Dear Valued Customer,
As any traveler who has experienced an unnecessary flight delay can attest, our nation’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, while safe, is not as efficient as it should be. We need your help in urging Congress to modernize our skies, and deliver the transformational ATC reform that our Customers deserve.
The United States is fortunate to have the safest ATC system in the world, led by a dedicated and experienced Air Traffic Controller workforce. Despite its phenomenal Safety record, however, the U.S. ATC system is not very Customer or environmentally friendly. That's because the technology on which the system is built – ground-based radar – is outdated and inefficient. And the U.S. government’s funding process and procurement rules prevent any proper long-term planning and investments in order to create a modern, satellite-based system.
The good news is there is hope. Congressional legislation is expected to be revealed this week that would reform how the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system is governed and funded. The legislation aims to create a new not-for-profit entity that would oversee the ATC operation and spearhead its modernization. In essence, this entity would be free from partisan gridlock, government budget shutdowns, and bureaucratic red tape. Importantly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would continue to regulate Safety, as it does today, and Controllers will remain on the job and continue to manage day-to-day flight activities. This is huge!
What can you do to support the modernization of our skies? I am asking you to please take a moment of your time and visit modernskies.org to learn more about ATC reform from our friends at our trade organization, Airlines for America. It is critical for Congress to hear directly from you, your family and friends! Let your voice be heard by sending a letter to your representative.
I am absolutely confident that the voice of our loyal Customers can prevail in this challenge and together we can help modernize our skies!
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There are so many reasons that I am proud to work for Southwest Airlines. As a 29-year Employee, Southwest has become like a second home and an extended Family to me. And, I know many of our Employees feel the same way. Of all the 29 years I’ve been at Southwest, I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more proud than right now, on the heels of one of our most monumental and historic years in the Company’s history. In short, 2014 was Epic!
I mention that here and now as we’ve just released our 2014 Southwest Airlines One Report, which captures all of the major milestones that contributed to our banner year. Last year was a decade in the making, and it’s not overstating it to say we have transformed Southwest Airlines and find ourselves at the dawn of a new era. That transformation culminated with the completion of several strategic initiatives in 2014, including: the completion of the AirTran Airways integration, the repeal of the Wright Amendment, the launch of International service, and much more.
The One Report brings to life our Company's commitment to the triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet. We have an intense focus on all three areas, and you’ll see how they align with our Purpose to connect People to what’s important in their lives.
Above all, if you learn nothing else through this report, I hope your takeaway is that Southwest Airlines is not a Company of Planes—we are a Company of People. Our People have built the world’s largest and most successful low cost airline, and it’s our People who continue to drive our passion for serving others and taking care of the communities where they work and live.
I invite you to take some time to read the One Report, and I know it won’t take long for you to understand why I am so proud to be one of the 47,000 Employees who make up the Southwest Airlines Family.
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For the 21st-consecutive year, Southwest Airlines was named to FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired List.
One of the most important ways we maintain our world-famous Culture at Southwest is by taking the time to celebrate each other. And we’ve had A LOT to celebrate! Today, we celebrate a #7 finish on FORTUNE’s 2015 World’s Most Admired list—the only commercial airline in the top 10.
As I know you’ve heard me say, I truly believe Southwest has the best People in the industry, and to be recognized as a Most Admired Company—21 consecutive times—is a tribute to each and every one of you. You are what sets us apart since the beginning. Thank you, congratulations, and cheers to 21 years as a World’s Most Admired Company!
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Hurrah! That is the collective cheer from all 45,000+ Southwest Airlines Employees, as this month we are finally free from the shackles of the Wright Amendment. The passage of this law in 1979 made our home airport of Dallas Love Field the first and only airport in the United States to be restricted to a small service area—flights out of the airport would be limited to destinations in Texas and its neighboring states (later expanded to include Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas, and Missouri). Ten years ago, we set out to repeal this restriction, leading a successful effort to overturn the Wright Amendment, which will officially expire on October 13, 2014, at 12:01 a.m. But who’s counting?
