As I look back at the amazing projects that I have been a part of during my time at Southwest, one of my favorites is undoubtedly LUV Mail. I love reading the heartfelt messages that our Customers have written to our Employees and that our Employees have written for each other. Customer Jim Fogarty’s letter to Captain Erik Stein is no exception.
When Mr. Fogarty learned that he had missed his connecting flight from DEN to TPA, and that it was the last flight to TPA that evening, he was not sure how or when he would get home. However, thanks to Captain Erik Stein, Mr. Fogarty was presented with a most agreeable option. Captain Stein suggested that Mr. Fogarty board the next flight to MCO—which Captain Stein was scheduled to fly—and he then offered to give Mr. Fogarty a ride from Orlando to Tampa, a distance of around 90 miles.
Mr. Fogarty works with some of our country’s best and brightest first responders, so he knows a thing or two about selflessly serving those in need. He could hardly believe the lengths that Captain Stein offered to rescue him from his unfortunate situation. He accepted Captain Stein’s offer and spent an hour and half or so in the car with Captain Stein on his way home. In that time, Mr. Fogarty learned a lot about our amazing Captain, including how serious he and his Fellow Employees are about providing excellent Customer Service. Captain Stein definitely made a believer out of Mr. Fogarty, reinforcing all that he had heard about Southwest from his nephew, Joe Fogarty, who is one of our DEN Flight Attendants.
Captain Stein and Mr. Fogarty met up again not too long ago for another road trip. But this time, as a thank you for the ride from Orlando to Tampa, Mr. Fogarty did all the driving. Captain Stein was treated to a tour of Seattle, Washington, where Mr. Fogarty spends the majority of his time as Director of King’s County Emergency Medical Services. Watch the video that captures their experience as the two went on the road again!
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Southwest Airlines has proudly taken to the golf course every year for 30 years to raise money for children’s charities at our Annual LUV Classic Golf Tournament. We have given proceeds from the LUV Classic to a Ronald McDonald House in every U.S. city Southwest Airlines serves, and the $675,000 in proceeds from this year’s tournament will benefit children in four houses in our international destinations. This provided us a great opportunity to expand the recipients this year to include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. We’re thrilled to expand the reach of the LUV Classic to benefit children and their families beyond our traditional borders.
Thanks to this year's special sponsors for thier generous support:
Missed this year's LUV CLASSIC? Here is a recap by Community Relations Intern Meghan Kahlig.
With my head feeling foggy, my eyes flirting with closing, and a cup of coffee in hand I assessed the scene that was unfolding before me. At 5:30 a.m., the sun had yet to wake up from its sleepy daze, but the buzz of a major event was waking up the landscape of the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas. Southwest’s LUV Classic Golf Tournament would begin in approximately 1.5 hours. The general skeleton of the event was already in place. Viewing the backbone of an event before it’s fleshed out is an authentic moment to be a part of. This has always been my favorite part of working in community outreach because it allows you to see how an event is absolutely nothing without a receptive audience.
For those who are unaware, the LUV Classic is one of the largest charitable golf tournaments in North Texas. Its longstanding history at Southwest has traditionally only supported the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). This year, however, the beneficiaries were expanded to include other children’s charities focused on helping children facing serious illness and their families to make an ever greater impact on the communities that Southwest serves. Thus, this year’s 30 th Annual LUV Classic was a rather notable one in Southwest’s history. Beneficiaries this year included the national Ronald McDonald House Charities for the first time as well as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and in another milestone, our first to two international RMH locations: Costa Rica and Mexico.
So, what was my role in this extensive operation? My experience at the LUV Classic was one of … let’s say many colorful hats, and even a Ramp Agent’s vest!
