If you see Gail Smith at the Oakland International Airport, she’ll undoubtedly greet you with a cheerful smile and helpful attitude. Gail has been a Customer Service Agent at Southwest Airlines for eight years. Even though her interactions with Customers at the ticket counter, baggage desk, and gate podium last only a few minutes, it’s her goal to make each encounter a positive one.
“I love to engage with my Customers while I complete my tasks,” Gail says. “I want to find out where they are going and the reason they are going there. Then I try to find a way to enhance it.” For example, if Customers tell Gail they’re on vacation, she’ll offer to take their picture. “I’ll use their phone to take a photo—this is what I’m known for! Then they can send the photo to those who are waiting for them to arrive or keep it as a souvenir of their trip.”
Gail likes taking photos outside of work too, and in her free time she learns new techniques and grows her collection of equipment. Her vacations are usually “photography safaris,” tours where photographers travel together to exciting destinations, receiving instruction along the way. A few of her favorite international destinations for such trips are Samoa, Fiji, and Italy.
Gail was born in Detroit but moved to Riverside, California, with her family when she was 13. After graduating college, she started working for AT&T in the Bay Area, which has been her home ever since. Gail retired from her career in telecommunications before coming to Southwest Airlines. She’s a loving, devoted mother and grandmother.
Today, Gail couldn’t be happier with her job. “We work hard—very hard—but our rewards are plentiful,” she says. “I just love meeting people each day and hearing tidbits about their lives.”
Thank you for being one of the brightest stars at Southwest, Gail. Your enthusiasm for Customer Service inspires us all!
... View more
Even on a normal day, the hallways at Southwest Airlines Headquarters are far from ordinary—every wall is covered with framed photos and memories from floor to ceiling. But today, Mardi Gras, the hallways of our building on Love Field Drive were especially boisterous and filled with more SPIRIT than usual! As a Correspondent in the Executive Office (EO), I am also part of our Team’s Culture Committee. My job on this Committee is to work with several other EO Employees to plan a once-a-quarter “Random Act of Culture” event for our Department. And today we had our first 2011 internal Culture event—a Mardi Gras “mix and mingle!” All the Teams within the EO were given a week to put their heads together and make homemade Mardi Gras parade floats out of empty boxes, and then this morning we gathered together to have a contest for the best floats while enjoying music, King Cake, and all the festive colors of Fat Tuesday. It was a great way to enjoy a once-a-quarter Culture event outside of our normal work responsibilities and have some FUN together! Naturally, we couldn’t have our beautiful parade floats sitting around unused, so we extended our Executive Office event to the hallways of Headquarters and spent the 30 minutes strutting around with our creations—along with some beads, masks, music, and other Fat Tuesday frills. As the lucky Employees who got the slices of King Cake with a plastic trinket inside, Valerie and Raquel were elected our Mardi Gras Parade Queens and lead us fearlessly around as we spread joy and SPIRIT to each Employee who ventured into the hallway as we passed!
I should share that the winners of our parade float contest were the Pass Bureau’s “Black Swan” float for Most Original, and the Culture Services Outreach Team’s “Culture Gumbo” float for Most Traditional (that’s my Team!). Also, both the Administrative Services Team and Distribution Services Team received Honorable Mentions for their floats. Our judges were Employee volunteers from other departments—all of whom are relatively new Employees to the Company. As you can see, we all LUVed sharing a little bit of Culture with our Southwest Family! I hope that you will also find ways to have FUN this Fat Tuesday!
