This is a fantastic story, and we're so proud of Jeana' and Lori and all of our Cohearts who came together from a variety of Departments to make this meeting even more special than expected! It is a demonstration of our Hospitality and an affirmation that we LUV to connect People to what's important in their lives! #OneTeamAllHeart
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Most people board an airplane because they want to travel from Point A to Point B. In fact, Southwest's Purpose Statement defines our goal:
To connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.
However, for a certain group of People, what’s important in their lives isn’t necessarily the destination. For "avgeeks" like myself, a highly-evolved and distinctly intelligent subset of society (okay, we’re nerds in the air), the journey is the big thing!
While it was little-noticed outside the aviation community, Southwest Airlines recently celebrated a milestone in the 45-year history of our airline. On Labor Day, September 5, we retired our last five Boeing 737-500s after more than a quarter of a century of service. And, one special aircraft, N525SW, was selected for a unique distinction. After a significant amount of logistical planning across several Departments, the plane spent that Monday recreating the itinerary of the first day of service of our initial 737-500 on March 5, 1990. No detail or symbolism was overlooked, as N525SW operated on Labor Day with not only the same routing, it also carried the identical original flight numbers throughout the day.
In following the route of the first -500, our last -500 spent the entire day within the borders of the Lone Star State, operating six segments that covered approximately 2,500 miles. N525SW started and ended the day in Dallas, making appearances in between in Houston (twice), Harlingen, and El Paso. Incredibly, our Corporate Historian, Richard West, showed his Warrior Spirit by riding on every flight. However, true avgeeks are sentimental LUVers of nostalgia as well, and will rarely miss the chance to be a part of the beginning or the end of something symbolic. If you doubt that, you'd be amazed at the thousands of Employees who showed up when we introduced Warrior One, our first 737-800!
So, not surprisingly, the last flight of the last -500 drew the attention of six stalwart Southwest Employee avgeeks. The passenger manifest for Flight #18, from DAL-ELP, and its immediate return as Flight #337 back to DAL, included Revenue Management Market Strategy Senior Analyst Yield Jacob Erlick, Customer Relations Regulatory Compliance Evaluator T. J. O’Keefe, DAL Customer Service Agent Scott Prasse, DAL Inflight Crew Base Coordinator Silvia Prasse, Source of Support Specialist Austin Speaker, and myself. Between the use of Rapid Rewards points and successful non-revving, the six of us joined Richard in Dallas for an early evening departure that allowed us to chase the sunset all the way to El Paso.
Water cannon greeting in El Paso
When we reached the Sun City, the significance of the trip became apparent as we were greeted with the symbolic and traditional water cannon salute by the El Paso Fire Department. And, since us non-revvers had to deplane and get new boarding passes to get back onboard, we discovered that Team ELP, led by Station Manager Bob Jacquemotte, were in full celebration mode in the gate area. Our ELP Cohearts were serving cake, playing games, and distributing souvenirs to Customers. Perhaps the most cherished souvenir (at least for us Employees) was one of the plastic, rectangular numbered boarding passes Southwest used back in the 1990s when the -500s debuted! After a quick farewell serenade by Bob over the PA system in the gate area, we headed down the jetbridge to Flight #337, where Richard was waiting to distribute a commemorative certificate from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and COO Mike Van de Ven to mark the occasion of the last revenue flight of N525SW. Soon, our Flight Crew, Captain Chad Brooks and First Officer Bree Szatkowski, both DAL-based Pilots, had us airborne en route back to our home at Love Field.
A champagne farewell toast from the last Customers to ride on a Southwest 737-500
The celebration continued, though, as we heard an onboard PA announcement explaining once again the significance of the flight and the fact that everyone (of legal age) would be served champagne! Our three DAL-based and festive Flight Attendants Linda Pannebaker, Patty Parrish, and Amy McConnell, quickly distributed overflowing crystal champagne goblets (well, actually, half-full plastic beverage cups) to all of the adults, and then led us in a cabin-wide toast to our last of the 737-500 workhorses. All too soon, we were pulling up to the gate at Love Field in this LUV jet for the last time. The seven of us hung around for some final photographs and expressions of gratitude to the Crew, and then our Tech Ops folks taxied N525SW across the field to our Maintenance Hangars.
