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NYTimes: SWA Culture  
User currently offlineb707forever From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 459 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 10 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 13005 times:

Interesting article in today's NY Times on the culture at SWA.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/business/21south.html?hp

Well done SWA!

65 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineb707forever From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 459 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 10 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12949 times:

It will be fascinating to see and learn how SWA infuses their culture with Air Tran employees. I hadn't realized that Air Tran operates even more efficiently than SWA, impressive too. Good article and worth discussion.

User currently offlineramprat74 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1537 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (3 years 10 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12818 times:

It's not all roses for Southwest emlployees. I hear the WN workers at my station complain all the time. The ramp is always short handed. They have to work flights with two guys with high bag loads. They are forced to work mandatory overtime, or they will be written up. They have to deal with the same problems that every other airline employee in the US goes through. I guess getting paid the highest, keeps their problems on the low.

User currently offlineABQopsHP From United States of America, joined May 2006, 851 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (3 years 10 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12781 times:

I have a saying that I think would apply here. "The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence. But you still have to mow it." I agree that WN has a great culture and management does a wonderful job taking care of the employees. But in every workplace, regardless of the business type, there are always issues. You have the lazy ones, the ones who hide whenever they can, the hall monitor, the smokers, the gossips. The list goes on and on. I have worked in roughly 8 stations during my career, and they all have had their good points and bad. The best way to deal with it, is to ensure you love what you do first, then the rest falls into place.
JD CRPXE
PS Happy Thanksgiving.



A line is evidence that other people exist.
User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23027 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (3 years 10 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12764 times:

Quoting b707forever (Reply 1):
I hadn't realized that Air Tran operates even more efficiently than SWA, impressive too.

How so?



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlinesasd209 From British Indian Ocean Territory, joined Oct 2007, 642 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 10 months 6 days ago) and read 12674 times:

I hope it's within the rules for me to quote from the aforementioned article:

"Its (WN's) unit labor cost — how much it pays its employees to fly one seat for one mile — rose 22 percent from 2002 to 2009, while the same measure dropped 34 percent at United, 7 percent at Continental, 26 percent at Delta and 11 percent at American Airlines. "

I wonder...is this due to high turnover at the other airlines or is there some other metric at work there?

*edit* the (WN) addition is mine for clarity

[Edited 2010-11-21 08:09:25]

User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1904 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (3 years 10 months 6 days ago) and read 12675 times:

There is no doubt in my mind that WN has the best business model in the commercial airline business. No business model is perfect and there are some holes in WN's business model. However, overall, their business model has made WN consistently profitable in a notoriously unprofitable industry. In addition, their positive, fun culture filters down to their customer facing employees and makes the flying experience on WN more positive than legacy carriers.

The interesting question for WN now is how to grow further w/o disrupting the core business model that has made them successful. Introducing new strategies such as a premium cabin, interline agreements with international carriers, or international routes will add additional costs.

The acquisition of FL will force WN to address two items not in their current business model - international routes and premium cabins.

A limited premium cabin (8 seats) may be required for WN to attract more high paying passengers. I think they key though is to offer a small premium cabin. A small premium cabin will eliminate (or significantly reduce) the number of upgrade passengers or non-revs using the premium cabin for less than premium fares. I believe the legacies are not getting the proper premium out of these seats and are losing out on revenue that could otherwise be gained by reducing the size of first class and introducing more Y class seats.

WN will also get their first taste of international routes. International routes are the big growth markets now that the domestic market has become saturated. If WN begins to enter some transcontinental routes, a new fleet type would need to be introduced and thus add additional costs. However, serving the right markets could make this strategy very profitable for them.

[Edited 2010-11-21 08:24:06]

User currently offlineb707forever From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 459 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 12452 times:

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 4):

How so?

The article sites operating expenses at Air Tran as less than WN.

Quoting EricR (Reply 6):
A limitesd premium cabin (8 seats) may be required for WN to attract more high paying passengers. I think they key though is to offer a small premium cabin. A small premium cabin will eliminate (or significantly reduce) the number of upgrade passengers or non-revs using the premium cabin for less than premium fares. I believe the legacies are not getting the proper premium out of these seats and are losing out on revenue that could otherwise be gained by reducing the size of first class and introducing more Y class seats.

Of course unless you assume that the upgrade factors are part of the calculus of maintaining a frequent flyer who, in the big picture, keeps the airline afloat. Factoring in a bigger cabin with not much more service than in the back, especially on flights of short duration, could be a very smart business model It seems to work for CO, DL, AA, UA. I'm guessing they wouldn't have the domestic premium cabins without a bottom line reason, and that being retention of ffqnt flyers. Isn't DL also trying to buck the trend of taking things away from ffqnt flyers and wanting to give them more now, especially in upgrades?


