Business travel is (supposedly) on the rise again, and Southwest Airlines has committed to providing passengers with the essential technologies they expect on a flight.
The airline is investing $2 billion in improved – and even free – wifi onboard its planes. It’s also putting in electrical outlets. Yes, Southwest airlines were known for lacking plugs, but now they include USB-A and USB-C connectors.
More entertainment options enhanced “self-service capabilities,” and even free iPads will be available.
Once Southwest acknowledged all of this, it was easier to forgive the airline for canceling 20,000 flights between June and Labor Day.
It’s not that Southwest doesn’t want to conduct those flights; it simply lacks the personnel — and the planes — to do so.
Now that we’ve brought up people, an undervalued commodity in today’s economy, it’s worth remembering that, as Southwest frantically tries to hire thousands, 20% of those thousands fail to show up on their first day of work.
Haven’t the workers on the ground recently signed a new contract?
In March, that was the headline. Employees in customer service had agreed (tentatively) yes to a new four-year contract.
Those same customer service staff, it appears, have said (clearly) no to the contract their union negotiated.
Everyone is perplexed, according to the Dallas Morning News. Who doesn’t desire a raise, a bonus, and the ability to work overtime?
Neither the corporation nor the workers’ own union appears to have a clear understanding of what’s going on. Especially since travelers are desperate for customer service and are now receiving very little from airlines.
Some may want to imply reasons for the contract’s sudden rejection. Inflation is presently out of control. The pay raises totaled 6%. What good does that do if inflation is running at 8% or 9%?
Furthermore, wouldn’t you be tempted to stick out for a bit longer if you knew your company still needed 1,000 more customer service employees?
However, there is another factor that could be crucial in this case. When your entire brand is built on your sense of customer service, when you position yourself as the caring alternative — which is unusual for an airline — you have a huge need for humans to keep that promise.