Southwest airlines

Topics: Southwest Airlines, Airline, Continental Airlines Pages: 5 (1811 words) Published: October 13, 2014

TB00417 The Southwest Spirit Customer service far beyond the norm in the airline industry was not unexpected at Southwest and hadits own name—Positively Outrageous Service. Some examples of this service included: a gate agentvolunteering to watch a dog (a Chihuahua) for two weeks when an Acapulco-bound passenger showedup at the last minute without the required dog crate; an Austin passenger who missed a connection toHouston, where he was to have a kidney transplant operation, was flown there by a Southwest pilot inhis private plane. Another passenger, an elderly woman flying to Phoenix for cancer treatment, begancrying because she had no family or friends at her destination. The ticket agent invited her into herhome and escorted her around Phoenix for two weeks.12 Southwest Airlines customers were often surprised by Southwest Spirit. On some flights, maga-zine pictures of gourmet meals were offered for dinner on an evening flight. Flight attendants wereencouraged to have fun; songs, jokes, and humorous flight announcements were common. One flightattendant had a habit of popping out of overhead luggage compartments as passengers attempted tostow their belongings, until the day she frightened an elderly passenger who called for oxygen.13 HerbKelleher once served in-flight snacks dressed as the Easter Bunny. Intense company communication and camaraderie was highly valued and essential to maintainingthe esprit de corps found throughout the firm. The Southwest Spirit, as exhibited by enthusiasm andextroverted personalities, was an important element in employee screening conducted by Southwest’sPeople Department. Employment at Southwest was highly desired. In 2006, 3,363 employees werehired and 284,827 applications were received. Once landed, a job was fairly secure. The airline had notlaid off an employee since 1971. Historically, employee turnover hovered around 7%, the lowest rate inthe industry. In 2008, Southwest had more than 33,000 employees; in 1990, Southwest had 8,600employees and less than 6,000 in 1987. During initial training periods, efforts were made to share and instill Southwest’s unique culture.New-employee orientation, known as the new-hire celebration, have in the past included Southwest’sversion of the Wheel of Fortune game show, scavenger hunts, and company videos including the “South-west Airlines Shuffle” in which each department introduced itself, rap style, and in which Kelleherappeared as Big Daddy-O. To join the People Department (i.e. Human Resources), employees requiredfrontline customer experience. Advanced employee training regularly occurred at the University of People at Love Field in Dallas.Various classes were offered, including team building, leadership, and cultural diversity. Newly pro-moted supervisors and managers attended a three-day class called “Leading with Integrity.” Each de-partment also had its own training division focusing on technical aspects of the work. “Walk-a-MileDay” encouraged employees from different departments to experience firsthand the day-to-day activi-ties of their co-workers. The goal of this program was to promote respect for fellow workers whileincreasing awareness of the company.14 Employee initiative was supported by management and encouraged at all levels. For example,pilots looked for ways to conserve fuel during flights, employees proposed designs for ice storage equip-ment that reduced time and costs, and baggage handlers learned to place luggage with the handles facingoutward to reduce unloading time. Red hearts and “Luv” were central parts of the internal corporate culture, appearing throughoutcompany literature. A mentoring program for new hires was called CoHearts. “Heroes of the HeartAwards” were given annually to one behind-the-scenes group of workers, whose department name waspainted on a specially designed plane for a year. Other awards honored an employee’s big mistakethrough the “Boner of the Year Award.” When employees had a story about...
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