Learning from failure is one of the greatest lessons in life. Some of the greatest comebacks in history are rooted in taking a hard look in the mirror, taking accountability, and doing what’s required not to repeat your failures of the past. When you are a for-profit enterprise, you have rules, policies, and processes for Safety, reliability, and accountability.
As the Chief Administration & Communications Officer for Southwest Airlines, part of my responsibilities include nurturing the Company’s reputation and guiding crisis response efforts when something goes wrong. The last week of December 2022, our operation failed to get nearly 2 million travelers to their intended destination. This disruption was unprecedented, not only in my 31-year career at Southwest but in our history as an airline.
What went wrong
What began as a widespread winter storm quickly turned into a massive operational disruption for Southwest, and our lack of ability to recover was an outlier in the industry. The weather was worse than predicted, and our advance planning for winter operations at several of our locations quickly became unviable. Our larger locations (including Denver and Chicago), along with other cities across our network, were experiencing various issues coming out of the extreme weather, with everything from deicing capabilities to passenger jet bridges that were deemed inoperable when hydraulics had frozen in the harsh conditions. The culmination of these issues led to large-scale, close-in cancelations that degraded the overall operation.
It was not one thing that led to our situation; instead, our ongoing internal review has shown it was a series of events that we’ll need to continue to break down and analyze. In addition to challenges in our weather-impacted locations, early reviews have revealed challenges with managing our waves of close-in cancelations, bottlenecks in data processing, and a deficiency of clear escalation procedures. We’ve taken immediate steps to correct some of our shortcomings, as our internal and external reviews guide us in longer-term solutions.
The success of a busy airline is the intricate symphony of multiple systems, people, and tools working in tandem. A little background—Southwest works with three key systems: the flight network, the aircraft network, and the Crew network. Each must stay in sync when changes are made to anyone; if they don’t, conditions can worsen. As the situation escalated in December and as cancelations grew, our Crew Scheduling function struggled to keep up with the overwhelming volume of changes and resulted in individual Crew Member assignments not being updated in a timely manner. Without updated Crew Member schedules, the software couldn’t reassign Crew Members to flights, so we turned to manual processes that further contributed to disruptions for our Customers and our Employees.
The communications response
So, as a communications leader … what do you do? Overall, our communications approach contained three key efforts: Acknowledge the event and its impact, apologize for the inconveniences and disruption, and act on lessons learned to reduce the risk of this happening again.
Our effort began with updates on pure recovery. We shared the stats of canceled and delayed flights, solutions to reset the network, and information on what a Customer should do if his/her flight was canceled. We posted both media and Employee content across all of our channels to keep Stakeholders informed while working with Southwest’s Senior Leaders to figure out the root causes of the disruption.
Without having all of the information, other entities jumped in to hypothesize as to what caused the operation to “melt down.” Unions, government agencies, and airports shared their perspectives—some within hours of the issue emerging. We continued to communicate with Employees, Customers, and outlets across the country to counter premature cause-and-effect stories by having both our CEO and COO explain the analysis effort that we launched, including:
Our Board of Directors forming an Operations Review Committee to oversee management’s response efforts.
Internal reviews of processes, technology, and tools.
Asking a third-party consulting firm (Oliver Wyman) to do its own external review of the operational disruption.
With nearly 2 million people whose travel plans were canceled or severely delayed, the communication effort had to quickly pivot to how we were going to respond to our Customers and Employees. We began a series of efforts including:
Public and internal apologies with details for next steps.
Handling refunds, reimbursements, and luggage recovery efforts within the government-mandated timelines.
Providing gestures of goodwill to both Customers and Employees to humbly apologize for the inconvenience and disruption.
Along with understanding the root causes of the event and getting the operation back on track, we had a number of narratives to chase.
First, was the issue our technology?
To set the record straight, our Crew Scheduling software didn’t stop working during this event. However, the velocity and the high number of changes in both our flight and Crew networks over multiple days limited the ability to process the large volume of schedule alterations using automation. And that led to manual processes that further impacted our ability to recover quickly.
Second, was it our point-to-point network?
The fact of the matter is that our flight activity has been at or near the same levels for months, with high reliability. So, what happened can’t solely be attributed to our point-to-point network. We’ve proven that we can operate the schedule we’ve published and still respond to irregular operations, such as weather and ATC outages.
Third, was the issue staffing?
In 2022 alone, we added more than 11,600 Employees, and we have been purposeful in increasing our ratio of employees to aircraft coming out of the pandemic. We had solid work bids across all work groups for the holiday period and were well-positioned with the holiday staffing assigned.
So, where do we go from here?
We identified and trained a group of Employees who can provide surge staffing during extreme weather events to assist Crew Scheduling and can be mobilized via a new notification process.
We established an objective set of performance criteria in the form of an upgraded dashboard that will help Leaders determine when to escalate an operational situation.
GE, who provides many airlines with their Crew optimization software, has already provided a solution that is in testing to help any airline more efficiently work a backlog of broken Crew schedules.
We enhanced and will continue to add functionality to our existing tools for Crew Members to communicate electronically to Crew Scheduling during irregular operations.
We also implemented organizational changes designed to improve coordination and communication between the Network Operations Control (NOC), Network Planning, and Crew Scheduling teams,
We are in the process of a thorough review of our readiness and capacity to manage severe winter operations, ensuring we prioritize employee safety during extreme or extended winter operations; that will include evaluating new tools and equipment and examining current process improvements.
While no one at Southwest is proud of what happened, we have seen evidence of internal pride emerging as we took care of disrupted Customers—stories were shared on social media of our off-duty Employees delivering meals to those working; Pilots buying and handing out coffee to Customers waiting in gate areas; headquarters Employees signing up to be trained on internal systems to put more manpower behind our refunds and reimbursement effort. And, most of all, our Employees providing great hospitality on our flights through the recovery period that last week of December.
We know we’re not perfect; there’s a saying that character is revealed by what a person says and what a person does. The same goes for a company. We know we have work to do to repair our trust, but we are committed to being America’s most loved and most reliable airline.
We will not rest until we have done all we can to mitigate the risks of something like what happened in December from happening again. Simply put, we have a nearly 52-year history of serving communities safely and with LUV. We will not allow a week in December to define us, but we will learn from the failure and be better because of it.
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Our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly continues to provide updates and share his thoughts surrounding the developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Gary joined Dr. John Warner of UT Southwestern Medical Center to talk about the slow and safe journey back for our Company and Customers.
You may find more information about UT Southwestern Medical Center and this video series on their website.
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One year ago today, Southwest Airlines said goodbye to our Founder and Friend, Herb Kelleher. And while we cherish our memories—we take comfort that his legacy most definitely lives on in each of us.
Herb was passionate about the Customers and People of Southwest, and our passion for him is evident by the way we’ve come together as a community to honor and celebrate his life. Impacted by his enduring influence, People from inside and outside of the Company have shared tears, stories, quotes, and laughs throughout the year.
To remember Herb’s birthday in March, Southwest donated a total of $1 million—or $7.37 for every current and past Southwest Employee—to the Southwest Airlines Employees Catastrophic Assistance Charity and The Herbert D. Kelleher and Rollin W. King Scholarship. Then, to honor Herb on Southwest’s birthday in June, Southwest's President Emeritus Colleen Barrett gifted four limited-edition statuettes of Herb that are on display on our corporate campus in Dallas.
As Southwest's CEO Gary Kelly has shared, “Herb stood for love, it’s what he personified, it’s our ticker symbol, and it’s our Heart. May we continue to make Herb proud by coming together with love, respect, hard work, and an unwavering sense of fun.”
We encourage you to visit www.HonoroingHerb.com, a site rich with memories of Herb, a touching tribute video, and a link to his Celebration of Life recorded on January 22, 2019.
The Employees of Southwest will forever honor Herb’s extraordinary life and his exemplary contributions to our airline. As Herb dynamically demonstrated, connecting with one another’s humanity is essential, and he will forever be our inspiration to serve with Heart.
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It is with heavy hearts that we share with you that our Founder, Inspiration, Chairman Emeritus, and Friend Herb Kelleher has passed away this morning at the age of 87. Herb is survived by his wife, Joan, three of their four children, many cherished grandchildren, and, of course, his pride and joy, the Employees of Southwest Airlines.