At the end of the last flight, N525SW is parked at the gate at Dallas Love Field
The finality of the event was brought home dramatically to me shortly afterward. By the time I waited for the Employee Shuttle, rode back to HDQ, and got in my car, the guys were already on a mechanical lift, painting over the “Southwest” on the tail of N525SW. However, for seven Dallas Employees, we’ll always be able to say, “we were there when…” and will always cherish our memories of the last flight of the last of the Southwest breed of Boeing 737-500s. Thank you to that fleet of durable airplanes, and a Heartfelt thank you to the Employees who flew them and maintained them for 26 years; you’ve all been a part of Southwest history!
I wonder how many Captains and First Officers have sat in this cockpit over the years? The Customers and Employees are gone--our last Boeing 737-500 is officially retired
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What’s better than working with some talented Leaders? Listening to them play some great music! Two of our Employees from Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards, Jerry Davis, Assistant Manager, and Jeff Skaggs, Operations Team Leader, are the driving force behind the band Floyd and the Writebacks. The entire group has performed a number of times at Southwest Airlines headquarters for other Employees, and they were recently chosen to play as part of the Summer Sunday Concert Series at the Southwest Porch at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas! In keeping with their desire to feature solo artists or duos only, the invitation to the band was limited to two people. As a result, “Floyd” and the rest of the group took the day off, so Jerry and Jeff (not to be confused with Jerry Jeff, for you country music fans…) appeared simply as The Writeb acks. Naturally, part of demonstrating Southwest Hospitality is being supportive of your Cohearts, so on Sunday afternoon, September 4, nearly two dozen Southwest Employees, from several Departments, spent part of Labor Day weekend “relaxing on the Porch” downtown. It was a hot and steamy afternoon, so sitting in the shade of the Southwest Porch, where they conveniently serve a nice variety of ice cold beverages, was a treat in itself. However, the real draw was the musical talent of our friends. Since we work for the ontime airline, Jerry and Jeff started promptly at 2 p.m. as scheduled. At first, the audience of Southwest Employees outnumbered the rest of the Customers at the Southwest Porch. Very quickly, though, that changed as the sounds of The Writebacks filled the air around Klyde Warren Park, drawing folks from elsewhere in the park, along with pedestrians walking by on the sidewalks. The dynamic duo from Customer Relations played with Heart and passion for 90 minutes (minus a short ten-minute break), showcasing their instrumental and vocal skills. A big part of the feeling of Family at Southwest Airlines is fostered by shared experiences, and those can be both in and out of the workplace. In this instance, job titles and workgroup borders were forgotten as Friends gathered to enjoy some great music and each other’s company. And, based on the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd, everyone, especially the Southwest Employees, thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the music of The Writebacks! Although neither Jerry nor Jeff seem anxious to give up their day jobs (nor would we want them to!), the exposure they’ve gained by this Sunday afternoon gig is already leading to bigger and better things. Jerry told me the entire group has already been booked to appear at Klyde Warren’s large Muse Family Performance Pavilion adjacent to the Southwest Porch in October. Could a Grammy-award winning album be far behind?
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As a Southwest Airlines Employee, I was happy to have recently discovered buried treasure on my way to work! For many decades, the billboard industry used glued-on sheets of paper to make billboards across the country. Eventually, the labor-intensive practice gave way to solid sheets of vinyl stretched tightly over the framework of the sign like a vertical one-piece awning. This particular billboard, near the entrance to Dallas Love Field, is one that we've used for years. In fact, as the folks were changing the overlay, I saw that the glued on panels had not been changed in at least 15 years, since we debuted the new Spirit livery in 2001. So, my post is a reminder of our roots: the original Desert Gold livery, which we now refer to as our Classic livery. This was visible just long enough for me to pull over, grab my camera, and take about six photos. As quickly as it appeared, our past became buried treasure once more!
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There’s an old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” and while it does not specifically refer to the airline industry, it certainly seems true at Southwest Airlines! Recently, I was privileged to spend some time with a group of Employees who came together to celebrate their Fifth SWAnniversary with the Company, and they enjoyed sharing some of the highlights of the chapters of their own Southwest stories.
On July 6, 2010, one of the largest classes of Customer Relations New Hires walked through the front doors of Headquarters for the first time. It was a collection of 18 people from a variety of backgrounds, excited to join the Family of the LUV Airline. After an intense training curriculum designed to teach them our policies, our operating procedures, and the myriad of computer programs they would use on a daily basis, this hearty bunch began serving our Customers.
