How can you tell it’s the busiest travel time of year?
As airline Employees in the hospitality business, we are pros at handling the throngs of Customers that come to the airport during the busiest travel day of the year. What you can’t tell by looking at us is that it is all in a day’s work and a part of fulfilling a vision to unite people to what is important in their life.
What's not seen are the hours and weeks of preparation and choreography that makes the day successful! Leadership utilizes all resources available to ensure a successful holiday season. This includes weather reports, holiday bookings, staffing charts, past history, projected bookings, group bookings, patterns, and any other pertinent information in tandem with the Administrative Department to make a perfect schedule so we can serve our valued Customers.
You can tell it is the holiday season at Southwest by the number of phone minutes used to ensure all our airport counterparts are ready for the hustle and bustle. This includes the TSA, who ensures all Passengers are screened and confiscates tons of liquids people forgot they had, not to mention the pounds of change left in the screening buckets. There's also our wheelchair vendor, who orders extras for the holiday, and our Belt System Mechanics, who have performed rounds of preventative maintenance in preparation for the holiday travel season and luggage that, of course, flies free!
Our very own Baggage Service Department ensures that the one or two large luggage boxes that are filled with every day lost and found items, such as keys, books, jackets, and scarves get logged and catalogued to be sent to our clearing house in hopes of reuniting them with our valued Customers. In fact, we give Santa’s elves a run for their money!
This does not include the full file cabinet of iPads, iPhones, and electronic equipment that we provide safekeeping for until we can find their owners. You can tell it's holiday time because the amount of lost and found items triple, and many people leave these valuable items in the least expected places—on buses, in restrooms, at checkpoints, at the gate, and on the plane!
Then there is the trash, the half-filled cups of coffee, the bottled water, and all of the items that people weren't able to finish. They are emptied all day long by our valued Cleaners, who have their hands filled that day (and then refilled) while the lines of folks get processed through the checkin experience.
We have dogs that don’t make it to relieve themselves in the boneyard, which is an interesting nuance since we began accepting pets for travel, and first-time moms and dads traveling with every baby item they'd imagine using being checked to grandma and grandpa’s house. You can always tell when it’s not their first trip as the items they bring shrink exponentially!
The purple coat navigators provide the same answer to the same question all day long. Hundreds of passengers are looking for the gate, the restroom, the restaurant, and the smoking area. I am sure they answer too many questions to count.
Then there is the vision and pride we feel when we see our military travelers either coming or going, and the families that love them always pull on the heart strings.
This is just a small sampling of things that can be measured on one of the busiest travel days of the year to indicate that is so busy. What is of utmost importance and cannot be measured by a stroke count is the gratitude Southwest Employees feel to be able to provide a service to all of these valued Customers and to get them where they need to go! And for us, it is just what we do!