period”). By participating, entrants agree to these official rules and accept decisions of the Sponsor as final.
2. Eligibility: Contest open to all legal US residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia, 18 years and older as of June 11, 2012 Entrants must have a Pinterest profile as of June 11, 2012. Employees of Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, their advertising and promotions agencies, and their immediate families (spouse and parents, children and siblings and their spouses), and individuals living in the same households of such employees are ineligible. Contest subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited or restricted by law.
The promotion is offered in the United States only and shall only be construed and evaluated according to United States law. Do not proceed in this promotion if you are not located in the United States. Entrants acknowledge and agree that the Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Pinterest, and Entrants fully release Pinterest from any cause of action or claim they may have related to entering the Contest, winning a prize, and/or using a prize.
3. To Enter: To enter without purchase or obligation, your pin (with photo of the you and your entry included) must be uploaded within a contest board titled “Baked with LUV” hosted on your own individual Pinterest account page. The participant must then email the link to their Pinterest board entry to (firstname.lastname@example.org) during the Contest Period. For entry, send an email, and copy and paste the link of the entrant’s “Baked with LUV” Pinterest board into the body of the email along with his/her full name and phone number.
Pin Entry: Participants may enter by submitting an original Southwest Airlines decorated cake celebrating Southwest’s 41 st Birthday. To enter:
- Entrants will bake and decorate a cake that represents the Southwest Fun-LUVing Spirit and take a creative picture of themselves and the cake
- Entrants must then “pin” a photo of themselves and the cake entry on a contest board on the entrant’s own Pinterest profile page using the hashtag #HappyBdaySWA; and include the recipe and a description of why their cake should win
- Participants must then email the link to their Pinterest entry to the contest email (email@example.com ) along with their full name and phone number in the body of the email.
There is no limit on the number of entries per person; however, each entry must be a unique entry. Duplicate or substantially similar entries, as determined in the sole discretion of Sponsor, will be disqualified. Eligible contest entries could be posted on http://pinterest.com/southwestair/, www.twitter.com/southwestair, and www.facebook.com/southwest and will be available for viewing by all site registrants.
All entries submitted will not be acknowledged or returned. By entering, entrant grants Sponsor an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free, freely transferable license to use the contents of the pin and recipe for all purposes, in any and all media, whether now known or hereafter devised. Photos and recipes must not be plagiarized and may not violate any third party rights nor use any third-party intellectual property such as logos or background signs. Entrants acknowledge and agree that their entry does not violate any rights of privacy or publicity and that they have the written permission of those referenced or appearing in their pin. Entries must not disparage; contain material that is inappropriate, indecent, or vulgar; or promote bigotry, racism, hatred or discrimination based on race, gender, religion, and/or sexual orientation. Use of any device to automate entry is prohibited. Proof of submission of an entry shall not be deemed proof of receipt by Southwest. Southwest Airlines computer is the official time keeping device for the Contest.
Noncompliance with any entry procedure will result in disqualification. Sponsor and Pinterest are not responsible for any computer, online, telephone, or technical malfunctions or delays that may occur, or for telecommunications, network, electronic, technical, or computer failures of any kind, including any damage to a user's computer equipment, or for the incorrect or inaccurate capture of any entry information, or for failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by Sponsor for any reason. Incomplete, garbled, or unintelligible entries will be disqualified.
4. Judging: On or about June 18, 2012 (Southwest’s birthday), a panel of judges from Southwest will pick one (1) grand prize winner. Entrants need not be present to win. Prize is guaranteed to be awarded. Your chances of winning depend on how well your entry reflects the judging criteria, as compared to the other entries in the contest.
The judges will be judging on the following qualities:
Creativity and Originality: 25% Representation of Southwest Spirit: 30% Visual Appeal: 20% Capturing Culture of Southwest Airlines: 20% Photo Presentation: 20%
5. Prizes: One (1) Grand Prize to consist of
2 Roundtrip tickets to anywhere Southwest flies Guest blogger spot on the Nuts About Southwest Blog
Value of Grand Prize is approximately $800 and is subject to change based on the destination and the travel dates selected by Winner. No substitutions, cash equivalents, or transfers of the prize are permitted. Travel subject to Southwest’s terms and certain blackout dates and restrictions may apply. All travel must be completed by June 18, 2013.
