Outstanding Customer Service is nothing new to us here at Southwest Airlines; after all, we are known for treating each other—and our Customers—like Family! Lately, we have been using a new word to better describe the service we want to provide our Customers, and that word is Hospitality.
Herb Watts, nicknamed “Herb on the Curb,” is a Skycap based out of San Antonio, Texas. He is a perfect example of the Hospitality we wish to provide our Customers consistently, day in and day out. Through his constant display of a bright smile and positive attitude, Herb embodies our Hospitality message by encouraging other Employees to “feel the LUV” and to share that LUV with our Customers. He has also built friendships with Customers along the way, which is quite a difficult task in our industry.
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I’m “two” excited to share the news. In the latest tribute to our incredible Employees and Customers, Southwest has been chosen as TripAdvisor’s Favorite Airline for the second consecutive year!
This recognition means a lot, because loyalty like this is a direct result of Hospitality, setting us apart from the rest. Every vote came from an extra mile our Employees went for a Customer, a bit of FUN they provided in an otherwise busy day, or that personal connection they made with a weary traveler.
Thank you from the bottom of my Heart. We are two, two thankful for this recognition!
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This year was our eighth year supporting Kidd’s Kids, an extraordinary organization that provides chronically or terminally ill children and their families a trip of a lifetime to Walt Disney World. This year, I had the honor to be the official Southwest liaison to Kidd’s Kids. From kicking off the fundraising telethon manned by Southwest Airlines Employees several months ago to celebrating our partnership at the actual sendoff yesterday, it is definitely one of my favorite and most inspiring Leadership roles to date.
It has been a little over a year since the passing of Kidd Kraddick, the mastermind behind this idea, and it was heartwarming to see the outpouring of support from Southwest Airlines as we sent off more than 60 children and their families to spend five magical days enjoying the Walt Disney World parks, providing them with a life-changing escape from their own tough reality. Each year, we donate a roundtrip charter plane with all the trimmings—a Fun-LUVing Crew who donates their time and all the pretzels and soft drinks that can be consumed on their way to and from Orlando!
Kidd’s Kids is funded solely by generous donations from the public. More than $533,000 was collected in contributions from businesses and sponsors from around the nation and from the faithful Kidd Kraddick in the Morning listeners. As Southwest Airlines stood side-by-side with the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning radio personalities, I was filled with so much pride for our Company’s contributions to this honorable cause. At Southwest Airlines, we pride ourselves on being members of the communities we serve, and sharing our Heart with Kidd’s Kids allows us to pass on our own passion and LUV to very deserving children and their families. Thank you all for your time, hard work, and even your own contributions to Kidd’s Kids. To learn more about the Kidd’s Kids charity, visit KiddsKids.com.
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Pack up your sunscreen and don’t forget your sunglasses–Southwest Airlines is now flying international! Today marks a huge milestone in Southwest’s international future as we launch inaugural nonstop service to three Caribbean locations: Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA); Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ); and Nassau, The Bahamas (NAS).
A momentous occasion like this wouldn’t be complete without a proper Southwest sendoff. Our Customers and Employees at Baltimore/Washington International Airport enjoyed traditional steel drum music, tropical smoothies, and festive decor. Of course, we treated our inaugural international Customers to a few special goodies. How could we call ourselves the Fun-LUVing airline if we sent them off to paradise without commemorative snorkel gear and beach balls?
Thousands of our Employees have had a hand in launching our international service to bring our convenient and affordable way of air travel to the world and broaden the horizon for more than 100 million Customers who fly with us every year. It’s time to take our Friendly Customer Service and Low Costs beyond the U.S. border and onto foreign sand.
Welcome aboard, and welcome abroad!
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Last week, we learned that FORTUNE has once again recognized Southwest as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies for the 20 th consecutive year, for our Leadership, corporate responsibility, and innovation, among other attributes. This week, we are being recognized yet again for the outstanding Customer Service our Employees deliver day in and day out to you, our Customers.
