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National and Global, United States

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Southwest Air: A Class Act Event

Now generally, I'm not complimentary of corporate America. They take too much, and give too little. However, Southwest Air was an exception.

Last year, I sent my mother a 'free ticket' (Rapid Rewards) from SWA to visit us in Arizona. She was to fly from Philadelphia to Phoenix non-stop. She arrived at the airport about two hours ahead of time, settled into a wheel-chair and was taken to the departure gate.

My mom doesn't fly often. She's 86. She doesn't need a wheel-chair, but prefers someone take her to the departure gate. Oh, and without her hearing aids she can't hear a thing.

The problem on arriving that early to your departure gate is that there is generally an airplane sitting there. But it's not your flight. Nevertheless, she gets to the gate, and they roll her wheelchair onto the flight that was there. She takes her seat. Normal announcements come on as to where the flight is going, but she can't hear them.

Then Off she goes into the wild blue yonder, sitting there...smiling. Not to Phoenix...but to Tampa! She's never been to Florida. She didn't know about the mixup until 30 minutes into the flight. Not exactly the 'non-stop' we had anticipated, but a 'non-stop' nevertheless. In the wrong direction, to the wrong place!

Obviously, SWA recognized this mistake early on, but there are no parachutes here...just a ride to Tampa. During the course of that flight, my office phone must have rung a dozen times, with updates from the group at SWA.

Subsequently, SWA puts her up in a Marriott hotel, and personally takes her to WalMart for clothing, toothpaste, etc. She gets the run of the menu at the Marriott as well. She phones me and says, "I'd like to stay a little longer here".

Even better, SWA gives her $400. in vouchers for free, and we didn't even pay for the trip to begin with. Nor did we request compensation.'s a compliment to Southwest and their staff. Instead of a potentially nasty situation, they addressed it early-on. No argument, no fanfare...just a pro-active, professional response to an incident that any other airline would have done little about, let alone offer her $400. in free tickets.

Thanks to Southwest Air for being corporately responsible...and responsive without me having to ask. It would have been nice for my mom to stay in Tampa for awhile longer. But no. She's here in Arizona dreaming of the Tampa Marriott.

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