User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1904 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 12392 times:

Quoting b707forever (Reply 7):
Of course unless you assume that the upgrade factors are part of the calculus of maintaining a frequent flyer who, in the big picture, keeps the airline afloat.

It is a factor, but I don't think it is a huge factor. WN is able to get frequent flyers without a premium cabin today.

I agree that this may have hindered them from corporate contracts or premium passengers in the past, but convenience and price are the most important factors and WN has been able to provide both in the past. They have also been consistently profitable without a premium cabin.

I think the premium cabin is an added benefit, but I am not sure how important of a factor it is in the grand scheme of things.


User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 12198 times:

Quoting sasd209 (Reply 5):
I wonder...is this due to high turnover at the other airlines or is there some other metric at work there?

Employee cost were slashed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, except for AA. AA employees agree to cuts in 2003.



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23027 posts, RR: 20
Reply 10, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 12016 times:

Quoting b707forever (Reply 7):
The article sites operating expenses at Air Tran as less than WN.

What's the comparison ex-labor?



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineCoronado From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1177 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 11768 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 11):
Quoting b707forever (Reply 7):
The article sites operating expenses at Air Tran as less than WN.

What's the comparison ex-labor?

Boyd Group prepared an excellent report on Southwest and Airtran. Chart on Page 10 of below report shows the relative direct CASM and overall CASM of Airtran versus Southwest, and surprise surprise Airtran is lower on both measures!

http://www.aviationplanning.com/Imag...BoydGroupSouthwestMergerReport.pdf



The Original Coronado: First CV jet flights RG CV 990 July 1965; DL CV 880 July 1965; Spantax CV990 Feb 1973
User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23027 posts, RR: 20
Reply 12, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 11707 times:

Quoting Coronado (Reply 13):
Chart on Page 10 of below report shows the relative direct CASM and overall CASM of Airtran versus Southwest, and surprise surprise Airtran is lower on both measures!

Of course, nothing in that report answers my question. How much of FL's cost advantage is due to lower pay scales?



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineswa4life From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 385 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 11648 times:

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 14):
Of course, nothing in that report answers my question. How much of FL's cost advantage is due to lower pay scales?

I think it's a safe assumption. Everyone at AirTran makes WAY less, especially the pilots. As a matter of fact, seeing how disproportionally low FL wages are, it's a wonder how their CASM isn't much lower than it is. If all things were the same as far as wages go, WN would probably leave FL in the dust.

Here is a scale of the comparative FO wages at WN and FL in 1 year increments.

AirTran --- $42.75 $55.94 $60.59 $66.24 $72.01 $74.10 $78.37 $79.12

Southwest $52.00 $88.00 $98.00 $108.00 $119.00 $122.00 $124.00 $125.00 $126.00 $128.00 $129.00 $131.00

As you can see, it's not even comparable.. Most FL wages are about as disproportionate as compared to Southwest.. And how much better is their CASM? A couple cents?

[Edited 2010-11-21 13:35:18]

[Edited 2010-11-21 13:35:53]

User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Reply 14, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 11562 times:

I read this article today when I saw the large 737 photo on the front page of the business section.

I'm looking forward to trying WN for the first time next month. The "bags fly free" amenity is what drew me to WN (I'll be traveling with a snowboard). It will make the flight about $20 cheaper than DL.


User currently offlineAWACSooner From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 1916 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 9861 times:

Quoting article:
Competitors see Southwest as cold-blooded and ruthless.

“Their approach is to search out weak companies and contest them out of business,” says Bryan Bedford, the chairman and chief executive of Republic Airways, which bought Frontier out of bankruptcy last year. “It’s no different than Wal-Mart plunking a big-box store near a local family-owned grocery store; you either respond to the competition, or you get out.”

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! This coming from a guy who battled WN to get F9.


User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23027 posts, RR: 20
Reply 16, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 9763 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 8):
I agree that this may have hindered them from corporate contracts or premium passengers in the past, but convenience and price are the most important factors and WN has been able to provide both in the past. They have also been consistently profitable without a premium cabin.

Yes, but it's sort of route dependent. On a route like MDW-LAX, the lack of premium cabin probably hurts them. On a route like MDW-BNA, it almost certainly does not.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlinemariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 25281 posts, RR: 85
Reply 17, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 9442 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting AWACSooner (Reply 18):
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! This coming from a guy who battled WN to get F9.

