Posted by: brittanyborseth | September 20, 2010

Don’t you wanna fly with the best?

When you search online for Southwest Airlines do you find any negative feedback? Many have countless positive things to say about the prosperous airline. Southwest has consistently improved and maintained their name — superior to other airlines. The website is user-friendly, the airline has unique policies and is dedicated to their customers, employees and the planet. The fun, friendly employees and in-touch with social media approach has contributed tremendously to the airline’s image.

Customer Focus

Southwest Airlines mission statement states “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” The airline has consistently kept their customer’s first. In 1991, Southwest Airlines had the fewest customer complaints per 100,000 passengers of all major airlines, and continued in 1992-1996. In 2000 http://www.southwest.com became the most-visited airline site on the web. The website is very easy to navigate, so it is easy to find the information you need. The airline was rated for “Best Bang for your Buck” and “Friendliest Flight Attendants”. Southwest consistently offers some of the cheapest fares in the airline industry, and they do this by flying shorter routes for lower prices. The airline has been so successful a book was published called “The Southwest Airlines Way” by Jody Hoffer Gittell. Southwest Airlines was the only Fortune 500 airline to land in profitable territory last year — $99 million in earnings. While battling the recession, the promotion was offered “Bags fly free”, making it the largest domestic airline for the third consecutive year. The campaign, (http://www.swabiz.com/bagsflyfree) was released at the same time other airlines were starting to implement fees for baggage. Southwest Airlines offered up to two bags free of charge (what a great risk they took for their customers even in tough times).

Frequent Flyer

Southwest Airlines takes a different approach to all aspects of the company, in comparison to larger carriers — including  their frequent flyer program. The program is called Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, and is similar to other airlines rewards programs, but with Southwest you only need to fly 8 round trips in 2 years to get a free flight. The credit card also allows for a way to earn credits, which counts towards free flights. Credits are used instead of miles, which makes more sense and allows the customer to be rewarded more often.

Communities

Southwest Airlines has made tremendous efforts to keep their aircraft as quiet as possible for the communities they fly from and to. They are respectful to the community and serve to gain support and loyalty. The “green team” is a group of volunteers dedicated to furthering the airlines environmental efforts to make the community a better place to live and work.

Employees

Southwest Airlines states: “We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines”. In comparison to other airlines, Southwest knows how important it is to keep not only their customer’s satisfied but also their employee’s. This makes the airline unique in the industry, and contributes greatly to their success as having friendly staff because employees are treated well. When employees are treated well the customers are treated well.

Social Media

Southwest Airlines is very involved in the online world, which has contributed immensely to their admirable success. The airline is active in multiple sites (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn) in addition to their own blog (www.blogsouthwest.com). Within http://www.southwest.com there is a section for ‘conversation’ and ‘trip advice’ written by customers with both positive and negative feedback. The company’s social media policy is to listen to what people are saying about Southwest, engage the positive and address the negative. The policy is simple, direct and effective. The policy effectively addressed an unsatisfied customer, Kevin Smith, who was discovered online through social media within 48 hours and contacted by the airline. The situation allowed the airline to turn a negative situation into a way for the airline to publicly show ways they planned to improve and recognize these efforts.

Sustainability

Southwest operates one of the industry’s most modern and fuel-efficient fleets. The airline has made continuous efforts, and have successfully improved fuel efficiently from 2004-2010. Chairman, President, and CEO, Gary Kelly, says “Our planet sustains us, and, if treated right, it will provide us with stability.” Southwest Airlines supports many programs to continue to improve its fuel efficiency. The airline also supports the development of alternative fuels, increasing domestic oil and gas supplies in an environmentally sensitive manner, and additional energy conservation measures. Using cost-effective and environmentally beneficial operating procedures allows the airline to reduce the amount of materials used and preserve environmental resources through reusing and recycling material.

Here’s just a few comments supporting Southwest Airlines:

Today’s (July 15, 2010) Good Morning America on ABC took a look at airline fee’s after yesterday’s hearings on the subject. Check out their chart (link above) to see where Southwest Airlines ranks: http://abcnews.go.com/images/Travel/airline_fees.pdf.

“If you look at Southwest Airlines, and I admire what they do, they’ve been the most successful airline in the industry.”
–Gerard Arpey, CEO, American Airlines

“Through extensive research Jody Hoffer Gittell gets to the bottom of what has sustained Southwest Airlines’ positive employee relations and high performance through good and bad times” (this is the book mentioned previously).
–Thomas A. Kochan, professor, MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Global Airline Industry Program

In an industry with losses in the billions, Southwest Airlines has an unbroken string of 31 consecutive years of profitability. The Southwest Airlines Way examines how the company uses high-performance relationships to create enormous competitive advantage in motivation, teamwork, and coordination among employees.

On July 21, Joe Brancatelli at Portfolio.com says “Then there’s this: Southwest Airlines has mounted a massive advertising campaign to alert travelers to the fact that it continues to allow travelers to check two bags free of charge. The result: Southwest gained a full point of market share last year, an astonishing growth spurt in the usually glacial airline industry. And, of course, Southwest has been profitable for 37 consecutive years and last week declared its 136th consecutive quarterly dividend.”

Southwest Airlines has stood out against other airline’s and deserves to be recognized for their efforts. This is an incredible airline and I think you should use Southwest (if you live in one of the areas they fly).

If you have any comments/complaints about Southwest Airlines I would love to hear them. Please comment!

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