Two of the Employees from that class remain in Customer Relations. Nancy Turnipseed is an example of growth within the Department. After two years as a Phone Representative, Nancy was promoted to Senior Representative. In her fourth year, Nancy decided to step into a new role. She accepted the position of Executive Assistant to Jim Ruppel, Vice President Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards. By Jim’s own admission, Nancy keeps him organized and focused, and very ably administers all of the logistics of a Vice President’s office. The other remaining CR Employee is Stephen Summers. He was promoted from Phone Representative to Senior Representative in February 2012, and then to Team Lead two years later. He enjoys his role as a Coach and mentor to CR Reps on his Team, and remembers his own time as an Intern with us and gives a big shout out to Greg Muccio of the People Department.
As for the rest of the group, they’ve literally “scattered to the wind” over the last five years into various other Southwest roles. Brice Taylor advanced from Writing Representative to Writing Team Supervisor and then Operations Team Leader within his first two years. By January 2013, Brice took a leap and moved to our Revenue Management Department where he has continued to earn new responsibilitie. Brice has served as Market Team Analyst, Yield; Market Team Senior Analyst, Yield; Senior Analyst, Operations Research; and currently as Manager, Operations Research.
Many of the members began as CR Writers. Charity Murdoch spent more than two years as a writer before transitioning to a Multi-Channel Representative. She was attracted in a different direction in 2013 when she moved to our Supply Chain Management Department to serve as an Administrative Coordinator, supporting her Department in general and two Directors specifically. Deborah Roach moved over to the People Department in February 2013. She now focuses on Internal Customers, and says she really enjoys assisting our Employees in dealing with medical benefit questions in the area of Health & Wellness.
Another Writer alumna who departed CR in 2013 is Kayla Cermak. She also joined the People Department, initially serving as a Coordinator before transitioning to the role of Recruiter as a part of our Campus Reach Team. Kayla recruits Interns and new college graduates (especially from her beloved Texas A&M!) to work at Southwest Airlines. After serving our Customers as a Writer for several years, Neal Gorman returned to his roots and his passion when he transferred to our Finance Department. He continues to serve our External Customers as a Member of the Sales and Refunds Services Team. After a short stint as a Finance Associate II, Neal was promoted to Senior Finance Associate, where he works with his former Customer Relations Coworkers in providing refunds and vouchers to our Customers.
Paige McKinley spent nearly a year as a Writer before moving to the Marketing Department. In September 2011, she joined the Product Team to manage a variety of products available through southwest.com. That role touched on merchandising, vendor communication, and revenue and reporting. After three years, she slid over in her Department to the Distribution and Air Programs Team under the Corporate Sales group. There, Paige manages the Meetings program, the Groups product, and the block seat program.
During her first two years in the Customer Relations Department, Tiffany Adams was simultaneously working on earning a Dispatch License. Completing that goal allowed her to move into the position of Flight Information Agent in the OCC (the former Operations Coordination Center, now known as our NOC—Network Operations Control). Tiffany learned much about our Operations there, and her exposure to the Dispatch Department led to her next change, when she was hired as a Dispatcher in June 2014.
After delivering Positively Outrageous Service to our Customers through her written responses for a couple of years, Customer Relations Writer Tiffany Hedgemon had the chance to pursue her dream. Now, she delivers that POS at 35,000 feet as a Flight Attendant. As a Member of our Inflight Department, she is able to combine her background in CR with her natural people skills to provide the best possible onboard experience for hundreds of Customers per day!
Each of the Employees in this Member Class have credited the training and their time spent in Customer Relations with preparing them for an exciting career at Southwest Airlines. The foundations of Hospitality, empathy, and understanding they developed in CR have empowered each of them to grow as Employees and deepen the richness of their journey along their Southwest career. From their common starting point, these Employees are continuing to contribute in a significant manner across the Company, and after five years, are definitely still Living the Southwest Way! Who knows what they’ll be doing in another five years!
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On a recent late night flight from Baltimore to Portland, Maine, 142 Customers experienced some Southwest Hospitality delivered in an unusual fashion. The flight was already late leaving BWI due to a weather-related delay on the aircraft’s previous segment, and then, just before pushing from the gate, a minor maintenance issue cropped up, lengthening the delay even further and increasing the frustration level onboard.
During the boarding process, our Flight Attendant Kelli Bartlett, engaged in some light-hearted banter with a Customer. As they commiserated with each other over the evening’s delay, the gentleman produced a deck of playing cards, and explained to Kelli that it is a “voice-activated” deck of cards. He told her to say the name of a card of her choosing and something special would appear on the back of only that card. Our skeptical Flight Attendant examined the deck.