6. To Claim Prize: Potential winner only will be notified by Southwest Airlines, and will be required to complete and sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability Release and, where legal, a Publicity Release, which must be returned within three (3) days after prize notification or prize will be forfeited and awarded to an alternate winner. If prize notification letter is returned undeliverable, the prize will be awarded to an alternate winner. Winner's guest, or if minor, their parent(s)/legal guardian(s), must execute a Liability Release, and where legal, Publicity Release prior to the issuance of travel documents. Unclaimed or undeliverable prize will be forfeited and awarded to an alternate winner. Prize is not transferable or redeemable for cash. Prize is guaranteed to be awarded. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission (except where prohibited) to use winner's name, hometown, and likeness for purposes of advertising, promotion, and publicity in any media without additional compensation.
7. Limitation of Liability: By participating, you agree that the Sponsor, Pinterest, their parent, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents, will have no liability whatsoever for any liability for any injury, loss, or damages of any kind to persons, including death, and property, due in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of a prize or participation in this contest.
Neither Sponsor, Pinterest nor their affiliated entities, are responsible for printing or typographical errors in any related materials; stolen, fraudulent, entries or mail; or transactions that are processed or lost due to computer or electronic malfunction. Winner is solely responsible for payment of all federal, state, and local taxes on prize and for any travel or other expenses not specifically mentioned in prize description. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or modify Contest if fraud or technical failure compromises the integrity of the Contest as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. This Contest offer is being made exclusively by Sponsor.
8. Winner's List: To request a Winner's List, send a self addressed stamped return envelope, after June 18, 2012, to Southwest Airlines Social Marketing Team. All requests must be received by June 25, 2012. Utah and Washington residents may omit return postage.
9. Sponsor: Southwest Airlines Co., P.O. Box 36611, Dallas, TX. 75235-1611
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As soon as I stepped into Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa on Friday night, April 13, I knew I wasn’t at an ordinary concert. The theatre was filled with experts in the music, food, and wine industries, making the perfect audience for the event. The venue was small and intimate, complimenting the acoustic sounds of some of the most popular artists today. The event was Live in the Vineyard, the perfect pairing of three of my most favorite things: music, wine, and food. The Uptown Theater in Napa Valley For five years, Napa Valley has hosted one of the best kept secrets in the entertainment industry, Live in the Vineyard. Twice a year, the three day-event consists of a series of exclusive acoustic concerts, private winery tours and tastings, and food and lodging provided by Napa’s best. Southwest Airlines has been an official sponsor at Live in the Vineyard for the past three events, and this time around, Employees from across the system were invited to try their luck at winning tickets to the event. Welcome to Napa! Local Employees Distrubuting SWA Water to Attendees This year’s event featured artists Jason Mraz, Matt Kearny, Graffiti6, Jon McLaughlin, Mayer Hawthorne, Green River Ordinance, and many more. As soon as I read the lineup, I knew I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to attend. When the Employee contest was announced, I immediately wrote a quirky essay on the reasons why I wanted to attend Live in the Vineyard 9 (quoting song titles from the artists who would be performing), and within a few weeks, I was contacted that I had won two tickets to this year’s music events. Susan Justice started off the weekend on Friday night, followed by an energetic performance by Mayer Hawthorne that brought the audience to their feet. American-Idol winner Kris Allen performed next, featuring his new song “Vision of Love,” which he also played on one of Southwest’s Live at 35 inflight concerts. Mat Kearney premiered his new video for “Ships in the Night” before he took the stage. And last, Jason Mraz closed the night, with singles from his new album “Love is a Four Letter Word.” American Idol Winner (And Live at 35 Artist) Kris Allen Mayer Hawthorne Gives SWA a Shout-Out! And this was only the beginning. What better place to host an event that pairs wine, food, and music than the beautiful Napa Valley? During my free time before each night’s concert, I spent Friday exploring San Francisco, and hiking through the redwood forest, Muir Woods, and Saturday was spent indulging in the best wines and foods of the valley, including visits to Sterling Vineyard and V Sattui Winery. No matter how attendees spent the sunny afternoon, we all met back at the Uptown Theatre Saturday night for another night of incredible performances. Saturday night featured Meiko, Jon McLaughlin, Graffiti6, Green River Ordinance, and finally Daniel Powter. I can’t imagine a better way to experience Napa, California, and I’m thankful to work for a Company that supports and sponsors such a fun event. And it’s not over yet! Southwest continues its Live in the Vineyard sponsorship through 2012; be on the lookout for more surprise concerts from other Live in the Vineyard artists in the fall!
