We're codesharing with who...or is it whom...I always forget, but who cares? I should be writing this in Spanish...do you write in Spanish? Wow, I'm struggling today with what few writing skills I have, probably because I'm so excited about the announcement of our second International codeshare partner - Volaris. It's Volaris...yes Volaris! You know, if you fuse the Spanish word volar (to fly) with the word Polaris (North Star) you get Volaris? Well, that's how they came up with their name, and I think it's a pretty cool name. What's even cooler is that Volaris is an exceptional low-cost airline flying in Mexico. They are focused on high levels of Customer Service and provide a great inflight experience. Volaris plans to begin flying in to the US sometime in 2009 and will become Southwest Airlines' Mexico codeshare partner in early 2010. If you haven't heard of Volaris, here's a little information that should give you a feel for them and why we think they will be a great partner! Like our new codeshare partner WestJet, Volaris presently serves some pretty cool destinations...or should I say hot destinations! Places like Cancun, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco are certainly great places to vacation. Mexico City (via Toluca), Monterrey, and Guadalajara are great business travel destinations and will complement our efforts to attract more business travelers. Also, like WestJet, Volaris has a fun corporate culture. On one of our visits to their Headquarters, their VP of Sales was having his head shaved in front of the Volaris Employees—it was payback for the Employees who had met a revenue goal that he challenged them to meet. Their Employees are very energetic and love their airline. Their Customers join in the fun as well. They recently had an inflight concert! My favorite Customer experience was influenced by the free tequila and cerveza they served! They also give away Krispy Kreme donuts! It's a regular Fiesta!!! Oh yes, and every Volaris plane is named after one of their valued Customers. I can't wait to see Ricardo! Unlike WestJet, Volaris is an unknown brand in the US. Although they are relatively small and certainly new (they began flying in 2006), Volaris has proven themselves itself as a successful and viable airline and are developing a new generation of flyers in Mexico. Coupled with the Southwest brand, network, and Customer base, the opportunities are huge. Okay, enough of my rambling, whadoyouthink?
... View more
It's official, WestJet will be our first international partner and we will be offering travel to some pretty cool destinations all the way to Canada! Okay, I know, it doesn't feel that international because it is Canada and traveling to Canada is quite simple. But they do speak different languages, eh..and those accents...and the beer...the temperature...the metric system...work with me here...this is the start of some really cool stuff. It's like a dream come true. I woke up this morning and there was actually an official announcement of Southwest's first international codeshare partnership. The anticipation of something international has been talked about around here forever. Having come back to Southwest almost a year ago, I have been a part of a team that has been busy analyzing codeshare opportunities to determine how and when we would actually be able to offer our Customers the ability to travel beyond the United States. You can't imagine the complexity that goes into identifying, negotiating, developing, and finally being in position to implement an international codeshare partnership. Okay, now that I've set this up to be the most difficult task that any team in the history of Southwest Airlines has ever tackled, the reality is that the choice of WestJet was so logical you could classify our task as a "no-brainer." You don't have to have taken Codeshare 101 to have made the decision to partner with a airline like WestJet but hey, we want our partnerships to meet and exceed all Customer expectations. Naturally, we took the time to make sure WestJet was the great airline we had heard it was. We found that there were so many similarities to Southwest, they had to be a great airline! So stay tuned, we will begin the relationship by selling existing WestJet flights on southwest.com. We will then evolve to provide a seamless travel experience for Southwest Customers connecting to and from Canada. It'll take several months for this to happen because, as I mentioned, it really is a complicated process but it will be well worth the wait for US and Canadian Customers. We look forward to hearing from the Westjetters (Westjet Employees) and their Guests (their Customers) along with Southwest Employees and our Customers about this wonderful opportunity. I think my first trip will be to Banff Springs.
... View more
Wow, I have never really given much thought to some of the emotions I'm feeling todayÃ¢â‚¬¦they're throwing a party for me in a few minutesÃ¢â‚¬¦a retirement party. I know, if you looked at my bio I may appear to be old enough to "retire"Ã¢â‚¬¦but actually, I'm 48 years young, still young enough to chase a passion but in this strange industry of airlines I'm actually old enough to retire with 20+ yearsÃ¢â‚¬¦confusing huh?
This is a Company that no Employee should ever consider leaving because it truly is a Company of People and those People become friends, those friends create a fun and supportive environment, those friends are there day in and day out working with you for a common causeÃ¢â‚¬¦and that's the first year on the job. I'm just a few months short of 22 years here so, you can only imagine what I feel I'm leaving behind at the end of this week. Today they will carve out three hours of what would otherwise be productive time (we're all about productivity) to have fun, tell old stories (some that have become urban legend), and share goodbyes. Then everyone will go back to work, and work hard as they have just been reminded why this is the best place to work in the world. For me it will turn a sad week into a happy week Ã¢â‚¬¦So why am I leaving? Confusing huh?