I worked the volunteer registration tent, solicited over $700 worth of added donations, managed a sector of the raffle redemption tent, and greeted guests as they entered the party under the “belly” of a Boeing 737 with a Ramp Agent vest on. Additionally, I was also able to join in on the par-tee (see what I did there?). I had some incredible barbeque; danced to the funky beats of LeFreak, Dallas' local disco band; took some festively flared photo booth pictures; and even met Gary Kelly, the CEO of our amazing Company.
I’ve spent the first two months of my internship at Southwest working on projects for this magnanimous event. Blogs, articles, and excel sheets with the title “LUV Classic” are quite abundant if you were to take a peek inside my computer folders. However, what truly resonated with me about working this event was being able to witness firsthand how those little projects interwove to create a living, breathing, and overwhelmingly successful benefit. The 30 th Annual LUV Classic raised $675,000 for some pretty amazing institutions. The projects I work on everyday have an irrefutable value. Every member on my Team, moreover, has charity in their soul and clearly works straight from their heart, and I am so incredibly proud to be a part of that.
The LUV Classic was founded in 1985 by Southwest Airlines President Emeritus Colleen Barrett. The event has since grown to be ranked as one of Dallas’ top charity golf tournaments by the Dallas Business Journal, donating more than $15 million since its inception, and benefitting a total of 113 Ronald McDonald Houses.
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As the last weeks of summer wash over us, I wanted to share a story about a delightful boy and a special Southwest Pilot, DAL Captain Mike Hickey.
Aviation has long captured the imagination and interest of people of all ages and from all walks of life. It’s a pastime that both grandparents and grandchildren can share and enjoy, which is the case with five-year-old Hudson and his grandfather “Poppa,” who love spending time together watching planes take off and land near their hometown airport, Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ).
It was on an outing to watch planes through the perimeter fence at ABQ that Hudson received one of the greatest thrills of his young life, while Poppa stood close by. Hudson waved at several planes that day as he observed them taxi in and out, but he was beside himself with excitement when one Captain took time to set the brake of his aircraft and wave back at him and his Poppa.
On her Facebook page, Hudson’s mom, Trisha Hughes, posted an open thank you to the “kind Pilot” who brightened her son’s day. She also authored guest posts on our Employee and Nuts About Southwest blogs about Hudson’s experience.
Thanks to a little investigative work, we identified Mike and arranged for the two aviation buffs to meet. Watch as Hudson met his idol, Southwest Pilot Mike, and learned more about aviation in his pursuit to one day become a pilot himself. Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll choose Southwest for his career when he achieves that goal.
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A person’s response in the heat of the moment reveals a great deal about that individual’s character—as does their treatment of defenseless creatures. Southwest Airlines' own MDW Customer Service Agent Fran Panozzo and her LUV for ALL Customers, whether they have two legs or four, are what make Fran a Hospitality heroine.
On what seemed like just another day at Chicago Midway (if there truly is such a thing), Fran learned that one of our four-legged Customers, a dog named Lily, needed medical care after injuring her paw while in the designated pet relief area. Fran grabbed some first aid supplies and made her way over to Lily and her human companion, Sarah Davis, who was distraught and felt powerless to help her furry friend.
Fran’s response to these Customers in need was nothing short of “amazing,” as Miss Davis puts it, and certainly worthy of a paw-shake, which Lily was more than happy and able to extend when the three reunited in Chicago recently.
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A Hero, by definition, is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities; but you don’t have to scale a mountain or face a lion to be a “Hospitality Hero.”
In one of our recent LUV Mail stories, we heard from Customer Jennifer Robertson, a real estate agent in Dallas. While Ms. Robinson was traveling from Dallas to Denver, Mother Nature had other plans, forcing them to divert temporarily to Amarillo. If it’s true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then surely DAL Captain Cameron Houston and DAL First Officer Jeffrey Johnson pulled on the heartstrings of every hungry Customer on that flight with their thoughtful—but heroic—gesture. See how in the video below.
