Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I heart SWA

My love affair with Southwest Airlines has been long and for the most part--very rewarding. Growing up in Texas with our family spread all over the State, Southwest was our carrier of choice to get to and from the major cities. When I moved across the state to attend Uni, Southwest was my ticket home for Thanksgiving, Easter, Spring Break, etc. I've always appreciated their casual attitude and no-frills approach. Their fares are always reasonable and they've got heaps of specials all the time.

In all my years of flying SWA, I don't think I've ever come across a grumpy SWA employee--and I'm talking everyone from the ticket counter to the baggage handlers to the flight attendants. That's right, these people are nothing but smiles. I can't say that for other airlines I've traveled...Tiger? United? American? Are you listening?

Yes, there has always been something different about SWA. The friendly smile, the willingness to help you out and above all the fun atmosphere they exude. I fondly recall one rainy evening in Austin, Texas when it seemed like every flight was delayed. With a lounge full of impatient passengers, the SWA employees were playing TV trivia games over the loud speaker--and there were prizes too.

I've had so many funny flight attendants, I can't even recall all the stories. SWA flight attendants have a way of making the in flight safety instructions highly amusing. Considering most people fly with some regularity, this small bit of entertainment can make an unusually dull and repetitive speech much more enjoyable,

"While we never anticipate a change in cabin pressure, should one occur, oxygen masks will drop from overhead. Please place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. If you are traveling with a child, please secure your own mask first then help your child. If you are traveling with two or more small children...well, you've got some choices to make. If it was me, I'd start with the one that has the most potential. You know the one that's going to be the Doctor or NBA player that will support you in your old age. Put their mask on first and then make your way down the line."

That was the funniest line on our recent flight from Dallas to El Paso. The whole cabin was giggling and this guy had more. He had a whole arsenal of jokes. I like their approach and appreciate the way they use humour to put folks at ease and entertain them.

Something happened during our recent time in the USA that further secured my love for SWA. During the initial days of the swine flu mania in the USA, I cancelled a set of flights we were due to take and opted to drive the route instead. I forgot to cancel the flights until the day we were meant to take them and when I went online to cancel them, it was too late as the flight had already departed. This meant I had to ring a number and cancel them over the phone instead. I was annoyed with myself because it meant something that I could easily have done for myself online would now have to be completed over the phone with someone in a call centre. I wondered how long it would take before I got to speak to someone. I reluctantly got the phone and dialled the number. I was greeted immediately with a recording that indicated what the expected wait time would be. Then I was offered an option--leave us your number and we'll call you back. This won't affect your place in line. It just means you don't have to sit on the phone and wait for us. What???? They'll call me back?? Were they serious? This was too good to be true.

So I took them up on their offer and left my phone number. An automated message confirmed my number and told me I'd be called back in approximately 12-17 minutes. I certainly hoped so. I hung up and went about preparing lunches for the children, etc. It was no more than 10 minutes later when the phone rang. The Caller ID showed Southwest Airlines on it. Wow! This rocked. I answered the phone and confirmed I was the person they were looking for and then I was transferred directly to an operator who cancelled my flights and credited my account in about 2 minutes flat. Now, that's service. I LOVE IT!!! Did you hear me folks, THEY CALLED ME BACK!!! Fanbloodytastic!!!

If you've never flown SWA, then you are really missing out on one of the best value for money airlines on the planet. I'm constantly amazed at their innovative ideas--it's as if they actually listen to their customers and give a damn about service. If only such a quality low fare airline existed here in Australia...a girl can dream can't she?

SWA, I love you!


Nathalie said...

Very impressive. Airlines here have a lot to learn....as do most customer service places. It just sounds too good to be true.

Annelise said...

I love SWA as well, however they are no longer all that great with lower fares. But they are awesome! They bought me a bottle of champagne when I flew on my bday and gave donuts to the nearest 24 near me to celebrate.

suzinoz said...

Wow Annelise! Another great SWA story. Honestly I'd rather pay more and have their fun and happy service than the bitter stuff that is offered at other airlines. =)

Dorian Speed said...

Wow - that is really cool! Someday I will live in a place that allows me to fly SWA without having to drive at least 2.5 hours to an airport.