Airlines industry, for a long time now, had significantly been on the decline, as they continue to test our patience and tolerance with new fees, delays, cabin baggage rules and so on. But how an airline’s staff and crew handle these and treats customers can go from best to worse.
Take the example of Southwest Airlines, USA’s largest domestic air carrier since 2003, according to U.S. Department of Transportation. When employees are taught to “live the Southwest way,” the airline encourages them to “put others first” and “demonstrate proactive customer service.”
“Southwest gives me the freedom to be myself and celebrate with our customers or be a shoulder to cry on in times of need,” says one of its employees which are known to occasionally perform for customers. Don’t believe me? Check the impersonator and the pole dancer. And these are just a couple of examples of all they can do to make each flight remarkable.
Southwest Airlines has a long history of creating wow customer experiences, so it should not come as a surprise.
What does come as a surprise is the story of this dad and his small daughter that were kicked out of a Southwest flight.
A toddler had previously been unsettled and unruly while the plane, heading from Chicago to Atlanta, was getting ready for takeoff. As some passengers mentioned “the child had a fit for about three minutes…while still boarding and people were seating. Then the flight attendant in red came over and said she needs to calm and sit or she will be escorted off…The man calms the child, gets her popcorn, sets her up,” but that wasn’t good enough. They were both sitting their seats quietly when the attendants returned to ask them to leave the plane, which they did.
Here’s the video and full story of the incident.
I travel quite frequently and always felt that being part of an airplane cabin crew is a tremendously challenging position, requiring an enormous amount of patience and some specific skills to deal with the most varied personality types. It also requires great problem solving skills and the ability to quickly and accurately assess situations, but I must say this is not the case here.
I’m also a father of a child and know how difficult it can be for parents to deal with their child when they get into an airplane, even the most well behaved kid!
But hey, this girl is only 2. If she was scared to fly on this flight, can you imagine how scared she’ll be a next time?
Southwest describes “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” but something different happened here, as these flight attendants didn’t embodied these values.
As humans we have to show more kindness and compassion, and that applies to situations such as this.
It seemed like an extreme measure, but clearly not to the flight attendants who got defensive when other passengers spoke up in the dad’s defense.
Southwest can definitely delight their customers, but are they consistent? Maybe the two experiences cancel each other out?