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Here at Southwest, fellow Employees are more than just Coworkers, they're Family. Part of what bonds a family is storytelling, and the above-and-beyond lengths we’re willing to go for one another. When we received this recent LUV Report, we were in awe at the bond this group of ATL Mechanics share and how they pin-pointed the core of what our Culture is—taking care of one another.
Dustin, a shop mechanic in Atlanta, Georgia, was always the “go-to engine guy” in the hangar. When he discovered he had to undergo heart surgery for a leaking aortic valve, he and his Coworkers were apprehensive about the procedure. Dustin spent about a week in the hospital after a successful surgery before going home to recuperate. During his recovery, he had a difficult time walking or even performing daily tasks. Will, Dustin’s Leader, had the idea to help Dustin and his family around the house, and the Atlanta Maintenance Crew was more than happy to pitch in. From changing the oil in the cars, repairing a broken lawnmower, or hauling tree branches and brush, Dustin’s Coworkers were there to help during Dustin’s recovery. “It’s really just like a big family here,” Dustin said.
We LUV hearing about our Employees who share their big heart and demonstrate what our Culture is founded on—putting People at the core of everything we do—taking care of one another, and taking care of our Customers. Whether you’re a part of, a recipient, or a witness of these acts of kindness, we’ve love to hear your story!
Write to us by visiting southwest.com and clicking “Contact Us.”
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Sometimes all anyone needs is a helping hand. This can especially be the case when traveling with children.
When faced with a delay, Mother Katye Gorman, found a huge relief when given the blessing of a helping hand from Southwest Employee, Chris Roth. Katye was traveling with her pride-and-joy, four-year-old Caelan, who is diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HSLS) requiring him to have oxygen, a feeding tube, and a cooler full of meds at all times. Although this has grown to be a part of their everyday life, these complications can certainly add to an already stressful airport experience.
Chris’s generosity and compassion to go above-and-beyond when traveling on business touched Katye and Caelan in a way they never had expected. After witnessing the Gorman’s situation, Chris felt compelled to improve their day any way he could—he offered them a seat, coffee, helped with boarding and deplaning, and gifted Caelan his own Southwest die cast plane set (which Caelan has affectionately named, Chug!).
Katye wrote a letter to us telling of her experience, and how much the “helping hand” meant to her, on that day, especially. The acts of kindness that Chris displayed were so natural and humble, but meant so much.
At Southwest, we seek out, hire, and invest in individuals who we believe “Live the Southwest Way” through three principles: a Servant’s Heart, Warrior Spirit, and Fun-LUVing Attitude – something Chris displayed in the most simplistic of forms that day. For exemplifying our values, Chris was awarded with what we call our “Winning Spirit Award,” one of the highest honors at our Company for individuals who go above-and-beyond the call of duty to deliver Positively Outrageous Customer Service and contribute to our World-renowned Culture.
Chris and Katye had kept in touch over the months – discussing Caelan’s experiences and challenges he faced throughout his young life. In April, on the tail of Chris receiving his Winning Spirit honor, we had the opportunity to reunite Chris with Katye and Caelan and give them yet another experience they’ll never forget.
The act that Chris did was not earth shattering. He didn’t jump into action when a person collapsed or performed lifesaving CPR; he simply represented the Golden Rule—treat others the way you expect to be treated—and went out of his way to help a Customer where he saw a need. The Winning Spirit Award recognizes Employees who give selflessly—through a variety of ways—in an effort to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Mission accomplished, Chris—kudos to you, and thanks for being a constant reminder, to your fellow Employees and our Customers, of why there is a “heart” in our logo.
How has one of our Employees made a difference in your travel experience? Tell us your story!
Visit: www.southwest.com; “Like” us on Facebook; Follow us @SouthwestAir on Twitter and Instagram.
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At Southwest Airlines, we have always put People first, whether its caring for our Employees and creating a Company that provides job security and a fulfilling mission; or delivering on our Purpose of connecting People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel; or embracing our communities and giving back through volunteerism, supporting local and national nonprofit relationships, and making a positive difference.