Born Herbert David Kelleher on March 12, 1931, and raised in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, Herb received his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan and his law degree from New York University. He practiced law on the East Coast before relocating to Texas with plans to start his own law firm. In 1967, Herb and client Rollin King incorporated Air Southwest, Inc., with the idea of offering low-fare, intra-Texas airline service. After a name change and many legal battles valiantly fought and won by Herb, Southwest Airlines took to the skies on June 18, 1971—a date that would change each of our lives forever. Anyone in the world who has set foot on an airplane in the past 50 years has been touched by the life of Herb Kelleher. For he, with the first set of Southwest Warriors, made history when they set out to disrupt the airline industry by making flying both fun and affordable.
As we all know, Herb has played a very profound role in the life of President Emeritus Colleen Barrett. They have been a powerful pair since she became his legal secretary in 1967, and together they nurtured and groomed Southwest Airlines into one of the most admired Companies in the world. Colleen said: "He always supported me and always treated me as his complete equal. His generosity and inclusion from the very beginning allowed me opportunities and experiences that have been my guiding lights."
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly’s life is another one of the many lives that Herb touched, and he had this to say about his lifelong mentor and friend: “One of the greatest joys of my life has been working alongside Herb for more than 30 years. His stamp on the airline industry cannot be overstated. His vision for making air travel affordable for all revolutionized the industry, and you can still see that transformation taking place today. But his legacy extends far beyond our industry and far beyond the world of entrepreneurship. His true impact can only be accurately measured by the hearts and minds of the People who he inspired, motivated, and engaged on a daily basis. And that, I believe, cannot be measured or quantified—but it is to be admired and appreciated by all who have been fortunate enough to experience it. I consider myself blessed to be one of those People.”
Herb served as Southwest Airlines Executive Chairman from March 1978 to May 2008 and as President and CEO from September 1981 through June 2001. Fortune magazine, which consistently recognizes Southwest among the world¹s top 10 most admired companies, called Kelleher perhaps the Best CEO in America. Kelleher himself received numerous awards and honors, including the U. S. Chamber Business Leadership Hall of Fame; CEO of the Year and one of history¹s top three CEOs, Chief Executive magazine; CEO of the Century, Texas Monthly magazine; National Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame; CEO of the Decade-Airline Industry; Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy; Bower Award for Business Leadership, Franklin Institute; Tony Jannus Award; Wings Club Distinguished Achievement Award; San Diego Aerospace Hall of Fame; L. Welch Pogue Award for Lifetime Achievement in Aviation, Aviation Week; Airline Business Award, Airline Business magazine; History Making Texan Award; the Business Halls of Fame of the State of Texas, the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and the City of Dallas; the Herbert D. Kelleher Servant Leader Scholarship, named in Herb¹s honor by the Austin Business Travel Association; induction into the Texas Labor Management Hall of Fame; Transportation Research Forum President¹s Award; induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame; induction into the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine, Wright Brothers National Memorial; recipient of the Department of Homeland Security Distinguished Public Service Medal; an honorary lifetime member of the Transport Workers Union; recipient of full page USA Today "Thank You Herb!" ad from Southwest¹s Pilots union; inducted into the AAF Tenth District Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame; the Joseph T. Nall Safety Award, NTSB Bar Association; the Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement, University of North Texas; Ronald McDonald House Charities Award of Excellence; inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame, and, was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame and the Entrepreneurs For North Texas’ Ring of Entrepreneurs.
Herb was a Freedom Fighter. He revolutionized the skies. He blazed a trail of low fares and exemplary Customer Service in an industry ruled by just the opposite. Herb was a Pioneer. A Maverick. An Innovator. He celebrated and exemplified the esprit de corps of the Southwest People with such vigor that the spirit has grown exponentially. Herb knew all along that “The business of business is People”—yesterday, today, and forever. Herb decided long ago that our internal Customers, our Employees, would come first.
Herb has been quoted as saying, “It is my practice to try to understand how valuable something is by trying to imagine myself without it.” We now have to imagine ourselves without Herb. Our Founding Father has passed on, but the legacy that he has left to each of us is still very much alive. Southwest will grieve as Families do, but we know he’d want us to laugh through our tears.
We miss you already, Herbie.
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We know you have seen the headlines about children being separated from their parents, and many of you have asked if Southwest is engaging on this important topic. Please rest assured that Southwest Airlines is a Company that cares deeply about our People and the People we serve. As such, we issued the following statement yesterday:
Southwest Airlines has always put People first. The Purpose of our Airline is to connect People to what is important in their lives, and there is nothing more important to us than family. While we do not have evidence that tickets purchased for Southwest flights have been utilized to transport detained children, we do not wish to have involvement in the process of separating children from their parents. Therefore, we appeal to anyone making those types of travel decisions not to utilize Southwest Airlines. We are a Company founded on love, and we want to connect People to what is important in their lives, not disconnect them.
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Thursday, May 17 5:45 PM
Southwest has completed the fan blade inspections on the CFM56-7B engines that power its Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 fleets. Southwest reports no additional findings of subsurface cracks.
The inspections were part of an existing CFM56-7B engine inspection program that Southwest voluntarily accelerated. As part of the existing Southwest Maintenance Program, all CFM56-7B engine blades receive recurring inspections at, or before, every 3,000 aircraft cycles or 5,000 hours, whichever occurs first.
The completed inspections meet and exceed all applicable FAA Airworthiness Directives, as well as the CFM56-7B Service Bulletins issued by the manufacturer.
Monday, April 23 5:00 PM
Last Tuesday, Southwest shared our plan to voluntarily accelerate inspections of CFM engine fan blades throughout our entire Boeing 737-700/-800 Fleet. We are on track to inspect all CFM engine fan blades on the -700s and -800s within 30 days of our proactive inspection program initiated on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
This week, we will continue working to minimize flight disruptions by performing inspections overnight while aircraft are not flying and utilizing spare aircraft during the day, when available. We anticipate minimal delays or cancellations each day this week due to the inspections.
As a point of reference, last week’s inspections affected less than one percent of our 4,000 scheduled flights each day. We expect approximately one to two percent of our flights to be affected over the coming days as we complete the voluntary, accelerated inspections.
Customers on affected flights will be notified of any changes to their travel plans through proactive updates. As always, Customers are encouraged to check their flight status on Southwest.com.
Friday, April 20 6:45 PM
Southwest issued a statement following the Federal Aviation Administration's emergency airworthiness directive that was issued late this afternoon:
Southwest Airlines acknowledges the issuance of Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-09-51 by the Federal Aviation Administration to airlines operating CFM56-7B engines. The existing Southwest Airlines maintenance program meets or exceeds all the requirements specified in the Airworthiness Directive.
Thursday, April 19 10:15 PM
Please watch this video from our Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly that includes information about our engine maintenance program.
Wednesday, April 18 8:45 PM
Good evening. I wanted to share with you words from the Captain and First Officer of Flight #1380:
“As Captain and First Officer of the Crew of five who worked to serve our Customers aboard Flight #1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs. Our Hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our Coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss. We joined our Company today in focused work and interviews with investigators. We are not conducting media interviews and we ask that the public and the media respect our focus.” – Southwest Captain Tammie Jo Shults and Southwest Airlines First Officer Darren Ellisor
Tuesday, April 17 3:55 PM
Southwest Airlines confirms an accident involving Southwest Airlines Flight #1380. The flight made an emergency diversion to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) earlier today after the Crew reported issues with the number one engine which resulted in damage to the fuselage.
We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is one fatality resulting from this accident. The entire Southwest Airlines Family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the Customers, Employees, Family Members, and loved ones affected by this tragic event. We have activated our Emergency Response Team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy. For a message from Gary Kelly, Southwest Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, please click here.
The aircraft involved today was a Boeing 737-700 (N772SW) and was enroute from New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Dallas Love Field (DAL). In total, the flight had 144 Customers and five Southwest Crew Members onboard. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Southwest Pilots and Flight Attendants who acted professionally and swiftly to take care of our Customers during the emergency diversion and landing.
Finally, Southwest Airlines officials are in direct contact with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to support an immediate, coordinated response to this accident. Southwest is in the process of gathering additional information regarding Flight #1380 and will fully cooperate in an investigative process.
Please join the Southwest Family in keeping all of those affected by today’s tragedy in your thoughts.
