The wind beneath Southwest Airlines’ wings

Three cheers for Colleen Odell and Clarize Angat

Three cheers for Colleen Odell and Clarize Angat

After checking my bag for free, I was ready to strip down to my socks and get ready for some unwanted attention from TSA agents.  They must have sensed my nerves were a little frayed because they sent me through the full-body scan..thanks.

Feeling vulnerable and violated, a common feeling for me after going through the screening process, I was ready to shadow some Southwest employees and get a better feel for what they do.

It’s amazing how the energy of another person can lift your spirits.  Especially if that person works in customer service.  Enter, Colleen Odell and Clarize Angat.  Two California transplants that actually think Atlanta is the friendliest city they have ever visited. Shh, let’s not tell them just yet.  Good thing, because Southwest has gone through a considerable amount of trouble and hoopla to call Atlanta a hub home.

Working in customer service is not for whoosies and these two gals could pull a smile out of even Victoria (Posh) Beckham. I can’t speak for the other airlines but Southwest’s Customer Service Agents have to deal with lost..I mean delayed luggage, and the gate and ticket counter.  After sharing a few battlefield stories, I was laughing soo hard that I had forgotten that the TSA got an image of me in my birthday suit, and confiscated an unfinished bottle of water.  Thanks ladies!

27 comments Add your comment

Me

February 12th, 2012
9:13 am

Okay – help me out here… Exactly what is so attractive about all-coach and no assigned seating? Sorry, but you’ve lost me as a customer.

Dave

February 12th, 2012
9:14 am

Does Southwest pay a fee for the “reporting” in this column?

Susan Puckett

February 12th, 2012
9:42 am

The bloggers aren’t compensated by Southwest. They are paid by the AJC’s advertising and marketing department.

Susan Puckett

February 12th, 2012
9:57 am

The AJC’s recent news stories and Southwest’s website explain these policies in-depth and why they are so popular with customers. Our bloggers are sharing their candid experiences putting them into practice.
http://www.ajc.com/business/now-that-southwest-is-1345929.html
http://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/faqs.html?topic=boarding_school

The wind beneath Southwest Airlines’ wings

February 12th, 2012
10:42 am

[...] more at Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog). Share this news: Filed Under: Airline [...]

Dave

February 12th, 2012
11:00 am

“The bloggers aren’t compensated by Southwest. They are paid by the AJC’s advertising and marketing department.” I guess a more precise question is in order. Is Southwest paying the AJC for this “coverage.” Candid opinions or not, these are puff pieces of little or no value to your readers, in my candid opinion.

Angela Walker

February 12th, 2012
11:01 am

Thanks for your comments and taking the time to visit this blog.

@Me I won’t throw any other airlines under the tarmac here, but I have flown other carriers, and got bumped out of first class, and they lost my bag. I have not boarded my first Southwest flight yet, so stay tuned for that blog with my strong and honest opinion.

@Dave Haven’t received a dime out Southwest…well maybe some coffee and a breakfast sandwich. It’s really nice to be greeted by people that work in customer service and actually service the customer. I think we can all agree that it’s a rare find these days. Was just sharing..

Susan Puckett

February 12th, 2012
11:44 am

Dave, Southwest is an advertiser of the AJC, but they are NOT paying the AJC for this blog and have no control over the content. This blog is an independent product conceived and paid for by the AJC marketing and advertising department — not the newsroom.

Dave

February 12th, 2012
12:35 pm

Susan, given that you are advertising and marketing, what, I’m not sure, you should label the blog as such. I thought that was a basic journalistic principle.

Dave

February 12th, 2012
12:38 pm

I take back my last comment, I see the blog is labelled as being by the advertising and marketing department and thus, I guess, it is non-news. I’m really at a loss to understand what the point is though.

Susan Puckett

February 12th, 2012
1:34 pm

Dave, the point is to give live, first-person accounts of the Southwest experience from Atlanta-based travelers of different backgrounds who are not reporters — including a taste of some of the behind-the-scenes action as well as the cities they fly to. Many news organizations, including the AJC, are covering the news surrounding it and we’re also posting some of those stories here. This blog is just one more way to follow a story that a lot of folks, especially those who have never flown Southwest before, are curious about.

Jason M.

February 12th, 2012
2:05 pm

@AJC and blogging team, thank you for posting 1st person experiences about this airline. I am a longtime customer of AirTran and honestly haven’t welcomed this aquisition. AirTran has set the bar high for all airlines. I have heard that the unionization of southwest employees has lead to poor customer experiences. I have no personal experience with southwest and I am greatful to read unbiased articles like this. Please keep these posts coming in as these articles are great research tools for my 20-30 flights I take per year.