J.D. Power released its 2014 Customer Champions, a list of 50 companies “that demonstrate the ability to provide the highest level of customer service based on their most important critics—their customers.” When recognizing these companies, J.D. Power surveyed hundreds of thousands of people across the United States at more than 600 brands to get the Top 50. When ranking a customer service experience, J.D. Power noted that those they surveyed compared across all industries, not just one. I am particularly proud that the consistently friendly and warm Customer Service delivered by our People has resulted in Southwest being recognized as one of the best at providing customer service excellence in any industry. We know that we aren’t always perfect at Southwest, but it is gratifying when we are recognized for trying hard and doing the best we can, even during those times when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate!
Southwest is working hard toward our Purpose of connecting People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel, and I congratulate Southwest Employees on this honor that recognizes their Warrior Spirit, Fun-LUVing Attitude, and Servant’s Heart as they serve our Customers each and every day.
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Southwest Friends—it’s official! A new chapter begins today in Southwest Airlines’ history, as we begin selling international itineraries that will be flown by Southwest aircraft. Drum roll, please …. Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA); Nassau, Bahamas (NAS); and Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) will become the very first international Southwest Airlines destinations beginning July 1. Click here to book your ticket to paradise!
And these international destinations are just the beginning. We look forward to announcing more locations over the next few months—all of which are currently served by our wholly-owned subsidiary AirTran. So, stay tuned!
The work leading up to this historic day is truly a labor of LUV, and I’d like to personally thank all the Southwest Airlines Employees for making it happen. And I invite all of you to start planning your tropical vacations today!
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This is the fourth in a series of posts about our fourth annual integrated annual report, the 2012 Southwest Airlines One Report™, where we illustrate 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.
I started my career at Southwest Airlines in 1984 as a parttime Customer Service Agent in El Paso. Flash forward 30 years to the present, where I now have the privilege to serve as the Senior Vice President Customers. Throughout my time at Southwest Airlines, one thing that has remained constant is our Company focus on providing exceptional Customer Service and showing our Customers why they should keep coming back to the LUV airline time and again. Our People are dedicated to creating an enjoyable travel experience for our Customers with, of course, that good old personal touch of Southwest hospitality. Among the many milestones of 2012, here are some notables:
In 2012, Southwest once again had the lowest ratio of complaints per Customers boarded of all major U.S. carriers thanks to our Employees who deliver world-class Customer Service every day.
Our Employees inspire loyal Customers, as fliers surveyed flew Southwest more frequently for domestic travel than any other airline.
In 2012, we released an all-new Customer Experience Survey and Dashboard to help us understand our Customers’ travel experience with Southwest.
We were thrilled to uphold our record of ranking on FORTUNE’S World’s Most Admired Companies list since 1994.
The photos below are highlights from the 2012 Southwest Airlines One Report™, and illustrate our dedication to serving our Customers.
Seen a tweet from @SouthwestGabe? Our Social Media Team monitors Twitter, Facebook, and more around the clock to respond to Customers.
In 2012, we continued to improve our percentage of on-time arrivals, the highest it’s been in more than 3 years.
Thanks to our Employees, we again earned the U.S. DOT’s top ranking for Customer Satisfaction in 2012.
Did you know that 43 percentof our nearly 46,000 Employees worked in-flight in 2012?
Today, more than four 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 upcoming 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 www.southwestonereport.com.
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Throughout America’s history, innumerable women have steered the course of the nation with stories of steadfast grit and determination. From first reaching for the ballot box in 1920 to breaking barriers on both athletic grounds and the battlefields, American women have stood resolute in the face of adversity and overcome obstacles to realize their full measure of success.
During the month of March, Americans have the opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month and to acknowledge the contributions of both notable and everyday women. This month’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination.”
During my LUV journey with Southwest Airlines, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside many remarkable women starting my adventure by greeting Customers with a smile from behind the El Paso ticket counter in 1984. In my current role as Senior Vice President of Customers, I am privileged to work with so many outstanding Employees—including a wonderful group of women who continue to find ways to make Southwest the most LUVed airline in the world.
