I found this researching my next book, Leading with Happiness.
At the 2008 Southwest Airlines Shareholders’ Meeting, CEO Gary Kelly ended his presentation with this wonderful story.
February the 27th we had flight number 1218 preparing for departure from Dallas to Las Vegas via Austin and as the customers were taking their seats our Dallas flight attendant Robin Hopkins was approached by a customer who I’ll refer to as Janice.
Janice was asking for help with her cellphone and she didn’t know how to turn it off. Robin assisted Janice but asked if she was okay because Robin can tell that she had been crying. Janice answered that she was on her way to Las Vegas to identify her only son at the medical examiner’s office.
Upon hearing this Robin informed the two other flight attendants Melissa Smith and Lisa Christian as to what was going on and our flight attendants comforted Janice.
Melissa and Lisa handled the entire flight from Austin to Las Vegas while Robin sat with Janice and she learned about her son and she was there to provide comfort. They talked for the rest of the flight.
When they landed in Las Vegas Candace Robinson and Brandy Fuller who are Las Vegas in-flight supervisors met Janice at the gate and they took over. Brandy handled all of her immediate needs while Candace went on to get her own car to drive Janice. Candace was also able to secure a hotel room next to the funeral home.
There was no one there for Janice except for Southwest Airlines people and this is just one powerful example of our people in action and it happens hundreds of times every single day and most of which we never hear about. But they don’t do it for the recognition, they don’t do it for the money. They do it because they care and at Southwest Airlines we are blessed to find and to hire and to keep people who care.
I don’t know if you can teach people how to care but you can’t encourage it you can support it and when you know about it you can certainly recognize it.
This is amazing story and I love the fact that the CEO told it at the shareholders’ meeting. This clearly shows investors where Southwest’s priorities are and that they can expect the company to continue to treat its employees and customers well.