Kelli said the face side of the cards looked normal, although the back of each card was blank. Thinking of our new livery and symbol, Kelli said “the five of hearts” out loud. She and the gentleman fanned through the deck, searching for Kelli’s named card, and when they spotted the five of hearts, with a flourish, he flipped the card over to show that it now said “I love Southwest Airlines” on the back!
It turned out that Mr. Alan Drew was a professional magician, and is a member of the prestigious 113-year-old Society of American Magicians, which was founded in 1902 by Harry Houdini.
He told Kelli that he truly LUVs Southwest and finds ways to incorporate references to our Company into his magic shows. After boarding was complete, and when that second delay happened, Kelli tried to cheer up the frustrated Customers, but says her jokes just weren’t connecting with the planeload of people anxious to be on their way. It was then that she had an idea of a great way to keep the tired Customers entertained while they waited for our Maintenance person to fix the issue.
A sketch of Mr. Drew the magician
After a quick discussion at his seat, Kelli invited Mr. Drew to the front galley area, handed him the PA microphone, and announced to our Customers she had arranged to have a professional magician help them pass the time during the delay.
Drawing on his years spent onstage, Mr. Drew was a natural in front of a crowd with a microphone, and Kelli reports that he had everyone laughing with his jokes and magic tricks.
He took our Southwest cocktail napkins and fashioned roses for many of the ladies on board, and performed his “I love Southwest Airlines” card trick for many of the Customers right at their seats. All of our Customers, plus three of our Flight Attendants, had a very memorable flight that evening!
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One of the best ways to learn about our history is from People who were directly involved. Each day, Employees from every department are hard at work creating tomorrow's "history." But how many people can actually say they were there on day one in 1971? This week we celebrate Original Employee Dan Johnson who—after a career spanning five decades—starts the next chapter of his life with his retirement.
Prior to our first flight on June 18, 1971, Dan was hired to help start service at the Houston Intercontinental Station before Hobby reopened later that year. Traditional airport roles as we know them today did not exist at the time. The same Employee who checked you in at the ticket counter may have been the one who helped you board your flight (and then headed down to load your bags before the door closed)! Since there were no Saturday flights when all three planes were in Dallas for scheduled maintenance, that Employee may also have answered the phone to take reservations calls. Dan helped with security screening at Southwest-exclusive Hobby—which didn’t have the same services in place as Dallas or San Antonio—after DB Cooper made the need for airport security obvious.
In 1977, Dan moved to Dallas to start as one of our first three Assistant Dispatchers when our fleet size was anticipated to triple (to ten planes by the end of the year) and several new Stations opened. He was already accustomed to transcribing dispatch releases while working in the capacity of what we now consider an Operations Agent and was promoted to a full time Dispatcher about a year later.
With Southwest expansion rapidly picking up pace, the new role of Air Traffic Control Specialist was introduced in 2000. As a result of an increase in complicated airspace traffic around the Northeast, Dan transitioned into this new role to help Dispatchers maintain awareness of what was going on around the National Airspace System. Like several other roles in his career, there was a lack of established procedures and a steep learning curve. In Dan's words, it was more like a cliff!
Dan has enjoyed quite an eventful career, going from the early days in Houston with a handful of flights to the 3,700+ daily departures his Team at the NOC handles each day. He plans to return to his hometown of Salt Lake City, but we hope our new nonstop service starting later this summer will send him back from time to time to the place he has called home for the past 38 years.
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What a beautiful story! We are so fortunate to have awesome Employees like Laura who see the opportunity to go above and beyond as a way to Share the Southwest Spirit. She definitely showed her Servant's Heart throughout the very involved process of making such a memorable experience for Tacey and her parents. It is such a privilege to work at a Company that allows and encourages its Employees to demonstrate the Legendary LUV for which we are known, and I am certain that the Raulerson family was exceedingly blessed by Laura's Positively Outrageous Service. I salute my Coworker for having done an exemplary job!
