Southwest Airlines, what is going on with this "once excellent" airline?
Is it management, a change of policy or just bad luck for what once was the best airline to fly?
As a business owner with clients in 32 states and 14 nations, I have been an avid loyal customer of Southwest Airlines, because they always had a spirit of independence, "extra effort" and good reliable service.
Southwest had a spirit of going the extra effort to give good reliable communication and service not hamstrung by policies or delays.
So when my executive businessman son, in Dallas sent me a ticket to fly from Albuquerque, to see my oldest Grandson, honored at a special event by his school in Dallas I was thrilled, to arrive at the Airport in Albuquerque, after noon to catch a flight to Dallas.
When the departure at 2;00 or so was delayed, because of "scattered storms" we sat on the airplane for an extra hour, only to be told after being taxied to the departure runway, that we would have to wait another hour. After an hour, still on the plane, we taxied to departure and were told that our departure was eminent, and ended up sitting in the plane for another hour or two. "Some other unscheduled planes landed in Dallas ahead of us." the pilot announced to us. This continued for hours, indeed near the end of the day, after sitting on the packed full plane for almost 6 hours, we taxied to the departure runway, and were told we "were approved for take off", and then later the pilot said: "Dallas is weathered in by Thunderstorm and we can't land there because of the weather"....this was odd, because a fellow passenger sitting near me, was on his phone long distance speaking to relatives in Dallas yelled out: "I am talking to my people in Dallas and they say the sun is shining, and blue skies right now!!" contradicting the pilot of our plane who was telling us the airport was "overcast stormed in". By now it was near 5 or 6 PM and we had been on that airplane for 6 hours, with 3 repeated stories of how no planes were allowed to land in Dallas. But we telephone Dallas Love, and they told us the airport was open, weather good, and planes taking off and landing.
By this time, the celebration event for my Grandson was already going on, it was too late to get there...even if Southwest ever even made it. Me and a long line of people quietly got off of the plane and started asking for refunds.
So I missed by Grandson's special occasion and awards for his achievements in High School, and missed the family gathering that my son had arranged. I got back home in Albuquerque, after 6 PM, and my wife said: "What are you doing here I thought you flew to Dallas hours ago?" What about the reunion of family and celebration for your grandson?" I was so exhausted (you just consider sitting in a packed airplane, next to a crying baby, and half a day of 3 "departures" stopped or held back.
This is not the Southwest Airlines that I have supported for decades. We found that one woman got on the airplane speakers and gave incorrect data, repeated incorrect information from the pilot, and hours and hours of sitting on the ground. I knew Southwest Airlines had a change of management, but this seemed more like a different airline that I had learned to appreciate in the "old" SW airlines. Then I remembered when the entire SW Airlines system crashed with hundreds of cancellations nationwide.
I told my secretary: "Lets not book any more travel on SW Airlines. Something has changed with that company." But it saddens me as a business consultant and commercial business appraiser, change efficiencies and go down a path of poorer service, management, or simple incompetence by telling us an airport is "socked in" while we are on the phone to that airport in Dallas and they say: "Clear skies here". Lies, or bad information to an airplane loaded (100% of seats were taken) who has been stuck in the plane for hours, crosses the line with me, a professional appraiser and business consultant. Gee, I am a pilot and have owned several airplanes...we are not blind dummies. Lets just hope what was once an exceptional company can Southwest Airlines upgrade service, training and management, we needed Southwest (the other big boys are already stiff and inflexible).
This article is meant as a "warning on efficiency" to the company. Either improve service of go down the drain of other companies, with mediocre service, and downgrade the company. We study companies, and what makes some companies more valuable than others. It is about training, management, and integrity of communications to good customers. Southwest Airlines, needs to get it's act together to save what was once a "top performer"...now our experience suggests they are struggling to improve quality, communication, and service.
My Grandson, and relatives in Dallas, were disappointed that "Grandfather ended up missing" an important event. As I stood at the service counter there was a long line of people who "escaped the plane" and were jumping ship.
Am I going to have to buy another airplane and start flying myself again?....At the age of 72, I thought I had outgrown that phase of life. Listen, "Good luck Southwest"...I hope you make things better.
Ben Boothe, Sr.
Businessman, Business and Commercial Appraiser