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Something special in the air…

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We’ve all had those days when we’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, had an extra helping of grumpy for breakfast, and then stubbed our toe on the way out the door. On days like this, it’s easy to let that bad mood dissipate into everything you do: greeting your coworker’s cheery "good morning!" with a grunt, scowling at your monitor, or perhaps taking the last of the coffee without making more. We’re all guilty of the Monday (or Tuesday) blues, but it’s nice to be reminded that sometimes even the littlest of actions could make someone’s day. Who knows, you could even end up as the subject of a sermon that week.
Through the magic of word-of-mouth, I came across a weekly bulletin from the Church of the Nativity in Burke, Virginia. David Castelveter, the Vice President of Communications for the Air Transport Association, was in attendance at a Sunday Mass in December when Southwest Airlines was the subject in his pastor’s sermon. I’m posting the church bulletin in its entirety below, but in it Father Richard Martin talks about his trip to Baltimore for his mother’s 95th birthday. Traveling is especially stressful during the holidays, what with the potential of bad weather, long lines, and crowds of cranky people everywhere you go. So Father Martin was a tad astonished to find these Southwest attendants being cheerful, attentive, and overall displaying a Fun-LUVing attitude. In this day and age, it’s sometimes a surprise to see people actually enjoying their jobs.
For most people, flying is not exactly fun. You’re crammed in a plane with a bunch of strangers for several hours miles above the ground. But I’ve always associated the happy, often hilarious Flight Attendants as the face of Southwest, and since coming to work here, I appreciate them even more. Their job is anything but easy, but they’re always the friendliest, happiest people on the plane–and they’re the ones working! It’s heartening to know such simple gestures–smiling at Customer, helping put away bags–could inspire a pastor in Virginia to dedicate his weekly bulletin and homily to these FA’s.
Father Martin has been a fan of Southwest since they flew into BWI fifteen years ago. He flies at least once a month, and around fifteen to twenty times a year. He flies so much that Flight Attendants from all over recognize him on flights. What inspired him to dedicate his entire bulletin to this particular flight on November 24th? It was Flight Attendant David Feather’s closing announcement at the end of the flight, reminding Customers to "have a safe day and be kind to one another."
"I was just so impressed by what that man said," Father Martin exclaimed. "I’ve never heard that from any other airline."
So why put it in a sermon? "I believe you should communicate good news more. Bad news always makes the rounds, but positive things sometimes get left behind."
I knew Father Martin was a true Southwest fan when he mentioned founder Herb Kelleher’s book, "Nuts!" He believes it’s practically a spiritual reading, and has actually given it as a gift to friends. "The people of Southwest live up to everything in that book. I have never met a mean person that works for this airline." How did his congregation react to his Southwest sermon on Sunday? With over 15,000 members, there were more than a few calls and emails pouring in with people wanting to tell their own Southwest story.
The Golden Rule can be found all over the halls of Southwest, and it’s easy to walk right by it without noticing. But thanks to Flight Attendant David Feather and Father Martin, I’m going to look at it a little differently from now on.
And the next time I wake up feeling particularly crotchety (usually every morning before coffee) I’m going to remember that the littlest things can often leave the biggest impression. And who knows, you might even wind up as the subject of a sermon next Sunday.

3 Comments

  1. My husband flies SW round trip every week from PHX/LAX for his job. His company has contracted with United, but he refuses to fly with them and only does when the regular travel guy is out and he is booked on United by the sub. United never fails to disappoint and do everything they can to make him cranky, from the moment he has his first encounter with the Check-In to the actual flight to the baggage pick-up. They seem to forget they wouldn’t have a job were it not for the paying customers. SW is a breath of fresh air in the flying world, simply because they care.

  2. Dear Southwest Airlines,
    In the interest of sharing good experiences with SWA I just though I would drop you a note to relay a recent experience. On Moday, February 2, I was scheduled to depart Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) to travel to Dallas, Tx for a 1 week conference. Originally I was scheuled to fly on an American Airlines flight as Ameican held the contract for our travel agent. However, on this day my flight originally scheduled to depart at 10:05 AM was cancelled due to a mechanical problem with the airplane. Unfortunately the next available flight on American Airlines was not until 6:15 PM that night. I inquired about a Southwest flight departing BWI at 1:50 PM and was fortunate to get a seat. I proceeded to the gate with my boarding pass and as I went to board there was a problem with my ticket. It seems that the travel agent did not pay for it in the transaction. I went to the desk at the gate and your agent was extremely pleasant and helpful and got me paid and on my way in less then 2 minutes. Once in the air, your flight attendents were cheerful and helpful and the flight was as pleasant as it could be. I didn’t even have to pay for a snack or a drink.

    Unfortunately the return flight was not the same. Because American is the contract carrier I was forced to use the original return ticket and fly out of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport back to Baltimore on American. When I got to the gate the gate agents for American were grumpy and did not appear to be glad to see me. The attitude on the plane was worse as the flight attendant made sure we knew that this was her fourth and final flight of the day and she was tired. I was also given the great opportunity of “BUYING” a pack of crackers for $3.00. (Better be darn good crackers) or a soda for another outrageous fee. When the plane landed and left, the flight attendant was nowhere in sight and frankly I was just glad to get away.

    Needless to say, my flight experience on Southwest was head and shoulders above that of American.

    Just thought you’d like to know.

    Paul Smulian

  3. I have been flying Southwest for the past several years and thoroughly enjoy the experience of flying Southwest (enough to post a blog along a similar topic–because I LUV Southwest). The excellent customer service, enthusiastic flight/ground crews and efficiency that passengers and their luggage are moved about the country is top notch.

    The positive atmosphere is catching and makes flying fun. In fact, I use my drink coupon suggstions for conversation starters (and stoppers with a wink) frequently in my daily life. And of course I always look forward to my next round of drinks because of the smile the suggestions bring to my face (and the free roundtrip flight doesn’t hurt in bringing a smile to my face:-)

    Tammy

    http://tammymassie.blogspot.com/2009/01/am-i-southwest-airlines-biggest-fan.html