Monday, November 10, 2008


I enjoy Southwest airlines. As a result, I chose to fly them to and from New Orleans instead of taking a direct American Airlines flight. Honestly, it was a pain in the ass. I had to leave lunch early and I missed out on Thursday night fun / etc. So, it was especially bitter when my flight was ultimately canceled due mechanical issues and I had to catch a different flight. BUT, this post isn’t about how Southwest screwed me over... it is about how they empower their employees.

I had two options as a result of my canceled flight and missing my connection. I could spend the night in New Orleans and try again the next day or take the first leg and spend the night in Dallas, get up and fly to St Louis. My wife was coincidentally on the same plane as me for the first leg of my flight, continuing on to Kansas City. If I could get to KC, I could just catch the early 6.20 flight and be into St Louis by 7.20. I proposed this to the gate agent only half expecting that she would be able to do it. She was. Southwest enabled her to check flight availability and book me an entirely new one way flight from KC to STL on the spot. No charge. I think that everyone should be empowered in their work. I try to manage that way because I feel that when you give people control most often than not they will make the right decisions.

So, while it was a sucky situation, there was nothing anyone could do about it (a pito tube was broken), Southwest made the best of it. Now, getting 4 hours of sleep after a fun weekend? Not exactly a full reversal of the sucky situation.


BJN said...

Sorry to hear about the PITOT tube (silent "t" hooked on fonicks worked for me)

I should loan you the book "From Worst to First" by Gordon Bethune (former Continental Airlines CEO). He took over after Frank Lorenzo basically tanked that airline, and took it from being 5 days from shutting down to the #1 airline in the US.

How did he do it?

By empowering his employees and trusting them to do a good job.

They did.

Now the powers that be are going back to a kind heavy on the middle management strategy which leads to too much bureauacracy and very inefficient operation. Employees pissed off and Passengers soon to follow.

I have 8 different bosses bob.. 8.