Tuesday, April 17 12:05 PM
We are aware that Southwest Flight #1380 from New York La Guardia (LGA) to Dallas Love Field (DAL) has diverted to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). We are in the process of transporting Customers and Crew into the terminal. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-700, has 143 Customers and five Crew Members onboard. We are in the process of gathering more information. Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines, and we are working diligently to support our Customers and Crews at this time.
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Photo by Shelley Castle PhotographyOn Saturday, Southwest flew its third humanitarian animal rescue flight, our final leg flying from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Baltimore/Washington. It all started with a call to Southwest from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, an animal rescue organization based in the D.C. area. Their partner in Puerto Rico, PR Animals, was in dire need to help relocate animals off the island after many were impacted by Hurricane Maria.
Due to the tremendous impact Hurricane Maria had on our People in Puerto Rico and our operation, it took many months of planning before we felt our operation and SJU Station could accommodate an extra humanitarian flight. It takes incredible Teamwork and collaboration across the Company to organize a relief flight, especially one carrying furry PAW-sengers. We appreciate the Teams from Baltimore and San Juan who coordinated logistics with TSA, the Airport Authorities, and many more groups in order to make this flight a reality.
Photos by Shelley Castle Photography
Sato Pride was the motto of the day. Sato means stray, and foster families took in these stray dogs to care for them until they were able to be rescued. These families brought these beloved animals to the airport to send them on a trip of a lifetime. It’s hard to imagine what some of these rescue animals endured these past few months, but they were surely loved by the brave families who fostered and kept them safe until it was time to em-BARK on their new journey.
Photo by Shelley Castle Photography
You may be wondering, how did we transport these animals? We don’t carry warm-blooded animals in our Cargo hold, and that held true for our animal rescue flights. Each animal was boarded in the cabin of the aircraft in a crate which was secured into seats with seatbelt extenders. In addition to a very attentive Flight Crew and volunteers, a vet was present and monitoring the animals during flight.
Many of the animals are available for adoption through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. Learn more about these dogs and cats by visiting www.LuckyDogAnimalRescue.org or take a look back at their big journey from San Juan to Baltimore/Washington by visiting their Facebook Page @LuckyDogAnimalRescue or Instagram via @DCLuckyDog.
Photos by Shelley Castle Photography
One more shout out goes to our Southwest Airlines Cargo® Team at BWI. Over the past few months, in partnership with Lucky Dog, our Cargo Teams shipped more than 10,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies, including dog food and necessities to take care of these animals until we were able to coordinate the animal rescue flight. An additional 14,000 pounds of supplies were sent down on the humanitarian flight from Baltimore this past Saturday, which included pet supplies and human supplies to help with continued relief efforts.
Seeing our Employees come together and donate their time to make an effort such as this happen, make me so proud to work for Southwest Airlines. It’s no wonder we’ve once again been named to Fortune’s World’s Most Admired List. We are often asked why we do these efforts, and simply put, because at Southwest, we lead with Heart.
Photo by Shelley Castle Photography
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Our Employees are known for their Company pride. When Southwest Airlines receives recognition, it’s truly a reflection of our incredible folks, taking great care of our Customers. So it’s with pride in our amazing Employees that I share that Southwest Airlines was recently recognized by The Wall Street Journal on their inaugural list of Management Top 250.
In creating the list, The Wall Street Journal analyzed and compared the performance of 608 major U.S. corporations that belong either to the S&P 500 stock index or Fortune 500 list, or have a market value of more than $10 billion. The list doesn’t measure any single aspect, such as profits or productivity. It takes a holistic approach, examining how well a business does across five areas: customer satisfaction, employee engagement and development, innovation, social responsibility and financial strength.
Recognitions like this are a testament to the pride our Employees take in their work. It’s what drives them to provide the amazing Hospitality Southwest Airlines is known for. Although our People have been referred to as the “secret sauce” at Southwest, it’s really no secret that it’s our People who make us one of the world’s most recognized companies. This honor is all theirs.
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Are you flying in or out of one of our airports affected by Winter Storm Stella? You can check the latest Travel Advisory by clicking here.
Update at 2:45 p.m. CDT on March 14, 2017
As day two of Winter Storm Stella unfolds, many of our New England destinations are receiving anywhere from three to 18 inches of snow accumulation. While the impact of a winter storm can appear to slow the activity at an airport, the Warrior Spirit of Southwest Airlines Employees remains hard at work behind the scenes.
Beyond the work being done by our Network Operations Control Teams, highlighted in yesterday’s updates, our Employees at the Stations stay busy during a weather event maintaining the ramps and Aircraft so they’ll be ready to go when conditions start improving. Here are a few photos from our folks in the field.
Chicago (MDW), IL
Photo Credit: Crissy Acosta
Chicago (MDW), IL
Photo Credit: Carlos Bec
Providence (PVD), RI
Photo Credit: Dawn Cole
Update at 6:10 p.m. CDT on March 13, 2017
Our Network Operations Control Teams already work very hard, but during severe weather events they are especially given an opportunity to showcase expertise. A member of our Social Business Team, Derek Hubbard, sat down with Meteorologist Becky Miller to examine Winter Storm Stella and Southwest's methodology when preparing for such a storm. You'll hear a lot of noise in the background; that's because this was (and will continue to be) a very active area over the next couple of days.
Update at 4:00 p.m. CDT on March 13, 2017
Every few years Mother Nature keeps us on our toes with a late-season winter storm. Southwest Airlines Operational Planners are carefully tracking the movement of Winter Storm Stella as it makes its way across much of the Midwest and New England this week. Based on forecasted weather conditions, our scheduled service to/from cities in the storm’s path may be disrupted Monday, March 13 through Wednesday, March 15. Winter weather in large parts of the system can sometimes impact non-wintry cities because of flight routes, Crews, and aircraft availability.
Customers holding a reservation for travel during this time can make adjustments to their travel plans without paying any additional charge. That means no change fees, which you already enjoy on Southwest Airlines, in addition to not having to pay a difference in fare. Tickets must be rebooked in the original class of service within 14 days of the original date of travel, and travel must be between the original city-pairs in accordance with our accommodation procedures).
Customers who purchased their itinerary via Southwest.com or our mobile app are eligible to reschedule their travel plans online or from their mobile device.
Customers who did not purchase a ticket via Southwest.com can call 1-800-435-9792 to speak with a Customer Representative.
Customers in the U.S. scheduled to travel internationally must call 1-800-435-9792 to speak with a Customer Representative for assistance with rebooking.
Customers can speak with a Customer Representative on Twitter using the handle @Southwestair, or by sending us a message on the Southwest Airlines Facebook page.
As of Monday afternoon, March 13, more than 300 flights have been canceled across 25 Southwest destinations. Additional schedule adjustments are expected as snow and sleet begin to accumulate through Tuesday morning.
To learn more about how Southwest Airlines is proactively tracking Winter Storm Stella and making strategic adjustments to ensure the Safety of our Employees and Customers, please view our Facebook Livestream from our Network Operations Control Room today, Monday, March 13.
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Following an emergency order issued today, Southwest advises Customers to comply with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) ban against the carriage of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices onboard U.S. aircraft. Safety is paramount at Southwest and we urge our Customers to leave Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices at home before leaving for the airport.
We will work to educate Customers on the directive prior to their arrival at the airport through pre-trip emails and details posted on Southwest.com. In addition, Southwest will continue to make announcements regarding the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device in the gate area and onboard the aircraft before departure.
For more information, please see the statement issued by the FAA and DOT.
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UPDATED on Monday, August 29 at 12:45 p.m. CT
As a reminder, Southwest cannot speculate or comment on details of this investigation outside of our cooperation with the NTSB. We respectfully ask that users on The Southwest Community refrain from speculation as well.
UPDATED on Saturday, August 27 at 1:00 p.m. CT
I wanted to provide an update around an event involving a Southwest plane this morning, and some context around the accompanying statement provided below. When we have an operational event that results in aircraft damage and/or passenger or crew injuries, that can trigger a review or investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). When the NTSB decides to launch an investigation, we give the Board our immediate cooperation so that we are able to properly streamline information and avoid speculation (especially this early). If you do not see an update from us, that is because we are working behind-the-scenes with the NTSB to follow this process. They are very good at what they do, and we strive to be good partners. You can follow updates from the NTSB on twitter at @NTSB_Newsroom.