This week, Southwest Airlines was honored to be named to the The Civic 50’s list of most community-minded companies in America. The Civic 50 surveys, ranks, and recognizes America’s S&P top 500 Companies with a strong commitment to corporate civic engagement. The Civic 50 survey is the result of a partnership between Bloomberg News, the National Conference on Citizenship, and Points of Light. For the second year, Southwest was recognized for our triple bottom line approach that takes into account our performance and productivity, the importance of our People and the communities we serve, and our commitment to efficiency and the planet. To view the complete Civic 50 list, please click here.
The 45,000+ Employees of Southwest Airlines make a difference for the better in the lives of our Customers, neighbors, and each other every day. I am proud to work for this Company and work alongside the Southwest Family, whose community-mindedness puts People first and has for more than 42 years. #LUVfromtheheart
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This is the fifth in a series of posts about our fourth annual integrated annual report, the 2012 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we illustrate our triple bottomline approach that takes into account our Performance and productivity, the importance of our People and the Communities we serve, and our commitment to efficiency and the Planet.
At Southwest Airlines, our legendary Culture and our reputation as a Best Place to Work is widely known throughout the airline industry and among the world’s corporations. I n my years serving here at Southwest since 1990, I have had the privilege of working for one of Fortune Magazine’s Top Ten “Most Admired Companies in the World.” One reason we are honored with this distinction year after year is because of the importance that we place on our Culture. From our Culture Committee made up of Employees who volunteer their time to keep Southwest’s Culture alive, to our annual Spirit Party where we celebrate our successes, we never stop taking care of each other and our Customers. We are made up of more than 46,000 individuals, but together we create something that is truly special. Without a doubt, our People are the secret ingredient to our success.
We had many reasons to celebrate in 2012, and here are some of those:
We ranked in the top 20 of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Civic 50 because of our strong commitment to corporate civic engagement in the communities we serve.
In 2012, we donated $1.2 million in travel to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® to help children facing serious illness travel to experience their one true wish.
Last year, our Employees collectively contributed a total of more than $1.2 million to Southwest Airlines Employee Catastrophic Assistance Charity, where fellow Employees suffering severe financial hardship can receive assistance to help them through the catastrophic event in their lives.
In our third annual, month-long celebration of Military Heroes Month, where Employees show support for Veterans, service members, and their families across the nation, we partnered with A Million Thanks, Honor Flight, and the Armed Forces Foundation to honor those who have served or are serving.
The photos below are highlights from the 2012 Southwest Airlines One Report™, and illustrate our dedication to serving communities.
In 2012, Southwest Employees contributed more than 137,000 volunteer hours to communities surrounding where we live and work.
At Southwest, giving back is at the Heart of our Culture. The total value of Southwest’s monetary, in-kind, and ticket donations exceeded $20 million in 2012.
In 2012, Southwest Airlines provided $2.4 million in free travel through our Medical Transportation Grant Program.
We LUVed officially welcoming more than 2,100 AirTran employees to the Southwest Family in 2012.
CEO Gary Kelly celebrated with Employees after we obtained Houston City Council approval to begin expanding Houston Hobby for Southwest international service.
Today, more than fo ur decades after our founding, we remain steadfast in our Purpose of connecting people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost airline travel. We hope you’ll enjoy our upcomin g blog posts each month and follow along on Instagram and Pinterest each week with photos and fun facts tagged #SWAOneReport as we share how we’re working to be the best in the business. You can check out and download the full report online at http://www.southwestonereport.com/.
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From our very beginning, Southwest Airlines has been a maverick in the airline industry and Customer Service sector. We set ourselves apart every single day through delivering our Customers reliably, Safely, and in a low-cost manner to the places, events, and People that are most important to them.
This reason for being is encompassed in our defining statement—our Purpose: To connect People to what’s important in their lives though friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.