This is big news for Southwest and anyone who travels to/from Dallas. And, we’re not wasting any time exploring our newfound freedom. Beginning October 13, we will offer new nonstop service to seven cities from Dallas Love Field (Baltimore/Washington; Denver; Las Vegas; Orlando; Chicago Midway; Los Angeles; Reagan National). We’ll quickly add another eight nonstop destinations on November 2—from New York and California, and several points in between. And, that’s just the beginning! F
Fittingly, our brand new Dallas flights will be provided from a new, revitalized airport facility at Love Field with over 20 new concessions and a brand new infrastructure that will rival the nicest airports in the world. As we planned for the sunset of the Wright Amendment, we set out to breathe new life into our hometown airport with the Love Field Modernization Program (LFMP). The artwork in the airport is modern but keeps a splash of the history, for which, Love Field is known. The New Love Field is a showpiece for the city of Dallas, and its convenient, close-to-downtown location provides even more benefits for our Customers.
The Wright Amendment repeal allows us finally to carry people where they want to go from our hometown airport, giving Customers access to our vast network and making Dallas more accessible for the rest of the country. The city now joins eight other major metro areas in the United States that have more than one airport providing longhaul domestic service. This means more flights, more destinations, more choices, and lower fares to/from North Texas.
So, please join us as we bid farewell to the Wright Amendment! I have a new appreciation for the term, “It took an act of Congress.” But, it did; and we did it! And, we’re now free to move about the country from our home, Dallas Love Field. We hope you will join us. What a feeling!
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When Southwest launched its first flight nearly 43 years ago, we set out to offer something very different. There were giant competitors, and to get potential Customers to notice, Southwest had to disrupt their thinking about air travel. A new way to fly was born. It was a revolution in commercial aviation. It also was a revolution in how to build a Company—putting People first. The Employees of Southwest Airlines are the secret ingredient in our recipe for success, one that will never be matched. It is because of our People, who have had a brilliant strategy, made smart tactical moves, and steadily, carefully built upon Southwest’s foundation, one year at a time, that Southwest is the most consistently profitable airline in the history of aviation.
Putting People first also means thinking of our Customers. We never forget that Southwest Airlines exists to serve our Customers. Our Purpose is to connect our Customers to important events in their lives with friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel, and our People deliver on that purpose day after day, year after year, making Southwest the largest domestic carrier in the United States in terms of passengers carried.
Our People-first approach is why Southwest has been named to FORTUNE’s 2014 World’s Most Admired Companies list. For the 20 th consecutive year, Southwest has made this list, this year ranking number 9 on the prestigious list. I am proud that once again, we are the only commercial airline to make the Top 10. We remain profitable, enabling us to create job security for our People, maintain low fares for our Customers, create returns for our Shareholders, and give back to our Communities. We believe in leading by serving others – each other and our Customers.
To compile the list of most admired companies, FORTUNE asked businesspeople to vote for the companies they admired most. It is quite an honor. There is much to admire about Southwest Airlines, and, for me, what I admire most is the Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing attitude of our Southwest Employees—the very best in the world.
I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. This is my 28 th year at Southwest, and I have never had more confidence, more pride, and more enthusiasm for the future. I offer my sincere gratitude and congratulations to the People of Southwest Airlines for making Southwest one of the World’s Most Admired Companies … again!
(Photo by Noel Kleinman/NKPIX)
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As a valued Customer of Southwest Airlines, I am writing to urge you to speak out against the proposed increase in Federal taxes on the airline industry and help keep the cost of air travel affordable. Recently, the White House sent a proposal to Congress that recommends two significant tax increases on the airline industry, a mandatory departure tax and an increased security tax. We need you to lend your voice and tell Congress to OPPOSE increasing taxes on air travel. Take action at www.Southwest-Outreach.com/StopAirTaxNow.
The proposed tax increases will greatly impact the industry and cost the airlines $3.5 billion annually and $36 billion over the next ten years. The increase in taxes is a cost our airline, our passengers, and our industry simply cannot absorb without having devastating effects on our business and the overall U.S. economy.