How did he "battle"? He put an offer on the table before Southwest and didn't change that offer.

Southwest came along with a better offer and then put in an even better offer and then withdrew.

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineAtlwest1 From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 1046 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 7959 times:

Quoting swa4life (Reply 12):
If you're one of these "shut up and leave me alone" type people, nobody is going to bug you..

generally describes most travelers. Most people just want a drink, to get some shut eye and not a ton of crap on the PA system.

I think FL crews will be somewhat stoic but will be just as good as the WN crews if not exceed the expectations of WN PAX. FL crews are not use to being the jokesters and trivia leaders however they do share with WN crews the drive to do a good job, a drive to bring more to the job and see there job in higher places. There is a style of flying that FL crews are use to that WN crews are not and vise versa it will be a learning experience.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co. or Airt
User currently offlineairshows From Canada, joined Mar 2009, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 7615 times:

WS has a similar set up to WN so why are we comparing WN to the DL's of the world and not to WS where it is apples to apples not apples to oranges. But on the flip side of that comment more and more airlines are going toward the WS and WN culture where it is a fun place to work (note i only know about WS and what i have read about WN) and what kind of international routes is southwest talking about going in to the Caribbean or Mexico or hopefully up north to Canada   ? and now the big question is will they start talking to WS about a code share or an interline from YYC , YVR, YYZ, to LAS or LAX?

User currently offlinechristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 941 posts, RR: 8
Reply 20, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 7252 times:

For the past twenty years, people have kept asking how much longer Southwest's business model could last. It seems, according to industry analysts, that Southwest is always at a critical junction and this time - this time for sure! - they'll have to radically change their ways. It seems to me, as someone who likes the airline but also has had my problems with it (largely solved now that the boarding process has been improved), they know what they are doing and will likely continue to be successful for many years to come. The bottom line seems to be that they treat their employees well, they treat their customers well, and they make smart business decisions like "Does this route actually make money?"


Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6560 times:

I think a lot of folks are missing a critical point.

Southwest has a culture, a corporate identity which employees understand their role in the company and which the management makes the employees feel they have input and impact on how the company works and how it performs.

Most other airlines in the US are working hard to shed the concept of a corporate culture. Where working for the airline is just another job, transparent from any other. Nothing unique, and certainly nothing to brag to your neighbors about. The companies like Delta, United, American want employees to feel that the company has no loyalty to the employees, no responsibility for helping them succeed in this world.


User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1904 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6315 times:

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 19):
Yes, but it's sort of route dependent. On a route like MDW-LAX, the lack of premium cabin probably hurts them. On a route like MDW-BNA, it almost certainly does not.

Yes, but this would be the case for any carrier. What are you saying as an overall strategy? Are you suggesting that WN should have a separate "premium" fleet dedicated to serving business markets? If so, this is more costly and causes additional logistical/operational resources.


User currently offlineLAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6240 times:

I am impressed that the pilots help clean the cabin and help load the bags just to get the plane out on time. I don't think you could see any other pilots of other airlines do this kind of work. They probably would think this job is beneath them. The corp culture of SWA is really something special.

User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23027 posts, RR: 20
Reply 24, posted (3 years 10 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6100 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 28):
Are you suggesting that WN should have a separate "premium" fleet dedicated to serving business markets? If so, this is more costly and causes additional logistical/operational resources.