Southwest's Initial Statement:
Today, the Captain of Flight #3472 from New Orleans to Orlando made the decision to divert to Pensacola due to a mechanical issue with the number one engine. The flight landed safely without incident at Pensacola International Airport at 9:40 a.m. central time. Initial reports indicate there were no injuries among the 99 passengers and five crew members onboard. We have notified the NTSB, and when authorized, we will be inspecting the aircraft to assess the damage. The aircraft is out of service, and we will work to accommodate the passengers to Orlando or their final destination as soon as possible.
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Anita: thank you for sharing your story. You are right that we endeavor each day to connect people to the importants events in their lives. We didn't complete that mission last week, and I know how hard that has been on our Employees and on our Customers. Thank you for sharing a different perspective.
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Affected travelers: click here to view Travel Advisory regarding flexible accommodations.
UPDATED Sunday, July 24 at 9:00 p.m. CDT:
This will be my final update on the Southwest trouble that by now needs no introduction. We are grateful to our Employees for their dedication and our Customers for their patience, loyalty, and understanding as we worked to rebuild.
Today was the first day we could say, definitively, that our Operation is back on track. We know there are many, many Customers who still require assistance, having been inconvenienced by the disruptions. Flexible accommodations remain in effect for Customers who hold booked travel from Wednesday the 20th through Tuesday the 26th of July. These Customers have two weeks from their original date of departure to rebook and begin travel at the original fare, with no additional cost. You can do that on southwest.com.
If you're seeking a refund and did not book a refundable fare, we will still honor that refund, but you'll have to call us. I recommend you call when it's convenient for you, when volumes have returned to normal. It may take some time, but you have a year from when you purchased the ticket before that will no longer be an option. Refunds and requests must be submitted and processed by the ticket's expiration date.
Again--thank you. We know it's a long journey to re-earning your trust, but it's our mission to do it.
UPDATED Saturday, July 23 at 2:00 p.m. CDT:
Things are getting better, and our cautious optimism is starting to become tangible as the Operation stabilizes.
Our most pressing concern right now is weather, and our Meteorologists report the potential for afternoon and early evening thunderstorms in the Chicago metro area. We're paying extra attention to Chicago right now to navigate that system accordingly. Other airports currently under the microscope for weather--albeit with less emphasis-- are Des Moines, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, and areas in the Southeast.
We've done a lot of apologizing to our Customers and have thanked our Employees for their hard work, but what we haven't done is thanked both for having respect for one another. The last four days have tested patience and heightened emotions. Through it all, we have seen remarkable examples of People banding together to help each other. Our Customers need to be commended for keeping as positive an attitude as could be expected during such an unprecedented event at Southwest Airlines. While the system and our Employees and Customers were stressed and recovering, safety remained our first priority, with our aircraft, our Crews, our ground personnel, and our Customers.
Customers and Employees have shown compassion for each other by keeping each others' spirits up, paying for each others' meals, and showcasing their talents and skills during a very trying time. Take this group of scouts who pitched tents in the Denver airport.
Or this Pilot who took children aside to make origami planes.
This group of teens in Midway got the terminal buzzing when they danced on the walkway.
In our Centers, pep talks helped Employees focus on the day.
A young lady in San Jose wasn't able to get home to her parents in time to celebrate her birthday, and on one of our internal groups, Employees shared the story about how they banded together to throw her a birthday party in the airport to lift her spirits. This is a situation that neither the Employees nor the Customers planned to be in, or should have had to deal with. But it's also not in the job description to throw birthday parties.
Make no mistake, Southwest created this problem. We own that, and there is no victory lap to be had for a situation that has bred disappointment and shaken the trust Customers have in Southwest Airlines. But during a terrible situation such as this, Love Above All remained the theme, as we tried to get everyone back in the air.
The machines failed, but Heart prevailed.
UPDATED Friday, July 22 at 10:45 p.m. CDT:
I wanted to provide you with a Friday night update on our Operation. This afternoon, we were able to catch up and fully assess the state of our Crews across the system. As a result of that assessment, we had an unexpected uptick in cancelations due to mandatory Crew timeouts. Safety is our top priority and FAA regulations require mandatory rest--it is not safe for Crews to fly beyond the required time, and our Employees are understandably taxed working to get back on track from this unique situation.
For our fresh Crews, we expect to extend our Operation past our normal flying times, in airports that do not have a curfew in place.
Unrelated but something we're keeping an eye on, there are thunderstorms in the Southwest that our Meteorologists are monitoring. As of this writing, that weather system has not impacted flying.
We are optimistic about our Operation tomorrow. We have a reduced schedule on Saturdays. We expect some cancelations, but far fewer than we experienced Thursday and Friday morning.
You're tired of hearing sorry--I know that--but I must reiterate we are doing everything we can to make things right. We are truly sorry and value you as Customers and People. Volumes remain high, but our Employees at the airport and in our Call Centers continue to work hard to meet your needs. Our Representatives are able to rebook travel, refund your money, and answer your questions. Our Social Customer Care Employees are working around the clock to do the same. If you have flexibility or your question is not urgent, we recommend contacting us once our volumes are at a more manageable level.
Thank you again.
UPDATED Friday, July 22 at 1:00 p.m. CDT:
We were live from Network Operations Control to discuss the latest on our efforts throughout the system.
UPDATED Friday, July 22 at 10:00 a.m. CDT:
I wanted to provide the latest update regarding our outage recovery. We continue to manage through lingering disruptions following performance issues across multiple technology systems Wednesday. As of 6:00 a.m. Central (CDT), planners have canceled more than 250 flights today, primarily as a result of displaced Crews and aircraft. We're continuing our focus on getting Customers and their baggage to their destinations safely.
Our Employees in airports, online, and on the phone are assisting a significant number of Customers and hold times are much longer than average. In the midst of peak, Summertime travel, we recognize many flights through this weekend were already close to full and as cancellations continue, we recommend Customers who have flexibility explore rebooking on alternate dates beyond Sunday by checking availability on Southwest.com. Customers who are holding booked travel Wednesday the 20th through Sunday the 24th of July have two weeks from their original date of departure to rebook travel at the original fare, at no additional cost.
We extend a heartfelt apology to our Employees and our Customers who are inconvenienced by the disruption in service. We appreciate their patience as we continue our work to make this right.
Customers traveling today should check flight status on Southwest.com and plan to arrive at the airport early, as longer than average lines are likely.
UPDATED Thursday, July 21 at 4:50 p.m. CDT:
I wanted to provide the latest update regarding our outage recovery. Systems are stabilized and have been performing normally throughout today. Our main challenge right now is getting our Employees to the right places. As Mike Van de Ven mentioned in the update below this one, we have identified the cause as a technology malfunction in our network that affected multiple systems and platforms. When systems became inoperable, our crew scheduling technology was among the affected platforms. As of 2:00 p.m. CDT today, planners have canceled nearly 450 flights, primarily as a result of displaced Crews and aircraft. Simply put, if the Crews aren't in place, the planes can't fly.
We understand the enormous inconvenience our technology challenges have put on our Customers, and the colossal burden it places on our Employees. Our Employees in airports, online, and on the phone area assisting Customers in large numbers and that is taking longer than average. We recommend Customers who have flexibility look to rebook on alternate dates beyond Sunday by checking availability on Southwest.com.
Customers who are holding booked travel Wednesday the 20th through Sunday the 24th of July, who were not able to complete their trips, have two weeks from their original date of departure to rebook travel at the original fare, at no additional cost. Customers who missed their flights can resolve this issue by contacting our Social Customer Care Team on Facebook or Twitter, or visiting southwests.com/contact. Please be aware, though, that volumes are extremely high right now for those who try to call in or reach us digitally.
It's never too early to say thank you or to extend an apology; neither is it to continually apologize when a situation hasn't been fully resolved. I'm sorry. We'll continue to work to make this right.
UPDATED Thursday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. CDT:
Earlier, we used Facebook Live to address the effects of yesterday's technology outage.
UPDATED Thursday, July 21 at 6:45 a.m. CDT:
I want to start off by once again apologizing to our Customers and reiterating that your experience throughout the past 24 hours is not the service you should expect from Southwest Airlines. Most of our systems are back online this morning following yesterday's technology outages, but recovery will take some time. We expect some cancelations and delays as we position aircraft and crews.