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For the last 40 years, Southwest Airlines has been known as the airline that has allowed everyday people in this country to be “Free to Move About the Country.” But, over a quarter of a century before the LUV airline took to the skies with a philosophy of being “Free to Fly,” there was a group of people who took to the skies over Europe with the philosophy of “Fly to be Free.” Members of the Army Air Forces, the predecessor to today’s U.S. Air Force, bravely climbed into transports, bombers, and fighters during World War II to preserve the freedoms we have enjoyed in this country. For almost five years, ordinary citizens found themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis in the air, where opportunities to become "heroes," although rarely sought, were far too frequent. Recently, I was privileged to receive a letter from the daughter of such a hero. Vickie Clark wrote to Southwest Airlines on behalf of her father, Lieutenant James Decker. Although Lt. Decker is 88 years old, his memories of World War II are vivid, and he had a desire to once again be able to sit in the cockpit of a P-47D Thunderbolt as he did during the war. Although he downplays the title of “hero,” he fits the role perfectly. This modest gentleman spent four years with the 27 th Fighter Bomber Group in the 523 rd Fighter Squadron, piloting his P-47D through 69 missions over Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Yugoslavia. He also helped provide escort protection for General George Patton. Being the son of a World War II Veteran myself, I am all too-aware that the advancing calendar is robbing us of the national treasure of our heroes faster than any enemy ever did. Part of me has always felt the urge to stand and salute our Veterans, and this was an opportunity to salute Lt. Decker through some of that Legendary Customer Service for which Southwest Airlines is known. We located one of the few remaining flyable P-47Ds at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas, and began communicating with the Museum Director, Mr. Larry Gregory. Due to concerns for Lt. Decker’s physical dexterity and museum insurance liability issues, Larry was unable to accommodate the request to climb into the cockpit, but he agreed to help us create a special time for the extended Decker family. We were honored to provide two flight passes to allow Lt. and Mrs. Decker roundtrip travel to Houston for a well-planned event. Many family members flew in and drove in to meet for the occasion, where they received a huge surprise at Houston’s Hobby Airport. Our Assistant Station Leader at Hobby, Ms. Lisa Weigold, demonstrated an amazing amount of Positively Outrageous Service in organizing a very memorable reception in the terminal. As the Decker’s SWA flight approached the gate, they passed under a traditional water cannon salute provided by the Hobby Airport Fire Department. Our Flight Attendants escorted him off of the aircraft through a jetbridge lined with uniformed members of the Houston Police and Fire Departments into a gate area filled with cheering SWA Employees and Customers! The U.S. Army Color Guard presented the “colors” (flags) and saluted a fellow soldier and Officer. Our Employees and Customers passing through Hobby lined up for the chance to meet Lt. Decker. The next day, I was privileged to help welcome the Decker family to the Lone Star Flight Museum for a personal tour led by Mr. Gregory. Of course, the main focus of the trip was the first stop on the tour. Their beautifully maintained P-47D was the center of attention for the family, and for some, it was their first time to see in person the type of airplane that Lt. Decker had flown. Employees of the Museum and unrelated visitors gathered around as Lt. Decker began telling stories of his time in a P-47D. He gave unending praise for the design and workmanship that created a plane that, in his words, brought him safely back home from many missions. After several hours in the Museum, one final tribute was ready. A rainstorm that had begun that morning finally cleared, and one of the Museum volunteers, Mr. Charlie Hainline, an Air Force war Veteran himself and current First Officer for Southwest Airlines, took advantage of the break in the storm. The P-47D was towed outside and he started the engine. For the first time in 66 years, Lt. Decker heard the distinctive sound of the Thunderbolt engine, and a wave of nostalgia washed over his face. Mr. Hainline took off in the P-47D and for 20 minutes, made passes over the airport, giving Lt. Decker and his family a chance to see this famous plane in flight. As the day came to a close, each of us took another chance to personally thank Lt. Decker for his service to our country. At a Company where our days are often focused on just getting travelers from “point A” to “point B,” it was a treat to step outside the box for a true hero. One of the joys of organizing this event for the Decker family was seeing the fantastic way that so many Southwest Airlines Employees and Lone Star Flight Museum employees eagerly and willingly came together. In their own way, everyone was able to express their patriotism and gratitude to Lt. Decker and other members of “The Greatest Generation” who faced such danger as they fought for our country and our freedoms. A huge thank you to each of you for helping to give us the privilege of spending some time with a true hero! We salute you, Lt. Decker!
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Jon and Sandy --
What a terrific LUV story that is! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Knowing and working with both of you is a true privilege, as you're individually and as a couple some really awesome folks! The contributions you've each made to SWA over the years are incalculable, and we're a definitely a better Company because of both of you.
