Southwest Apologizes To Employees With Bonus Points

Southwest Apologizes To Employees With Bonus Points

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Southwest Airlines is working to recover from its horrible operational meltdown over the holidays, which is anticipated to cost the airline up to $825 million. Not only is the airline reimbursing passengers for expenses incurred as a result of cancelations, but the airline is also awarding 25,000 Rapid Rewards points to passengers who were impacted by operational issues.

While customers were no doubt horribly impacted by all this, I can’t help but also feel terrible for Southwest’s frontline employees — this wasn’t at all their fault, and they’ve suffered a lot from this mess too. Many have been curious what the airline would do to regain trust among employees, and we’re now seeing the first example of that.

Southwest giving employees 25,000 SWAG points

As reported by The Dallas Morning News, on Friday, Southwest Airlines revealed an initiative internally intended to compensation employees for the operational issues they had to deal with. As a gesture of goodwill, the airline will be giving all 66,000 active employees 25,000 SWAG points, which will be deposited on Monday.

SWAG points are different than Rapid Rewards points — this is an internal points currency that can be redeemed through the company’s employee store. Points can be used for travel, Southwest merchandise, gift cards, and Visa debit cards. 25,000 SWAG points can apparently be redeemed for roughly $400 worth of gift cards.

This announcement was made by Southwest CEO Bob Jordan, who apologized, acknowledging that management let workers down. Jordan wrote the following, in part:

“We let you down, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the physical and emotional toll. I’m sorry for the loss of time and memories that can never be replaced. Most of all, I’m sorry about the damage to your confidence and trust.”

Southwest is starting to apologize to employees

My take on Southwest’s gesture for employees

Communication from Southwest management has been horrible throughout the meltdown, so it’s nice to see management finally apologizing to employees, and providing some material gesture.

Assuming these 25,000 SWAG points are worth ~$400, that means this gesture could cost the airline somewhere around ~$26.4 million. That’s only a small percentage of the overall cost of this meltdown to the airline, though it’s also not insignificant.

I can’t imagine many Southwest employees feel like they’ve been made whole through this gesture alone, though hopefully it’s the first of many moves by Southwest management to fix things.

Interestingly in mid-2021, Southwest celebrated its 50th anniversary, and for the occasion the airline gave all employees 50,000 Rapid Rewards points. On the surface that was higher value, though Rapid Rewards points aren’t quite as flexible as SWAG points.

If you ask me, what the airline should most be apologizing to employees for was the “state of emergency” it declared in Denver. The airline threatened to terminate ramp employees for a variety of reasons, in a way that can only be described as cruel.

To be honest, I suspect Southwest will easily be able to recover from this in terms of customer perception, as people are quick to forget these kinds of things. The much bigger question is if Southwest can regain trust among employees.

Historically Southwest’s corporate culture has been a real competitive advantage, and I wonder if that will continue to be the case. At the moment I don’t think many employees at Southwest find their jobs to be “Just Plane Fun.”

Bottom line

Southwest is finally doing something for employees following its meltdown. The airline will award all employees 25,000 SWAG points, which is the carrier’s internal points currency. These points can be redeemed for roughly $400 in gift cards.

It’s nice to see Southwest apologizing to employees, though management has a lot of work to do to restore faith among them, in my opinion.

What do you make of this goodwill gesture for Southwest employees?

Conversations (21)
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  1. Javan Guest

    Or maybe WN could just fix the ancient, problematic software that staff have been complaining about for God knows how long.

    I have more inside knowledge than anyone on this website, and staff have been complaining to upper management about the often unresponsive systems for several years—usually *dire* warnings (keep in mind, this is not Herb's airline anymore; those days are long over). Instead, management kept buying planes, adding routes and opening up bases...even while...

    Or maybe WN could just fix the ancient, problematic software that staff have been complaining about for God knows how long.

    I have more inside knowledge than anyone on this website, and staff have been complaining to upper management about the often unresponsive systems for several years—usually *dire* warnings (keep in mind, this is not Herb's airline anymore; those days are long over). Instead, management kept buying planes, adding routes and opening up bases...even while being spread thin due to their bungling of COVID.

    I'm not going to pretend that this is an overnight fix, but WN is the 6th largest airline *in the world*. Quit counting beans and fix your stuff.

  2. R frank Guest

    Last meltdown they gave employees a yeti tumbler, how about giving them a GREAT CONTRACT!

  3. Notch Guest

    Half the people that make the airline fly are contractors. Guess what they get....

    1. NedsKid Guest

      Exactly.... and they are many of the smaller locations where flight options less plentiful, so lots of telling people "Sorry, no flights out of here for a week!"

  4. Josh Guest

    That's so tacky and cheap Southwest!!! Would NEVER fly this Mickey Mouse operation!!

  5. atcsundevil Guest

    Lame. Cash bonuses would have been a better gesture. This is just play money that they're forced to pay back to the company. Doling out points to customers is one thing, but giving to employees who just went through a pretty lousy week falls short.

  6. JR Guest

    Why should they apologize to the Denver employees? There's nothing "cruel" (your words) about punishing those who don't show up to work. Having to cancel and delay flights in/out of Denver due to employees calling in "sick" most likely led to the nationwide meltdown a few days later.

