In her more than 21 years as a Southwest Airlines Employee, Sue Snyder has never taken a single sick day. That’s right: not one. Her incredible spirit for the Company she LUVs keeps her coming in, workday after workday. That explains why Sue’s Coworkers repeatedly use the words “hardworking” and “dedicated” to describe her.
As a Pilot Base Coordinator, Sue supports hundreds of Dallas-based Pilots. Her preparedness for nearly any situation—whether it involves replacing broken headsets in cockpits, sewing loose buttons back on Pilots’ uniforms, or making travel arrangements—has earned Sue the well-deserved respect of her fellow Employees.
After starting her Southwest career doing Pilot payroll in the Flight Ops Department, Sue moved to her current position in 2002. She LUVs that she still finds great satisfaction in her job. “No matter how much is going on in their days, our Pilots appreciate us for what we do for them,” Sue says.
More than two decades of service bring a lot of memories, but one experience remains closest to Sue’s heart: escorting an Air Force fighter pilot’s family to the gate to greet him upon his arrival from a tour of duty in the Middle East. “It was just so rewarding to know he had come home safely to his wife and child.”
Sue also enjoys the Freedom Southwest gives her to maintain family ties. With relatives living out of state, she often takes advantage of her travel privileges to attend reunions and see her grandsons play football. Her husband, daughter, and grandchildren also enjoy the Freedom to travel that comes with being related to a Southwest Employee. “Southwest has really connected me with family that I may not otherwise get to see as often,” she says. “And with the end of the Wright Amendment restrictions at Dallas Love Field, traveling is even easier.”
Sue, because of your longtime dedication to our Company and our People, it’s easy to see why we cherish Employees like you. We’re grateful you’re one of our Stars!
Photo courtesy of Trevor Paulhus
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At Southwest, we believe that every seat has a story. When Customer Brad Beldon decided to make a Southwest-inspired photo his cell phone background on a recent flight out of LAX, little did he know that his heart for the Company would be noticed by LAS Flight Attendant Michelle Rapolla—who was working on Brad’s flight. She asked about the story behind the picture, she quickly found out this was a tale of true Southwest LUV.
It started back in 1971 when Brad, his sister Alli, and their cousin Robin boarded a Southwest plane on our first day of service, traveling all the way from their hometown of San Antonio to Dallas. For these young kids, their journey on this original Southwest route to visit their aunt and uncle was quite the adventure!
“My mom knew Herb and had a lot of confidence in him,” Brad said when speaking of flying on Southwest’s first day of service. “She thought it would be cool to say we were on this flight. I was so young at the time, but I do remember getting buckled in my seat.”
Even for a very young Alli, the memory of this trip is filled with excitement and remembering how things once were back in the good ol’ days. “We were so excited to visit my aunt and uncle that we weren't really nervous,” she says. “What I couldn't believe was that our parents were letting us go by ourselves at such a young age. I remember them being able to board the plane to help us get situated—that definitely would not happen today.”
Nowadays, both Brad and Alli remain loyal Southwest Customers. Brad is an A-List Preferred Member and Companion Pass holder, as is Alli’s husband. Both say their children don’t know any other airline and are very appreciative of the Legendary Customer Service and Culture that makes Southwest so unique—that’s saying a lot when you “live on this airline,” as Brad says he and his family do!
Brad is frequently traveling to Dallas for business and Boston to watch the Red Sox play baseball. In fact, on one of his recent flights, Brad was invited by his Pilot to sit in the cockpit while the plane was parked on the ground—a first for this Southwest native. It was already late at night when the Pilot extended the invitation, but that didn’t stop the Crew from going the extra mile and surprising Brad with this inside look at the control center of a Southwest plane. Despite the late hour, Brad called his wife immediately after the experience to let her know what had happened and “how cool it was” to sit in the cockpit with the Pilot. This, among many other things, is just part of the reason why Brad says Southwest is the “best thing since sliced bread.”
“We just love this airline—it hardly ever lets you down, but when it does, you take care of it. I don’t have to worry about anything, and the service is great. You don’t have a more loyal fan.”
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Put on those thinking caps! In “Name That Neighborhood,” we challenge you to master your geography skills and guess the SWA destination city from the clues provided. Having trouble remembering all of the cities we service? No problem—click here for our route map. Happy travels!
When we think of this city, one of the first things that comes to mind is that classic love story-made-movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. And as beautiful as this city is on the silver screen, it’s even more magnificent in person—whether you enjoy spending the day outdoors, strolling through markets, or sipping coffee, rest assured that you’ll never run out of things to do in the Emerald City!
