Gordon--enjoyed reading this story. Could I possible have an 8 1/2 x 11 colored copy of our picture--it would be proudly displayed in my home. Thank you for your many, many contributions to enhancing and enriching our very own homegrown and oh so special SWA Culture.
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Jeff--funny the things people remember (enjoyed this story). What I remember about our first meeting was thinking "Jeff could hold about five or six different Leadership positions (including mine) at SWA and perform beautifully in any one of them." Today, I feel the same way, except that I would revise my thought to "ten or 12" different Leadership positions. I may have taught you a lesson or two--but you, my Friend, have taught me dozens of lessons!
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LUVed your "first encounter" (with me) story on the Blog; but, you have one error in it--i.e. you should have said that YOU are MY mentor and inspiration. Seriously, my dear, that is how I feel--LUV you,
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One of my favorite holidays is Valentine's Day, but it always raises one of those internal "chicken or the egg"dilemmas with me. Do I like it so much because of Southwest's LUV associations with the holiday? Or, are those associations the result of my love of Valentine's Day? The answer is "yes."
Both are correct, and I wrote about this in my Spirit magazine column last February. I want to share it here because you probably have seen the word "LUV" associated with Southwest Airlines in some regard. However, if you are new to Southwest or, even better, a new Customer (and by the way, what took you so long?), you may be puzzled by this association. Since we are running other St. Valentine's Day posts this week, I thought this would be a good time to explain how this "LUV Story" came to be.
Almost 37 years ago, our first jets took flight from our home, Dallas Love Field. Although we do everything possible to show how much we love our Customers, the airport's name has nothing to do with romance or geniality because its origin goes back to 1913 when Army First Lieutenant Moss Lee Love was killed in a training accident in San Diego. To honor him, the Army named their Dallas aviation facility, Dallas Love Field.
When we became the "new kids on the block" in 1971, we had a lot of fun with the airport's name. Society and the airline industry were much different then, and we needed to establish our own personality built around FUN and our uniqueness. Back then, only businessmen traveled by air on a regular basis, and we thus clad our "sexy" (not considered a bad word in the 70s) Flight Attendants in hot pants and go-go boots. Our onboard "menu" included "Love Bites" (peanuts) and "Love Potions" (cocktails), and the cash registers that dispensed our tickets were known as "Love Machines."
Obviously, the world has changed a lot since 1971, and while we are proud of our mildly "racy" past, we have matured as a Company, in much the same way that love evolves from physical attraction to emotional attachment. Likewise, "Southwest Love" has evolved into "LUV" (which also became our stock symbol in 1975). Today's LUV has nothing to do with double entendre and has everything to do with compassion, joy, and Family.
We absolutely LUV what we do--getting you to your destination safely, affordably, comfortably, and with a smile on your face. LUV is the compassion and joy we share with each other and with you. Acting from the heart, even something as simple as saying "thank you" or "we're sorry," defines LUV.
Most of all, LUV is a passion for the Freedom to Fly Revolution that we started in 1971. Needless to say, we are head over heals in LUV with you, no matter if you have just started "courting" us or if you have been a "part of the family" for years. So, once again this February 14th, I join with the 33,000+ Southwest Employees in asking you to be our Valentine.
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Rumor has it that this blog has been kind of busy with comments lately. Seriously, I know that many of you have posted some pretty passionate comments on the subject of Kyla Ebberts and "traveling attire" in general, and we have been listening. I thank each of you for sharing your thoughts, and I want you to know that we haven't been skirting the issue.
This situation involved a judgment call for sure. These situations are subjective, and not everyone holds the same opinions. We serve more than 96 million Customers a year; and every now and then, we'll have a situation that takes on a life of its own. This was the case here.
We always want to apologize if we offend any of our Customers, and we also support our Employees abilities to make decisions. We are apologizing to Kyla, in typical Southwest style, and I hope you will click here to read about it.
Many, many of you on both sides of this issue have asked about a dress code. We do have a dress code for our Employees who use their travel benefits, but we do not have a dress code for our paying Customers. Our job is not to be the fashion police; our job is to take care of our Customers and ensure they have a safe flight.
We are proud of our past that included hot pants and we are proud of our future, and I want all of you to be part of that future.
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Southwest Airlines Employees are very familiar with the term "moving cheese," and it relates to changes and adapting to those changes. Well, by now you probably know that my life will be changing significantly over the next year or so as I give up my Membership on Southwest's Board of Directors and my Corporate Secretary role in May of 2008 and my title as President next July. I've always felt that change and new challenges are vital to our growth as humans
Rest assured, even though I am giving up my Board Membership and my management position, I won't be going very far because I will still be part of this fantastic Company for five more years after July 2008. Many of you know that, for 40 years, my absolute passion and the thing that gets me out of bed every morning is Customer Service. Keep in mind that, at Southwest Airlines, everyone is in the Customer Service business, whether they be serving our External Customers (our passengers) or our Internal Customers (our Employees), so when I say "Customer Service" I really mean all of you, whether you are an Employee, a Customer, or just a reader of this blog.