Photos courtesy of SMF CSS Rodney Ramos
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Each month, hundreds and hundreds of letters come through the Customer Relations Department. But it’s not every day that one of these letters offers the opportunity to change a life.
Customer Relations and Rapid Rewards Writing Representative, Laura Anstine, had only been working for Southwest Airlines a few months when she received one such letter. The letter came from the Raulerson family, and it shared the story of their 12-year-old daughter, Tacey, who suffers from a rare, incurable cancer called Retinoblastoma, which has left her blind. Tacey’s mother wasn’t asking for any special handout, but instead, she simply wanted to share her daughter’s story.
After years of fighting to save her vision, the doctors and the Raulersons knew that in order to save her life, Tacey’s eye would need to be removed. Only weeks after her surgery, Tacey rode her first horse, and immediately, a new passion was fueled. Riding horses was Tacey’s escape, and she became particularly involved with rodeos.
Tammy’s mother wrote Southwest expressing her daughter’s greatest wish: to travel to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. In her letter, Tammy wrote, “Cancer may have taken her sight, but it did not take her courage.” Despite the family’s best efforts to save money and sacrifice all extra expenses, medical emergencies drew their funds empty, and they found themselves in a desperate place attempting to make their daughter’s wish come true.
Laura finished reading the letter teary-eyed, and immediately knew she had to do something. She first went to her supervisor, Brice Taylor, and pleaded with him to help.
“Please tell me we can do something,” Anstine remembers asking.
Brice advised Laura to visit with Customer Relations Senior Representative, Kim Seale, who had helped Customers in similar situations before. Laura remembers Seale’s words:
“This is a test of your Southwest Spirit,” Seale told Anstine. “This is why we hired you. Now, what do you want to do?”
Anstine replied, “I’m getting them to Las Vegas.”
But, getting the Raulerson family to Las Vegas was only just the beginning. With Kim as her guide, Laura spent the next few days working with her Supervisors and Station Employees to make the Raulerson’s trip an unforgettable experience.
With the support of her Leaders, Laura was able to cover all airfare costs for the Raulerson family’s trip to Las Vegas. They had simply asked for a discount on airfare, but Laura was determined to go above and beyond.
After explaining Tacey’s story to the stations, the Ground Operations Employees took it from there. As soon as the Raulerson family entered the Austin airport, the family was treated like royalty. Austin Employees, including Rex Snell, Customer Service Manager, met the family at the entrance to the airport with candy and a stuffed horse for Tacey. They also escorted the family to their gate and completed the send off with a water salute.
Completely unbeknownst to Laura, the Flight Attendants introduced Tacey on her flight to Vegas. The flight was full with other cowboys also traveling to the National Finals Rodeo, and a couple of Customers were particularly touched by Tacey’s story. So much so, that the Customers started a donations envelope to give to Tacey’s family. By the time the envelope reached the front of the plane, the Customers onboard had raised over $500 for the Raulerson family. Tacey later used some of the money to purchase a coveted Charlie 1 Horse she had been asking for to match her rodeo outfits.
Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Tacey and her family continued to be showered with surprises. With the help of Eric Woodson, Marketing Planning and Performance Manager, the Raulersons continued to receive special attention, making the trip an unforgettable experience for Tacey. Even after she had returned home, Tacey continued to receive presents from her Southwest Airlines and rodeo friends, including trophy spurs and logo golf balls (which her father was especially excited about!), and a signed poster from the National Finals Rodeo.
Tammy Raulerson, Tacey’s mother, reflected on their experience:
“We all go through our own journeys dealing with situations. While ours has been a very difficult journey, it has also been the most uplifting, incredible experience of my life! Our family doesn’t believe in chance happenings or coincidences. We believe everything happens for a reason. God puts special people in our paths and our lives to help open doors and windows for Tacey. We have met incredible people and had awesome experiences because of the paths we have had to transverse. As much as we dislike (or despise) this disease, it has made Tacey who she is today!”
Laura’s career at Southwest Airlines will never be the same, knowing she has the support of her Team and her Leaders to help someone in need. And the Raulerson’s family will always hold a special place in their hearts for the airline that made their daughter’s dreams come true.
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For six years, Paul Lovine and his girlfriend, Kat, have been flying between Burbank and Oakland to see each other as much as possible despite the distance. In the process, the couple has accumulated literally thousands of miles traveling the popular route, proving their loyalty to Southwest, and their love for one another. So, when Paul, who prefers to go by his middle name, was searching for the perfect way to ask his girlfriend of six years to be his wife, he knew Southwest would have to play a part in the big plan.