This Purpose unifies and guides us. It’s the reason for our existence and a motivation to get up each morning. Our Purpose set the course for our success, and will continue to lead us down the path to the milestones that lie ahead.
We created this video for our Employees to bring our Purpose to life; in it you’ll see snapshots of interactions between Employees and our Customers. These seemingly everyday situations demonstrate how our Southwest Airlines Employees go above and beyond to connect People to what's important in their lives.
What are some important moments in your life in which Southwest Airlines has played a part? Let us know by commenting below.
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This is the fourth in a series of posts about our just-released integrated annual report, the 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we have illustrated our commitment to a triple bottom line and how our passion and focus on Performance, People, and Planet continues to propel us forward. It’s fair to say that Southwest’s Culture is kind of a big deal around here. We believe we each own a piece of it, and we protect it fiercely. In fact, when it came to our 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report, we recognized a direct link from the health of our Culture to the financial health of our Company. We believe this link has been the key to our success for the last 40 years. One might wonder why a company’s Culture is relevant in an annual report. Aren’t annual reports supposed to be documents for shareholders to read facts and figures pertaining to a Company’s bottom line? To some companies, the answer is “yes”. At Southwest Airlines, however, we report to a Triple Bottom Line of Performance, People, and Planet. The 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report is for those who love this Company, those who invest in this Company, and those who are affected directly and indirectly by how Southwest operates in their community. You may have encountered one of our Fun-LUVing Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants who instead of reciting a rehearsed speech, chose to sing the pre-flight safety instructions. Or maybe you came across a Gate Agent who had the entire gate area sing happy birthday to an unsuspecting Customer. It’s apparent at Southwest that we love to have fun. We love to make Customers feel special. But our Culture goes beyond having Fun. It’s about taking care of each other, whether it is a Coworker, a Customer, or a community. We have an entire department dedicated to sustaining our Culture and taking care of our Employees. Southwest also has a Corporate Culture Committee comprised of dozens of Employees from across the country who go beyond their job description to dedicate themselves to sustaining our Culture. It’s not all fun and games when it comes to Culture (though, that’s an important part). It’s celebrating each other’s victories and mourning each other’s losses. It is creating a working environment where someone can bring their whole self to work, both their talent and their heart. For those of us at Southwest Airlines, the link from Culture to financial health is apparent. When our Employees are happy, our Customers are happy. When our Customers are happy, our Shareholders are happy. It’s a philosophy we are dedicated to. 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 posts 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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For almost four decades, President Emeritus Colleen Barrett has symbolized the heart of Southwest Airlines--and she epitomizes the concept of Servant Leader. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to receive a personal letter from Colleen, or to be mentored in person by this amazing woman, will know what a huge heart she possesses. In fact, I think her outlook on life and business is revolutionary because she can meld the most complex of job duties into one universal function--Customer Service. She often tells us that Southwest is a Customer Service Company in the business of air transportation. It's important to differentiate that going through one's required job duties may be a form of customer service, but it isn't Southwest Customer Service. Naturally, we demand that our Employees in safety-related positions comply with all required procedures, but we hope they will do it in a way that also reflects Golden Rule behavior. Another unique view of Customer Service from Colleen is that every Employee has a direct Customer, be it a Passenger or Fellow Employee. Besides having Internal Customers, all Southwest Employees are considered Leaders, even if they don't have "Supervisor" or "Manager" in their titles. Colleen has taught us that both Customer Service and Servant Leadership involve putting others' needs ahead of your own. With her transition away from daily operational duties, Colleen finally has had the chance to share her thoughts about customer Service and Servant Leadership with the general public, and in conjunction with best-selling author Ken Blanchard, she has written Lead With LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success. One of the things that Colleen has asked of Southwest Employees is to be honest about our shortcomings and our strengths, and she certainly follows The Golden Rule by mentioning (and owning) her own shortcomings in writing this book. Yet, the book isn't really about Colleen; it's about the way our Employees have embraced her outlook on life, on serving others, on what defines success, and on humility. As a longtime Employee, I "hear" Colleen's voice on every page of the book, and all of us at SWA are thrilled that we can share our "Mom" outside our Company. Whether it's talking about personal development or leading a Fortune 500 company, Colleen and Ken's book offers a unique perspective on the path to success.
