Our 13-year-old looked confused as she opened her gift on Christmas morning. Carry-on luggage with swimsuits and sunscreen made no sense as Oklahoma had snow on the ground. She was excited to hear that she had a few hours to finish packing because we were going on our first family cruise. The surprise continued when we arrived at the airport and one of her best friends walked in behind us. It was a family and friend’s cruise! Merry Christmas baby girl!
Hours later, the “Merry” had worn off as we were still standing in line to check our bags and get our boarding passes. We could see from the board on the wall that our flight had not been cancelled but we sensed there might be a problem. The self-service kiosks were glitching. There were only two employees behind the counter. Everyone was getting stressed and frustrated. These employees were doing the best they could to remedy difficulties, but it was taking them so long with each customer that flights were being missed. Every transaction it seemed required a phone call or radio assistance because the computer wasn’t making sense to them. Many passengers turned away from the counter only to head back to their car not to board a plane. I began preparing myself for bad news.
We stepped up when it was our turn. Immediately after pulling up our information, she began communicating that she had no idea what had happened and no idea how to fix it. We no longer had seats on our flights even though we had confirmation numbers. This sweet woman made a phone call to see if she could get 7 people (us!) anywhere close to Miami, Florida so we wouldn’t miss our cruise. Orlando? No. Jacksonville? No. Fort Lauderdale? No. Fort Meyers? No. She asked if we were willing to separate and we indicated that as long as each child was with an adult, we would be willing. Tampa? No. West Palm Beach? No. Charleston, South Carolina? No. Long story (and long day) very short, we never left the airport on a flight either. We had to turn to our kids and tell them that it was too late to drive and there were no flights that could get us there in time. We had to watch those excited faces turn to disappointment as we told them there would be no Christmas cruise. No week in the tropics with family and friends. For a moment, it was a nightmare. Until it wasn’t.
It didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t deserving of dramatic nightmarish responses. It wasn’t a nightmare because our kids are healthy. It wasn’t a nightmare because we were still all together. It wasn’t a nightmare because we weren’t stranded somewhere far from home. It wasn’t a nightmare because I wasn’t that poor employee who had to tell another hundred people that Christmas day wasn’t go the way they imagined it would. It wasn’t a nightmare because I wasn’t being yelled at and called names over and over by frustrated and exhausted travelers. I wasn’t among those trying so hard to be helpful and coming up empty at every push of the button in that failed system. THAT HAD TO BE A NIGHTMARE. We could have taken the opportunity to go all nightmarish in our response, but the truth is, we missed a cruise. A cruise we didn’t buy the insurance for, so we also lost a lot of money. Lesson learned. We missed a getaway our family is in desperate need of. We missed 4 days in the sun. We missed beach memories with our friends and our kid. It was certainly a disappointment, but it was not a nightmare. It was a first world really bad day! If given the choice I would take it over the nightmare these Southwest employees have had to endure this week. So, I’m writing this for them.
Southwest Airlines, there is a heart on your logo for a reason. You care. You care about us and each other and we saw it. This week doesn’t take that away! Keep your heads up. Keep caring. We saw your efforts, your kindnesses, and your integrity in the face of some very stressful circumstances. We saw you continue to try even as the system you were working in became untenable. We saw it and it mattered. We still see it. Thank you for choosing to be those kinds of humans. Be encouraged that this will pass. How you handle this will reveal your strength all over again. Keep showing up. Keep answering the phone and the questions. Keep being kind especially when you can’t solve every issue or please every passenger. Keep asking for what you need so that you can do your job well.
Most of all, know that there was at least one passenger who left the airport thinking about you on Christmas day, not themselves. In the days that have followed, as more information about your disaster has unfolded, those thoughts have become prayers. I pray that passengers encourage you, show patience, and share kindnesses with you in record number in these weeks to come. I’m praying that your bosses champion you through this time by reminding you of all that you are doing right and well. I’m praying that the owners, administrators, and decision makers pay attention to and take care of what you have experienced BEFORE they address what we have experienced. And I’m sincerely hoping that the rest of us follow your lead as we remind ourselves that it always matters who we choose to be when things get difficult, and people are unkind. Your example is not lost on us. Thank you for who you have chosen to be.
As a 35 year employee of SWA I thank you! And I sincerely apologize that your Christmas was ruined. Your kids have an amazing gift of having you as a mom- teaching them about the condition of the heart- and what truly matters.
I do feel so awful that they were disappointed and hope and pray that there will be another opportunity very soon.
I appreciate your apology as I know it is sincere.
22 year PROUD SWA FA… thank you for giving grace.
It’s the least we can do for one another, right?