Can you tell what chewy substance this wall is covered in? If you’re thinking bubblegum—but finding that hard to believe—you’re actually correct! The city’s Post Alley Gum Wall truly “sticks” out as a must-see attraction when you’re a tourist in town!
The well-known Pike Place Market in this city overlooks Elliott Bay and is home to some of the freshest seafood—and other tasty treats, flowers, and homemade gifts—you’ll find on the West Coast. It’s easy to get lost strolling through the stores on the market’s multiple levels, but make sure you stop by the Pike Place Fish Market to see local mongers showing off their catches in their world famous fish throw!
Take a peek out our plane window from our flight into this city. That mountain you’re seeing is Mt. Rainier, and it makes for a great photo op when you’re still high in the sky! Close by are Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens, which you can also see if your plane is flying from the right direction (and if it’s a clear day in this very rainy city)!
Think you know where to go if you want to check out this stunning city? Comment below with your answer!
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This guest post from Patrick Ziegert of Operation Freedom Bird originally appeared in the November 2014 edition of Southwest: The Magazine.
Friends in Arms: OFB takes vets to the Vietnam Wall and other war memorials.
Operation Freedom Bird (OFB) keeps its annual commitment to helping American combat veterans find healing.
In the 1980s, Pat Lynch, a decorated Vietnam veteran, was readjusting to civilian life in Phoenix. He had used his veterans benefits to obtain his commercial pilot’s license and begun a career in the airline industry that took him to cities across the country. Once, while in Washington, D.C., he visited the Vietnam Wall, our nation’s official memorial for the military conflict he’d survived. Right away, Pat saw the monument’s powerful potential for healing. He also realized his profession could provide a way to help fellow veterans benefit from the memorial. And with that, Operation Freedom Bird was born.
Since 1988, the organization has helped more than 1,100 Arizona combat veterans take a Healing Journey to their memorial in D.C. It’s a trip that changes lives. As a veteran who served in Iraq, I went on a Healing Journey in 2010, and since then, I’ve been able to live in the present instead of living in the past and re-experiencing the combat trauma that haunted me for many years. This inspired me enough to take a direct approach in helping the organization, and I’m now the president of Operation Freedom Bird.
Southwest Airlines is one of our most important partners. Each year, up to 50 veterans are able to make their Healing Journeys for Veterans Day because Southwest flies them to Washington, D.C., free of charge. Southwest also provides a special send-off at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and a reception at the point of arrival in D.C.
It doesn’t stop there. When the veterans return home, one of the most powerful displays of gratitude is waiting: an enormous reception in a Southwest hangar where family members, supporters, and representatives from the airline welcome these warriors back home. It is a true heroes’ welcome and certainly drives home the idea that our families, including the Southwest Family, love the returning veterans and respect the sacrifices they each made to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. For more information, visit operationfreedombird.org.
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The following is a guest post by Debbie McGowan, daughter of Southwest's Maintenance Certificate Compliance Senior Specialist Bill Morton and director of the Longview High School Viewettes.
As I fasten my seat belt with an audible click, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. After all, months of planning and fundraising has gone into place to get here. Where is here? Here is aboard Flight #1692 from Dallas Love Field to Chicago Midway. A group of 50 student dancers and parents, along with myself, are headed to the Windy City for our beloved Longview High School Viewettes to take part in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
My name is Debbie McGowan, and I am the director of this amazing precision dance drill team group. Back in May we were invited by Coast2Coast Productions to be a part of a performance group that would take part in a special production for the parade. Most everything was included—except the flight.
After committing to the trip, the very next phone call I made was to my dad, Bill Morton. He is a Senior Specialist in Maintenance Certificate Compliance for Southwest. I asked him a few questions about group travel and inquired about when the Wright Amendment concluded. To our advantage, it was to be lifted the month before our trip. One more phone call was made to group travel, and thanks to the low fares, with a few clicks we were booked for roundtrip, nonstop flights!
This amazing trip includes 36 dancers (five of which have never flown before), 15 adults, and a most memorable opportunity to perform in the Thanksgiving Day parade broadcast nationally on WGN. While in Chicago, we will visit the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, see the musical Annie, and of course, shop on the Magnificent Mile. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, our Viewettes will transform into toy soldiers and take the streets of Chicago in a magical and memorable performance.
Traveling in a large group can sometimes be nerve racking, but thanks to Southwest’s group travel accommodations and bags fly free, the group traveling arrangements were a breeze! The Longview High School Viewettes Luv Southwest!