As of 6:30 a.m. CDT, we have canceled more than 221 flights and continue to manage the flight disruptions across our system. Our Employees are the best in the business, and they are working extremely hard to get you and your luggage to your destination. Thank you for hanging in there with us. We will have more information later regarding flexible rebooking, and we will continue to work with each and every affected Customer to make this right.
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On April 21, 2006, Southwest boldly went where no other airline or many Fortune 500 companies had gone before—into the blogosphere. With our blog, Nuts About Southwest, our Company truly ventured into uncharted online territory, and what a successful journey it has been!
Now in our 10th year, we are once again blazing an online trail by combining our storytelling platform with a support forum that allows Customers to interact with each other (as well with Southwest Employees) to find the information they need to make traveling on Southwest easier and more enjoyable.
Together, these two online spaces—Southwest Stories and the Discussion Forum—make up the Southwest Community!
While one allows Customer-to-Customer support on some of our most frequently asked questions, the other will inspire you with stories from the heart involving Customers and Employees, as well as insider travel tips and information on exciting travel destinations you may need to add to your wish list.
Every Seat has a Story … Join the Community and Tell us Yours! I invite you to join the Southwest Community and start looking around. I know you will find it an invaluable resource whether you’re preparing for your first flight or have flown Southwest 100 times. Information on boarding, check-in, general travel policies, special travel assistance, and Rapid Rewards are just a click away. And as the Community grows, so will the information and expertise contained in this site.
We encourage you to share not only your expertise, but also your stories involving Southwest. For long-time fans of our social media channels, you know that when you mix our outstanding Employees with our wonderful Customers, you can get some remarkable situations. And we want to hear about them! Submit your story here for consideration to be featured in the Stories section of the Community.
Almost a decade ago I said, “I believe Southwest’s blog is just one more terrific example of our maverick behavior. We might be nearly 36 years old, but we still have the passion and the agility to stay relevant and current with the way our Employees and Customers are communicating in today’s social media communities.”
In 2016, I’m proud to say that this statement still rings true. The Southwest Community is the next incarnation of Southwest’s online presence and will be a place where Customers can share stories, exchange knowledge, and find inspiration. This Community is for you—come in and stay a while!
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Warmest wishes of the holiday season from the Southwest Family to yours! Southwest has always been devoted to giving Heart back to the community. In honor of the holiday spirit, we are excited to announce that Rapid Rewards Members have the opportunity to continue the Southwest-way of giving back to the community by donating their Member points to any of nine participating philanthropies.
Simply log in to your Rapid Rewards account and navigate to the Rapid Rewards Point Center. From there you can click on the ‘Donate Points’ button to start the process. Select the charity and the amount you would like to donate. Once the donation has been accepted you will receive an email with a receipt. With the click of a button any Rapid Rewards Member can change a life by donating the gift of travel.
To celebrate the launch of this new capability, Southwest today is hosting a donation drive on its @SouthwestAir Twitter account where Rapid Rewards loyalty program members can now donate points, and raise awareness for a cause important to them. Customers are encouraged to use the hashtag #SouthwestHeart after donating and follow Southwest Airlines on all social media channels to watch how many points have been donated and to which organizations as the day progresses.
To jumpstart the campaign, Southwest Airlines is donating more than 150,000 points to each of the nine organizations totaling more than one million points. For a list of participating charities please visit Southwest.com/donate.
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If someone were to ask you to give one word to describe Southwest's SVP Culture & Communications, Ginger Hardage, some of the responses you’d receive might be, “dedicated,” “hard working,” “Fun-LUVing,” etc. These are certainly true, and as I know many of you can attest, the list of her admirable traits is far greater.
We’re not the only ones who love her—PRWeek selected Ginger to be inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame. Ginger and her fellow honorees were chosen based on their achievements in the following areas: outstanding contribution to the development of the communications industry and the establishment of the PR profession; significant impact on the PR field beyond their organization; recruiting and mentoring a generation of communications professionals; contributing thought leadership that shaped the profession or redefined the field; and leadership of the organizations that unify and drive the profession's development.
What a well-deserved honor. During her 25-year tenure at Southwest, Ginger was a tireless ambassador of the world-famous Southwest Culture, leading to honors like 22 consecutive years on FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired List. However, none of these Company recognitions could be possible unless championed by someone with such equal credibility. For four consecutive years, Ginger, a Texas Tech graduate, was named as PRWeek Top 50 Power list as well as the 50 Most Powerful Women in Public Relations from the same publication. Closer to home, Ginger also was honored as one of Texas’ Most Powerful and Influential Women in 2010; “Legendary Communicator” by Southern Methodist University in 2007, and the Texas Public Relations Association named her its PR Practitioner of the Year in 2000. Not only that, Ginger knew how important internal Customer recognition is to a workplace and she helped promote our Culture Committee, Employee recognition and engagement
It is safe to say Southwest wouldn’t be where we were today without such dedication and leadership from Ginger. Behind the role, the awards, and the superb understanding of communications, you have a genuine woman whose humility, grace and poise is seen in her actions. Each time you talk to Ginger, it’s just you and her. She epitomizes what any Southwest Employee should be by either saying “hello” to everyone she meets or by a simple wave or sincere smile that radiates to anyone’s core. She’s advanced the very traits that set Southwest apart.
As Ginger looks ahead to her next adventure, I know each Southwest Employee will carry on the foundation to which she contributed.
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What do John Travolta, Harrison Ford, and Angelina Jolie have in common with our beloved Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Herb Kelleher? They share a dedication to aviation!
On Friday, January 16, Herb accepted the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award at the 12th-annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Hosted by John Travolta, the awards are considered among the most prestigious and important recognition events in aviation.
The Legends meet annually to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions in aviation. Herb’s Leadership in creating a “new” airline that disrupted the industry—one that showed value and service can co-exist, where work environments even in the brutally-competitive airline industry can use words like LUV and family, and in nurturing an organization that has become one of the most-studied companies in the world for Corporate Culture, business and strategic planning, and employee engagement, has certainly earned him this status.
The "Living Legends of Aviation" are 88 remarkable people of extraordinary accomplishment in aviation including: entrepreneurs, innovators, industry leaders, astronauts, record breakers, pilots who have become celebrities and celebrities who have become pilots. The Legends meet yearly to recognize and honor individuals that have made significant contributions in aviation. The event benefits Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to introducing educating and sparking children’s interest in aviation. Trainers give kids ages 4-9 a sense of flight, even if just a few feet off the ground. It is the mission of the academy to give children the spark they need to help create the next generation of aviators and aviation legends, while teaching them the importance of academic excellence to reach their aviation dreams.
Herb was in good company at the event, as Harrison Ford presented the "Harrison Ford Aviation Legacy Award" to Mark Baker, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), while Angelina Jolie received the Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award for directing Unbroken, about the life of Louis Zamperini, a WWII airman.
Congratulations, Herb, on this well-deserved recognition!
If you’d like to raise a glass to Herb in celebration, try this special Wild Turkey drink featured in his honor at the event:
45 mL Wild Turkey Bourbon
20 mL Cinzano Rosso
2 dashes bitters
Directions: Pour all contents into Boston glass, fill with ice and stir. Strain into rocks glass or martini glass. Top with ice if in rocks glass. Add cherry for garnish.
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Southwest Airlines has requested two additional gates at Dallas Love Field to provide our hometown with more service, more destinations, and more LUV! Get the facts on Love Field gates and learn what Southwest’s proposal means for Dallas.
The allocation of these gates is important to the economic success of the City. Dallas’ own independent economic study concludes Southwest’s plan is the most attractive option. Southwest’s plan triples the service other carriers are proposing with use of the same two gates, generating the greatest benefit for Dallas taxpayers, businesses, and consumers.
We agree competition is great for everyone! As you can see from the image below, we compete against a variety of strong carriers in the DAL/DFW market. The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is a single aviation market served by two airports just 15 miles apart—DFW International Airport and Dallas Love Field. Southwest Airlines competes with just 9 percent of total gates available in the market. Under the compromise that ends the Wright Amendment, Southwest can expand in this market only by adding flights at Love Field.
Our LUV story with Dallas and its residents is 43 years strong, and we believe the gates should go to the carrier with the best plan for the city and a steadfast commitment to Dallas.
These two gates should be assigned to the carrier that can provide the most value and highest return for North Texans who fly— Dallas-born, Dallas-based, Dallas-invested Southwest Airlines. With the Southwest plan, the real winner is Dallas.