Higher Taxes =
Higher Fares for passengers
Fewer Flights to communities
Losses for the airlines
Fewer Jobs for Americans
Here are the facts:
The Administration is recommending a mandatory $100 charge for every departure in controlled airspace, which will cost the airline industry $11 billion over the next ten years. Additionally, the new tax recommendations would DOUBLE the passenger security tax to $5.00 per one-way trip, and TRIPLE the tax by 2017 to $7.50. This proposed “SECURITY TAX” will cost the industry $25 billion alone, and $15 billion will go toward the federal deficit reduction rather than investing in security. No other forms of transportation bears the cost of federal security, including trains, ground transit, cruise lines, or maritime. Currently, Federal aviation taxes and fees constitute 20 percent, or $61, of a typical $300 domestic roundtrip ticket—that is higher than taxes paid for alcohol, tobacco, or guns. These items are taxed at high rates to discourage use!
As you can see from the facts and figures above, the ramifications of the proposed tax increases will impact us all, at a time when we can least afford it. New taxes on air travel would greatly impact your wallet and your flexibility in air travel. Airlines will have no choice but to try to offset these higher taxes by increasing fares or reducing service. I am asking you to join me, and your fellow Southwest Airlines passengers, to tell Congress that deficit reduction cannot happen on the backs of those who drive the economy—U.S. airlines and our passengers. Take action now at www.Southwest-Outreach.com/StopAirTaxNow and make your voice heard!
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It brings me great joy and tremendous pride to announce today that Southwest Airlines has closed on the transaction to acquire AirTran Airways. Today is an exciting day for both airlines. Today, we let the ink dry and celebrate. Of course, all good things take time – and change will not be immediate. For now, Southwest and AirTran will continue to operate as two separate carriers as work begins “behind the scenes” to integrate the operations and to eventually provide a uniform Customer Experience. In the meantime, our Employees will do what they do best by delivering world-class Customer Service.
All Customer travel plans and investments in each airline’s respective loyalty program are safe–Customers can continue to earn and redeem in both programs independently. Customers will continue to book Southwest flights through southwest.com and AirTran flights through airtran.com. We will maintain our respective and separate operating and service policies as we work towards a Single Operating Certificate.
Combined, we have the unique opportunity to extend our network into key markets that would be impossible independently – with the prospect to serve more than 100 million Customers annually from more than 100 different airports in the U.S. and near-international destinations. Over time, as we continue to combine the two networks, we will grow and expand our network to provide Customers more low fare options into exciting new places. I’m excited just thinking about the opportunities.
Once integration is complete, we will have one Brand, one Customer Experience, one livery, one operation under a Single Operating Certificate, and one Mission – to give the world the Freedom to Fly while spreading low fares farther.
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Happy New Year, everybody! It’s always exciting to kick off a new year, but that is especially so this time around, as 2011 marks our 40th anniversary of giving Americans the Freedom to Fly. So let me be the first to wish you all a Happy Anniversary, and I hope you all are as excited about what lies ahead for our great Company as I am—we’re going to rock it this year! In typical Southwest Airlines fashion, I can assure you that we are going to celebrate the past, present, and future, as we reflect on our rich history and look ahead to our bright future. Many of you know that I am what you would call a “history buff,” and I look forward to taking many trips down memory lane with you all throughout the year, while at the same time getting us all amped up for our future—our encore for 40 more! This year will be packed with exciting new projects for Southwest. We’ll be announcing our All-New Rapid Rewards program this year. We’re also looking forward to launching service to three new cities this year, with Charleston, Greenville-Spartanburg, and Newark. These new destinations allow us to expand our footprint and introduce our legendary Customer Service to brand new Customers in these markets. While we have many exciting things planned for 2011, our planned acquisition of AirTran Airways tops the charts. As I’ve said before, this acquisition creates significant growth opportunities for both airlines in an environment where growth has been painfully absent. Growth is possible, pure and simple, due to lower costs and lower fares. Of course, growth means more jobs and career opportunities for our combined Employee groups, as a whole. Growth offers Customers more low-fare destinations as we extend our network and diversify into new markets, including significant opportunities to and from Atlanta, the busiest airport in the U.S. and the largest domestic market