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There are several things that come to mind when we think about our to-do lists when getting ready for Thanksgiving: baste the turkey, put the pumpkin pie in the oven, and clean our homes for the company that will soon arrive. Chances are, though, most of us will do some sort of traveling this Thanksgiving too—it is the busiest travel time of the year, after all! Whether you’re entertaining guests in your hometown or jet-setting across the country to meet the ones you LUV, we have some suggestions for FUN ways to go all out in celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday around a few of the cities we service!
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: If you’ve been watching Macy’s iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade every year from your television, you can get a sense of the amazing spectacle this event really is. However, there’s nothing like seeing the parade in person in New York City; you will need to get to your viewing spot early, dress warmly, and be prepared to stand for long periods of time, but catching that first glimpse of Santa and his sleigh at the parade’s finale is well worth the wait!
Giving Thanks at Thanks-Giving Square: Here in our hometown of Dallas, Thanks-Giving Square is a downtown space devoted to its namesake: giving thanks. Stop by the Chapel of Thanksgiving and marvel at the colorful stained glass in the Glory Window, one of the largest horizontally-mounted pieces of stained glass in the world. And make sure to pay a visit to the Hall of Thanksgiving (below the chapel), where you can find the story behind the traditional American Thanksgiving.
The Annual Fifth Third Turkey Trot: What better way to burn some pre-feast calories than running a race? Each Thanksgiving Day morning, Fifth Third Bank hosts the Fifth Third Turkey Trot in the Detroit area with deliciously-deemed races like the Mashed Potato Mile, the 10K Turkey Trot, the Drumstick Double, and the 5K S3 Stuffing Strut. Dress up in costume for an extra helping of FUN, and make plans to stay for America’s Thanksgiving Parade once you’ve trotted your way down the race track!
Dinner Cruise By the Bay: If you’re looking for a slightly more unconventional way to feast this Thanksgiving, look no further than a dinner cruise in the San Francisco Bay. Several cruise companies are offering a full Thanksgiving meal that Thursday, complete with live bands and beautiful views of the Bay. You can choose from seated dinners or buffets with all the traditional trimmings.
Volunteer: There isn’t much we LUV more than giving back to our community. Of course, volunteering is an activity you can participate in throughout the year, but there’s something particularly special about serving others around the holiday season. VolunteerMatch is a great place to get started if you’re looking for ways and places to help those in need this Thanksgiving. The best part is, there’s no limit to where or when you can volunteer—every city we service could use your helping hands!
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With 96 different domestic and international locations, Southwest is guaranteed to take you somewhere you’ll want to be camera-ready. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a newbie behind the lens, these tips on being prepared to capture the perfect picture will help you come home with plenty of snapshots ready to be framed.
Do some research: Especially if you’re visiting somewhere you’ve never been, make sure you know what the must-do attractions are in your destination (check out our Nonstop Love posts for some Employee suggestions for cities around the SWA System). Unbeknownst to you, all those “hidden gems” around the city that you find during your research may be the perfect spots for pictures.
Pack what you need, but only what you need: There’s a reason the words “lug” and “luggage” sound so similar—carrying your bags while you travel is a chore! When it comes to photography, you want to make sure you’re prepared, but no need to over-pack with a lot of extra equipment you don’t need. Must-haves in your bag may include battery chargers, a camera case, and an extra memory card.
Shoot during “magic hours”: For many photographers, “magic hours” include the morning and evening when the sun is right above the horizon line before rising/setting, giving the surrounding landscape a beautiful golden glow. However, early morning is another prime time for picture-taking. Many People will still be in bed or having breakfast, which means you can capture great shots of your favorite spots without any unexpected photobombs!
Candids are king: Gone are the days where posing was the only proper way to take a photo. Now, some of the best shots come from those moments before and after a planned pose or even capturing People in action during their everyday lives. Tip: If you’re trying to capture an action shot, take several quick photos in succession. This will give you multiple candid shots to choose from.
Your subjects are everywhere: Of course, People will always be some of your best subjects when trying to capture memories of your trip. But if you’re flying solo or simply looking to diversify your portfolio, consider making other living (or non-living) objects a focal point. Fresh fruits and vegetables (at the market), plant and animal life (in the great outdoors), and local goods (quilts, jewelry, and other trinkets) all make great documentation showcasing an adventurous trip.
Get advice from the locals: No one knows a destination better than the locals. Some of your favorite spots may end up being the lesser-known hideaways you never would have found on your own but are the go-to locations for local residents. While you’re out and about, don’t forget to ask the People you run into for their suggestions on the best spots for some unforgettable and unique photographs.
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