Oh, they're calling me to attendÃ¢â‚¬¦I guess I shouldÃ¢â‚¬¦I'll be back in a few minutesÃ¢â‚¬¦
Damn, that was brutalÃ¢â‚¬¦brutal in the sense that it makes leaving all of this even harderÃ¢â‚¬¦I think it's a conspiracy, a torturous way to keep you from leaving. They have all this food for you, balloons everywhere, and gifts galoreÃ¢â‚¬¦even a new sports coat to wear in lieu of the polo and shorts I wear today. And the PeopleÃ¢â‚¬¦my friendsÃ¢â‚¬¦the smiles, tears, comments, and storiesÃ¢â‚¬¦man this is killing me. Anyone that ever questioned the Southwest Culture and Spirit never understood it to begin withÃ¢â‚¬¦Why am I leaving? Confusing huh?
I LUV this place and always will but there are two things I LUV as much or even more – my children (who I LUV more than anything in this world) and my alma mater. I'm starting a new chapter in my life at SMU as the Associate Athletic Director of Marketing and Public Relations. It's a great university with a proud history and I can't wait to get there. So, in a nutshell, I'm leaving for another passion, another challenge, another life experience. Not as confusing huh?
Although I'm leaving, a big piece of my heart will always be with Southwest and I'll always remain connected as a Customer (Southwest serves a lot of Conference USA cities)Ã¢â‚¬¦In fact, I think I'll be a high maintenance Customer just for the fun of itÃ¢â‚¬¦I'll miss everyone I've worked with at Southwest Airlines, it has truly been my home away from home. Good Bye.
Note from the blog editors: Richard has made innummerable contributions to our Company over the past 22 years. His wisdom, humor, and passion will be greatly missed by many at Southwest. Yes, we are feeling sorry for ourselves today, but anyone who knows Richard knows that he is a SMU Mustang through and through and we wish him the best of luck in this new chapter of his life. We'll be cheering for you Richard!
... View more
Why is it I always tend to write my posts while flying around the country? It probably has something to do with trying to find a quiet moment in the officeÃ¢â‚¬¦things seem to be so crazy all the timeÃ¢â‚¬¦that might make for an interesting post sometime but not right now...
I've actually found a quiet moment and all I can do is think about my seatÃ¢â‚¬¦not my butt but my seat on my most recent Southwest flight Ã¢â‚¬¦did I just write butt but...man how I digress when I write these thingsÃ¢â‚¬¦anyway, back to my seat. I'm 6'2" and weigh 185ish and the design of our new leather seats is very comfortable for me. In fact, I fly other carriers from time to time and there is no question in my mind our seat is more comfortable and gives me more personal space than any other coach seating I have experienced. Because of the contour of the seat, I feel I get more personal space to work on a laptop and read important business documentsÃ¢â‚¬¦okay, I'll admit itÃ¢â‚¬¦read the newspaper or a good book, watch a DVD on the laptop, have a few cocktails, and catch a few ZsÃ¢â‚¬¦remember, if my boss asks, it's working on the laptop and scouring important documents.
Am I biased? I don't knowÃ¢â‚¬¦I should beÃ¢â‚¬¦that's why I'm putting this post out in the blogoshpere. We'd love to know what your seat thinks of our seat.
... View more
If you're like me, the three letter city codes our industry uses for airports are confusing. I'm in the air flying from RSW , in a few months we'll open IAD, getting from SMF to SDF is difficult. Is Birmingham BHM or BMH? How in the world do you come up with MCI for the airport in Kansas City (better yet, how is Kansas City in Missouri?) Come on, those of us who live by intuition can never get where we're going by ourselves. MAF , MCO, BDL, and SNA ? I think it is all a bunch of CRP if you ask me. Thank goodness it is DAL or I would never get home.
Oh, by the way, Southwest used to have its own two-letter city codes. Think the three letter ones are confusing? I can't remember the codes off the top of my head but I bet there's a few of you out there that do.
(For those of you who have no idea of what Richard is talking about, go here.)
... View more
Just thinking about a recent Southwest experience that probably wouldn't happen at many other companiesÃ¢â‚¬¦I got an email inviting me to a wine tasting on the second floor of our building. Free wineÃ¢â‚¬¦ sure I'll be thereÃ¢â‚¬¦ but why me? Ah-haÃ¢â‚¬¦to make sure our onboard wine selection holds true to the Southwest brand. Who will be there besides meÃ¢â‚¬¦in case I need a ride homeÃ¢â‚¬¦a few officers (not cops), a few directors, managers, specialists, coordinators and of course, a lawyerÃ¢â‚¬¦the makings of a Southwest Airlines partyÃ¢â‚¬¦I can definitely attend.
