Southwest Gets it. American Doesn’t.


A few weeks ago, my friend Anne Jackson blogged about American Airlines. Her inspired blog post aptly titled “American Airlines is the Devil” drew a lot of comments from weary travelers who had similarly painful experiences with the airline. It took American Airlines a long time to notice and respond to Anne’s post, which is read by thousands of people. Eventually someone from the company acknowledge her complaints and even confessed that AA needs to do a better job managing its online reputation. As far as I’m concerned, they need to do a better job managing their entire business let alone their online reputation. But I’ll leave that discussion for another time. In contrast with the flying woes of AA, I had a WOW experience with Southwest recently. They did something I didn’t expect them to do.

Last Wednesday I boarded a Southwest airline flight from Nashville to Hartford and to my surprise, as soon as I sat down, I realized that the plane had just been upgraded with new leather seats. Sadly, I spend more time seating on Southwest’s cushions than my living room chairs. The happy discovery prompted me to right a tweet about it (tweets are single posts on twitter). Here’s what it said:

“New seat cushions on my southwest plane. First reaction: excitement, then sadness that I actually noticed and cared. The crew was amused.”

The post went out at 6 a.m., and by 5 p.m. I had a reply directly from Southwest:

“SouthwestAir @maurilio That’s awesome that you noticed our new seats. That’s not pathetic, that’s SWAwesome. (Dorky, sorry, but couldn’t resist).”

For those of you not aware, Twitter is a new and fast-growing social network using mostly cell phone technology. It’s just now hitting the mainstream. I never thought of Southwest as a cutting-edge business. I love their business model, corporate culture and customer-focused service, but they have never been on the cutting edge as far as technology goes. However, they have always been great about communicating who they are and what they do. Having someone monitor social networks on their behalf is a sign of how intentional they are about communication, their brand and the dialogue with consumers. Even the cheesy tone of the reply is consistent with the fun and irreverent spirit those of us who fly SWA have experienced time and time again.

Well that’s yet another reason I continue to LUV SWA.

  • For real! I heart (LUV) SWA too and their witty twitter to me about Rewards credits!

  • Since I work in Philly, I'm pretty much forced to fly U.S. Airways. Reading about how awesome Southwest is makes me want to weep. U.S. Airways is no fun, and now that they think a cup of poor coffee is worth $2, I'm tempted to drive for all of my trips.

  • Eric,I feel your pain. I have flown USAirways several times in the past few months and they nickel and dime you to death. Once I had to pay an extra $15 just to get an isle seat.

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