Dear WN Forum Members: to say that I’m old school at age 83 would be an understatement. I’m a former TW, SV, CAB, NA, PA, RJ and BDL middle management retiree. I was invited by Herb Kelleher, et al, in the mid 1990’s to spend a day at HQ @ DAL to “Meet the Gang” so to speak. Appearing in my best cut off Bermudas, sans socks (cannot recall foot attire), we began the day by proceeding to the Board Room to discuss the Southwest Vision, I.e., doing a few shots of Wild Turkey while chain smoking unfiltered Camels. (While Herb, RIP, is no longer with us, we discussed at length the sole usage of 737 aircraft (in view of the DC-10 groundings in the late 1970’s); the continuation of using smaller airports where possible adjacent to big city airports, and Herb being adamant about NEVER, EVER, flying to HAWAII under any circumstances.
Certainly, times have changed since them! (Among them—HELLO, HAWAII, Among others!
The little old NAPKIN AIRLINE HAS SHAKEN THE DOMESTIC AIRLINE SYSTEM to its very core! The CAN DO AIRLINE outshining its traditional monster competition has been done,……Forgive my reminiscing, as the old National song went -“Watch us Shine”! Yet growing has been painful in more ways than one, and lately, acutely so.
In late August, I had the opportunity to use some Reward points to fly six legs on Southwest: MCO-DEN-PSP; PSP-LAS-RNO & finally, RNO-LAS-MCO.
As a passenger, the inflight service was quite perfunctory, whether long haul segments or short. Yet the old Southwest Spirit was alive and well on the longer segments. Flight Attendants enjoyed what they were doing and worked well together as a team. While I’ve read a lot lately about the flight crew dissension re: ongoing labor relations and contract negotiations, there were segments wherein weather presented a potential problem and the Captain kept passengers completely advised of potential problems—yet avoided them fully.
Throughout these flights it appeared to me that there was a complete divergence in behavior and attitude. While various aspects of the old Southwest can do, fun attitude of crew were present, the other side was equally obvious. Crew were there to merely do their jobs, if but barely!
Southwest has definitely reached a defining moment in this old man’s humble opinion. It can reinvent itself into its former fun loving, expert experience kind of airline, or go the route of so many businesses today., ala Allegiant,bFrontier or Spirit. Excellence is either in or out, but if the latter, Southwest with all its early innovation, will fail. As Herb used to continually state, it’s our employees and their attitude which make the difference.
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