Thank you so much for these heart warming words on the heels of a very difficult week. We luv our passengers and when we fall short on our commitment it weighs heavy on our heart. I’m so proud of our Customer Service agents, Baggage handlers, Rampers, and our inflight personnel. Thank you for your business, your support, and your compassion. Our customers are amazing! We will get through this!
SWA FA Base LAS
Yes we will!!
You are amazing, thanks for your compassion and teaching the kids how to handle situations beyond their control. As a 17yr flight attendant for Southwest. I sincerely apologize for you family vacation being ruined and the disappointment your family and friends experienced. Thanks a million from the employees for not giving up on us. Wishing you and your family a prosperous year. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Wishing you the same!
As a 9 month Customer Service and Support employee of SWA, these thoughtful and heart-felt words, will keep me going! Now, I have apologized and teared up more times this week than I have my entire multiple decades on this earth! And I meant it each time I heard the stories. I was really sorry and saddened that so many Christmases, we’re ruined. I am glad to be working from home bc a few times, while on calls, I had the crying lump in my throat but I knew that I had to “suck it up” and help my passenger get through this devastating time.
SWA has the absolute BEST CUSTOMERS in the industry! For as many times as I apologized, I was apologized to by the same people robbed of THEIR plans! After the first few apologies I was shocked!!! But, from my shift on Christmas Day through the rest of my work week it changed from shock to sheer joy. The thought that people who were in desperate situations still found it in their hearts to acknowledge that they were not blaming us as CS&S reps, for the debacle, shook me to my core…in the best way possible! I have not had not ONE call from a person who talked mean, cursed or belittled me, as a person! That speak volumes about SWA customers! That has not been the experience of all of my co-hearts. And to you ALL, take it one call at a time and STAY STRONG bc we too, will make it thru this stronger, wiser and better equipped to do our jobs.
I have a renewed hope in humanity, young and old, all because of people who showed their best, at possibly, their worse!
As I say at the closing of my calls to all A-list preferred callers, “THANK YOU FOR BEING THE VERY BEST OF SOUTHWEST!” ( And that is to my co-hearts too ❤️
As an A-list preferred customer, I’m so glad to hear that you have been treated kindly!
Wow, I’m sorry about so much emotion and heartache, but I’m glad you are so sympathetic to our Customers. You are the heart of SWA.
I have been a Customer Service Agent for SWA for 26 years. I grew up with this Company I call Family. Your words are LIFE! I have always loved what I do because I feel like I get to be a part of people’s timelines during really important moments. This past week has been gut wrenching. It’s so personal for us. You’re right—we care. Thank you for your kindness, your prayers, your patience, and your love. YOU are why my job is amazing.
Be blessed as you continue to show up!
Thank you for this. I have needed to ball all week but haven’t had time lol. I am crushed for everyone affected. My heart hurt and still hurts. I can’t help but feel the weight of everyone’s plans being destroyed. Although it’s not my fault, it’s heavy. I pray you and your family are blessed more than ever this year and always! Thank you for being you!
And thank you for being YOU!
RC Same!! Operations associate here.. so I work in scheduling/payroll for the call centers. Even the internal phone calls have been horrible with our employees working so hard. I understand it’s frustrating & we’re all so tired, but when we finally hit some idle (phone calls weren’t flooding) for a sec, I literally went to my partner and just cried my eyes out from all my built up anxiety.
To the original poster, thank you so much for having grace & we really are so sorry. EVERY department is feeling the exhaustion and we really just appreciate people being nice. I’m so sorry Christmas was ruined for your daughter! Hopefully we can make it up to you one day. (I mean that sincerely. Not a sales pitch)
Hang in there SG with the complete assurance that I will back. (No sales pitch needed!)
Tears are streaming from my eyes that I’ve been holding back since this nightmare started. Your post is such a blessing and a breath of fresh air. Customers like you make me so very thankful to work for Southwest Airlines. Thank you for your prayers and your support and encouragement. You blessed me more than you will ever know!
Well then I’m thankful my piece found it’s way to you!
Grounds Operations here…thank you. I luv your attitude, your grace in a sad situation. I have been off all week and go back on Monday–I have been a bit scared to return. I am thankful for Customers like you. Thank you for who you have chosen to be and setting a good example for your children.
Thank you for the LUV,
~A Customer Service Agent for SWA
I would say you won the lottery with having last week off! Good luck with going back – you got this!
WOW – Thank you for sharing this story, as a Southwest employee I’m truly sorry this happened to you over Christmas! However your resilience and wonderful, caring attitude is amazing and I am humbled to have you as a customer, I hope and pray we are able to make right by you! I am also in awe of how many of our passengers have been kind and caring – Thank You! It has been a rough few days for us front line employees but we will do our very best to take care of you-our customers. May 2023 bless you with an abundance of kindness, love and peace, I appreciate your caring words!