Given their average stage length and the lack of nonstop competition with a premium cabin on most routes, I think one cabin fleetwide is probably the way to go.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
25 mayor : I disagree.......DL is trying to re-invigorate and maintain its "family" culture.
26 longhauler : It is also not a good way to efficiently use your most expensive help. Many airlines have tried to cross utilize pilots in other functions like Fligh
27 mayor : While not a requirement, I have seen DL pilots loading bags as well as the execs loading and sorting mail during the holiday season. SWA's culture ma
28 DCA-ROCguy : Although that's certainly what the unions will push for, the result seems to me unlikely. Market rationalization of labor costs was a key piece of th
29 rfields5421 : I think he mentioned Delta because other posts have said Delta CURRENTLY has a better culture than Southwest. I would disagree with that. The "Spirit
30 KGRB : When did an article about WN employee culture turn into a typical bash DL thread? What an ignorant comment... Is it so out of the realm of possibility
31 swa4life : Ask the Delta people who felt like they had to come in here and chime in about Delta.. Read the thread for yourself... Don't blame the Southwest peop
32 FlyPNS1 : So do employees at almost every airline, so I don't think that makes DL unique. It may be unfathomable to you, but I think it's a perfectly accurate
33 Post contains images ocracoke : OH!! That's just classy! This from the person that jumped into the DL ramp union vote thread with both feet, a thread that had everything dealing wit
34 Atlwest1 : All ill say is the article is great and gives an insight into what they are trying to do and how they are trying to fight to maintain alot of the succ
35 Post contains images swa4life : nevermind... ....[Edited 2010-11-22 14:00:36]
36 777STL : I ask the same question when every AA thread devolves into a recitation as to why DL is the greatest airline in the world. If you ask me, some of you
37 Atlwest1 : So reading the article and all what does the future hold for WN? They are about to acquire a very valuable asset in Airtran. How do they use it to rei
38 mrskyguy : Like SWA 4 years ago.. albeit with more planes and a few new cities.
39 flyiguy : I see in our future 737-800's Expanded service to the Carribean New added service agreement with Volaris New service to Hawaii Just my 0.02
40 Post contains images Atlwest1 : I think In my mind I see them upgrading the IT infrastructure which FL's is superior, I see alot more Caribbean and Central/south America particularl
41 SurfandSnow : They can finally shed their "cattle car" image. There aren't many "redundancies" at all. Just a few routes like MKE-MCO and BWI-FLL. Very little over
42 AADC10 : PanAm was great back in the golden age, but Eastern? Eastern's Eddie Rickenbacker was not known for fostering customer service. He was the originator
43 Atlwest1 : Thats something that FL has been able to compete in and done decently well(note i said decently not tremedously bombastically or hugely lol). Those a
44 atrude777 : WN has only left PHL-LAX/OAK/SAN. WN has returned BWI-LAX, always kept BWI-SAN, added BWI-SEA. The are the only "trans cons" WN has had anyway. While
45 Silver1SWA : You're right, it's not. It's certainly not like it used to be. But then again, there is much more to the culture than just whats going on with the fr
46 Cubsrule : What will the merger provide with respect to a route like PHX-SJD that WN didn't have before?
47 Atlwest1 : well i think for one rather then having to go through the task of getting approvals and certifications to fly international they get a ready made ope
48 mayor : No, some on here bring it on themselves when they purport to know everything and when someone points out that the history of the airline industry did
49 txagkuwait : Things might be a whole lot better for Gary Kelly right now if Ol' Herb had not involved himself in contract negotiations. Herb did not like confront
50 Cubsrule : It wasn't very difficult for FL to obtain the necessary approvals, was it? (We could ask the same question for TZ or F9 or B6 or NK.)
51 Atlwest1 : why do it organically when you can buy it. FL has a 3 year head start in that arena then WN. However with WN and the feed of the combined the could p
52 Cubsrule : How does the cost of securing the approvals compare with the cost of purchasing FL?
53 Post contains images Atlwest1 : They have the planes with all the bells and whistles, pilots who have gone through the courses, rafts and pending overwater extended range operations
54 wwtraveler99 : What Gary will have to figure out is how to hold pay where it is until some other carriers start paying better wages. Not excatly sure what the diffe
55 swa4life : It wont be difficult because most Southwest employees that I have contact with (myself included) are very content with their wages. We also know that
56 Post contains images Boiler905 : On this same page (and on many other pages), the presentation regarding the Southwest effect says, "the low fare stimulation has already been experie
57 wwtraveler99 : I am glad to hear this. I hope that the rest of your co-workers feel the same way. As far as productivity, how much more productive can you get? I ha
58 swa4life : Well BWI has been a staffing challenge for as long as I can remember. I don't know why that's the case but it is. DEN on the other hand has simply be
59 Silver1SWA : This is the million dollar question. Do more with less. That has been the philosophy for the past 4-5 years. A few years ago, the company assembled a
60 Cubsrule : Maybe my perspective as a passenger is wrong, but I see gate issues at airports like STL where WN (over)uses every gate and not at airports like BNA
61 swa4life : Every airport has it's own unique gate situation, but as like silver1swa describes, we have pretty much the same situation at MDW. During ideal condit
62 Silver1SWA : Complain about what, the weather? Sure, you have a point. But complain about problems with the operation? We most certainly can, even in the nice wea
63 swa4life : Believe me when I tell you that what you describe as "problems with the system" in ideal weather is a walk in the park compared to when you're wearin
64 Silver1SWA : I have no doubt that it's rough, and I have a lot of respect for the people willing to do the job in those conditions. I'm not downplaying anything y
65 Post contains images mayor : No thanks. Did enough of that at ORD.
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