As I think about Women’s History Month, one remarkable woman who comes to mind is Anne Frank. I loved to read as a child, and the Diary of Anne Frank always resonated with me because I was the same age as Anne when I first read her story. Anne’s story was so real to me—I felt like I could actually visualize what she was living through. My father's parents lived in Germany during that timeframe, and as I was reading the book, my Grandma Berkstresser (I affectionately called her Grandma Berky) lived with us. I lost a great uncle to the gas chambers, so I understood what it was like during that time and the impact it had on families (especially the children). Anne inspired me to never give up no matter what life hands you.
I also attribute who I am to another remarkable woman in my life. My greatest hero and mentor is my Mom. She taught me to treat others as I would want to be treated. She taught me grace under pressure and forgiveness. I just lost her two months ago, but I can still hear her voice, encouraging me and supporting me. Through the lessons I learned from my mother, I’m able to pass along insight and skills I’ve gained through experience—sharing it with other women I encounter.
I have had the honor of raising two incredible women myself. I’ve been forced to make tough choices over the years, but each of my daughters know that they are loved, and as they were growing up, I was doing all I could for them and our family.
This month, take a moment to thank all of the women in your life who have impacted you and molded you into the person you are today. I’ll be saying a special thank you to all the working mothers who are the true heroes day in and day out. Honoring these women who have helped shape our country is crucial, but so is writing the next chapter of Women’s History. Through teachers like my mother, we are able to show future young women that—in my own aviation terms—there are truly no obstacles that can block their ascent.
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In my years of service at Southwest, I’ve seen the power of Customer Service through our Employees’ positive attitudes and “can do” spirit. The Golden Rule has been part of our Culture since the beginning, and I think it absolutely speaks to why Southwest has such a great Customer Service reputation.
That is why we are continually recognized for our exceptional Customer Service and our People—YOU!!—who deliver it. And, today, we are once again recognized as J.D. Power and Associates revealed their 2012 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, with Southwest ranked among the top three airlines in the country! We couldn’t succeed without each other and our Customers. So, take a moment today to thank our Customers who keep us flying high and your Teammembers who bring FUN and LUV to the job. We are the best for them, and because of them. We have the privilege to work at the best darn airline in the industry, so Thank You to my Southwest Family for making every day the best!
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More than 40 years ago, a young lawyer named Herb Kelleher sat at the bar of the St. Anthony’s hotel in San Antonio and took on the crazy idea of creating an airline. San Antonio is the birthplace of Southwest Airlines, both in concept and as one of the original cities in our Texas Triangle—it's clear that our roots are deep in the heart of this Texas Town. Then, in 1981, more than ten years after the birth of Southwest, Southwest opened our second Reservations call center to provide even more Positively Outrageous Customer Service to the thousands of Customers who wanted to fly our airline. Now fast forward to the year 2012. I'm excited to share with you today that those deep roots have generated new growth here in San Antonio, and our local CS&S Employees have moved into our new San Antonio Center (SC). While we know it can be hard to leave a home after more than 30 years, the new SC is a bright, updated facility with 60,000 square feet of open space for more than 800 Employees. To celebrate this new Center, Gary and I visited the location, spent time with our Employees and city officials, and participated in a press conference and a traditional ribbon-cutting a la Southwest. We even recreated a special moment from the dedication of the original Center—take a look at the then and now photos to see if you can identify anyone ... April 14, 1981: SRC Reservations Agent Lisa King, Original SRC Center Leader Carl Warrell, San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrel, Herbie, Judge Albert Bustamante, Southwest President Howard Putnam, Southwest Vice President Bill Franklin. June 11, 2012: SC Facilitator Rosemary Kitten, SC Center Leader Christal Campbell, San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Gary, Judge Nelson Wolff, Senior Vice President Customer Services Teresa Laraba, and Director Culture Activities Cheryl Hughey. As you can see from the "then and now," there are many things that have changed in the 30 years since we opened the San Antonio Reservations Center. But Southwest Airlines’ commitment to the City of San Antonio has not changed, and grows stronger every day. With more service, more