Southwest’s loyal passengers: ‘You’re losing a customer’

Business

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan issued an apology Tuesday for the issues experienced by Southwest’s customers and employees this week. (Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Dallas Love Field airport went from the sixth to the fourth most impacted airport this week, highlighting the chaos at hubs across the country. 

The Texas-based carrier once again scrapped nearly 60% of its scheduled flights, with the majority in Denver, Chicago, Vegas and Dallas.

“Thursday was our flight that our bags have been here, so this is day six of not having all of our bags,” Kris Lowry said on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Thursday.

Lowry has been a loyal Southwest customer for years, but he says this week’s crisis changes that.

“The message is: Figure it out because you’re gonna lose a lot of passengers. Again, I have the Southwest card, I have companion pass, we have status — you’re losing a customer for the next couple years,” Lowry said.

A few months back, analytics firm JD Power revealed its annual report for the best and worst airlines for customer satisfaction, and Southwest ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the economy segment.

When speaking on “Rush Hour” Thursday, however, budget-minded passengers who choose Southwest for its convenient fares say they feel like they’ve been had and are not giving the airline the same kind of high marks.

“I think we spent about $4,000 more than we expected to pay,” Stacy Ramos, a Southwest customer said.

“Probably like a two out of 10, because there’s not much communications,” Alex Luong, another Southwest customer, said.

Even some Southwest employees have taken aim at executives this week, who they say have placed shareholders above crews and customers. Next month, the airline is scheduled to pay out $428 million in dividends.

“I’m all about sharing the wealth and the benefit but you can’t shirk the responsibility of taking care of your people and your processes and your technology and take care of your shareholders,” Corliss King, the vice president of the union of Southwest flight attendants, said on “Rush Hour.”

This does not bring into consideration the $7 billion Southwest received from the federal government to stop the bleed during the pandemic.

The question that many now have: Where does the brand go from here?

“Six months from now, I think it would be very surprising if Bob Jordan was still in place,” John Quelch said on “Rush Hour” in an attempt to answer that very question.

Quelch is the dean of the University of Miami Herbert Business School. As well as his prediction of Southwest’s CEO being ousted, Quelch told “Rush Hour” he sees class action lawsuits and intense pressure on the board of directors in the coming future, although he maintained that he does not think the brand is going anywhere.

“Most Southwest passengers who are hostage to Southwest dominance — in particular hub airports — are going to have to continue to use Southwest,” Quelch said.

Quelch is speaking of customers, like Chey Tor, who are loyal to the airline and always checks their fares first. He says their prices are usually hard to beat.

“That’s what’s gonna bring people back after this whole fiasco is over. People will continually shop with their wallet and Southwest generally offers that value,” Tor, a Southwest loyalty member, said on “Rush Hour.”

For now, the golden question of when do things get back to normal has yet to be answered.

Southwest released a statement Thursday saying they plan to return to normal operations with minimal disruptions Friday.

The company has set up an entire page for customers to submit refund and reimbursement claims for meals, hotels and alternate transportation.

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