we do not serve, as well as Washington, D.C. via Ronald Reagan National Airport. The acquisition also allows us to expand our presence in key markets, like New York LaGuardia, Boston Logan, Baltimore/Washington, and Milwaukee. It presents us the opportunity to grow our service to many smaller domestic cities that we don’t serve today, and in many cases, are not well-served by other airlines. And it provides access to key near-international leisure markets in the Caribbean and Mexico. The acquisition allows us to better respond to the economic and competitive challenges of our industry, and fits perfectly within our strategy for our fifth decade of service. Finally, pending approval, this deal has the potential to boost profits and financial returns on capital. This year is going to be both monumental and historic for Southwest Airlines in many respects. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to, and I wish you all a very Happy and prosperous New Year—let’s rock the industry this year! Important Information for Investors and Stockholders: This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. The proposed acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (“AirTran”) by Southwest Airlines Co. (“Southwest”) will be submitted to the stockholders of AirTran for their consideration. In connection therewith, Southwest has filed a registration statement on Form S-4 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) that includes a proxy statement of AirTran that also constitutes a prospectus of Southwest. Southwest and AirTran also plan to file other documents with the SEC regarding the proposed transaction. SOUTHWEST URGES INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF AIRTRAN TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT/PROSPECTUS AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION. Investors and security holders may obtain free copies of the proxy statement/prospectus and other documents containing important information about Southwest and AirTran, as such documents are filed with the SEC, through the website maintained by the SEC at http://www.sec.gov/. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by Southwest are available free of charge on Southwest’s website at http://www.southwest.com/ under the tab “Investor Relations” or by contacting Southwest’s Investor Relations Department at (214) 792-4415. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by AirTran are available free of charge on AirTran’s website at http://www.airtran.com/ under the tab “Investor Relations” or by contacting AirTran’s Investor Relations Department at (407) 318-5188. Southwest, AirTran and certain of their respective directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of AirTran in connection with the proposed transaction. Information about the directors and executive officers of Southwest is set forth in its proxy statement for its 2010 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on April 16, 2010. Information about the directors and executive officers of AirTran is set forth in its proxy statement for its 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, which was filed with the SEC on April 2, 2010. These documents can be obtained free of charge from the sources indicated above. Other information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, is contained in the proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant materials filed with the SEC. Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements This communication contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are based on, and include statements about, Southwest’s estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, and strategies for the future and are not guarantees of future performance. Specific forward-looking statements include statements regarding (i) Southwest’s initiatives; and (ii) Southwest’s plans and expectations with respect to the acquisition of AirTran and the anticipated impact of the acquisition on Southwest’s growth, employee matters, and competitive position. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) the possibility that the AirTran transaction is delayed or does not close, including due to the inability of Southwest and AirTran to obtain all approvals necessary or the failure of other closing conditions; (ii) Southwest’s ability to successfully integrate AirTran’s business and realize the expected synergies from the transaction; (iii) the impact of the economy on demand for air travel and fluctuations in consumer demand generally for Southwest’s services; (iv) the impact of fuel prices and economic conditions on Southwest’s business plans and strategies; (v) actions of competitors, including without limitation pricing, scheduling, and capacity decisions, and consolidation and alliance activities; and (vi) the impact of governmental regulations on Southwest’s operations. Southwest cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. Additional information concerning these and other risks is contained in Southwest’s and AirTran’s most recently filed Annual Reports on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, recent Current Reports on Form 8-K, and other SEC filings. Southwest undertakes no obligation to publicly update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date hereto.