jobs, and more LUV, it's exciting to see the bright future for our CS&S Employees in San Antonio! Welcome to your new home! From Dawn: I have been working around the San Antonio Customer Support and Service Center for weeks and stressing over details with many others on my Team. We want to make sure we all know what we need to do in order to have everything ready for our big move to our new center. I woke up this morning and looked at bruises on my legs from packing, listened to bones pop back in place and began to get dressed for yet another day of packing and looking through each nock and cranny making sure we didn't miss anything, and finding little treasures of our SC history along the way. Memorial plaques, mannequin head (no center should be without one), old photos and so much more ... After coming back to the Old Center and everyone began going home I found myself alone for the first time today and all was quiet. As I sat in a very sparse office, It finally hit me, this is really happening. More than 23 years of driving the same route was soon coming to an end. I remember the first day I walked through the doors for my interview with Carolyn Bates. Judy England was the Center Admin and at the end of my interview told me I now needed to take a typing test to be considered for the job. I said, "No problem, please give me just a moment to prepare." I began tearing off my Lee Press on Nails! Yep, I knew I couldn't type fast in them and I wanted to work for Southwest, so I ripped them off! I'm really not sure if I passed the typing test or not that day, and have since depended totally on acrylic nails! Carolyn told Judy, "she’s hired!" I can honestly say I have never regretted one day since I walked through those beautiful copper doors to my Southwest Family. My family has been there through Marriage, Baby Girl, divorce, illness, you name it they have been there, I truly am blessed ... so here I set reminiscing and realizing that I actually feel a tear running down my cheek as faces of those that have passed, retired, promoted to another city, etc flood my memory. Leaving this building is sad because our structure is unique, however, change is good and I am looking forward to making new memories with my family in our new home. So I raise my glass to you my friends and say, "God bless you for we have only just begun."
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I’m delighted to share with you that this coming spring, our hardworking Employees at our San Antonio Customer Support and Services (CS&S) Center will be relocating within San Antonio to a new location at I-35 and O’Connor. Our existing San Antonio CS&S Center (SC) has a unique design which does not allow many options for flexible use of the space nor for expanding our operations. After careful consideration of the limitations of this facility, we determined that it was best to find a new home for our SC Employees. As one of our original cities, Southwest Airlines has a longstanding relationship with the San Antonio community and we are optimistic that the new Center will provide additional opportunities to grow our Southwest Airlines Family in San Antonio. The new Center, which is set to open sometime in the second quarter, has the capacity for up to 800 full-time positions and will allow us to continue expanding employment at SC as a part of our ongoing Departmental goal of being appropriately staffed and prepared meet the needs of our Customers. To meet that goal, we’ve already been hiring at several CS&S locations, including San Antonio. The new SC location will allow us to better accommodate the work force, some of whom were in temporary work spaces because we’d run out of room in the current facility. In fact, we hired 165 new Employees at the San Antonio Center in 2011, and we are projected to hire an additional 250 Agents at SC in 2012. Looking more broadly at all our call center capabilities, we have previously committed that we will keep all nine Southwest CS&S and AirTran Reservations locations open at least through the end of 2012. As a reminder, CS&S Southwest Employees may transfer to open positions at SC, but while the unions are working through the Seniority List Integration, AirTran Airways Agents are not yet eligible to transfer in to open Southwest positions. Southwest opened the original San Antonio Reservations Center in 1981 as our second Reservations Center. The new CS&S Center will be located at the current R/E Business Center located at 11711 Interstate 35 N inSan Antonio. Southwest has executed a 15-year lease, with options to extend over time if desired. The location was the product of an exhaustive search by our Airport Affairs Team and CS&S Leadership, which spanned the city limits of San Antonio and the range of possibilities; from building new to reconstructing an existing building to leasing a building already largely configured to our needs. In the end, we choose to lease a building that offers the open floor plan and gives us a “blank canvas” to structure the center to our needs. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to offer a new work environment for our San Antonio Center Employees and look forward to growing in the community.