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At South west, we are in the business of connecting people to what’s important in their lives. Often, the important moments that happen during those connections include a special place—somewhere that has meaning, that brings people together, that creates a sense of belonging and a sense of community. It takes effort and a process to create great public places like neighborhood parks, community gardens or downtown squares. And it’s called Placemaking.
You may wonder why Southwest Airlines would be talking about Placemaking. After hearing of an organization called Project for Public Spaces (PPS) and learning about the work they do with Placemaking and the unique role that the approach plays in creating great public spaces across America, we were intrigued. The Placemaking phenomenon is a crowd sourcing meets urban planning movement; it involves many people in the process. It is the realization that while planners can give a place structure and access, it is the community that gives it heart and vibrancy.
At Southwest, we have always put People first in the decisions we make about our business. And what attracts us to Placemaking is that it, too, puts People first – only in the process of designing and improving public spaces; it is a concept that puts the process and what the People want ahead of the design. We believe that public places are truly the hearts of local communities – the communities where our People call home and where our Customers love to visit. As a result, the idea of creating and revitalizing public places is one that spoke to the heart of who we are.
We wanted to experience this for ourselves, so Southwest collaborated with PPS on two Placemaking projects in Detroit, Mich., and Providence, Rhode Island. In Detroit, we worked with PPS and the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) to create a beach in Campus Martius to serve as a fun and relaxing community gathering place for workers, families and children. In Providence, we worked with the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy to create a fun destination for arts and crafts and interactive play to bring the local community together and help enrich activities in Burnside Park.
Through our work with PPS we have seen firsthand how public places have the power to revitalize local communities – generating pride and a sense of belonging that translates into greater community engagement, economic development, and increased quality of life. And we strongly believe that Placemaking is a social movement that needs to reach the mainstream.
Today, MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning released pioneering research on Placemaking. MIT’s new research, which proves the power of Placemaking in strengthening communities across the country, will help the Placemaking concept reach the mainstream. Southwest is proud to have helped make this research possible, and we look forward to continue to see the Placemaking approach and emphasis on putting communities and People first continuing to grow. If you’d like to read the research, “Places in the Making,” go here.
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We’re in the business of flying airplanes and connecting people to what’s most important in their lives, but our impact goes beyond the airport. Our philosophy of doing the right thing spills over into the communities we serve and the places our Customers and Employees call home. That’s why I couldn’t be more proud to share that Corporate Responsibility Magazine recognized Southwest Airlines in their 14th annual list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens in the world! Not only are we excited to receive this recognition, but we are the only commercial airline to be honored as a leader in the commitment to transparency and responsible business practices. As America’s leading voice on corporate responsibility, the Magazine formed its rankings from publicly available information in seven categories—environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, governance, finance, and philanthropy. You can check out the complete 100 Best Corporate Citizens list by visiting the Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s web site. It’s our desire to make a difference, and it’s what still keeps us giving back more than 40 years later. Going above and beyond, making Customers feel at home, Employees volunteering their time to the community, this recognition is about Southwest’s greatest asset—our People. Here’s a big thank you to our Employees for everything they do to make Southwest known for being a good corporate citizen!
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At Southwest, we live by the Golden Rule—it’s at the heart of everything we do. When we started out more than 41 years ago, it was the support, generosity, and sacrifices of our Employees and Customers that got us through the turbulence of the early years. We haven’t forgotten our beginnings and have never taken relationships—with Employees, Customers, and our Communities—for granted. Today, although much has changed in how we operate, Southwest has always stood for Community, and today that commitment is as strong as ever.
Southwest has supported our communities since the very beginning. Through the decades, Southwest has believed in doing the right thing, and it always comes From the Heart:
1970’s: Southwest’s concern for our communities debuts by participating in the United Fund Campaign, a fundraising drive supporting the United Way. 1980’s: The Airline that LUV built adopts the House that LUV built, and Ronald McDonald Houses become our primary charity with an annual LUV Classic Golf Tournament to raise money for Houses nationwide. 1990’s: Southwest kicks off the “Adopt-A-Pilot” program for fifth-grade students, a national program where fifth-graders learn about goal-setting, applying their curriculum to real-life jobs, and seeing aviation through the eyes of the hundreds of Pilots who volunteer. 2000’s: In an effort to further build and nurture relationships in the community, we became a member of at least one Chamber of Commerce in each city where Southwest flies. Additionally, Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) created an annual “Lánzate/Take Off” education travel award program where more than 1,500 students from across the nation submit an essay about why they are pursuing a college degree and how the travel award would help them achieve their goals. 2010’s: To celebrate Southwest’s 40 th anniversary, we teamed up with the Student Conservation Association to take our volunteerism on the road, and complete 40 conservation projects across the nation. One thing remains constant—we may be an airline, but we do some of our best work on the ground by making a positive difference in our communities, and it always comes from the heart. We believe in bringing people together, inspiring change, and making a difference in people’s lives. We support global and national nonprofit organizations, champion our own Southwest Airlines giving programs, and encourage individual Employees and community members to volunteer and advocate for the causes they believe in most.
I encourage you to check out our new community ad showing how Southwest gives from the heart by visiting www.southwest.com/citizenship or hear first-hand from one of our Employees who was featured in the ad by visiting www.blogsouthwest.com/.
How do you give from the heart in your community? Let us know by commenting below.
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When I came to work at Southwest Airlines more than 20 years ago, I thought it was “cute” that the airline had the stock ticker symbol, LUV. As a former newspaper reporter, I knew from my dealings with executives and Employees that Southwest was irreverent and a bit different. But, use the word LUV or LOVE? Really?
Now, more than two decades in, I’m a proud Kool-Aid drinker. I get it. This place is like nowhere else I have ever worked. You get what you give, and I love this Company. In my capacity, I’m fortunate to see the ways in which Southwest Employees share their love with one another AND with our Customers. My favorites are still the love connections that happen in airports and on our planes. Case in point: Jason Gonzalez (pictured above).
His email to me last weekend laid out his own love story, and it began on a Southwest jet. He had me at “I’ve been a loyal Rapid Rewards member for years,” but he went on to say how he wanted to take a few minutes to explain how a Southwest flight changed his life. Waiting in line to board a flight in March 2009, Jason was determined to meet the young woman he spied in the airport and introduce himself.
He says, “After a tough day of work, my mind was wandering, and I was gazing about the terminal, when she walked by. A young, beautiful and professional looking woman. Unfortunately, she continued to walk past me and away from my gate. I glanced back a couple times to see if by chance she was headed back in my direction. No luck, so I boarded the flight. As I settle into my usual aisle seat, I look up and see her walk right past me and sit down one row back across the aisle! Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to notice me. So as the plane continued to fill up and eventually take off (right on time, as usual, I might add) I began to devise a plan to change that. Directly across the aisle from me sat a very nice older women who just so happened to be reading a book from one of my favorite authors. Ah hah! So I struck up a conversation with her about it, hoping “others” in the immediate area would overhear and 1) finally notice me, 2) get to know me indirectly and 3) be receptive when I implemented the rest of my plan to speak to her at baggage claim (since she only carried on a briefcase).
Sadly, step three did not work out as planned. Deplaning first, I waited by baggage claim. And waited and waited. She was only a row behind me. Maybe she slipped by and I missed her, I thought to myself. As I looked toward the airport exit once again, there she was! We looked right at each other from about 40 feet away, and our eyes locked for a brief moment. And then she continued walking straight past baggage claim toward the shuttle bus stop – no checked bag. $%#! I quickly devised Plan B: grab my bag and head in her direction. I knew I would only have a couple of minutes at best to reach her before the shuttle arrived. One problem--I was still waiting for my bag. It was the Southwest ground crew versus the shuttle bus driver! Who would be quicker?? I liked my odds. The winner of this battle would change my life forever! Like a whole other type of “Rapid Reward,” my suitcase suddenly shot out on the baggage belt. I grabbed it and quickly headed in her direction. I could see her across the way sitting at the stop as a shuttle bus drove by. Please don't let that be hers! It drove on past her to the next stop, and I eased my pace knowing I would have time to reach her.
A special thank you to the Southwest Burbank ground crew! And, thanks to that dear woman sitting next to me for so graciously taking the time to chat with me. As later confirmed, steps 1 and 2 of my plan were successful, and without them, Plan B may not have worked.