As Lovine puts it, “We’ve been doing this crazy commute for so long, I knew it would be appropriate to ‘end’ it where it meant the most for us--on the long-awaited weekend flight to see each other.”
So begins the story of Lovine’s elaborate plan to propose to Kat at 30,000 feet in the air, onboard Flight #2363 from Oakland to Burbank. Kat was traveling the ever-familiar route to see her boyfriend for the weekend. But what she didn’t know was that Lovine was already onboard the flight, waiting to surprise her with the big question. To Lovine, the plan to propose onboard a Southwest plane was the perfect end to the long-distance relationship, and the beginning of a lifetime.
“Southwest has been instrumental in sustaining our relationship,” said Lovine. “In the years we've been together, we've amassed thousands of miles, traveling between Oakland and Burbank. And when they started to allow pets onboard a few years ago, it enabled the three of us (Kat, Lovine, and their dog, Nickel) to safely and conveniently explore the northern and southern golden coasts.”
But, Lovine’s plan would never have worked without the LUV and understanding of Southwest Burbank Employees- and the Phoenix Inflight Crew (our special thanks to J.D., Lisaana, Gloria, Luisa, Valeria, and Steve). Busy preparing for the big question, Lovine missed his originally scheduled flight to Oakland, and the rest of the flights to Oakland were overbooked for the day. Luckily, the Southwest Team stepped in to intervene and help the day run smoothly. Lovine was able to secure a seat on a flight to Oakland, landing in the gate adjacent to where Kat was waiting to board her flight to Burbank. With the help of Southwest Burbank Employees, Lovine stealthily boarded the plane before general boarding, and hid in the back row, out of Kat’s view.
“There were several hoops and hurdles that the Southwest Team helped me cross, as soon as I got into the airport for the greatest ‘gig’ of my life,” Lovine explained. “Apart from helping us be together on weekends, the Southwest Family pulled me through this important day, and I am forever grateful for all the help everyone gave me that day.”
Once the flight reached cruising altitude, Lovine emerged from the back of the aircraft, guitar in play, and coaxed Kat awake. After serenading her with the lyrics to a favorite Beatles song, “Real Love,” Lovine got down on one knee, right in the middle of the aisle next to row five. In perfect timing, Nickel popped up with Kat’s ring resting in a custom-made Southwest pillbox stewardess hat. And after six wonderful years of long distance, Lovine and Kat became engaged at 30,000 feet.
As Lovine put it, “I really do think [Southwest] is the greatest team on the planet, and that’s also part of the reason why I wanted to share this beautiful story. Kat and I fell in love, and you guys are part of it.”
They don’t call us the LUV airline for nothing, and we’re pleased to have played such an integral role in the LUV story of two of our most loyal Customers (and their dog!).
Best wishes for the future, Lovine and Kat, and we hope to welcome both of you and Nickel onboard for many years to come!
Click here to see more pictures from the proposal.
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We hear it all the time: it’s the People who make Southwest Airlines unique. Through Customer Service, Charitable Giving, and the everyday tasks of running an airline, the People of Southwest have an infinite number of opportunities to positively impact another person. But, perhaps one of our most distinguished qualities is not only our passion for serving our Customers, but our dedication to serving one another. Colleen puts it this way, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” And while I have only been at this Company a mere ten months, I’ve witnessed countless instances where our Employees have exemplified the infamous Golden Rule- not because we have to, but because we care about one another. Simply put, we are a Family. And there’s very little that comes between family members.
The first time I realized there was something very different about Southwest Airlines was during my internship during the summer of 2010. Sure, everyone I’d met had been friendly, welcoming, and incredibly encouraging. But, I never imagined a complete stranger would be there for me in a time of need.
Accompanied by a small group of interns, we decided to take our standby adventures West for the weekend. After battling a string of very full flights, we finally ended up in Las Vegas late Friday night. But our adventures in “Sin City” were short-lived. Upon arriving, we double-checked our return flights for Sunday, and much to our dismay, found a standby list with already more than twenty Employees. Knowing better than to risk not getting back by 8 o'clock Monday morning, we woke up (or rather, never slept…) early Saturday morning, and headed back to the airport.