And I appreciate yours!
I used to work for SWA and have a lot of friends on social media who still do. I just wanted you to know that your words are going viral on their pages and bringing tears to their eyes.
I always loved answering the special line for A List and A List Preferred passengers because of your special kind of loyalty and understanding. And you are a perfect example of that.
I feel horrible watching my friends go down in flames, working 14 hours shifts and getting verbally abused in the process. I’m sending you a HUGE heartfelt THANK YOU for sending them so much love right now.
I’m a flight attendant with AA now, but if I ever find you on one of my flights you will be treated as like the rockstar you are. ❤️
Oh Lisa! Your words mean the world to me. I hoped my words would somehow find their way to the people who needed to hear them! And I’ll be flying with AA this April with 25 of my friends as we celebrate our 55th Birthdays this year! Perhaps I will have the pleasure of meeting you in person!
Thank you from the bottom of our bruised and tired hearts! Your kindness, compassion and honesty is what we LUV in our Customers.
Bridget – MCO FA
You’re very welcome. Thank you for all that you’ve done this week!
Thank you for sharing your heart. Thank you for showing grace and giving blessings to all who read your kindness.
It’s the least we can do for each other!
Thank you so much for your kind words and compassion. I could barely read it aloud to my husband because I couldn’t see through the tears welling up in my eyes. I’ve been a flight attendant for 30 years here and our customers never cease to amaze me. You are truly a beautiful soul and what you have written will touch so many hearts. I (we) are all truly sorry for your family’s missed vacation/Christmas and our hearts break for every single passenger who experienced similar experiences. You have restored my faith in humanity and have rekindled my faith that things are going to be okay. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I pray that your family is blessed immensely this year because you are a blessing to us.
Thank you for taking the time to send me a blessing as well!
Thank you for these words. Your kids are going to grow up to be the kind of people this world needs. Thank you!
That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you!
What a gem of a person you are.
As a 34 year flight attendant for Southwest this brought tears to my eyes. You are the reason we do the job we do, you are that person that reminds us this is not a thankless job, you are the reason for the season.
1000 I’m sorries being sent your way. I truly hope when you do make it on that first cruise I am fortunate enough to work your flight.
SWA Flight Attendant
I hope you are too! I’d LUV to hug your neck in person. Thanks for the kind words.
As a SWA FA of 9 years thank you so much for your kind words. I am personally sorry that we ruined your family vacation. You are an amazing person and mother. I cried my eyes out reading your post. We love you and are grateful for our customers. We wouldn’t be who we at without you. I hope that as a company we make it up to you and your beautiful family. Have a blessed and happy new year!!
I hope the New Year allows you beautiful blessings. Thank you for your kind words.
thank-you for recognizing the effort and LUV and for giving grace. We truly do care.
I know you do. I can tell!
Your gracious and kind words also touched my heart. As a Denver-based Southwest flight attendant, I want to add my sincerest apologies for the cancellation of your long-awaited vacation. It’s devastating to think of how your little ones must’ve been so disappointed. And our words of apology cannot take that away. I’m also inspired and amazed as I ponder the opportunity that your littles experienced as they watched their mama respond with grace in the moment of crushing disappointment. And this will have a profound impact upon their characters. Our world is desperately in need of a return to kindness and civility, and I just want to commend you for showing the way, to your little ones of course, but also to so many others with your post. May God bless you richly. Happy New Year. ❤️
Wow! Thank you so much for your kind words! Bless you.
As a SWA FA myself, i won’t apologize because I did my part, I showed up to work and was stranded just like passengers. We shouldn’t be apologizing, the executives should be! I am so heartbroken for each and every stranded passenger but I won’t apologize for Bob Jordan’s mistake.
You don’t have to. I just wanted you to know that I was sorry for you and praying you through this!
Thank you for your compassion, love and loyalty. Praying your family gets a much deserved redo in 2023!
This was absolutely beautiful and thoughtful of you to take the time to encourage us. I’m a 15 year employee and I came in this week to fly passengers on flights that went out. I can truly say everyone I encountered was grateful and kept thanking us for all that we do. It threw me off because I was thankful for them for still being able to put trust in our company. I’m sorry you missed your vacation but I know there will be many more surprises for you’re little ones because they have you as a mom. Thank you for showing them the core values that our airline was built on. Hopefully we will regain everyone’s trust again in times like the one we are experiencing what matters most is how we will come back from this to regain you’re assurance. I hope you’re little ones had a wonderful Christmas.
As a 8 year proud employee, I thank you . SWA truly takes care of our passengers and their employees. We may have up and downs but SWA always comes through and makes it right for all of us, especially our customers. YOU are the reason why we are here!