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Southwest Airlines announced today that we have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of AirTran Holdings, Inc., a parent company of AirTran Airways (AirTran), for a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines common stock. Although the agreement depends certain approvals, we’re all very excited about what it can mean for our Employees, our Customers, the Communities we serve, and our Shareholders. If approved, the acquisition will give us broader national presence – allowing us to offer low fares and exceptional service in markets that will benefit from increased competition. But there’s a lot of work to be done and decisions to be made, and nothing changes right now. Until the deal closes, Southwest and AirTran will continue to operate as separate and independent companies. In the meantime, we have developed a special website – www.lowfaresfarther.com – where you’ll find our news release and more information about today’s exciting announcement! Important Information for Investors and Stockholders This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. The proposed acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (“AirTran”) by Southwest Airlines Co. (“Southwest”) will be submitted to the stockholders of AirTran for their consideration. In connection therewith, Southwest will file a registration statement on Form S-4 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) that will include a proxy statement of AirTran that also constitutes a prospectus of Southwest. Southwest and AirTran also plan to file other documents with the SEC regarding the proposed transaction. SOUTHWEST URGES INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF AIRTRAN TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT/PROSPECTUS AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS THAT WILL BE FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION. Investors and security holders may obtain free copies of the proxy statement/prospectus and other documents containing important information about Southwest and AirTran, once such documents are filed with the SEC, through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by Southwest will be available free of charge on Southwest’s website at www.southwest.com under the tab “Investor Relations” or by contacting Southwest’s Investor Relations Department at (214) 792-4415. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by AirTran will be available free of charge on AirTran’s website at www.airtran.com under the tab “Investor Relations” or by contacting AirTran’s Investor Relations Department at (407) 318-5187. Southwest, AirTran and certain of their respective directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of AirTran in connection with the proposed transaction. Information about the directors and executive officers of Southwest is set forth in its proxy statement for its 2010 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on April 16, 2010. Information about the directors and executive officers of AirTran is set forth in its proxy statement for its 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, which was filed with the SEC on April 2, 2010. These documents can be obtained free of charge from the sources indicated above. Other information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in the proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant materials to be filed with the SEC when they become available. Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements This communication contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are based on, and include statements about, Southwest’s estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, and strategies for the future. Specific forward-looking statement include, without limitation, statements regarding Southwest’s plans and expectations with respect to the acquisition of AirTran and the anticipated impact of the acquisition on Southwest’s operations, including without limitation, the expected impact of the acquisition on (i) Southwest’s growth and competitive position; and (ii) its Customer experience. These forward-looking statements are based on Southwest’s current intent, expectations, and projections and are not guarantees of future performance. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) the possibility that the transaction is delayed or does not close, including due to the inability of Southwest and AirTran to obtain all approvals necessary or the failure of other closing conditions; (ii) Southwest’s ability to successfully integrate AirTran’s business and realize the expected synergies from the transaction; (iii) the impact of the economy on demand for air travel and fluctuations in consumer demand generally for the services to be provided as a result of the transaction; (iv) the impact of fuel prices and economic conditions on Southwest’s business plans and strategies; (v) actions of competitors, including without limitation pricing, scheduling, and capacity decisions, and consolidation and alliance activities; and (vi) the impact of governmental regulations on Southwest’s operations. Southwest cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. Additional information concerning these and other risks is contained in Southwest’s and AirTran’s most recently filed Annual Reports on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, recent Current Reports on Form 8-K, and other SEC filings. Southwest undertakes no obligation to publicly update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date herof.
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Like most of you, Father’s Day for me starts with thoughts of my dad, who will be 87 this year. He, along with other powerful father-figures, have had a profound impact on my life. What a pure blessing it is to have a dad like mine. Time goes by and sons become fathers, along with more life lessons. I’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters and have enjoyed years of Father’s Day celebrations. This Father’s Day will be different though. You see, my dad is now a great-grandfather. He thinks it’s funny that I’m a grandfather! I couldn’t be more proud to report that, on May 4, the Kelly family welcomed our first granddaughter into the world. Our oldest daughter, and her husband are wonderful parents! And, of course, one granddaughter just isn’t enough. So, we’re thrilled that our youngest daughterand her husband also are expecting their first child in November. I cannot recall a time, ever, when my family has been happier. I love being a grandfather. It’s all it’s cracked up to be. As I hold little my granddaughter, I can dream of all the possibilities that lay before her. She will have many highs and lows, but the one constant will be that she will always be loved. She will have her granddad right by her side, supporting her and cheering her along. (In the meantime, I haven’t had to change one single diaper!) It was such a joy to have some of my Southwest Family recently meet my granddaughter on her first visit to Southwest Airlines! We have such a special Company. As I have shared the many joys in our Employees' lives over my 24 years at Southwest, it is a treat to share mine with them, too. It just reminds me, again … that is what families do—share with each other. And at Southwest, truly, we are Family. Happy Father’s Day!