After weighing our travel options, we decided to venture to Oakland, and spend the remainder of our day in San Francisco. Upon landing in OAK, we once again checked our return flights for Sunday. And once again, we came to the harsh realization that we were not going to be able to make it home from San Francisco either. Noticing a couple distraught young Employees struggling with the system, a Customer Service Agent on her break graciously offered to help us figure out the most guaranteed route to get us back to Dallas on Sunday. Confidently, she concluded we needed to get to Los Angeles by the night so we could catch a flight from there to Austin early Sunday morning.
Together, we made the decision to take advantage of the day in San Francisco, and catch the last flight to LAX that night. We hurried to catch the BART, and spent the next few hours enjoying Fisherman’s Wharf, before reluctantly heading to the airport yet again. As we prepared to board our 5th flight over the last 24 hours, we frantically realized we hadn’t booked a hotel reservation for our impromptu visit to Los Angeles. Realizing we had no option but to settle the issue when we landed, we casually started chatting with our Crew in order to pass the time. Before we knew it, we were laughing and joking with our Flight Attendants as though we had been friends for years. We told them all about our Summer of LUV, and about our recent travels. They talked about being with the Company for years, and awed at the opportunities that lay ahead of us.
Upon landing, we helped the Crew clean the cabin. As we departed, they inquired about where we were staying. Grudgingly, we admitted to not have gotten that far in our travel plans. And without hesitation, the Flight Attendants offered up their extra room at the Crew hotel. It turns out that only one of the Flight Attendants needed the pre-reserved rooms at the hotel, and they were willing to turn the extra rooms to a few displaced interns for the evening, free of charge. Eager, we were quick to accept the offer, and we hurriedly followed our new found friend, Houston-based Flight Attendant, Joe D., to the LAX Crew hotel.
We spent the night in a hotel much nicer than our summer paychecks could have ever afforded. Joe told stories of his years with the Company, and we listened intently, wide-eyed at his passion for Southwest Airlines. In the morning, Joe returned to his base city, and we successfully made it on another three flights (for a total of eight over the course of the weekend) in pursuit of Dallas.
While our time together was brief, none of us were quick to forget the Crew’s generous hospitality to a trio of SWA newbies. To Joe and the rest of the Crew on the short flight from Oakland to Los Angeles, it didn’t matter that we were complete strangers, or only interns. What mattered was that we were each an Employee of Southwest Airlines, and that made us family.
Have a story about an Employee who helped you out in a time of need? We’d LUV to post it on our blog. Please contact Whitney Bartels at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
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Headquarters was hopping with excitement this past week as Southwest Airlines Employees jumped at the chance to participate in an annual tradition that has been around nearly 15 years. Each Spring, various Departments from Headquarters rally Employees to donate Easter baskets to give to local charities including Children’s Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House, and Casa Shelter. Employees were charged with collecting eggs, candy, and other Easter toys to fill the baskets. Then, a few days before Easter, Employees offered a helping hand to fill plastic eggs with candy, stuff the baskets with grass, and tie ribbons around them. The tradition grows with each year, and this year, nearly 600 Easter baskets were donated to local charities. Last Tuesday, the participating departments lined the baskets along the walls of the front lobby for all to admire, before being donated. Once the baskets were collected, the Facilities Team, accompanied by a few hardworking Easter Bunnies, loaded the baskets to be transported to the charities.
It seems the Easter spirit was contagious throughout Headquarters. A New Hire Reservations class stopped training in order to pitch in and load all of the baskets. Even an anxious applicant waiting for an interview in the front lobby offered to help. He said that seeing our Employees’ dedication to their community made him even more excited about the prospect of joining the Southwest Family! Thanks to our Employees’ Servants’ Hearts, 600 children in need received Easter baskets this holiday. Donating Easter baskets is yet another example of Southwest Airlines’ ongoing commitment to the communities we serve. Find out more about Southwest’s citizenship efforts here: http://www.southwest.com/citizenship.
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Positively Outrageous Service—it’s who we are, what we do, and what makes us stand apart from our competitors. So much so, that the idea of offering Customers “outrageous” service isn’t an obligation or a task. Rather, this service is a natural reaction, from the heart, and in perfect compliance with The Golden Rule: to treat others as we would like to be treated.
As a Customer Relations Representative, I get to watch our Employees go out of their way for our Customers on a daily basis. For example, one Customer wrote in after having trouble using a Green Pass to visit his friend Danny in ICU after recently suffering a severe snowboarding accident. CR/RR Writing Representative, Paige Gonzalez, decided to not only remedy the struggles with the Green Pass, but she also passed around a card for each Writer to sign and send to Danny, wishing him the best for a speedy recovery.