Ever thought about what goes into the wine selection for Southwest Airlines flights? If you're a true connoisseur of fine wine, your answer probably is Ã¢â‚¬¦not muchÃ¢â‚¬¦ I'm a novice at best when it comes to wine but I know I can distinguish an Opus One from a Boone's Farm and I'm proud and sad to say I've had them bothÃ¢â‚¬¦Keep in mind the wine must come in a miniature bottle and have a screw off topÃ¢â‚¬¦oh noÃ¢â‚¬¦not another Strawberry Hill experienceÃ¢â‚¬¦ it's been 32 years since my last Ã¢â‚¬¦I'm 48Ã¢â‚¬¦ you do the math.
Much to my surprise, there were 32 varieties of wines to tasteÃ¢â‚¬¦.Chardonnay, Merlot (is the T silent?), Cabernet Whatever (not really, I just can't spell savenjeon), and (yuk) White ZinÃ¢â‚¬¦ which I refused to consume. So take out the 3 White Zins and that leaves you 29 bottles of wine on the wallÃ¢â‚¬¦they pour about 2 - 3 ounces per tasteÃ¢â‚¬¦87 ounces of wineÃ¢â‚¬¦two-thirds of a gallonÃ¢â‚¬¦ and then I'm supposed to meet a friend for a drink laterÃ¢â‚¬¦I'll need that ride and I'm sleeping in on Saturday morning.
As the afternoon went onÃ¢â‚¬¦did I mention this started at 4 (p.m.)Ã¢â‚¬¦everyone got pretty funnyÃ¢â‚¬¦even the lawyerÃ¢â‚¬¦better be carefulÃ¢â‚¬¦When we finished and were of sound body and mind, we discussed our final rankings. To be consistent with our brand, we needed a wine of good quality and, of course, one that is inexpensive (if you want expensive, use the money you save flying Southwest and indulge).
One label finished first or second in the red and white categories and to our delight, the Vendange (pronounced "Von-donj") Cabernet Whatever and Chardonnay met our price requirements. So don't worry, our wine selection won't lead us to raise your air faresÃ¢â‚¬¦if only choosing jet fuel was as easyÃ¢â‚¬¦hmm, some of the stuff tasted like jet fuel Ã¢â‚¬¦oh yes, we have stopped serving White Zin. Now, when is that vodka tasting?
... View more
Jazz Fest is wrapping up this weekend and I have seen positive reports about its role in the city's healing.
I'll always remember a conversation I had with restaurateur Ti Martin ( Cafe Adelaide and Commander's Palace) back in November. Her commitment to bringing back New Orleans was incredible. Her disappointment in some of the businesses that left the city was impactful. Fortunately, there are many like Ti in New Orleans, and assuming they all embrace the same passion, the area will certainly recover.
My conversation with Ti inspired me to do something I thought of doing shortly after Katrina -- have our annual marketing meeting in the city and be one of the first major companies to begin the comeback with their Meetings and Convention business... During the meeting, we took time to pick thousands of pounds of citrus for the Second Harvest Food Bank as a way to give back to a community that has supported us for years... and of course, we had a little fun while we were there... Some of us are still a little hung over from the trip, and I can assure you there were a few bars and restaurants that were happy we feel the way we do. I just love the food and drink down there.
Southwest's rebuilding plan in New Orleans continues as well. We have added more flights and in June, we will begin serving more destinations - Las Vegas, Phoenix, Baltimore/Washington DC, Ft. Lauderdale, and Chicago.
Here's to a successful Jazz Fest and to the reconstruction of one of America's great cities.
... View more
Is there a more appropriate place to blog than at 35,000 feet? Something about having my head in the clouds has inspired me. I'm on my third connection and third different plane from Dallas Love Field to Pittsburgh (damn Wright Amendment!).
As I changed from plane to plane I couldn't help but think about a recent USA Today article that defined Southwest Airlines as " the giant discounter popular with leisure travelers." For 21 years I've heard us categorized as a leisure airline and that dumbfounds me (although most things dumbfound me). We fly 29 times a day between Dallas and Houston...22 times between Oakland and Los Angeles...and we have five or more daily flights between more than a hundred city pairs. Grandma certainly doesn't need that kind of frequency to visit the grandchildren and surfer dudes usually don't want to travel and return the same day. But for some reason we continue to be classified as a leisure carrier. I think it's a conspiracy... propaganda put out by our competitors or simply assumptions made by reporters because our fares are so inexpensive that families can actually afford to fly.
I've even heard it said that you don't see business travelers on Southwest. Huh? What exactly does a business traveler look like? Business suits and a briefcase? Hardly. If you stand in a gate area and start observing closely, you begin to figure out who is traveling on business by what they carry rather than how they dress. A Blackberry tends to be a dead giveaway, a laptop might indicate a business traveler if they are working on a spreadsheet as opposed to playing computer games (although business people do play computer games). Today I'm traveling on business in a Polo shirt and blue jeansÃ¢â‚¬¦with my Blackberry strapped to my belt.
My point is that Southwest Airlines has never been given the credit it deserves for carrying millions of business travelers each year. With the industry's best business web site (in my humble opinion anyway), SWABIZ, it's time to get a little recognition.
... View more