On a personal note Jon, it is true that Sandy is a very lovely lady, and was likely even more irresistible 28 years ago, so your sudden onset of tunnel vision is understandable. What is less understandable is what she saw in you and how she's managed to put up with you this long... LOL Ya know I'm teasin'!
Happy anniversary to some wonderful friends!!
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Although I wasn't employed at SWA at the time, I remember our hometown pride in the once-small, start-up airline that showed us in Dallas and the rest of the country that they had truly grown up. The local display of patriotism, pride and unity of purpose that is collectively known as "The Southwest SPIRIT" was impossible to miss, and I'm sure was likewise repeated at Stations around the country.
The Employees of Southwest showed then that they could rise above adversity and competitiveness as they supported their own co-workers and simultaneously reached out to their fellow airline workers, most notably at the other airline headquartered in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. Walking through the halls of our Headquarters Building today, it is inspiring and encouraging to see the large number of people wearing red shirts, and I'm sure this gesture is being mirrored at 67 airports across this great nation.
We are proud to join all Americans today in remembering and honoring the victims and the events of 9/11, and in saluting all of the men and women of our military who are serving our country both here and abroad. The Warrior Spirit, the Servant's Hearts and the FUN-LUVing Attitudes of 35,000 Employees are strong at Southwest Airlines!
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These are GREAT pictures and wonderfully nostalgic! I very well remember the early days of that little upstart company down at Love Field while I was in high school. Several of us discussed how well they'd do against those "big" airlines whose planes we were used to seeing at DAL back then. I clearly recall the day I was reading the afternoon edition of The Dallas Times Herald (for you youngsters, that was the other newspaper in town that competed with The Dallas Morning News) and saw a large ad that caught my attention with the large bold font mentioning Raquel Welch. It was at that moment that I realized the new airline was not only an upstart, it was a fiesty upstart with a lot of Spirit!
As to your question about the location of the picnic pictures, I think that is Turtle Creek (a small branch of the Trinity River) here in Dallas. It is NOT Bachman Lake -- the trees are too close together and the body of water is too narrow, but it does remind me of some of the area around Lee Park, down near the intersection of Lemmon and Oak Lawn. Just a guess...
Oh, and by the way, maybe this afternoon's Deck Party would be the perfect time to bring back the Charleston? LOL
Kim, Fresh From His Journey in the Wayback Machine 🙂
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Hey UTFC --
It is cool that you could visit, and yes, there ARE a lot of neat things around here. Hopefully, you felt at home here, since on any given day, there are plenty of folks wearing burnt orange around our Headquarters!
Happy Flying and Hook 'em!
UT BBA Long Time Ago 🙂
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That is very interesting! In all of the books I've read about Mr. Lincoln, I had never seen that about the railroad.
I think two of the things that I MOST admire about President Lincoln, which I am always reminded of when going through the hubbub of an Election Year, are his deep humility and his self-effacing humor. Isn't it a delight to discover truly great people who don't seek to gain fame and honor for themselves, and who take their jobs, but not themselves, seriously? Wait a moment...maybe that is one of the definitions of a truly great person?
The more I read about him, the more I get the sense that he would be very uncomfortable if he knew the status to which people like you and me have elevated him. I suspect if someone had suggested to him that the government put his likeness on a coin, on a piece of paper currency and build a giant monument to him, and that school districts around the country would name schools after him, he would have been shocked.
People who truly have a servant heart are humble individuals. Of course, the more I reflect on his determination to save this country from itself, and his passionate drive to restore and heal the nation, I think that would qualify as a warrior spirit. And, if you study his interaction with his children and his friends, no one could deny that he had a fun-loving attitude. Hmmm, go back and capitalize a few of those words and tweak the spelling of the hyphenated one, and what do you get? :-)
No wonder Mr. Lincoln was awesome! So, in addition to "Happy Birthday, Mr. President", maybe I should say, "we LUV you!"
Blogger and Lincoln admirer
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Your excellent post probably isn't getting as much attention as it deserves because of some current aviation events that are on the minds of a lot of folks right now, but I wanted you to know that it resonated with me and that I appreciate you sharing your "Lincoln moments".
I, too, have been a life-long Lincoln buff, and can remember my visit to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington as a very surreal experience as well. Having seen photos of that structure all my life didn't prepare me for its size or elegance, but what really struck me was the solemn reverence that existed inside. I can't imagine standing in front of that seated statue and not feeling such deep awe for a man who shouldered some unbelievable stress and responsibility at a time that he was also personally enduring great loss in his own family.