But, it doesn’t stop here. Each day, Southwest Employees do crazy things for the LUV of our Customers. For instance, in Kansas City, Customer Service Agent Mina Kelly raced to the jetbridge, trying to hold the plane for an Unaccompanied Minor who was running late for her flight to Disneyland. According to Mina, she knew how important the trip was to the child, and in her words, “I was determined that [the child] would have the vacation with her dad.”
Dallas-based Customer Service Agent, Marianne Rojas, didn’t think twice before taking in a burn patient who was homeless after missing a flight. Marianne gave the displaced Passenger a place to call home for six months. And, her Coworker, Customer Service Agent, Bill Waggener, offered his Servant’s Heart to a family who had recently run out of money in the middle of their travels. Bill not only bought the family dinner at Chili’s, he called a nearby hotel, gave them his credit card information, and put the family up for a night on his tab.
David Allen, a Ramp Agent in MCI, understands the importance of ensuring that our Customer’s belongings arrive with them at their destinations. He describes a time when one of his Customers was especially anxious about her belongings making it on the flight. David personally sought out the Customer’s bag to ensure it made the flight, and on to the Customer’s final destination.
Flight Attendant, Kim Tidwell, joyfully lent a helping hand to a new, young mother by holding her sick baby on a flight out of Florida. And Customer Service Agent, Margaret Williams, explains that the Southwest Spirit motivated her to run from the baggage claim all the way to Gate 9 when a deplaning Passenger realized she had left her wallet and work portfolio on the plane. Why? Margaret explains, “It made me feel good to know that I had helped [the Passenger] out. Simply stated, “Customer Service.”
These stories are only a glimpse into the many sacrifices Southwest Employees make on a daily basis. My assumption is that every Southwest Employee has a similar story—a story about a time they went out of their way for someone else, a moment where they made the decision to positively impact someone else’s day. What I admire most about these stories is that our People are never looking for recognition. In fact, more often than not, Employees are humble, but starkly honest in explaining that serving Customers is simply a part of what they do each and every day. According to our Employees, the decision to go beyond the job description stems from LUV—LUV for our Company, LUV for what we do, and LUV for our Customers. So, to our Employees who are never afraid to share this LUV, thank you for what you do, and for putting Positively Outrageous Service into action. What examples of Positively Outrageous Service have you witnessed?
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Thanks for sharing, Casey! What a great reminder of how lucky we are to be part of this family. You'll be missed, Annie, but thank you for everything you've given this Company (and for everything you taught me as an intern!)
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Customer Relations and Rapid Rewards Vice President, Jim Ruppel, said goodbye to his beloved mustache of 38 years recently at our CR/RR Department luncheon. The mustache, which is nearly as old as Southwest Airlines itself, has been around since Jim’s first semester of college- even his wife had never seen that precious skin underneath his nose. But Jim couldn’t hold on to the glory days of the 70s forever. In fulfilling a promise to his Team, Jim shaved the ‘stache, complete with celebratory cartwheels from Senior Vice President of Customer Services, Teresa Laraba, and CR/RR Manager, Jona Berta after the department achieved their goals.
“I guess we’re all about change around here,” said Jim as he caught a glance of his new look after shaving in front of the entire Department.
Change has certainly been the key word in the Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards Department over the last year. Summer marked a particularly challenging season, and the Leaders wanted to do something extra to motivate the Teams. So last August, Jim made a promise in anticipation of the months ahead: if each group within the Department- Telephones, Support, Writers, Customer Advocacy, and Proactive Customer Service could achieve the goals set before them, Jim would kiss his beloved mustache goodbye.
As soon as the results came in, Jim knew his mustache had seen its last discotheque. Each Team not only achieved the goals set out for them, but far surpassed the expectations.
• Telephone Team Challenge: Respond to 90% of calls answered each month. o Result - 92.2%
• Writing Team Challenge: Respond to letters/e-mails within 30-days. o Result – 96.4%
• Customer Advocacy Team Challenge: Respond to DOT/Compliance correspondence within 30-days. o Result – 99.3%
• Proactive Customer Service Team Challenge: Respond to all major events within 24-hours. o Result – 100%
Over the last few months the Department has seen many changes that have contributed to the success in reaching these goals. August marked the beginning of a hiring blitz in Customer Relations, yet the vacant cubes weren’t the only things filling up on the fourth floor. The teams experienced unprecedented volumes of Customer correspondence, and had to pull together to achieve the tasks set before them.