I am so excited that I will be able to devote my attention to this passion. In our press release, I said that my duties at Southwest have been a labor of love, but being in labor for 40 years is a bit hard on the body. My avocation will truly be my vocation, and I am looking forward to having more personal contact with our Employees, something I have missed due to the demands of my position. I am also looking forward to a five-day work week after years of working 16 hour days, seven days a week. I'm even looking forward to being a bigger part of this blog in the future.
Herb Kelleher and I are simply taking a step back from our responsibilities, and we can do this because of the vision and Leadership of Gary Kelly, our CEO, and the Team he has built. Herb and I will still be around on a daily basis for six more years, so you aren't getting rid of us, and as Herb said, "this is neither a good bye nor a farewell"--we're just moving some cheese!
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I'm a lucky woman because every couple of months, along comes a day to lift my spirits. Valentines Day, with its "love theme" is a natural tie-in to the LUV Airline. Easter symbolizes hope and new beginnings. Halloween is, well, a ton of FUN, and it is followed by Thanksgiving, which to me is the most personal of holidays because it is a time to reflect on our blessings. Christmas takes me back to my snow-covered hometown, Bellows Falls, Vermont.
And then there is the most American of all our holidays, July 4 th . Independence Day is all about Freedom. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." (The capitalization is Jefferson's, and given my insistence on capitalizing words that are important to Southwest, I hope my Coworkers can see that I am in great company!) Click here and take a moment to read all of Thomas Jefferson's stirring Declaration of Independence. When written, these thoughts were treasonous, and it took sacrifice and courage to back these words up with actions. That was true in 1776, just as it was in 1812, in 1863, in 1918, in 1942, in 1952, in 1972, in 1991, and all the years in between, right up to today.
Southwest is celebrating the Fourth in a big way--as I hope you are, but I want to use this space to share my thoughts on America and being an American. Settlers from Massachusetts first moved to the region of my Vermont hometown in 1753, and having grown up in an area settled before the American Revolution gives me an appreciation for what our Founding Fathers did for us in 1776 and during the hard years to follow. One of the great gifts of America is that we are free to pursue our dreams, even if we aren't sure of what those dreams are at the time. As a young girl, in a financially poor family, I would have laughed had you suggested that I would "grow up" to be the President of a major airline. As a divorced single mother entering the job force as a beginning secretary armed with only an Associate Degree, I might as well have planned to walk on the moon than being on a Team that would eventually run the best airline in America! However, I've always known intuitively that a title isn't important, but your actions are--what you do to positively impact others around you is of the highest import. Making a positive difference in the lives of others is my American Dream come true, and it comes from "who" you are, not "what" you are, your financial status, or your station in life.
I see the American Dream everyday in the eyes of my Fellow Employees, their spouses, and most importantly, their children. No, America isn't perfect, and neither are Americans. But, we are free to be imperfect in an even more imperfect world. It is true that hard work doesn't necessarily ensure success, if you measure success by prestige or even salary. Yet America gives us the opportunity to reap the fruit of our labor. We have the Liberty to travel across this great land by car, train, bus, or air (hopefully by Southwest!) without the government regulating our movement. We can speak our minds openly and participate in free and open elections.
And we are free to pursue Happiness. As to Happiness, I don't think Jefferson was speaking of frivolity, but of the ability to lead full, rewarding lives without government interference. One of the most gratifying things about working for an airline is the role we play in the pursuit of that Happiness. Travel enriches our minds by visiting new locations full of history and natural wonder. Travel strengthens our families by allowing grandparents to see their grandchildren, by reuniting loved ones returning home in uniform, or by rekindling ties with a sibling. Careers are enhanced by face-to-face meetings with a client that begin with a handshake instead of a dial tone. Students can attend the college of their choice because of travel.
Quite simply, travel unites America, and in my job, I have seen most of America. What a beautiful country we live in. From the New England coastline, the hustle and bustle of the great East Coast cities, the farmlands of the Midwest, the sun of Florida, the Great Plains, the Texas prairies, the Rocky Mountains, the California coast, to the lush verdant green of the Northwest and all points in between, this is a magnificent country filled with magnificent people from every walk of life and every background (which we tried to capture in our Fourth of July television commercial). On our nation's birthday, we are grateful for America, for the courage and vision of our Founding Fathers, and for a new generation who will carry the torch of Freedom forward. I am honored to stand with the 33,000+ proud Americans of Southwest Airlines in wishing you the most wonderful Fourth of July.
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Having FUN is a way of life at Southwest Airlines, and when I was contacted by Elaine Helle, the organizer of the Belly Laugh Day, I knew that Southwest had found a kindred spirit. Elaine calls the event a "virtual celebration" of fun and laughter, and it takes place on January, 24 (1/24) at 1:24 p.m. in whatever time zone you reside. Belly Laugh Day is international in scope, and you are encouraged to laugh out loud at 1:24 p.m.
Why was the date chosen? Elaine tells me that one British researcher claims that January 24 is the most depressing day of the year because Holiday bills are due, the light is low in the Northern Hemisphere, and many of those who dared make New Year's resolutions have probably broken them by that point. Yet laughter really is what Reader's Digest calls the "best medicine."
