Southwest Airlines is apologizing to its customers for the travel fiasco that occurred over the holidays, where thousands of flights were canceled or delayed. And the airline is promising to do better in the future.
In a letter to Rapid Rewards members, President and CEO Bob Jordan outlined steps his company is taking to make sure travel does not descend into a nightmare situation like the one that occurred in December.
“We fell short of your expectations and the high standards we have of ourselves, and for that we are deeply sorry,” Jordan wrote in the letter. “It is our steadfast commitment to make the necessary changes to address the issues we faced and to regain your trust and confidence.”
Jordan acknowledged weather and staffing issues “greatly disrupted holiday and end-of-year plans. We want you to know that we are making every effort to prevent that from happening again.”
Jordan outlined a number of steps the company is taking to prevent a repeat in the future
Taking Care Of Customers
For those who had flights canceled or delayed, the airline is working to try to make things right.
“We’ve worked with great urgency to take care of the customers directly impacted by the disruption by returning their bags, processing refunds and expense reimbursements, and offering those most significantly impacted 25,000 Rapid Rewards points as a gesture of goodwill for their inconvenience,” Jordan wrote.
He noted that, as of last week, the company has returned almost all of the luggage it had on hand because of the events, processed nearly all refunds, and is processing tens of thousands of reimbursement requests daily.
Jordan said the airline has taken immediate steps to reduce the risk of a disaster happening again. Many of the steps have already been implemented or are in the process of happening. They include:
- Establishing supplemental operational staffing that can quickly mobilize to support crew recovery efforts.
- Enhancing crew engagement technology to efficiently communicate with large numbers of crew members during frequent schedule changes.
- Updating and upgrading a crew recovery system to solve current and future schedules as well as provide the ability to help with schedules as they are revised during irregular operations.
Jordan said the short-term risks have already been addressed, but the company is also taking other steps to review what happened and what else can be done down the line.
To that end, the company has:
- Brought aboard Oliver Wyman, a third-party global aviation consulting firm, to complete an assessment of the event and make recommendations.
- Appointed an Operations Review Committee to better understand the events and what happened to help oversee the airline’s response.
- Made a commitment to keep customers updated on any progress made by the airline.
“We will continue down our path of providing you the exceptional service you expect and deserve from us,” Jordan wrote. “It’s a passionate and personal pursuit for our entire Southwest family.”
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