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This is the seventh 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 bottom line and how our passion and focus on Performance, People, and Planet continues to propel us forward. The mission of Southwest Airlines is to deliver the highest quality of Customer Service with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. It’s a mantra we live by around here. Our People create a FUN travel experience; respond with compassion when travel plans change; generate innovative ideas that enhance the Customer Experience; and donate their time and LUV to those who need it. This Legendary Culture that we have nurtured throughout the decades has set us apart not only in the industry but has set us apart from companies throughout the world. Sure, our wallet-friendly bags fly free policy, no change fees, no nickel and diming sets us apart in the industry and it goes along with us doing the right thing for our Customers, but a lot of our Customers fly Southwest just because they like us. And that’s something we take just as seriously as seeking out ways to enhance the Customer experience. What airline employee will reach across the counter to give you a hug when you’re traveling for a funeral, give you a few dollars out of their own pocket to cover a taxi ride, or call you to tell you they found your book in the seatback pocket? This is the Southwest Way. Looking back at 2010, a lot of companies were looking for ways to increase revenue, including us. We’re proud to say we found revenue generating opportunities that enhanced the Customer experience. After all, if you’re paying more, shouldn’t you get more? We invested back into our Operation with new capabilities like WiFi and International Connectivity. On the other side of the coin, we took a firm stance on how we would not gain revenue by continuing our Bags Fly Free and no change fee policies. At Southwest we believe we must improve our product to improve our revenue, not just find ways to charge the Customer for services they used to receive for free. And, you just can’t buy great Customer Service and a caring, happy Employee that makes traveling FUN, which is why we see our Customers come back time and again. The 2010 Southwest Airlines One Report shares more details about our initiatives and our most valuable asset, our Employees. We’re learning all the time. Whether it’s through our Customer Service Agents, our social media channels, or a letter in our mailbox, we LUV hearing from our Customers and working to make traveling on Southwest Airlines the best it can be. 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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"A friendly and knowledgeable staff." If this doesn’t sound like our Southwest Warriors, I don’t know what does. Whether our Employees are helping our Customers find the lowest Southwest fares or lending a shoulder to cry on for a Customer traveling under difficult circumstances, I couldn’t be more proud to have an extended Family of more than 35,000 Employees systemwide. I’m not the only one who recognizes what Colleen has always said—we are in the Customer Service industry yet we just happen to fly airplanes. The Customer Service that has made Southwest legendary has been acknowledged once again. MSN Money worked with Zogby International to conduct an online survey where randomly chosen correspondents rated the Customer Service at 150 companies from 15 industries. Because of our Employees’ above and beyond mentality, Southwest ranked number six on MSN Money’s Customer Service Hall of Fame List. You can read who else made the list here. I already know how hard each of my co-hearts work, and I’m honored to play a small part in the impact our Employees make on Customers every day. And, we certainly have the smiles to prove it. Thank you for continuously doing more than what Customers expect from us—the personal touch you deliver makes our Customers feel like Family!
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I’ve always thought that at the heart of Customer Service is something we live by here at Southwest: treating others the way you want to be treated. The Golden Rule has been part of our Culture since the beginning, and I think it absolutely speaks to why Southwest has such a great Customer Service reputation. It’s about letting your bags fly free, it’s about doing our best to get you there on time, it’s about a compassionate voice on the phone when travel plans change. We’ve won a lot of awards for our Culture and our Customer Service, but to us those are the same things. We believe in treating each other like family and our Customers like guests in our home. And, we know that what we are doing works, because our Customers come back to visit us time and again, making Southwest the largest airline in the United States in terms of passengers carried. On Thursday, we learned that we have another award to add to the shelf – we were named to the J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champions. What I was most struck by when reading about the award was that it was “based on customer feedback attesting to their service excellence.” What a great honor for the People of Southwest Airlines who strive every day to make travel on our airline the best it can be. We may not always succeed, but we sure try hard and, more importantly, we never stop trying to improve the travel experience for our Customers – we constantly strive for excellence. Thanks to our Customers for this honor, and thanks to our Employees for owning it every day.