Although our family visited Springfield and a "Land of Lincoln" tourist site when I was a young child, I do not remember much of it other than the fact that we went there. But, that early experience must have kindled an admiration and respect for our 16th President that has only grown over the years. Indeed, Abraham Lincoln books are probably the third or fourth most common subjects in my personal library.
You may have already heard that the first of the four new designs for the reverse of the Lincoln penny was issued by the Mint today in honor of Mr. Lincoln's 200th birthday, and the other three will follow throughout the next twelve months:
Thank you again for reminding us of what an amazing man President Lincoln was and of the legacy he left us. Happy Birthday, Mr. President!
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Hey buddy! Good to see you back on the Blog! Your idea is great except for one problem -- we'll need to get Ding! Boy to install a tail hook on good ole N922WN, because the arresting cables on the Nimitz will tear up the landing gear and probably blow some good tires, too. Of course, there's the technical issue of whether the nose gear on a B737 can handle the stress of a steam-powered catapult launch when SI One is ready to depart and return to our regular route system.
Given the potential for complications, do you suppose your former shipmates would settle for a couple of subsonic fly-bys instead?
Come see us some time!
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Don't get too excited about the interior, I'm sure it is just about as "glamorous" as the insides of the Shamu planes. The typical view that you'd have from the inside looking out...ribs, lungs, various internal organs, etc...
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Congratulations on a great post -- you have tackled a topic that is controversial with your usual style and professionalism!
While I respect people's right to have an opinion, I have to wonder why it is that in this thread, just like some of Bill Owens' threads, so many of the most offended and vocal critics share the same first name? How many parents out there have named their children "Anonymous"???
When all of this hubbub dies down, I think I need to go chat with our CEO and my fellow college alum about our NEXT special livery aircraft, Bevo One.
Customer Relations Blog Boy
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Yay! I always get excited to see that you have authored a thread for the Blog -- as soon as I see your "byline" at the top, I just KNOW that it will be interesting, entertaining, funny and will sometimes bring tears to my eyes. I agree with you about the incredible men and women of our military branches; when I see them in an airport, the expressions on their faces usually tell me whether they are "coming" or "going". I have yet to have anything other than a grateful response when I go up and thank them for their service to our country.
As you mentioned, traveling around holiday times can be quite an experience. I took the opportunity to non-rev several times in December, and was always exceedingly proud of the professionalism, courtesy and conscientiousness displayed by all five members of the crew on each flight I was on. Even our most regular Customers may not realize the strain and stress that flying multiple flights per day and dealing with hundreds of different personalities and temperments can create, and I remain in awe of the ability of our FAs to make each flight special for those onboard.
Now, my goal for 2009 is to have, using your word, the serendipity to book some travel on one of YOUR flights so that I can observe my friend excelling in the environment where your POS is legendary! If nothing else, you'll have to send me your schedule just so I can book a flight to go wherever you're going one day!
To alking -- thanks for the kind words about SWA. It is gratifying to hear from our Customers that they've noticed some of the differences between us and the other air carriers and that our efforts to go above and beyond do not go unappreciated! I sure hope that you and your daughter had a wonderful time at Celine Dion's concert last weekend!
To Chris -- while I realize that some of our UMs are children traveling between parents, I hope that it is not always the case. When my children were young, we often put them on SWA to travel to visit their grandparents, so I try to assume the best when I see some of our younger Customers onboard!
To bswitzer -- I am so glad that your brother gives us the privilege of transporting him to and from SAN. It is always a distinct honor to have any member of our military traveling with us, and we are proud that so many choose to fly on Southwest. Please extend my gratitude to your brother for his service!
To all of our military folks and their families, here is a photo that I took recently in Austin. Seeing our flag flying proudly from the jetway brought a lump to my throat...
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Thanks for your positive comments! The video is awesome, but what was even more awesome was to be able to "interview" Mary for this story. I use the term "interview" very loosely, because it only took a few simple questions to get her started sharing some wonderful stories. I wish we could have used them all; you're seeing about five minutes of an hour's worth of chatting!
But, the TRUE inspiration in this story isn't so much the story -- it is Mary, who really adds immeasurably to the Culture of Southwest Airlines!
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Yay! What an awesome tribute to an awesome lady!! I am indeed VERY fortunate to be able to work with Mary, and have been so blessed to be able to count her among the many new friends I've made at SWA. Mary has had such an incredibly interesting life with so many fascinating stories to share.