While the new hires and new business decisions helped the Department climb toward their 90th percentile goals, Jim attributes the department success to the Warrior Spirit behind each individual, and most importantly, the Department’s ability to work together. And, of course, a little encouragement from the Senior Leaders gave the Teams an added incentive. Jim’s willingness to shave his mustache was yet another example of the vibrant Culture at Southwes, one that makes Employees proud to serve their Customers.
“Our Customers got what they expected from Southwest Airlines, and you gave them what they deserved,” said Jim in reflecting upon what the Teams had accomplished over the past moths.
Still, the success signifies anything but a time to rest. The introduction of the All-New Rapid Rewards program and further opportunities for growth in the coming year will continue to present unexpected challenges, but Jim remains confident that the teams will continue to WOW the Customers, and leave them wanting to return to Southwest Airlines.
Some things never change; we’ll always have our Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude. But change can be a good thing. While Jim’s ‘stache will stay in the 70s, the Team will enter the new decade, and Southwest’s 40th year of operation, with a renewed sense of Teamwork, dedication, and pride for a Company that never stops serving its Customers.
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When Lindsay Lang in the People Department told us that our summer internship would serve as a three month-long interview, all I could think of was the many ways I could mess up. Having graduated college only a mere week before the internship start date, I didn’t have any other post-graduate plans after the internship. I knew that there were very few job offers that could lure me from Southwest, and so I decided to approach the opportunity just as Lindsay had advised--as an interview. Not long into my Summer of LUV, I realized that I was going to have a very difficult time leaving Southwest and working for another company upon the completion of my internship. It seemed to me that the People in the Communication Department weren’t the only ones who genuinely enjoyed their jobs. Rather, there was something unique about the Culture that was especially enticing to an unemployed, recent graduate. Luckily, about halfway through the summer, we learned of an opening in Customer Relations. It didn’t take much to convince me to apply. And when I received the call offering me the position, I knew that the opportunity was too good to let pass. That being said, I knew the position would challenge me in ways an internship never could. I was anxious about working for a department I knew virtually nothing about. As a Writer in Customer Relations, I knew I would have much more responsibility--from learning everything about Southwest policies and procedures to meeting my monthly productivity goals. Yet, I also knew that the experience I had gained from my internship would prove invaluable. The first month of the job was nothing less of overwhelming. Even after interning for Southwest for three months, I realized how much I still had to learn. Yet, despite the initial challenges, I was comforted in the consistency I found in the Culture and the People that surrounded me. I came to understand why the Employees here were so enthused to come to work; they serve as the most valuable asset in an infamous Culture. And I realized that perhaps the most significant experiences during my internship were those that allowed me a glimpse this Culture. While the internship introduced me to the Culture at Southwest, my job has allowed me to contribute to this Culture. I’m sure there were many ways I could have failed a three month-long interview, but I am grateful that my internship offered me the chance to begin a career with the Company I had grown to LUV. As we prepare to welcome another class of Interns this spring, I can think of many words of advice. First, be open-minded. Learn new concepts, meet new people, and of course, travel new places. Never let fear hold you back from trying new things or taking on tasks you didn’t think you could accomplish. And don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. Jump at every opportunity you have to take part in the Culture here, and meet the People that make this Company so special. And finally, pack light, and for all different climates because you never know where your travels may take you. Interested in applying for the No Limits Internship program? Check it out here.
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My summer of LUV at Southwest Airlines has been memorable, breathtaking, challenging and inspiring all at the same time. As I sit to write my last blog as an intern, I can’t help but reflect on what I wrote my first week here (it feels like only yesterday…), “I know that wherever my adventures may take me this summer, I will always have a family to come home to at Southwest, welcoming me with open arms.” True, I have found family here at Southwest Airlines. During my Internship and on my numerous cross-country flights, I’ve had the opportunity to fly with and work with many amazing Employees. Each one was excited to hear about my Internship with Southwest, and each was encouraging in my future career endeavors. But, more importantly, each treated me with respect and admiration as if I was a close family member. And for that I could not be more thankful. But, I have found so much more than family. I’ve found acceptance, encouragement, and what I hope will be the beginning of a very long, successful career at Southwest Airlines. This summer has challenged me and pushed me outside my comfort level in more ways than one. I have tackled assignments and projects I didn’t think I had the skill set to accomplish. I’ve flown all over the country with people who were strangers six weeks ago and today are some of my closest friends. I’ve been stuck in more than one “nonrev black hole,” but have always made it back to work by Monday morning. And in these experiences, I’ve gained invaluable insight into the business world and have determined the qualities that set Southwest apart from the others. I’ve realized that while Southwest stands for outstanding Customer Service, there is much more behind this brand than airplanes. The people I’ve come to know here have truly shown me the heart of Southwest Airlines. And I’ve come to understand that Southwest is much more than a Company, it is a Cause. And I could not be more enthused to stand as one of many in the fight for the Southwest Cause. I am proud to say that at the completion of my Internship, I will be officially joining the Southwest family full-time in the Customer Relations department. While first day jitters are just as strong as the first day of my Internship, I am excited to call the Company I’ve come to love my official home. But even more, I am excited to begin giving back to a Company that has given me so much.