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I don’t think you will be surprised to hear me say that we are in the midst of one of the most challenging times in aviation history. In fact, it’s my opinion that this decade has been the most difficult in our industry’s 100-year history, and this year is arguably the most difficult we’ve seen this decade. While Southwest Airlines is prepared for these tough times, we are certainly not immune to the effects of a deep recession in this economic environment. The good news is that the 35,000-plus Employees of Southwest Airlines (the most talented in the world, by the way), are up to the challenge, and we’re facing these turbulent times head-on. Today, we are announcing one new program and a few other changes that are designed to enhance the service we provide our Customers, and at the same time, create opportunities for incremental revenue growth. These new programs and processes are just the starting point with additional initiatives planned for later this year. As many of you know, we are very proud of the fact that at Southwest Airlines, we don’t surprise our Customers with fees--unlike our competitors. We remain committed to maintaining our famous low fare brand. We truly believe in setting the right Customer expectation and not charging for those amenities that a Customer would “expect” to get for free. That being said, it is our fiscal responsibility to our Employees, our Customers, and our Shareholders to maximize our existing and potential revenue opportunities. We are very pleased to welcome pets onboard our aircraft for the very first time as part of a new program called P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Welcome on Southwest). We will begin allowing our Customers to bring along a limited number of small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin for a low pet fare of $75 each way. Our Employees and our Customers have told us for years that this is something that they want from Southwest, and our enhanced boarding allows us to offer this new service without impacting the efficiency of our operation. Customers can begin purchasing tickets for their pets on June 1, 2009, for travel beginning June 17, 2009. Additionally, we will soon implement a $25 service charge each way for Customers who travel on Southwest Airlines as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM -- Customers from the age of five through 11 traveling without an adult), in addition to the fare paid for the child or a Rapid Rewards Award ticket. Internally, this has been a topic of conversation and debate for years at Southwest Airlines. Up to this point, we’ve been fortunate enough to offer this added service without a charge—even though we carry increasing numbers of Unaccompanied Minors each year—but we simply cannot afford to continue down this same path. There is a substantive cost associated with the extra care needed to safely transport unaccompanied children, including Employee time and administrative work, and these costs can not be ignored any longer, not in today’s economic environment. The Unaccompanied Minor service charge will apply to tickets purchased June 1, 2009, and later, for travel beginning June 17, 2009. Unaccompanied Minors currently represent less than one percent of our Customers. Lastly, we are increasing the charge to check a third bag and heavy bags onboard our aircraft. Don’t worry, you can still check two pieces of luggage for free on Southwest Airlines-- that has not changed--but beginning June 17, Southwest will increase the amount currently charged to check overweight bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds and excess luggage from $25 per bag to $50 per bag. All other checked baggage policies and charges remain the same. Our baggage policy is still far and away the most generous in the industry, and this change will impact approximately one percent of our Customers. As an example, a family of four (including two small children over the age of two) may check two sets of golf clubs, two strollers, two car seats, and four pieces of luggage (under 50 pounds each) all for free on Southwest Airlines. In addition to the incremental revenue this change will generate, we also anticipate seeing a reduction in the total number of checked bags we handle, allowing us to transport everyone’s luggage more efficiently. We are proud to introduce the new P.A.W.S. service. We believe this new service, and the changes to our existing policies, will generate incremental revenue for the airline; how much revenue is yet to be determined, but we anticipate a modest annual benefit in the tens of millions of dollars. We will continue to actively pursue additional revenue generating initiatives in both the near-term and long-term, while keeping a keen eye on our low fare brand and costs; all with the best interest of our Employees and our Customers in mind. Again, we are well-prepared and poised to survive these rough economic times and emerge an even better airline. It’s not going to be easy, but I could not have hand-picked a more courageous and capable group of People than the Employees of Southwest Airlines to see us through.