After you read the above story, I hope you will jump over to the related section of our video blog and watch the great production done by Caleb and Terry Riley, a very creative videographer who helped us on this project. What you don't realize about that five-minute video is that it was edited down from an hour's worth of interview! Mary had such a rich collection of memories, but unfortunately, we couldn't include everything. Caleb and Terry did a masterful job of presenting the "best of" the stories Mary told us.
Kudos also go to Lindsey for all of her work on this project, including the wonderful write-up above. Lindsey is even newer to the Company than I am, but she has hit the ground running by contributing some terrific Blog threads in a short time. Of course, it isn't surprising that she's doing so well; she's a fellow Longhorn who may be a part of the Canyon Blue Family now, but her blood runs burnt-orange like it does for the rest of us UT graduates!
But, none of this would have been possible without the treasure that we have here in Customer Relations. Mary lights up this department, and her joy for life is truly infectious. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mary -- we LUV you!
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Happy New Year to you, too, Leah!!
It is GREAT to see you back on the Blog -- I've missed you! Well, I've missed YOU, but not so much your lame jokes!!! LOL
I'm glad you're here!
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What a great story! That was a terrific example of the joy of creating family traditions AND the necessity to explain things very carefully to two year olds! I hope everyone in your family enjoys some delicious toast (and toasts) tomorrow night, even if you go light on the butter.
The neat thing about your story is that in catering to your son's request for some "real" toast, you followed the time-honored tradition from our Family here at SWA -- "Give 'em the pickle!!!"
Happy New Year to you, our Southwest Family and all of our Blog audience -- see ya in 2009!
Customer Relations Blog Boy
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I never realized you were such a sentimental old lug. Although it is not a movie, my holiday season is never complete without one viewing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965). This classic always seems to sum up the key concepts of the occasion, most especially when Linus ends his recitation onstage with, "...and THAT'S what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!"
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of my friends within SWA and on the Blog,
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How nice to see a Blog post from you after an absence that has been too long! For you and my fellow late holiday shoppers, here's a money-saving tip:
If you start your Christmas shopping in the evening of December 24, I think Wal-Mart puts their Chia Pets on sale, and those always make great gifts for family members, loved ones, treasured friends, your kids' teachers, the paper boy and your mailman. You can never go wrong with giving those highly-sought-after creatures!
Procrastination Blog Boy 🙂
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Oh no, more Okies???!
Seriously, Mr. and Mrs. Fox, you have good reason to be quite proud of Caleb! He seems to be a very outstanding young man with whom I've had the privilege of working on an assignment recently. His choice of colleges notwithstanding, he displays excellent judgment and has terrific people skills, although I did see him eating lunch with his fingers yesterday.
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Are you lining up relatives to come post on your blog just to artificially jack up your comment total?!? Cousins...mother-in-law...next it will be uncles and neighbors, huh? I can't wait until you start soliciting responses from all of the OU alumni out there. Oh, wait, do they have electricity and the Internet in Sooner Land yet?
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Brian and Eric,
Yes, the main runway at AMA (4/22) is quite long; in fact, it is even longer than the main runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth/Carswell Field! That is what makes AMA more than just a great Station for Southwest and for that part of our Lone Star State, it is also a fantastic place for plane spotting of military aircraft.
Over the years, I've watched a wide variety of our nation's USAF fleet landing there or just practicing touch-and-go operations. The proximity to Abilene's Dyess AFB means that the B-1B bomber is a frequent sight coming and going from AMA, and I've seen a lot of Barksdale AFB's B-52s there as well. Naturally, F-5s, T-38s, F-15s and F-16s are in and out of there on a regular basis, and can often be seen parked at the FBO near the rental car parking lot.
In addition to the aircraft passing through, having the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey final assembly and flight testing facility immediately adjacent to AMA means that plane watchers over the last few years have been treated to demonstrations of the VTOL (Vertical Take Off/Landing) capabilities of the V-22. I will admit to being one of the gawkers parked on the side of the airport road taking pictures of this plane in its various flight modes to add to my collection of photos of many of the types listed above.
The large number of days of crystal clear skies with a few thousand miles of visibility unmarred by significant pollution or humidity added to its centralized closeness to the southwestern USA's major military operating areas gives AMA plenty of aviation traffic on top of our regular arrivals and departures. Oh yeah, one more plus -- I've never waited in line for a runway for take off, which sure helps our legendary on-time service!
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