Southwest Tries To Offer a Perk Customers Have Been Asking For

But a new ad makes it unclear how consistent their new approach will be.

Southwest Airlines knows you don’t like flying at the moment. But it wants you to love them anyway.

Thanks to worker shortages owing to the after-effects of covid 19, airlines have been facing a record number of cancellations and delays this year. So much so that Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has been pressuring the industry to get its act together, and has threatened it with legislation the industry isn’t going to like, such as simplifying the process for getting a refund.

But Southwest has also been making moves to try to get people to love them, as part of a $2 billion upgrade, including introduced a feature that will allow customers to change their boarding group for an added fee online. It’s also expanded its range of alcoholic beverage options and made it much easier for members of its Rapid Rewards Members to quickly achieve A-List or A-List Preferred tier status, and is also working on improving its in-flight wi-fi.

Southwest  (LUV) – Get Southwest Airlines Company Report knows that the airline industry has an image problem as a whole at the moment. But their company also has a very specific issue that is not going away, and its attempts to change the subject might not quite land.

Southwest Has An Employee Problem

Southwest’s employees have been holding demonstrations to draw attention to a number of problems they currently have with the company’s management. 

Those complaints include allegations that the company isn’t supporting workers enough, as 75% of Southwest’s employees currently have contracts under negotiation. They complain that the company just isn’t spending to recruit enough employees, and Southwest’s reputation for excellent customer service is declining as a result.   

Additionally, the employees allege that new CEO Robert Jordan, who took over earlier this year, has lost sight of what makes the company great, and that the technology the company uses to schedule flights isn’t up to the task, causing headaches and delays.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Southwest Tries To Change The Situation

Perhaps out of an attempt to move on from employee complaints, which are not going unnoticed online, or to continue to differentiate itself from the competition, Southwest has announced a feature in which it will install latest-generation onboard USB A and USB C power ports on every seat in the aircraft, using a space-saving system that the company says will not compromise legroom. 

To announce this change, and to remind people of the reasons why they should love Southwest, such as the fact that you can check two bags on their flights for free and your frequent flier points don’t expire, the company recently unveiled a new ad.

The advertisement shows off the new outlets, but ZDNet writer Chris Matyszczyk noticed an important detail, saying “my squinting revealed that the passenger plugging in their device was on a Boeing 737 Max 8.”

He went on to detail that there are only around 100 of these Max planes currently in service with Southwest. Matyszczyk notes that the majority of Southwest’s planes, of which there are more than 600, are Boeing 737s. So far, no plans have been announced to bring outlets onto those flights, so thus far, the upgrade only seems to be for the nicer more luxurious, and therefore more expensive, Boeing 737 Max 8. 

So this might limit the effectiveness of the new campaign, at least until everyone gets to plug in, and perhaps not until employees feel they’ve been heard.

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