I used to be a fan of yours. Now, the poor customer service at Southwest Airlines and showing favoritism in your airfare sales is enough to turn me off. The Southwest Airlines 40th anniversary sale was a failure.
Oh sure, you probably saw these cheap flight deals for Fall as a really good thing. The phones were busy, people were buying airfares, and business was good. Meanwhile, your airline pilots are spewing homophobic rants about passengers while you give him a slap on the wrist – all while you try to maintain your values and integrity.
This week has been a PR nightmare for you. Your integrity has been questioned. There is growing concern over Southwest Airlines’ ethical behavior. Once a proud airline, your customer service is now starting to suffer. Not to mention you join a lot of other airlines with airline policies that should make people angry.
So let me give you a few ideas.
4 ways to improve Southwest Airlines
Fire the airline pilot - Sure, you will have to deal with a union and appeals and all the red tape that comes along with it. However, even the flight attendants aren’t backing you on this issue. Taking the high ground morally and ethically to do what is right might be worth whatever fight you have to deal with from the pilot and the union. Airline pilot rants against passengers are not acceptable.
Honor your airfare sales - Sure, you have some great deals and people love to travel deals and cheap flights. However, 8 million people live in Los Angeles. A few thousand live in Boise. It isn’t fair that you can get certain deals for cities and not others because of popularity. When you have an airfare sale, honor the airfares for all flights and destinations until the airfare sale is over. Don’t show favoritism and hurt people wanting to find deals because you choose to limit the number of seats sold. You have seats available? Sell them. Don’t hold back so you can make more money on those same seats the next day. You don’t honor your word and come across as greedy. And I don’t care if other airlines are doing this too. Same seats, same flights, different prices, not honoring the airfare sale. That isn’t right.
Improve your customer service - If you have an airfare sale or have a PR disaster, have the staff to handle the volume of calls. There is no excuse for anyone to be on hold for 3 hours at 1:30 AM. Some of your reps will bend over backwards to help out customers. Others will only tell you “Sorry, tough luck.” You want to continue to be a big name in the airline industry, acquire airlines like airTran, and meet your customer needs? Then improve your airlines’ customer service!
Faster response time - At one time, you did a good job of responding to your customers. You were one of the first to jump on social media. These days, you are a lot quieter and don’t respond as quickly. Maybe you are so backlogged by poor customer service, social media response time is lagging as well.
Improve on-time performance - For years, Southwest Airline was the leader in this area. In 2010, Southwest Airlines fell to eighth in on-time performance. Don’t try and argue with me on this – here is the proof. Every other major airline improved – except Southwest. The bigger you get, the worse you are becoming. There really isn’t an excuse for it either – Delta, American, United, Continental, and others have more flights and more airports. Yet their on-time performance is improving.
The good and the bad with Southwest Airlines
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you do well. You have low airfares, you don’t charge customers for bags, you don’t charge fees to change your ticket, and you don’t have outrageous airline fees. Being a discount carrier, you lead the way in setting airfares and make air travel more competitive and a little more affordable. You keep the big guys in check.
However, you are in danger of becoming just like them. Your customer service and on-time performance is falling. Your morals and ethics are being called into question. And by only allowing a limited number of seats available for airfare sales so you can sell the rest of them at higher prices, you are becoming greedy. Honor all seats for your airfare sales – don’t play favorites and screw your customers.
It’s time to improve. You want to maintain the image of the little guy who is customer-friendly while you try more and more to become one of the big boys. It’s time to wake up, make some changes, and improve.
Southwest Airlines (Flickr)