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I can’t believe it. Summer is almost over, and Halloween is just around the corner. This will be my fifth Halloween as Southwest’s CEO, and little did I know what kind of impact my costumes would have. In 2004, I portrayed mega-rock star, Gene Simmons of KISS, [asset| I can’t believe it. Summer is almost over, and Halloween is just around the corner. This will be my fifth Halloween as Southwest’s CEO, and little did I know what kind of impact my costumes would have. In 2004, I portrayed mega-rock star, Gene Simmons of KISS, [asset|aid=165|format=post_large_image|formatter=imagecache|title=halloween kiss.jpg|align=none|height=100|width=100] and the year after that, I rode the range as Wild Bill Hickok. [asset|aid=166|format=post_large_image|formatter=imagecache|title=halloween wild bill.jpg|align=none|height=100|width=100] In 2006, I took on a nautical air as that rascally Captain Jack Sparrow, [asset|aid=164|format=post_large_image|formatter=imagecache|title=halloween gary.jpg|align=none|height=100|width=100] and last year I was the demure Edna Turnblad from Hairspray. [asset|aid=163|format=post_large_image|formatter=imagecache|title=gary halloween_0.jpg|align=none|height=100|width=100] My Halloween Elves are ready to get the 2008 “Gary” set up, and I need suggestions about who (or what) I should portray for Halloween. It would be really nice if your suggestion doesn’t involve shortterm (and especially longterm!) body modifications like shaving my legs, although I will sacrifice for art—within reason. So be creative and leave your suggestion, and it’s okay to color outside the lines—the good folks at Spirit Halloween stores will make your idea come to life.
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Hello, again. It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post, and I thought it was about that time. I want to talk about something that is close to our hearts here at Southwest Airlines- the U.S. troops. Southwest Airlines supports the men and women who fight to defend our Freedom. Whether it’s wearing red shirts on Fridays, donating school supplies to soldiers’ families or sending LUV Rations to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, Southwest Airlines wants the troops to know we care. As you may have seen in the news, the Veterans of Foreign Wars sent a letter to the Air Transport Association to encourage airlines to waive baggage fees for active duty military personnel. Southwest Airlines believes this is the right thing to do. That’s why we’ve been doing it for years. In fact, in January of this year, we converted an historic “exception” into a formal “policy” to assure we waive the fees and charges associated with overweight, oversize, and excess baggage for active duty U.S. Military Personnel or U.S. Reserve/National Guard traveling on military orders. Southwest Airlines wants the troops to know we’ve got their “bags.” No active duty military personnel should have to incur the inconvenience of a baggage fee. They have more important things to focus on. Southwest Airlines Employees want to do right by the Customer, especially the men and women who sacrifice so much for our Freedom. Keep up the good work!
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As many of you know, the question about whether to keep our open seating or to assign seats has been the Southwest question for the past couple of years. Proponents of each process have been very vocal and heartfelt in support of their positions, and my post of last summer generated more than 700 comments (including those on a followup post). To those who weighed in on this issue, thank you, and I assure you that your voices were heard.
After much investigation, which included extensive "real life" testing in San Diego and San Antonio, we are ready to close the book on "the great seating experiment" and announce our decision. (If we had drums, we could have a drum roll at this point, but we don't, so imagine one in your mind.) Southwest has decided to keep open seating, but to adopt a new and improved boarding process. These decisions were based on the input we got from you, our Customers, through this blog, written correspondence, and surveys taken during the tests. While a substantial majority of our Customers prefer the ability to select their own seats onboard the aircraft, many of those folks have told us they don't like our existing boarding procedure that sometimes has Customers doing everything possible to be at the front of their boarding group. Instead, many of you suggested, why not board the aircraft in the numerical order of the boarding pass?
Well, we listened to you! After initial tests in San Diego last fall, we conducted a full-scale evaluation in San Antonio last month, and the responses we received were very favorable. Basically, the new boarding procedure divides the airplane into groups of five Customers, based upon the order in which a Customer checks in. The first Customer gets an A 1 and so on, and they will line up to board in their group of five. (To the extent possible, our gates will be modified with marked columns that reflect these new boarding groups.) Customers will know where their boarding pass aligns in the process as soon as they check in, and this will eliminate the need to "camp out" and hold a spot in the boarding lines. For a full description of the new process and to see the comments, click here to read Susie Boersma's August 23 post.
Our goal is to have the new boarding process up and running systemwide by early November. I am fully aware that this news will excite many and disappoint others. To those of you who are skeptical, I can only ask that you give the new boarding procedures a try. After everyone gets used to it, I bet you will wonder why we didn't think of this years ago!