    1. Jake K Guest

      That's a good point which I think many have forgotten. I imagine the root cause is the combination of the two - too many employees calling in sick (allegedly faking sickness) in Denver combined with the antiquated IT system that didn't know where all the available human resources are located that could fill the gap.

    2. Javan Guest

      This is when you dive deeper and educate yourself on why these [implied lazy] employees are calling in sick in the first place, already with mediocre union contracts, and having to deal with, after reading your comment, certain types of passengers...

      Make of it what you wish.

  7. Matt Guest

    Will the employees they terminated for not working in unsafe conditions on the ramp during the winter storm in Denver receive bonus points?

  8. rjb Guest

    I wonder if Biden's 80,000 IRS employees are gonna come after Southwest if these employees aren't issued 1099-MISC's? Union employees get a pass from Dems, right?

    1. Duh Guest

      It's W2 income since they're employees.

    2. Adobo Guest

      Of course, you just have to make every subject political just to pacify your hurt feelings about the GOP losing, right?....Get over it and dont ruin threads with your unwanted political remarks. And yes, I'm a Republican.

  9. Drew Guest

    That is a rather elementary financial impact analysis. It doesn’t cost SW anywhere close to $26.4M. They have partnerships with their SWAG vendors and the actual “cost” to SW is significantly less, and there’s various revenue share models built into them. You’re comparing apples to oranges.

  10. Farnorthtrader Guest

    I am not sure that this will even make them while again. Part of the memo regarding the huge expenses that they are going to incur noted that some of the expense will be offset by a reduction in profit sharing, so all of these people will lose their bonuses (looks like about $3-4,000 each) because of the clown show running the airline. $400 of funny money ain’t going to cut it.

  11. Robert Guest

    With all the points gifting I revisited a past problem via Twitter. Previously I had been told that WN doesn't award goodwill RR points and I was told the same thing this time(though they've been doling out goodwill points like crazy). They did, however, give me a couple of $50 LUV vouchers...

  12. Ryan Guest

    The US airline industry is an oligopoly with only a few major players and a few minor ones. WN is too big to be done in by this meltdown because there are simply few other options, and in many cases, WN is the only, or one of only two carriers operating a route. Even if many consumers wanted to avoid WN, they'd quickly change their tune when WN offers a better routing or cheaper flight....

    The US airline industry is an oligopoly with only a few major players and a few minor ones. WN is too big to be done in by this meltdown because there are simply few other options, and in many cases, WN is the only, or one of only two carriers operating a route. Even if many consumers wanted to avoid WN, they'd quickly change their tune when WN offers a better routing or cheaper flight. There's not really anywhere else to go.

    The airline does need to take steps to regain trust with employees, but again the reality is that there aren't a lot of other options. Employees like the perks they get such as free travel. Pilots and FAs would have to start at the bottom at other airlines, for positions that are already extremely competitive. Frontline workers maybe have more options, but we're also entering a recession and seeing layoffs across many industries. So, I'm sure some might quit and change professions, but I think many employees are also stuck and management knows it.

  13. LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS Guest

    Waste of money. Southwest's brand will recover without any goodwill payments or apology tours.

    1. M. Casey Guest

      Yep… a “fare across America sale”, and the entire WN base will forget!

    2. BAN ALL DRUGS Guest

      You’re a bit simple. The “brand” might recover, but loosing almost a billion dollars of revenue obviously effects profits and the longterm financial stability of the company. Southwest’s CEO should resign.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      @Ban

      Was with you until the last sentence. Sadly, the CEO most responsible for this is now gone with a multi-million dollar golden parachute.

      They haven't updated their shitty I.T. systems in a significant way since 2017 (most of us don't even have phones running on tech that old), but in that same amount of time: they thought it was a great idea to buy back more than $6Billion in stock, for their own personal...

      @Ban

      Was with you until the last sentence. Sadly, the CEO most responsible for this is now gone with a multi-million dollar golden parachute.

      They haven't updated their shitty I.T. systems in a significant way since 2017 (most of us don't even have phones running on tech that old), but in that same amount of time: they thought it was a great idea to buy back more than $6Billion in stock, for their own personal benefit.

      The current CEO had little/nothing to do with the cause, but was placed at the helm for the inevitable fallout. Not sure ousting him would serve any purpose but symbolism.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Adobo Guest

Of course, you just have to make every subject political just to pacify your hurt feelings about the GOP losing, right?....Get over it and dont ruin threads with your unwanted political remarks. And yes, I'm a Republican.

1
Javan Guest

Or maybe WN could just fix the ancient, problematic software that staff have been complaining about for God knows how long. I have more inside knowledge than anyone on this website, and staff have been complaining to upper management about the often unresponsive systems for several years—usually *dire* warnings (keep in mind, this is not Herb's airline anymore; those days are long over). Instead, management kept buying planes, adding routes and opening up bases...even while being spread thin due to their bungling of COVID. I'm not going to pretend that this is an overnight fix, but WN is the 6th largest airline *in the world*. Quit counting beans and fix your stuff.

0
Javan Guest

This is when you dive deeper and educate yourself on why these [implied lazy] employees are calling in sick in the first place, already with mediocre union contracts, and having to deal with, after reading your comment, certain types of passengers... Make of it what you wish.

0
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