It's interesting that you bring this topic up, Steve. Like SJCguy, I am also a Southwest employee, a proud Southwest employee. Living in a metropolitan area which American also calls home, I have seen this bitterness firsthand. Let me explain:
Before we got married, my wife lived in an apartment complex just south of DFW
. Her neighbor was a ramper for American, a real "winner", if you know what I mean; he was battling alcoholism by being perpetually stoned. One night after work, he invited us over to his place. One of his co-workers came over and my wife introduced me and mentioned that I worked for Southwest. The guy actually booed me to my face. Mind you that this was pre-9/11, before we were one of the only airlines to pull a profit, and somehow, to this guy, I was the villain. Maybe he should have brushed up on his airline history.
Fast forward several months. I decided to visit the Amon Carter museum near AA
HDQ. I love planes and airline history, so I'm not averse to spending time in a competing airline's museum for an hour or two. I decided to visit the gift shop and I picked up a model of a SWA 737-700 which had been marked down. I mentioned to the cashier that they had a nice gift shop with a large selection, better than the one we have at the G.O. at Love Field, and she snorted contemptously at me at the mere mention of Southwest. I changed my mind on the spot; at least the Freedom Shop at SWA has a friendlier staff, thereby making it better in my opinion.
Here's another one, also pre-9/11. I was sitting at a Cracker Barrel restaurant with my two kids, who were visiting me from Austin. I had bought my daughter an inflatable Shamu model and she was playing with it at the table. An old man (a retired AA
employee, I am guessing) came up to the table and asked her to see it. She showed it to him and he leaned over and said, "American is better". A joke perhaps, but inappropriate nonetheless.
My wife works at a hospital near DFW
and she is always receiving patients that work at American (and occasionally other airlines). Two incidents stand out in my mind. One time she had a retired AA
pilot in for prostate surgery or something and she got to talking with him. She told him that I worked for Southwest and he said "I'm sorry to hear that". She said, "I'm not" and proceeded to sing the praises of Southwest: our profitability, safety record, our culture, etc. He shut up pretty fast.
But maybe the most galling of all these episodes occurred between my wife and a Delta employee. Almost two years ago, I had to go to the emergency room at my wife's hospital with a kidney stone (if you've never had them, you NEVER want to) and while I was doped up on morphine, she stepped outside to have a cigarette. She wore my SWA jacket to keep warm. While she was out there, a Delta mechanic and her got to talking. He noticed the jacket and she said it belonged to me, that I was a mechanic for Southwest. He also offered his "apologies" and she set him straight as well.
So, yes, I do feel that there is a certain amount of jealousy from the other airlines (and their fans), due to our success. Hell, its apparent here when you see some of the topics on this forum; there is no shortage of Southwest bashers here. I can understand that employees of competing airlines will have a loyalty to their own company. That is natural. Yet many members of the anti-Southwest faction on this forum are often misinformed or somewhat immature. They may hate us because we are "boring", because we only fly 737's, don't fly internationally, or because we do things differently. That's just silly and shows a real lack of understanding of the way the industry works. But after 2+ years on this forum, I'm used to it.
Patrick Bateman is my hero.