(Click here to see a video of the new procedures. Also, check out this helpful site.)
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I need your advice pronto. Halloween (which is a huge Southwest Airlines celebration) is less than two months away, and I still haven't decided who I should be for Halloween. The past three years have been a lot of fun for me as I got to be Gene Simmons of KISS, Wild Bill Hickok, and Captain Jack Sparrow. Your help was invaluable last year, so I am asking for your assistance again this Halloween.
My "Halloween Helpers" need to go costume hunting very soon, so please leave me your thoughts as soon as possible.
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Well, I asked you what you wanted and boy did you respond-more than 600 of you! We have concluded our initial test in San Diego, which showed some of the boarding methods to be a little faster and some a little slower than our current process. While we have not made a decision on our seating policy, I did want to thank all of you for your time in expressing your thoughts and suggestions. Your passion showed through in your comments, and they are a significant part of the ongoing evaluation process. So while we're continuing our research on our boarding processes, it also appears that I have some great suggestions to review for my Halloween costume! Thanks again for your support and business!
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I'm getting nervous...really nervous....
Halloween is less than a month away and I still have no idea what I'm going to be. As you might know, Halloween is a serious thing around here and the competition is fierce. Each year, I roam the halls of headquarters - which are crammed with costumed people heading to the next department skit, haunted house, or carnival - completely incognito. In 2004 I was dressed as Gene Simmons from the rock band KISS.
Last year I came as Wild Bill Hickok, but I have absolutely no idea what to be this year and time is running out so I thought I'd throw it out to you, our blog audience, to see what you could come up with. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...and remember, when it comes to Halloween at Southwest, the crazier the better.
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I’m new to this whole blogosphere thing but I have really enjoyed reading all of the comments and am humbled that so many people are as enthusiastic and nuts about Southwest as we are. I wanted to address some of the recent comments about Southwest’s seating policy. There’s been quite a bit of buzz both in the media and on this blog about our current open seating policy and my recent comments (at Shareholder’s Day on May 17) about our consideration of changing to assigned seating in the future. So, as the saying goes, here’s the scoop “straight from the horse’s mouth.” At Southwest, quick, efficient operations and our desire to give the Customer what they want have been the keys to our 35 years of success. Everything we do at Southwest takes into account maintaining the delicate balance between operational efficiency and providing the Positively Outrageous Service that our Customers have come to expect from Southwest. One of the most common requests for change from our Customers is to add assigned seating. Obviously, many of our current Customers enjoy the open seating, so it’s not a unanimous request. However, we do listen intently to our Customers and do our best to give them what they want so it only makes sense to extensively research and evaluate this possibility. Open seating has allowed us to build a highly efficient operation by keeping the time our aircraft are sitting at our gate to a minimum. Aircraft on the ground don’t make money! But it’s no secret that all airlines – even Southwest – are facing extensive cost pressures due to the rising price of fuel and we have to find ways to generate additional revenue. Our Customer Service technology has evolved to the point that assigning seats may prove to be an efficient way for Southwest to board the aircraft. Our computer reservation system is undergoing an upgrade and, while we are in the “remodeling” effort, we are adding the technical capability to assign seats. This does not mean we will; rather, it means we will be prepared to assign seats, if we so choose. We are currently conducting extensive research and if our research and testing (which some of you may be involved with) proves that we can bring in more Customers (without alienating our existing Customers) and increase overall Customer satisfaction, but at the same time not increase our boarding times or our costs, then I don’t see a reason not to do it. I haven’t given any time frame – just that it won’t happen next year. I know that several of you have commented that you don’t want the current seating policy to go away because you see it as a part of what makes Southwest “Southwest,” but I’ll remind you that many people felt the same way when we transitioned from plastic boarding cards to electronic boarding cards. Things change and we can’t ignore that fact. One thing that will never change, however, is our dedication to you – our Customer – and we will always make decisions with your best interests in mind. So, stay tuned…we promise to keep you informed of this and all of the changes at Southwest. And keep telling us what you want, we LUV hearing from you and we appreciate your business!
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