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A Change in the Weather

New Arrival

Video: Culture Volunteers Pass Out Goodies and Clean Planes Between Flights

On Tuesday, March 18th, our Corporate Culture Committee had an event in Houston. It was a Hokey Day, which means groups of us met arriving planes, gave the Crews a few snacks and lots of appreciation, and cleaned the planes for them so the Flight Attendants could get just a little rest. Well ... that's the way the day started, at least.

If you remember, that Tuesday was also the day we had more than six inches of rain accompanied by severe thunderstorms here in Dallas. Love Field was soon closed, and with Houston Hobby's flights to DAL about every thirty minutes during most of the day, it didn't take long for the HOU terminal to be filled with temporarily stranded Customers who were frustrated and in need of information about their options.

At one point, there were literally hundreds of Customers waiting at Gate 40, which had been designated as the ”Information Center” for all delayed and canceled flights. Our Gate Agents had information to give, but the PA system just wasn't loud enough with hundreds of people milling around in and between the gates. That's when our first hero emerged, and he wasn't even a Southwest Employee.

An entertaining young man with a really loud voice (who just happened to be an HPD Officer) stood up on the gate counter and began to shout the information about how we planned to unravel the backup of people and planes when the weather in Dallas cleared. It was a good plan, but it was going to take hours. Southwest was up front with people about that, and told everyone who could to go home and reschedule their flights for the next day. Many did.

I wish I had pictures or video to show you, but the last thing our Customers needed at that point was an old bald guy running around sticking a camera in their faces!

Gradually, most people understood that Southwest was going to do its best to get them to their destinations, but there were still many people with special problems, and Camille Keith, one of our Culture Volunteers and one of Southwest's Original Employees waded in. She worked with people one-on-one, but others, who maybe had similar questions and concerns, gathered 'round. I am never prouder of being part of Southwest than when I see how our People respond under pressure.

One of the specific problems was a Customer who had put vital medicine in her checked bag. I guess she hadn't watched our Travel Tips Video, which tells people to always keeps their medicines in their carryon bags, but no matter. Another of our Culture Volunteers, Flight Attendant Jan Fine, went down to the baggage area and dug through the bags 'til she found it.

The rest of us began working up and down the terminal giving words of encouragement and goodie bags to our Gate Agents.

Several hours later, things were beginning to wind down. Flights were getting out, and the crowds were beginning to thin. All the folks at HOU and back in Dispatch worked miracles.

I got on a flight by signing up to sit in the Fourth Jump Seat (an unused Flight Attendant seat). That was when I realized how far Southwest was going, literally, to get Customers to their destinations. Our flight from HOU to DAL, which usually takes about 40 minutes in the air, took almost two and a half hours. Our routing took us up over Texarkana, then near Oklahoma City, and finally southeast down to Dallas to avoid the continuing storms.

What other airline would expend three times the time and fuel to ”do the right thing” these days? But that's what we did!
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Lol I noticed your last post. If it's too hard to fly to Hawaii, then just fly to Knoxville, Tennessee. Although United Airlines is reducing overall capacity, it recently added a second daily flight between Knoxville and Denver on a 70-seat Canadair Regional Jet. I checked the flights for tomorrow, and the load factor so far is 92.1 percent!!!
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Since I can't send a note via the website yet... I'll post one here: This happened on Dec. 14, 2007 - but still think about this experience: Just a special thanks to MATT at Baggage Claim in Norfolk. I was on a flight from Buffalo to Baltimore and left my cell phone on the plane. As soon as I got to my site in Baltimore, I called southwest got the phone numbers of Baltimore and Norfolk (?) Baggage claim. Called Baltimore - the woman said, "can't help now, call back in a couple hours." Called Norfolk where the plane was flying to, MATT answered: "Sorry to hear you lost your phone. Let me take your name and number and I'll get back to you." In less than 10 minutes, MATT called back, said he contacted the flight crew, they found the phone, it'll be in Baltimore baggage claim for my return flight. Yipee!! I called Baltimore to find out where I needed to go, telling them I heard they have my phone. The Southwest employee yelled at me - saying, "what do you mean you know?".... The difference between an engaged and disengaged employee at Southwest!! As a frequent traveler, in general my experience with SW has been great. However, if there can be a special shout to MATT and a little reward for him... I certainly appreciate the empathy, ownership and follow-up he provided me!! THANK YOU MATT in Norfolk! Hope you are still valued at Southwest!
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I loved the Culture Committee video! I was the A flight attendant about a year ago when I was ambushed in LAS. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich along with some other snacks were thrust into my hands and I was told to sit while a Culture Committee crew cleaned my plane. What a wonderful surprise! Thanks, Colleen! Thanks, Culture Committee!
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I love this family!!!!!! I am currenty trying to get a foot in the door to join this wonderful group of people who love what they do. Every time I read the blog it gives me the motivation to keep up the work and never give up....thanks so much for all of you being the shining light of your talents, enriching the bond of the Southwwest family. I hope to see all of you (and the peanut bunny) soon.
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I was looking for an appropriate place to share this, but this was the closest I found... It's at testament to the brand strength of Southwest. Once upon a time there two companies in the same industry Ã