When an airline loses its passengers’ trust, winning it back takes time. But, unlike other areas, the nature of travel can often mean that a company gets a second chance even after something bad happens.
For airlines, sometimes the best option to get where you want to go is a carrier that you previously had a bad experience with. Nobody goes back to the restaurant that gave them food poisoning or returns to the salon that gave them a terrible haircut, but necessity will often force people to give an airline another chance.
After its holiday season meltdown that left tens of thousands of passengers stranded, Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Get Free Report needs that kind of second chance. Customers were angry and many did not love how slow the airline was to offer restitution or help people get to their destinations.
Southwest has apologized many times over and has committed billions to improve its technology, hiring more staff, and generally investing to avoid a repeat of the holiday situation. It’s very early in that process, but results during the busy 4th of July weekend suggest that those efforts are paying off.
Southwest has been working to win back customers’ trust.
Image source: Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Southwest Airlines Had a Nearly Perfect 4th of July
The best way for Southwest to move past its troubles and win customers back is to get passengers where they intended to go on a timely basis. That’s something that falls under even more scrutiny during a holiday weekend were airports are packed and tensions are high.
Southwest, however, appears to have met the challenge during the long 4th of July holiday weekend.
“During the July Fourth Holiday, from Friday through Tuesday, the Southwest Team operated more than 20,000 flights and achieved a flight completion factor of greater than 99%,” the airline shared in a press release. “The airline also welcomed more than 2.5 million travelers during the five-day holiday period.”
The airline also shared that its success wasn’t just good luck. Instead, its investments and changes made the near-perfect holiday performance possible,
“Southwest prepared for the busy summer travel season by hiring more than 6,700 new employees in the first half of 2023, while working months in advance to align operational strategies, staffing, and network coordination in support of the airline’s peak-season.” the airline added.
The holiday kicked off a very busy season for the airline which will be operating its largest-ever summer schedule, serving 121 airports across 11 countries.
Southwest Airlines Has a Winter Plan Too
Since the Southwest meltdown happened during the winter season and weather played a major factor, the company has made major investments in being prepared for the cold months. The airline has shared some of its plans for next winter.
“We are reinforcing our airport infrastructure, increasing available equipment, and bolstering overall winter preparedness at key airports where there is potential for severe winter weather in order to help our employees function more effectively in severe weather,” the company shared on its website.
The company is also making some changes on the technical side.
“We are implementing new tools that provide pilots additional real-time insight into the amount of time they have to depart after an aircraft has been deiced,” it shared.
The airline is also “reprioritizing our timeline for upgrading tools and technology that will help us recover our operation faster during extreme weather.” Some of those changes include:
A software upgrade that reassigns crews during disruptions.Increased phone system call capacity to better handle large call volumes from both our flight crews and our customers.Improving the tool responsible for electronically notifying flight crews of their new flight assignments and allowing them to electronically acknowledge changes in their work plan.