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Southwest Airlines is HOT these days, and the whole planet is noticing! And I do mean the whole planet! Not only were we recently ranked fourth on Fortune magazine’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies, but from that list, they separately recognized the Most Admired Green Leaders--one of whom is our very own Communication Manager and Southwest Green Team Leader, Marilee McInnis!
We always knew she was a Super Star, but now she is officially a Green Star according to Fortune, who praised Marilee’s efforts to publicly highlight Southwest Airlines’ environmental consciousness and incorporate it into our business model. From championing our Companywide recycling program to working on larger operational initiatives to enhance fuel efficiency, Marilee’s influence has almost made Green as much a part of our brand colors as Canyon Blue and Red. One of those initiatives (still in the testing stage) involves refitting our cabins with lighter-weight and recyclable materials, such as carpeting, seat covers, and life vest pouches. By reducing the weight of our aircraft, we not only save fuel but also reduce emissions. And greater fuel-efficiency means greater cost savings, which clearly helps our bottomline.
Thanks to the efforts of our Green Team and each one of our Employees, the mantra of "reduce, reuse, recycle" has become part of everything we do. From reducing the number of documents we print, to reusing office supplies (even stapling together old papers and using the reverse side for a note pad!), to recycling everything from cans, paper, and plastic to ink cartridges, batteries, cell phones, and oil, Southwest Airlines Employees have taken environmental consciousness to a whole new level. The fuel-savings initiative above is just one of the projects that Ground Operations, Flight Operations, and Maintenance Teams are working on to operate our aircraft more fuel-efficiently, on the ground and in the air. And folks, this doesn't begin to cover the countless other ways we can save time, money, energy, and resources through the individual, responsible choices we make in our own jobs every day. The results truly are remarkable.
Congratulations to Marilee, and every Employee who supports our entire Green Team, for their outstanding work and to all of our Southwest Employees for doing their part to keep Southwest Airlines focused on our Performance, our People, and our Planet. I’m LUVin it!!
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No matter where I am in the Southwest network, I always see an Employee offering their best personal service—whether it’s helping a family get to their final destination in the middle of a snow storm or simply offering a smile. Our Employees offer this type of service not only to Customers, but also to their Coworkers (or what we affectionately like to call, our fellow Co-hearts). That makes coming to work each day like being around my second family. I’m proud to share that Southwest Airlines ranked second on the Glassdoor.com’s Employee Choice Awards for Best Places to Work. We were the only airline to receive this recognition among other distinguished companies like Facebook, General Mills, and Apple. Glassdoor.com, a job and career web community, administers this survey to exalt companies with the highest practices on work/life balance, career opportunities, communication, compensation and benefits, fairness and respect, employee morale, recognition and feedback, and senior leadership. That’s not all—Forbes.com listed Southwest Airlines among the top ten of America’s Happiest Companies. CareerBliss, the leading online resource for helping people find joy and success at every step in their careers, announced that Southwest made the top five list for airlines who foster happy employees and a blissful work environment. Southwest also conducted a 2010 Employee Survey through Mercer, an outside consulting group, to gauge the company’s temperature on Culture, our operation, and our performance. The results revealed that 95 percent of Employees who responded are proud to work for Southwest Airlines. These honors and our survey confirm what I already know—we’re a pretty happy bunch! We are the very best in the industry, and we have nearly 35,000 Employees to thank for maintaining our strong Culture and for living The Golden Rule. I am proud to say I work for one of the most competitive, diverse workforces, where each member of the Southwest family brings not only their skills to work, but their hearts too. This is what keeps me smiling here at Southwest.
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