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This time of year always reminds me that I have so many things to be grateful for. I’m thankful for my family and our good health, but also for the 35,000 Southwest Warriors who every year make sure Customers’ holiday travels go as smoothly as possible. Just to name a few, here are five things we at Southwest are thankful to offer you this holiday season. We’re thankful to provide our Customers with a simple travel experience. From our easy online check-in on southwest.com to Customer offerings like EarlyBird where we save you a boarding pass or our Express Bag Drop, our goal is to simplify your overall experience. We’re thankful to save our Customers money with Bags Fly Free. Whether you’re headed home to eat turkey with friends and family or traveling last minute for business, you can check two pieces of luggage, no charge, including golf clubs and skis. We’re thankful to offer a spirited cocktail on Thanksgiving, compliments of SWA. It’s always happy hour at Southwest, on Thanksgiving, so cheers to a complimentary adult beverage for all you turkeys out there! We’re thankful to have the happiest Employees in the industry. For nearly 40 years, our Employees continue to not only deliver outstanding Customer Service but find ways to improve the Customer experience. At the end of the day, our Employees are here for you—ready to offer their FUN-LUVing attitudes and a smile. And, last but not least, we’re thankful for our Customers. Without you, there wouldn’t be a LUV airline. We’ve carried hundreds of millions of Customers, and we want to thank you for coming back time and time again and affording us the privilege and opportunity to serve you. Here’s to hoping you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving!
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The airline industry is full of “numbers” and so many of them are important to our bottomline. Well, here’s a number of which I am very proud—it’s the External Commendations to Complaints (Rudeness) Ratio, and it is outstanding! For the first quarter of 2010, we received 9.82 commendations for every ONE complaint. I can’t think of a better indicator that our Employees are continuing to display the traits that have secured our place as a leader in Customer Service. “Friendly… caring…helpful…genuinely concerned”—these are all terms that we hear and see in the letters, phone calls, and e-mails from our Customers. What that means is thatoSouthwest Airlines Employees are one of the reasons that our Customers remain loyal to Southwest and why they reward us with their return business. Although a good part of the communication we receive about our Employees includes numerous cases of “above-and-beyond” acts of kindness, there are plenty of thanks that are shared for the simplest thoughtful gestures. Recent examples include an e-mail commendation of a Ramp Agent who set up a Customer’s stroller, complete with car seat and locked brake; kudos for a Customer Service Agent who (unbeknownst to the Passenger) removed her baggage strap and secured it in the bag’s zipper pocket; and a great social media “blog shout-out” to our Proactive Customer Service group for proactively contacting a Customer who’d experienced a flight diversion. No, we aren't perfect, but our Employees are working very hard so that you can count on us to deliver friendly, affordable, and safe travel.
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Throughout our 39 years of operation, Southwest Airlines has been involved with many famous fare wars, but some of those conflicts have been more local in nature. This week, our guest author, Teresa Laraba our Senior Vice President Customer Service, takes us back to a fare war "on the border." Most recently, a Fare Sale has meant a rush to the Internet by our Customers so that they can snap up the sale fares on southwest.com. But back in late 1984 and early 1985, we still had cash registers (also known as NCR machines) to dispense tickets at our ticket counters, and the Internet did not exist. I was a Customer Service Supervisor in El Paso and America West had just come to town. With Phoenix as their home base, a no-prisoners taken fare war began for the competeingservice between El Paso and Phoenix. I recall a few days in a row during this period when the fare dropped numerous times in a single day as it volleyed back and forth between us and them. We even had Customers walking back and forth, just waiting for the fares to drop to trade in their tickets for lower priced ones which resulted in downgrades as low as one or two dollars each. We would have to refund the "high-priced" ticket, and ring up a new one for each downgrade. Our Employees were so excited to fight for the “cause,” and even though it was a lot of work, each Customer captured from America West meant a longtime Southwest Customer. No question about it, our Warrior Spirit was shining through. And, I guess we know who won that fare war? Although the visuals below aren't from the exact time of which Teresa writes, we wanted to share them because they are from our opening service in El Paso in 1977, and the bottom clipping tells of an earlier fare war.
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