After talking for a bit, Stephanie and I swapped business cards there at the shuttle stop and soon went out on a first date. As it turned out, we lived in the same neighborhood, play tennis, hike, and love good food and wine. And it’s history from there. We got engaged last May and will be married on May 4, 2013. As an interesting side note, Stephanie is an attorney specializing in the aviation industry (you couldn’t write a more perfect script, right?). So it all started on a Southwest flight.”
Jason said he and his fiancée, Stephanie, are looking forward to sharing some Southwest peanuts and pretzels with their wedding attendees during their nuptials in May. We’re proud we could help love take flight. Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, actually, is all around us.
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The battle rages on in our efforts to Free Hobby. We have made huge strides in our quest for international service from Houston’s Hobby. Understand that the battle is not over and the time to take action is NOW. Join the over 33,000 supporters who have voiced their support at www.freehobbyairport.com.
This isn't just a Houston effort. Our supporters span from across the country to across borders. Supporters are speaking out in support of fair competiton, increased travel options and lower fares.
Later this month, we plan to show Houston City Council Members the groundswell of support from advocates who signed our online petition. If you haven’t done so already, please visit freehobbyaiport.com by THIS Sunday (5/27) and click the tabs under “take action” to show your support. It only takes a minute, and it is a monumental step in our efforts to fly internationally. Let’s work together. Let’s lower fares to Mexico, the Caribbean and cities in Central and South America. Let’s FREE HOBBY!
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I don’t have to tell any of you that one of the things that sets Southwest apart is the enormous Servant’s Heart exemplified by our Employees in the communities where we live and work. Giving our time, giving back, and doing the right thing are hallmarks of our Company. Recently, I got to celebrate our Employees’ Servant’s Hearts in action at our Volunteers of LUV ceremony held at Headquarters. Volunteers of LUV are extraordinary volunteers who make a positive difference each and every day. These volunteers were nominated by their peers and, this year, by the nonprofits and schools where they dedicated their time. We had more than 350 nominations and selected the following 24 for their outstanding service—often there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we celebrated, applauded, and honored their accomplishments. Their volunteer work is inspirational, and it sets an example to us all to get out there and give back, record our volunteer hours, and earn tickets for the nonprofits and schools through the Tickets for Time program. The 2012 Volunteers of LUV recipients:
Chicago Captain Ken Oliver volunteers at least twice a week at the Lawrence Kansas Meals on Wheels. Ken feels fortunate to have a healthy family and great job, and he says it feels good to help out where there’s such a big need. The organization is grateful to Ken for delivering meals to homebound elderly and/or disabled clients. Kevin Meoak is a Customer Service Agent in Burbank, and volunteers with the Academy for New Musical Theater. This professional program is one of only three in the United States, as well as a cultural institution in Los Angeles. Kevin has helped hundreds of writers and actors through various programs. The Academy would love to hire him, but they know he is equally dedicated to Southwest! David Yock, a First Officer based in Chicago, is a dedicated volunteer at St. Joseph Catholic School. David volunteered more than 160 hours in 2011, which earned the school four roundtrip tickets through Southwest’s Tickets for Time program. Along with teaching the Adopt-A-Pilot program, David is a school board member and is always involved in a number of various projects. St. Joseph’s says that David is a wonderful role model and a true inspiration with his winning attitude and positive, pleasant personality. Dana McCann is a Senior Associate Invoice Processor at Headquarters, and she has a strong passion for the Legacy Brain Foundation. Her Servant’s Heart is reflected in her desire to honor past Employees who fought long and hard battles with this disease, such as Gary Wende and Joan Ferris. She is willing to go the extra mile and help in any way she can. The Legacy Brain Foundation is thankful she has chosen to share her time and talents to help patients with their many needs. Dallas Captain Mike Decanio works with the Pegasus Project, a nonprofit located in East Texas that is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of neglected, abandoned, and abused horses. He nurses the horses back to health, and he trains them using natural horsemanship techniques so they can find loving homes. Mike is united with Pegasus Project because of their shared love of horses and the desire to alleviate suffering. Melissa Ryan is a CS&S Customer Representative in Oklahoma City and has worked as a volunteer with Calm Waters since 2008. Calm Waters is a support center for children and families experiencing feelings of loss and grief due to divorce or death. Melissa is a specially trained Grief and Loss Facilitator and conducts groups for grieving children on a regular basis. Melissa says that is it wonderful to see the families as they begin to heal and regain joy in their lives. Emergency Response Senior Coordinator Dora Villarreal shares her time and LUV with Community Partners of Dallas, working with kids to help them develop empathy for others, build positive relationships with adults and peers, and become empowered to make a difference in their world. Her passion allows her to have a positive impact on Dallas-area children and inspire hope for the abused and neglected children served by Dallas County Child Protective Services. Houston First Officer Rich Spinelli doesn’t like bullies and people who take advantage of others. His for justice is funneled straight into the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to facilitate improvements and reforms throughout the criminal justice system. Rich is committed to making New Orleans a safe place to live, work, and visit. Alicia Prigmore, a CS&S Customer Representative in Phoenix, has a personal affinity for Dress for Success, an organization whose goal is to build client self-confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment. When she was raising her daughter as a single parent, she had the support of this wonderful group behind her. Alicia says that seeing a woman come in who is not confident and then walk out a transformed, vibrant woman is incredible! Dallas-based Flight Attendant Lynn Schwirtz is a court-appointed advocate for children in the foster care system through CASA, a nonprofit organization of volunteers who are voices for abused children in court. Lynn’s passion is clear by her advocating tirelessly and assertively for a sibling group of four children who have been in foster care for almost four years. Lynn has been the one constant in these children’s lives during this time, and her commitment is invaluable. Cheri Weidman is the Greenville/Spartanburg Station Administrator who is involved with a number of wonderful organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Harvest Hope Food Bank, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Carolinas. And this is only what we know about her just since GSP opened a year ago! Cheri says that after being on the receiving end of assistance from some outstanding organizations in the past, she will continue to give back to the community as often as she possibly can. Oakland First Officer Wendy Hales-Mora is an active Adopt-A-Pilot who volunteered more than 160 hours at Barron Park Elementary School. Wendy loves being able to introduce kids to math, science, geography, careers, goals, and values from a different or a “real world” perspective. She believes every child has the potential to be enormously successful, and all it takes is being able to inspire them in the right way, at the right time. Lori Piper, a CS&S Customer Representative in Phoenix, has shown an incredible drive to help homeless teens get back on their feet by volunteering at the Outreach Shelter in Tempe, Arizona. The organization provides meals, hot showers, and assistance with finding jobs. Lori always has a big supply of clothes, food, and water to give, and her love and kindness radiates in all she does. Emmett Tullia is a Houston-based Captain, as well as a volunteer firefighter with Manchaca Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighter Tullia volunteers when he is not flying for SWA, and responds to emergencies, medical calls, and other duties as a volunteer firefighter. Emmett received the Firefighter of the Year award for 2011 and continues to show the department and his community his great level of interest and service. Senior Attorney Katy Drechsel plays a critical role as a National Parks Conservation Association volunteer focusing on the importance of maintaining our national parks. The National Parks Conservation Association shared that ,without Katy’s help throughout the year, they would not be able to accomplish all the things that need attention in our National Parks. Delane Gomez, a CS&S Customer Representative in Albuquerque, serves on the advisory board of Basket of Hope. Every week hundreds of children are diagnosed with cancer, and she puts together baskets of goodies to deliver to critically ill children in the hospital during such a difficult time. Delane says that the smiles of these children touch her heart in a way she never imagined. Orlando Maintenance Line Mechanic Chuck Crawford volunteers with Air Mobile Ministries—a nonprofit organization that provides disaster relief all around the world. They bring medical supplies, food, clothing, and a water purifier to those in need, and Chuck’s dedication and deep beliefs in the causes that Air Mobile Ministries serves is inspiring. Cheryl Gilmore is a Senior Source of Support Representative at Headquarters, and says that Southwest Airlines and Habitat for Humanity have given her the opportunity to help families realize the dream of owning a home—as well as a backyard so the kids can play safely. When the new homeowner receives their keys, Cheryl feels the utmost pride and satisfaction knowing she was part of building a dream home for someone. Oakland First Officer Joel Reiner is basically a “Joel of all trades” at Neighborhood Christian School in Dixon, California. Along with participating in the Adopt-a-Pilot program for fifth grade classrooms, Joel is always willing to help in the school office or help the teachers, as well as utilize his skills to build and fix things around the school. Joel is a great example to the school community and a quality Southwest Employee. Steve Cohen is a CS&S Customer Representative in San Antonio and volunteers with the National Parks Service and Amtrak for a program called Trails and Rails. He provides cultural and historical information on the Texas Eagle Route from San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to Ft. Worth. Steve goes the extra mile to provide great information to Amtrak passengers who would normally not be exposed the work of the National Parks Service. Houston-based Flight Attendant B.K. Hoffman soars above and beyond the Southwest tradition of cooking dinners for Houston’s Ronald McDonald House. A cancer survivor herself, she has an innate understanding of what these kids are going through, and expresses it in her own loving ways. BK steps in whenever and wherever she can, and whether it’s to drive families on field trips to the rodeo or Texans games, or even just help a young lady shop for her prom dress, she is always sharing herself. J.D. Lynd is an Oakland-based First Officer who volunteers with the Efrain Anthony Marrero Foundation, an organization that educates people about steroid use and performance enhancing drugs at all levels of sports. A personal interest in supporting the organization began by seeing the devastation of the death of his daughter’s friend as the result of steroid abuse. J.D. has supported parents through interventions, as well as established support systems for athletic departments with information about the detriments of using steroids. Rapid Rewards Representative Chris Olivas volunteered more than 230 hours at the Resource Center of Dallas, where he lends his helping hands to everything from the hot meals program, AIDS crisis hotline, library, and bingo night to picking up donations and washing dishes. Last year, Chris earned the organization four roundtrip tickets through the Tickets for Time program. Now, Chris’s goal for this year is to earn them their maximum of six roundtrip tickets.
