Southwest Airlines (LUV) will close its physical customer support and call centers, requiring reservation agents and customer service personnel to work from home indefinitely, in a hint of changing work practices in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Our Customer Support & Services (CS&S) Representatives will transition to fully remote work as of September 1, 2022. Representatives have been largely remote since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” an airline representative said.
CS&S representatives at the airline generally assist with flight bookings, modifications to reservations, and travel.
Southwest employs about 3,200 people in its CS&S Centers in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and at its headquarters in Dallas.
Southwest claims that switching to a totally remote workforce will help attract new personnel, in addition to the cost benefits of not having physical customer support offices.
“Evolving to a fully remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both in attracting and hiring new employees from across the country and in scheduling current employees who have worked at record efficiency in a remote work environment,” the airline representative said.
Delta, United, and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) are among the US airlines that still operate actual customer care centers. Some, like United Airlines, have focused on centers for jobs that can’t be done remotely, such as the airline’s pilot training center expansion.