Dee

February 12th, 2012
3:07 pm

This is a hoot! I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the flight experience was like – as an alternative to Delta/Air Tran especially I appreciate the feedback without having to take the flight. Although I have to say I”m halfway to booked on Southwest by happy customer service folks – seriously…that’s been a rarity in my experience. Not airline folks faults, they have to put up with a LOT of stuff.
Question for blogger: to Southwest reps know you are blogging on them, or are you annonymous?

Meghan C

February 12th, 2012
3:09 pm

I disagree that there is “no value to your readers” Whether AJC is being paid or not the blogger is giving an honest opinion and in turn providing a “review” if you will about a new service in Atlanta. As someone that has never gotten the chance to fly Southwest myself because I’ve only flown out of Atlanta I am happy to find out all I can about them, it will help me make decisions for purchasing flights so that it isn’t solely based on who has the cheaper flights. Customer service and other services that she mentions are huge plus’s to me when flying.

Marsi

February 12th, 2012
4:03 pm

Last I heard, the 1st Amendment hasn’t been repealed.

Alex

February 12th, 2012
4:09 pm

So how much has Southwest paid the AJC for this blog? Because typically any content created by the marketing department is bought and paid for. Let’s just be honest, AJC, and admit that is glowing coverage is just paid advertising.

Jessica

February 12th, 2012
4:29 pm

I don’t know….in my experience, customer service reps who are actually happy and enjoy their jobs DOES constitute reportable news.

I appreciate reviews negative OR positive. What does it accomplish to only write reviews when something is wrong?? Thanks for the info!

Susan Puckett

February 12th, 2012
4:30 pm

Southwest advertises in the AJC. They did not, however, pay for this blog.

Dave

February 12th, 2012
6:20 pm

Thanks Susan, I remain a sceptic. I read the rest of the posts and the comments, it is obvious that there is an agenda going on, unbecoming a real live newspaper, but then you aren’t on the journalism side I gather. I’d love “first-person accounts” from reporters, not PR flacks which you appear to head. Looking at the accounts, there was not one negative moment in the day for any of your folks, really? I’m quite curious about Southwest; but, I’d like honest reporting, not marketing.

Des

February 12th, 2012
6:35 pm

I’ve been waiting and waiting for Southwest to make it to Atlanta because all I’ve heard is good stuff about rates and service. I’m bummed they’re not flying from Atlanta to Orlando yet, since that’s where I have to go most often, but when they do I’ll certainly give them a try. I’m curious if all the hooplah will last long…and if it really is a happier airline. Maybe this writer can do a review again in a few months to let us know if it’s still as merry.

Jason M.

February 12th, 2012
6:47 pm

Angela Walker, 1st of all thank you for the blog post. Could post a follow up on any comparisons to other Atlanta Hub Based airlines?

Bill Fisher

February 12th, 2012
8:17 pm

Pretty sad commentary on the state of air travel in the US when some positive attitude from airlines employees is needed to overcome the abusive treatment that passengers receive from TSA.

Nice that the traveler found a few good airline workers but sadly most are as hostile as the misfits that TSA employs to harass people.

Dave

February 12th, 2012
8:19 pm

Susan, I’ve got a great idea, have the same people that posted today, ride on Delta next week and give descriptions of their experience and then do AirTran the next week (the AJC did pay for the flights today, didn’t it?). I will expect, of course, candor. They don’t have to downgrade either for no balloons or pancakes, they should though discuss the relative benefits of first and business class and not having to go through cattle call boarding. Then you guys can do an in depth day at Wendy’s and another at McDonald’s.

Gina

February 13th, 2012
12:48 pm

Thanks for posting your first hand experience of Southwest Airlines. I will be booking many flights this year for my family of five, including three young children. Although price is a huge factor, customer service is equally as important to me. Travelling long distances with a 4, 5 and 6 year old can certainly be quite a challenge. Experiences with happy, positive customer service reps can make all the difference in the world. Please keep these posts coming.

Gina

February 13th, 2012
5:02 pm

@Dave. Do you not know the difference between a Blogger opinion piece and a news article?

[...] to the speedy self check-in process at the Southwest Airlines counter, I was (quickly) on my way to go through the security line. But this TSA experience would differ [...]

[...] to the speedy self check-in process at the Southwest Airlines counter, I was (quickly) on my way to go through the security line. But this TSA experience would differ [...]