... View more
As a Correspondent on the Outreach Team in Culture Services here at Southwest Airlines, my primary responsibility is to read and respond to all the compliments (fondly referred to as “LUV Mail”) that we receive. I never tire of reading these stories and ensuring sure that proper acknowledgement is given to the Employee(s) being commended. Written directly to Gary Kelly, the following e-mail is from Doug Ulman, CEO and President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (best known by their rally cry “LIVESTRONG”). But when you read Doug’s touching story and learn about his experiences with Southwest Airlines, I think you’ll find that his words of gratitude and admiration are not for Gary alone, but for every Southwest Warrior. You see, by simply “taking care of business” and practicing what we call “Living the Southwest Way,” we have become widely recognized as a Company that delivers Positively Outrageous Service—and an example for countless other organizations and businesses. We couldn’t be prouder of our Employees who use that influence for good! All in all, while the following tribute is well-deserved by the hardworking People of Southwest, it is also an uplifting story that anyone can benefit from reading. We’re so glad that Doug shared it with us so that we, in turn, can share it with you. Enjoy and don’t forget to share your own story with us by submitting a compliment via southwest.com (simply click “Contact Us” and then “E-mail Us”). I look forward to reading your LUV Mail soon! Dear Gary, I wanted to send you a personal note and let you know how much of an impact SWA has had on my life. Ever since the time of my first cancer diagnosis more than 13 years ago SWA has been a key partner in my life. At that time I was able to fly back and forth between my hometown of Baltimore and Providence where I was in school at Brown University. SWA allowed me the freedom to fly and the ability to see my doctors at Johns Hopkins regularly without missing many classes. SWA has also allowed me to conquer my massive fear of flying. Ever since an emergency landing on another carrier when I was 12 years old I have feared flight. And yet, I typically fly several times each week thanks to the friendly, compassionate and passionate staff at SWA. I have developed great friendships with many SWA team members including flight attendants who have told me their own cancer story, pilots who have shared their love of fitness and cycling, and many others who have just provided such incredible customer service. The culture you have built is phenomenal and my colleagues and I are enormous fans of your company. Everyone at LIVESTRONG believes in the value of creating a culture of service and we admire greatly all that you, Herb, Colleen and the tens of thousands of SWA team members have done over the years for so many others. We follow in your footsteps each and every day in order to create one of the best places to work. I want to thank you for allowing me to have the best job in the world and making my quality of life much better even though I am still a very nervous flyer. We are changing the way the world fights cancer and Southwest Airlines is helping us accomplish our goals. Thank you and I hope you like the short video that we created for you on a recent SWA flight. Please share it with the pilots, crew, flight attendants, gate agents, maintenance team, and the entire Southwest family so that they will know how much we appreciate them. http://livestrongblog.org/Videos/IFLYSWA/ Simply put - LIVESTRONG LUVs Southwest. Best, Doug Ulman President / CEO Lance Armstrong Foundation
... View more
When you work in Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards (CR/RR) you can never say that you’ve seen and heard it all because you will always receive another “fetching” letter or telephone call that is completely unique. For instance, in February of this year, I responded to the plea of someone who was "begging" to be allowed on a Southwest Airlines flight. The letter was from Ms. Magnolia (Maggie) Loving – a bichon frise in Maryland. Hi, My name is Magnolia, you can call me Maggie. I keep hearing about flying on Southwest Airlines but never have because you don't allow my type of passenger. U see, I am a ten-pound dog. Popi, my Dad calls me his cloud on feet. I am very well behaved and abide by all the rules. Popi has been a flyer on Southwest since way before I was born and loves you guys and, since I carne along, now has to drive alot when I go. I go everywhere they go, and they are getting too old to drive everywhere. I hear they have to drive about 600 miles in a day to get halfway to Mississippi only to have to drive another 600 miles again. All for me. Popi and Mimi, my Morn, got this big blue box called a van to travel in, and we stay in nice hotels but they never stop talking about wishing Southwest Airlines allowed little dogs on there nice airplanes. Popi is a marketing consultant and has some really great ideas about something about making the best better. He said you are the best, and I believe everything he says. We tried another airline, and it wasn't too bad for me except the flight attendants were not very nice and I couldn't potty at the long layover. If you want to talk to Popi about his Ideas about flying little dogs like me you can e-mail him at the address above. He is busy but never too busy for me. Thanks for the chance to vent my feelings. LUV Maggie Oh, By the way, my Birthday is February 26. I'll be 3. Since this was the first time I’d received written correspondence from a dog, I did my best to put together a creative response for this prospective Southwest Airlines Customer. The entire situation had some of us in CR/RR “howling” and gave others a new “leash” on life. (And yes, the puns ran rampant for weeks!) I never heard back from Maggie, or so I thought. It wasn’t until late July that I learned that Maggie had already written back to my letter: June 11, 2009 Ms Katie Ellwood .Representative Customer Relations and Rapid Dallas, TX75235-1611 Dear Ms Ellwood, I so much appreciated your letter of February 23, 2009 regarding pets flying on the LUV jets. It looks like you got some things to happen. Mimi and Popi, my Mom and Dad, have been periodically checking the status of this project and just last week discovered that PAWS starts on June 17th, 2009. WOW. My first trip will be on Thursday, June 18, and I am excited. Popi said I have my own confirmation. number. We are going from Baltimore to Jackson MS to see Mamaw. She is 95 and really perks up when i come to see her. You must have pull with the Southwest folks. I'd love to meet you sometime and give you a big kiss. Now, Popi wants to sell the big blue box. Know anybody looking for a great Poochmobile? Thanks again for all that you did, not just for me, but for all my friends in the SRPA--Spoiled Rotten Pets of America. Be well Magnolia "Maggie" Loving Since we had just announced our new pet policy, I was thrilled to see that Maggie had already taken her first Southwest Airlines flight! Because Maggie’s newest letter was a commendation for my response, some of my Coworkers decided that it was a cause for celebration! One morning I was dragged into the hallway where cupcakes, a certificate, and a trophy (made from a can of dog food, ribbon, a tennis ball, and a snowflake) awaited me. It was quite a surprise and I have enjoyed telling the "tail" of how my Coworkers make CR/RR such a wonderful place to work. In return, I want to commend my Coworkers Karen, Marca, Nancy, Sarah, and Steve for “marking new territory” in Fun-LUVing merriment!
... View more