Of course, laughing comes naturally for Southwest's Employees and Customers on a yearround basis. We have three equally important components to Living the Southwest Way: The first two are a Warrior Spirit and a Servant's Heart, but completing this group is a Fun-LUVing Attitude. Whether it's our Reservations "hold music" (thankfully, you seldom have to hear this--not because of the humor, but we try to answer right away); a Gate Agent or Operations Agent (the folks who take your boarding passes) making a funny comment in the gate area; or a Flight Attendant's humorous briefings, the Fun-LUVing attitude is on display. You have also read some pretty funny stuff on this blog, so Belly Laugh Day isn't really anything unusual for us--it just reinforces who we are.
How can you celebrate Belly Laugh Day? Their web site has lots of simple suggestions. I admit that I am not a good joke teller--although I can tell some pretty funny stories--but I do LUV to laugh. I have asked Jill Howard-Allen to join in the spirit of the day, and the post below has some "Jill Jokes" for you to enjoy. (Okay, some of them may cause you to groan instead of roar with laughter, but they will tickle your funny bone.)
The biggest lesson we can all "take away" from Belly Laugh Day is that laughter and fun are important 365 days of the year. By the way, did you hear the one about the...? On better thought, I will leave the jokes to Jill.
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Starting today (Monday, January 15), you will see a new look on our primary web site, southwest.com. All of the most popular booking features are right there on the home page. With a single link, you can access Book a Flight, Check-In Online, Check Flight Status, and View or Change Your Flight. In addition, you have clear access to your MySouthwest account from the new home page, and because Southwest is all about low fares, our new "Fly For Less" page will allow you to find the most up-to-date specials. If you are interested in the latest news about Southwest (and I am guessing that most of you are since you read our blog), visit the "What's New" page. We have also revamped the menus at the top of the home page so you can easily find more Special Offers, Rapid Rewards information, and Travel Tools.
We want the home page to belong to you, and the page will feature photos from our Customers and Employees. As a big fan of this blog and having read most of our Customer letters over the past almost 36 years, I know how creative you are, and now, southwest.com offers you the opportunity to contribute your favorite Southwest travel photos. Please stay tuned to the site for details.
Like any innovation, the new southwest.com is the result of a lot of hard work by our Marketing and Technology Employees, and you have had a hand in the redesign of the site. We used your feedback, along with surveys, focus groups, usability tests, and web site reviews to incorporate a design that features what you value most: improved ease of usage and quick access to the information that you need the most through a simplified layout.
If you haven't done so yet, take a gander at the new southwest.com, and while you are there, why not take advantage of our low fares by booking a fun trip to a new destination?
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What a roller coaster of anticipation, disappointment, and elation the past two years have been (not to mention all the sleepless nights). Almost two years ago, our CEO, Gary Kelly, told the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce that we were no longer "passionately neutral" on the Wright Amendment, a federal law that has been the albatross around the neck of our Dallas service since 1979. In those ensuing two years, we mobilized our Employees, our Customers, our supporters, and those who believe in airline competition into a huge grass roots effort. Those efforts have included a petition drive, the establishment of our web site SetLoveFree.com, and a lot of hard (but enjoyable!) work of meeting and corresponding with individuals from all over the country.
Along the way, I have held my breath as almost every stage of this battle has seemed to come down to the last minute. If my hair wasn't already gray, it would be by now! But the late nights have been worth it because we can now, on a one-stop basis, connect our home, Dallas Love Field, with many of your favorite locations on our system. For details, please go here. As you look at our initial new service to outside what was the "Berlin Wall" of the Wright Amendment, please keep in mind that this is just the beginning. Even though Dallas is one of our three original cities, it is also a "new" city thanks to this legislation! Because we wanted to take immediate advantage of our new ability to serve the nation, we had to modify and tweak our existing service to be ready to go on "day one." In the near future, we will be able to start from scratch in writing our Dallas schedules to take better advantage of this new Freedom to Fly. Some of our unsung heroes are the folks in our Schedule Planning Department who have been working nonstop for several months to make this happen, and one of those heroes, Bill Owen (who is a wonderful writer and I know a favorite of yours), outlines those details below.
I also want to take this minute of my time in the "blogosphere" to answer those who feel we could and should have rejected this compromise in favor of pushing for immediate total repeal instead of the phased plan that was adopted by Congress. Given our druthers, while we would have LUVed to have gotten rid of the entire Wright Amendment all at once and sooner than later, each of the five parties (Dallas, Fort Worth, the DFW Airport, American, and Southwest) to the local agreement upon which this legislation is based had to cede some longheld positions. We also had to face the political reality that it is much easier to block legislation than pass it. (For proof of that, the bill that was passed had almost universal Congressional support, but it only passed in the waning minutes of the Congressional session prior to recessing for the November campaigns.)
Bottomline, we are hugely excited that we can now spread our wings from Love to far beyond the Wright Amendment's restrictions. I am eternally grateful to each of you who took time to pen a letter, sign a petition, or tell a friend about this important issue. Without you, this would never have happened-you have my profound thanks and LUV. You also have my personal invitation to fly to our newest and oldest city-please visit southwest.com and book your travel for flights beginning October 19 to and from Big D.
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