letter from gary

a letter from gary kelly
chairman, president and ceo

Connecting with Our Customers

April, 2014

Gary KellyAs an airline, we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the concept of making connections—so much so that the very word “connect” is cemented in our Purpose statement: to connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. Our most meaningful connections are those that we make along the way with our Customers.

So how do we do that? By being both high-tech and high-touch. Technology is a wonderful vehicle that makes our lives easier and more efficient, but it cannot replace a warm smile or a human voice on the other end of the telephone. The trick is finding ways to allow technology to complement human interactions.

You might be surprised to learn that Southwest Airlines was the first airline to establish a web site. Even today, we don’t rely on third-party sites to sell our tickets. We send Customers straight to southwest.com so that we can communicate directly with them, build relationships with them, and maintain control over our high standards for Customer Service.

We were also an early adopter of social media, emerging as one of the first airlines to have a blog and an active voice on several online channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. We rely on these channels to engage with our Customers and get their feedback on what’s important to them. In one classic example, we were contemplating changing our famous open-seating policy, and I drafted a blog post about it titled “Open Season on Assigned Seating.” Within hours, we had more than 700 passionate comments from our Customers, pleading for us not to assign seats. We listened; open seating stayed.

We know that, at the end of the day, nothing can replace the connections our Employees make with our Customers. You’ll hear this fact expressed in the songs performed by our Flight Attendants and in the games that Employees play with Customers in the gate area. You’ll also experience it when you call us and hear a human voice, ready to help, on the other end of the line, and when you write to us and receive a personalized response to your inquiry instead of a form letter.

We’ve found communication, both online and in person, to be the key to connecting with our Customers. Thanks for reading—and for flying with us today!


Gary Kelly

Gary Kelly
Chairman, President and CEO