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This is the sixth in a series of posts about our integrated annual report, the 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we have illustrated our commitment to a triple bottomline and how our passion and focus on Performance, People, and Planet continues to propel us forward. Many companies call the cities in which they operate “markets, ” but at Southwest Airlines, we like to call these cities our “communities.” Each one is special to us and unique in its own way. These communities are home to our favorite People: our Employees and Customers! We believe investing in the community is ultimately an investment in our most important asset: Our People. It’s our goal to support the passion points and effect positive change in the communities where our Employees and our Customers live and work. By teaming up with our community partners, Employees, and our Customers, we work together to achieve health, prosperity, and positive change in our hometowns. While 2010 presented its own set of challenges to not only our industry, but also our country, the 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™ celebrates some exciting achievements in our communities—achievements like an overall $13.9 million investment of tickets and cash directly back into our communities, and taking our partnership with the National Wildlife Refuge Association up a notch with our first cause-marketing effort, the “Help Us, Help Them” giving campaign in response to the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. In 2010, Southwest also joined our nonprofit partners dedicated to supporting the military and its families by declaring November “Military Heroes Month” and dedicated the entire month to sharing the stories of these nonprofits with the Southwest audience. Our community partners represent the diversity of our Customers and Employees and include organizations like The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, and the Black Voice Foundation. That last ten years forced us all to think outside of the box for ways to remain prosperous and profitable. It also taught us that our prosperity hinges on the health and vitality of the communities in which we operate. We learned that we are stronger together as our Employees, Customers, and Communities came together to make the world in which we live a better place. We know that we, as a Company, do well by doing good. That is one of the many reasons we now report on our annual community giving and annual financials in the same document. In 2010, our Company simultaneously said “goodbye” to a tumultuous decade and laid the groundwork for a future full of hope. We are proud of our commitment to being a good citizen of the world. We look forward to sharing the journey with you in our blog post series on Performance, People, and Planet, and we hope it will inspire you to read our 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, which, in an effort to conserve our natural resources, can only be found online at www.southwest.com/citizenship.
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We spent Friday reminiscing about our award-winning blog history of five years.
From its infancy, Nuts About Southwest has always been a learning process and still remains one. At its core, Nuts is about letting Customers not only see behind the curtain, but tear the curtain down altogether.
So it is with great pleasure I formally present our latest edition of Nuts About Southwest, fresh out of the packaging.
Besides the sleek new interface, you'll notice the Social Stream to the right of the page. The stream is a tool that will provide real-time updates on Southwest activity in spaces like Twitter and Facebook, as well as user activity from across the Nuts blog. It's a live play-by-play of what's going on at Southwest.
Our new Blog Team was selected from among many, many talented Employee submissions. They represent different jobs, tenures, perspectives, and parts of the country.
Enhanced user profiles provide more ways to share, and an interactive map shows us what Southwest cities users have visited.
Located just above that map you'll notice badges. Users can earn badges based on how they interact with the blog - by commenting, LUV'ing a post, or sharing their travel destinations. As our user interactions grow, so will our badges.
Red Belly Radio is easier to listen to than ever, with a pop-out player that allows users to continue surfing the blog while they listen to the podcast.
Head over to the downloads tab to access smart phone wallpaper, extras for your own blog, and the Southwest Social Media Guide for Employees
When the sun sets at our Headquarters in Dallas, it also sets on Nuts About Southwest. I'll let you return tonight to see what I mean (after all, we can't reveal ALL our secrets).
I hope you're as excited as I am in welcoming our new Blog Team, and applauding the fantastic work that got us to Blog 3.0!
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We’ve said it a number of different times in a number of different ways, and now we’re saying it again: Southwest Airlines LUVs Denver! Today marks the official grand opening of The Southwest Porch at Skyline Park, located in the heart of Downtown Denver. The Porch is an outdoor lounge that will provide Denver residents and visitors alike with a relaxing venue to enjoy some Southwest hospitality, along with Neapolitan-style pizzas from Denver’s own Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada, and drinks served up by Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. We tapped the creative genius of Denver’s The Perfect Petal to custom design a Porch that would blend in nicely with the Mile High City’s beautiful surroundings, and we think they nailed it! Check out the photos to see for yourself. I know, I know, we are an airline, so what’s up with opening up a Porch? Well, if you know Southwest, then you know that we are much more than just an airline. We are an integral part of the communities that we serve. We make it our mission to engage the local communities we serve by partnering with organizations and finding ways to improve the quality of life where our Employees and our Customers work and live. In Denver, we've teamed up with the Denver Nuggets, the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver's Rescue Mission, and Denver's Road Home, just to name a few. We thought a Southwest Porch would be a natural extension of our commitment to the community in a lively and fun way. Many of you are familiar with The Southwest Porch at Bryant Park in New York City, which we opened to celebrate our inaugural service into LaGuardia in June 2009. Think similar concept, but the elements and design are specifically created with a local Denver flavor that will complement the Mile High City’s popular 16th Street Mall. The Porch gives us an opportunity to enhance Denver's thriving downtown area in the heart of Skyline Park, where we've also sponsored movies and concerts. It's also a way for us to display our unique personality, as well as thank Denver for embracing our rapid growth and our presence in the community. So, whether you live in Denver or find yourself visiting the Front Range, I invite you to make your way to The Southwest Porch at Skyline Park. I think you'll find it's worth the trip!
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I had the chance this afternoon to speak directly with director Kevin Smith. I let him know that in my 18 years here at Southwest, I have never dealt with a situation like what has been unfolding in the last 48 hours. I let Kevin know we have refunded his airfare. I told him we made a mistake in trying to board him as a standby passenger and then remove him. And I told him we were sorry. Now, 48 hours later, after talking to many involved, we know there were several things going on that day and that our Employees were doing their best to get his flight out safely and on time, including finding seats for everyone and trying to accommodate standby passengers. The Captain did not single Kevin out to be removed, but he did ask that the boarding be completed quickly. At that time, our Employees made the decision to remove Kevin after a quick judgment call that he might have needed more than one seat for his comfort and those seated next to him. Although I’m not here to debate the decision our Employees made, I can tell you that I for one have learned a lot today. The communication among our Employees was not as sharp as it should have been and, it’s apparent that Southwest could have handled this situation differently. Thanks, Kevin, for your passion around this topic. You were a reasonable guy during our conversation. Southwest, like most carriers, has a policy to assist passengers who need two seats onboard an aircraft. The policy is an important one for the comfort and safety of all passengers aboard a plane, and we stand by that 25-year-old policy. This has our attention, and we will be reviewing how and when this delicate policy is implemented.
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