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When Southwest Airlines first began 39 years ago, The Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” was at the forefront of our Culture and business strategy. And today, although much has changed in how we operate, our LUV for our Customers is as strong as ever. Southwest has been giving back to the communities we serve since the very beginning. It wasn’t long before Southwest was receiving nearly 20,000 donation requests each year. Back then, each request came in the mail (no, not email, the original snail mail). Every request would then be recorded, processed, and filed by hand. Still, despite the tedious process, every request that came to us would be answered, either by a personal telephone call or through the mail. In 2008, Southwest issued a survey to identify five strategic areas of focus--families facing serious illnesses, military and their families, youth leadership and community involvement, disaster preparedness and response, and the environment. Prior to this, 98 percent of Southwest’s donation requests were answered with the gift of two tickets. While these donations were important, Southwest decided to make a larger impact in the identified areas that our Customers and Employees told us mattered to them. As a result, Southwest began focusing a larger part of our attention (and budget) on these focus areas in order to make a greater impact on the national level. Still, Southwest did not neglect the smaller, local organizations. Southwest has always treasured our local relationships and the establishment of local Community Giving Boards was a logical next step. These Boards were established to empower Southwest Airlines Employees to have a direct and personal impact upon the causes and charitable organizations within the communities they live and work. The Boards create a “hometown” way to evaluate and process these requests. Furthermore, our new online application allows for more efficient management of the requests. Now, instead of handling manually, our system organizes the requests by city and organization type. Then, the Community Relations and Giving team as well as the Local Giving Boards can easily access information on the request status, the budget and the organization’s 501(c)(3) status. And just like that, Southwest can still make a big difference with a much more efficient effort. The evolution of the donation request process is only one example of the many ways Southwest Airlines has evolved over the past 39 years. But still, some things never change. True to The Golden Rule, Southwest still acknowledges and answers every donation request we receive. We still lead with a Servant’s Heart when it comes to giving back to the community. And we’ve been fortunate enough to do so even through the ups and downs of the economy. It’s just a simple way we like to say thanks to all those who’ve made these past 39 years a success, not to mention a fun ride! For more information about how Southwest gives back to the community or to request a donation, visit southwest.com/donations. Southwest also is known for its commitment to the triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet. To read more about how Southwest is doing its part to be a good citizen, visit southwest.com/cares to read the One Report and to learn more about the Share the Spirit program.
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Upon starting my Internship at the famous Southwest Airlines, I had heard many rumors as to what to expect. Stories involving outrageous Employee skits, one-of-a-kind Leadership, and above all, outstanding Employee morale resonated as I walked into Headquarters for my first day. First-day predictions always seem to fail me, and my first day at Southwest was no different. Often Internships involve making copies, sending faxes, and refilling the coffee mugs. But at Southwest, these predictions could not have proved more inadequate. Instead, I found myself immediately engulfed with nothing less than genuine hospitality. Southwest Employees have a reputation for interacting more as family members than as Coworkers. I did not expect, however, to feel immediately welcomed and included as a member of this family. In other words, even though I am over 600 miles away from my own family, I feel right at home at Southwest Airlines. While specific assignments and projects are still to be determined, I know with confidence that I am welcomed here. The genuine, spirited people I’ve met so far are not only welcoming, but inspiring. From giving back to their communities, to contributing to Southwest’s bottom line, I know I have much to learn from my accomplished Coworkers. I’m excited to begin making my own impact here, but even more, I am excited to join the efforts of a group of hardworking people from whom I feel nothing but LUV. And I know that wherever my adventures may take me this summer, I will always have a family to come home to at Southwest, welcoming me with open arms. So, without further delay, I’m grabbing my bags. It’s on!
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