One of my favorite things about Southwest Airlines is our way of celebrating an occasion. As my new coworkers from AirTran found out last week, Southwest Airlines does not get into something without making a mark. My most memorable occasion so far comes from my beginning with Southwest Airlines at the station opening in Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2009. I was hired as a Customer Service Agent, which required two weeks in Dallas for training. Luckily, class was planned to wrap up a few days before business started so we could get back to Minnesota and get the party started. One of the first orders of business was to get out and volunteer some time. We partnered up with one of the local food banks and collected bags of groceries at supermarkets around the city. It was a great experience getting out with some of my new Coworkers and being the first representation of Southwest Airlines for many in the area. Another great experience prior to the opening was the station mixer at one of the local dinner clubs. This allowed the newbies, like me, to mix in with some of the Southwest veterans who just moved to Minnesota. Employees had come from different stations and different jobs across the system, so the evening created a great opportunity to start building bonds. As we got closer to the launch of service, the FUN did not stop. In Southwest tradition, our station Employees met the first arriving airplanes filled with even more Employees from Dallas! We continued to get the finishing touches in place to use those planes to launch our service to Chicago the next day. We ended things with our President and CEO, Gary Kelly, coming in for a press event with the Mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I had lots of big FUN volunteering, eating out, making signs, and watching the press event as we opened Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was a great way to start off a great career with a great Company. Two years later, I still LUV to get involved and celebrate our accomplishments.
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What a busy month of growth it has been for Southwest Airlines, with the addition of three new cities to our schedule. Here in Chicago-Midway, we now feature nonstop service to each of our three new destinations: Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Newark, New Jersey! I spent time with some of our Customers on the inaugural weekends of service to see what brought them to Southwest and our new flights!
On Sunday, March 13 th , we started our service to South Carolina via Greenville-Spartanburg and Charleston. Folks from local tourism departments and various departments of Southwest Airlines came to Midway to help welcome some of our newest Customers with some Southwest and South Carolina SWAG!
The first Customers I spoke with were heading to the beach to enjoy a yearly family vacation and taking their first trip on Southwest Airlines! The second Customer I spoke with said she was heading home. Since we just started flying to South Carolina that day, I asked how long she had been stuck waiting for us! Luckily, she saw my attempt at humor and understood what I was really trying to get at. Her family actually went out of their way and bought two one-way tickets for their vacation; one-way out on the other guys and one-way back on Southwest. When asked why they did not just buy a roundtrip with the other guys, I got the response, “Because we LUV you!” How cool is that for me to work at a place that people LUV?!
Of course, the LUV does not end there. Just two short weeks later, we commenced service to Newark, New Jersey! Speaking with Customers on these flights yields a lot of similar stories. Some folks have been going with us for years! One gentleman used to fly from Long Island Islip to Chicago, more recently from LaGuardia to Chicago (as of 2009), and now from Newark to Chicago! In order to get any closer, we would have to start service in his back yard!
It is such a privilege working at a place where we continue to give people the Freedom to fly. Here in Chicago, we are pleased to be another choice to get you to and from New Jersey, South Carolina, and wherever else your travels may take you.
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