Over the years I have come to believe that you don’t deal with Southwest Airlines, you encounter Southwest Airlines. The airline is not so much an airline, or even a company, as it is a culture. While Southwest Airlines is a company, that is also an airline, the very people that make up the airline embody a culture … and these very people will go out of their way to not “tow the line” but to meet the needs of their customers.
This story starts in Denver on the 24th of February, with my puppy Zero, a blizzard and a cancelled flight. The ‘mother of my kids’ flew Southwest Airlines to Denver to pick up our baby Weimaraner puppy Zero only to be stranger at Denver International Airport due to a blizzard. With all the cancellations, she was rescheduled for a flight home a few days later, which was problematic with an 8 week old puppy. This is the first time Southwest Airlines’ Verity Kugelmann showed the Puppy LUV.
I reached out to Southwest Airlines’ social media team trying to find a better option to bring little Zero home, as all my efforts were met with oversold flights between Denver and both Providence and Hartford. Verity managed to get Zero, and the mother of my kids, rescheduled the next morning on a direct flight to Providence.
Less than 10 days after Zero came home to Connecticut one of his littermates, who had moved to Dallas, needed to return to Denver. The owner, who has two dogs, including another Weimaraner, was seemingly not able to handle a baby puppy. The breeder whom we got Zero from asked if there was any way to help shuttle the puppy in Dallas home. I figured I should be able to find someone and I started asking around if anyone in Dallas was flying to Denver, and if so could they shuttle the puppy home to the breeder and its Mommy.
As I reached out to travelers I also began asking friends at Southwest Airlines …which lead me back to Verity once again. After a few quick Direct Message tweets to @SouthwestAir, and its social media team, I received a Direct Message tweet from @SouthwestAir telling me that Verity would take the puppy home. I cannot tell you how happy I was that once again Southwest Airline was not only willing to help, but that one its employees was volunteering to fly the puppy home themselves.
Verity and I exchanged a few messages and shortly there after she picked the puppy up from its owner (now former owner), brought him home, and then taking time out of her own personal schedule, flew him back home to Denver in what ended up being named “Operation Boomerang.”
The puppy Verity brought home now has a new name … Jett because of his travels.
Many companies talk about culture, but few seem to live it, breath it, embody it. I am well aware of Southwest Airlines culture, and their culture of empowering their employees to be genuinely helpful, caring and assist those who need assistance.
So … with this in mind … I’d like to suggest Southwest Airlines create a new award, that of “SWA Saint.” I’d also like to suggest the upper management bestow the first “SWA Saint” title to Verity Kugelmann for showing the LUV for puppies in need repeatedly.
You can read Verity’s take on Operation Boomerang on Nuts About Southwest, HERE. I knew she was planning to write about it, so I held my post so she would have the opportunity to take credit for her amazingness first.
Thank You Verity!
Below is a photo of Jett flying home with Verity and a photo of my puppy Zero first arriving in Providence on SWA.