For years, Southwest Airlines has been known as a culture that brings low cost travel to passengers with a smile and a high level of fun. Those characteristics have already made Southwest the most loved airline in America. In 2013, CEO Gary Kelly introduced a new set of aspirations to all employees. He is asking that everyone support a vision of being the most loved, most flown and most profitable airline in the world.
He proposed that one of the ways they would do this would be through telling stories of how they improved the lives of the customers they touch.
An equally important aspect of the new vision is:
We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low cost travel.
Part of the story telling ritual extends to employees connecting with the stories of their passengers and looking for ways to elevate their lives. The heart behind this commitment is profound. It can even be gut wrenching.
In looking through their stories, I found this letter from a woman named Nancy:
“Last night, my husband and I got the tragic news that our three-year-old grandson in Denver had been murdered by our daughter’s live-in boyfriend.”
Her husband had to get to his daughter as quickly as possible. He was on a business trip. In Los Angeles, the crowds were so backed up that he was going to miss the plane. TSA could have cared less. But, a flight attendant from the first leg of his journey had already called ahead to the pilot of the last plane. He ran to the gate expecting to see everyone gone.
The pilot of his plane and the ticketing agent were waiting for him.
They both said,
“Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we’re so sorry about the loss of your grandson.”
It takes a certain brand of courage to step up to this plate but for everyone involved, they have a far more memorable story.