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Come On, Man: Southwest Air

Come On, Man: Southwest Air

What Herb Kelleher had brilliantly created has come apart at the seams. The aerodynamics of the company don’t work anymore. But, what do you expect from a CEO who’s making a paltry $3 million

Would you believe that Southwest crew members have to get their scheduling assignments over an antiquated phone system that had an eight-hour wait? I am not making that up unless the Wall Street Journal is lying. While planes sat idle for lack of a crew, crews sat idle for lack of modern computer links.

Southwest uses a routing system not unlike a Greyhound bus— from point to point to point, eschewing the more contemporary hub-and-spoke method. If the bus is late after one stop, it will be late for all stops because it can’t (legally) make up the lost time. Nor can the plane, for aeronautical reasons. A 737 is not supersonic.

An airline that once had no frills now has no friends. The carefree attitude of maneuvering to avoid a middle seat is now a frenzy to avoid middle earth. At one point Southwest was responsible for 50% of all cancelled flights on a given day, globally.

The airline industry as a whole—as I’ve lamented before on audio, video, and in text—isn’t exactly led by Peter Drucker and Jack Welch. Airports are built for planes, not for people. (Think about how people board trains, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than one employee checking 300 people at one door.)

This will happen again. No one deserves the tortures of lost luggage, long delays, missed family reunions, and hours of useless waiting on phones, on computers, or on their feet. Southwest ought to change its name, repaint the planes, and reappear as an entirely different airline.

Maybe: Kelleher Happy Transit.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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