An Airline With a Heart.

What a difference 12 minutes can make. 12 minutes is the amount of time a Southwest pilot held a flight so a grieving grandfather could make his connection to see his dying 2-year old grandson in Colorado. The boy had been critically injured by the mother’s boyfriend and the decision had been made to take the boy off life support later that evening with his organs set for donation.

While the story is beyond sad, what I find beyond wonderful was Southwest’s human response to the situation. Due to delays in getting through security at LAX, grandfather Marty Dickinson thought for sure he would miss his flight and connecting flight to Colorado. Fortunately, his wife got on the phone with Southwest Customer Service and asked if there was any way to hold the flight so her husband would have a chance of making it to Colorado. The fact that Marty’s wife was able to get through to Customer Service so quickly is an accomplishment in itself. The Southwest agent quickly went to work and the pilot of the flight was notified of the situation and made the decision to delay the flight until Marty showed up at the gate. As a result Marty made it in time to see his grandson.

Southwest is a huge company yet, they have not forgotten that they are in existence because of, and for, their customers, something so many big companies seem to have forgotten these days. Southwest has done an amazing job of taking customer service seriously and, they have obviously created an environment where their employees are empowered to make decisions (and let’s face it, the decision to intentionally delay a flight isn’t an easy one to make given the pressure for on-time performance) on behalf of their customer. Southwest and the employees that made sure Marty made all of his flights are the epitome of what Customer Service is all about.

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