Southwest (Finally) Apologizes To Mini-Skirted Customer

Southwest Airlines has finally condescended to apologize to the mini-skirted customer that it tried to kick off a flight…

Self-confessed “PR lover” and Southwest CEO Greg Kelly said:

“From a Company who really loves PR, touche to you Kyla! Some have said we’ve gone from wearing our famous hot pants to having hot flashes at Southwest, but nothing could be further from the truth. As we both know, this story has great legs, but the true issue here is that you are a valued Customer, and you did not get an adequate apology. Kyla, we could have handled this better, and on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I am truly sorry. We hope you continue to fly Southwest Airlines. Our Company is based on freedom even if our actions may have not appeared that way. It was never our intention to treat you unfairly and again, we apologize.”

Southwest also took this opportunity to launch something called “Mini-skirt fares.” Not kidding. Being serious.

Southwest Airlines Issues an Apology and Lowers Fares to Match Now Infamous Mini Skirt (Press Release)

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  1. CoffeeAddict says:

    It’s nice to see that southwest finally apologized. It’s also nice to see that the CEO took it in stride and turned a bad thing into a good thing with the mini skirt fares :).

  2. AT203 says:

    I find this heinously condescending and in poor taste. This is a non-apology, and is only concerned with addressing the bad publicity that SouthWest is getting.

    His flippant tone makes it clear that he means to trivialize the woman’s experience. He must be accustomed to dealing with SouthWest customers, because the “great-legs” remark didn’t go over anybody’s head.

    What a slimeball.

  3. matt1978 says:

    Geez, settle down.

  4. lizzybee says:

    @AT203: As do I. The “hot flashes” remark made me cringe even more than the “great legs.”

    I need to go bathe in some Lysol now.

  5. humorbot says:

    No matt1978, that pretty much sounds like adding insult to insult to me. Mini-skirt fares? What a jackass. All this socio-sexual confusion is making my head spin.

  6. jellycow says:

    Definitely sounds more like spin control (no pun…) than a sincere apology. Actually, it’s almost to a patronizing level. I know SouthWest is a private company and they can set whatever policies they want, but it would be a good start to spell out whatever extra restrictions that they have above any legal limits. That’s the only way to get a consistent treatment from the flight attendants.

  7. acambras says:

    Yeah, way to get in a dig at the menopausal, with that “hot flashes” remark. What an idiot.

  8. smarty says:

    @jellycow: No, they are a public company and trade on the new york stock exchange.

    Also, a day earlier Colleen “the waffle” Barrett said sometime completely different.

    [www.bizjournals.com]

    “During a talk in Dallas Thursday, Barrett said the airline wasn’t likely to apologize to Kyla Ebbert.

    “I just can’t do that to the customer service supe (supervisor),” Barrett said during the talk. “He handled the situation discreetly and with patience, and he did not deny her boarding.” “

  9. matt1978 says:

    Whoopedy do. Don’t fly Southwest.

  10. stevekal says:

    I take the CEO’s apology to be sincere. He’s also trying to use humor to show that his company is not a stodgy corporate congolmerate.

  11. EtherealStrife says:

    I love it when a CEO isn’t afraid to be an asshole from time to time (I admit, Kelly got a LOL out of me). I’m sure it will be equally amusing to see what lengths Southwest’s beloved PR will go to to clean this mess up.

  12. stevekal says:

    … the airline is quirky … or likes to think it is; you know, the flight attendants sometimes sing on the loudspeakers, do other goofy things. This apology was in that spirit.

    I’d much rather see an apology like this, than the couched half-apologies that most companies grudgingly make.

  13. spinachdip says:

    @stevekal: See, but if it looks like you’re trying to use humor, then you probably shouldn’t. People who are funny don’t try, they just are. The intro makes him come off like a dad who’s trying too hard to look cool.

    That said, the actual apology, from “…but the true issue here…”, is fine. It’s exactly how an apology should sound – it’s unconditional, says what the company did wrong, and indicates willingness to improve. But what preceded it is condescending and a little bit creepy.

  14. kzov says:

    Ask yourself whether you could imagine any scenario in which a female CEO would write such a horribly degrading, patronizing, sexist letter and do so publicly. That a CEO would think this is anything close to appropriate is simply bewildering. I must admit I thought the story was just an example of an oddball employee. Now I realize that Southwest is obviously defined by a corporate culture in which sexist assumptions and behavior are not merely ignored but even actively promoted.

    For the first time ever, I’m actually so deeply offended by something a moronic CEO says that I am never giving his company a penny. I don’t care if his cattle cars of the sky charge ten cents a flight; we have an obligation to each other to excise this kind of antediluvian thinking from our lives. There’s no better way to do that than with our pocketbooks, the only thing that matters to someone like this.

  15. hubris says:

    “From a Company who really loves PR, touche to you Kyla!”

    That’s just condescending. Way to sound like a jackass. If you want to be “funny” (and I agree with Spinachdip, if you look like you’re trying to be funny, that shit ain’t working), then poke fun at yourself, not at the person you’re apologizing to. Jackass.

  16. bohemian says:

    That apology was about as offensive as the idea that women are being kicked off of planes for being dressed “slutty” in the first place.

    What is needed is a serious statement that Southwest is going to change and assure that nobody is judging women’s clothing as part of allowing them to board a plane. The attendant that did this should be fired.

  17. magus_melchior says:

    I’ll lay you 10 to 1 that someone on the CEO’s staff offered to write the apology, but he wanted to do it himself (or a yes-man in marketing got the task, but is a horrible writer, let alone comedian).

    Never ascribe to malice what can be sufficiently be explained by incompetence.

  18. cryrevolution says:

    Yeah he totally should have left out everything before “The true issue here is…”. The jokes are a)condescending at best and b) horrible.

  19. cryrevolution says:

    @magus_melchior: I agree.

  20. goodguy812 says:

    its all a publicity stunt. i’ll never fly with them again, however i do fly northwest, i hop they are not affiliated.

  21. goodguy812 says:

    as someone who enjoys clevage, and legs, i’ll never fly there again! lol. whats the point if i can’t sneak a peak. <– ok i apologize to all the women for that one. lol

  22. paulinsanjuan says:

    Wow. Mini-skirt fares. Brilliant!

  23. atarisuicide says:

    Hahaha, I didn’t know that the posters here were such sticks in the mud. First you complain about companies giving stuffy and insincere sounding apologies, and now you complain when they apologize in a very non-CEO type of manner.

    I think this is great. I also think that this type of attitude is why SW has been, and continues to be, one of the very few major airlines that turns a consistent profit, instead of begging for govt. bailouts.

  24. spinachdip says:

    @atarisuicide: You’d have a point if the only alternative to traditional corporate communication was condescending and contrived attempts at humor. The first sentence basically suggests, however facetiously and backhandedly, that the customer is an attention whore. I don’t see how bad puns and the corporate equivalent of your dad going, “Look kids, I’m so hip and ‘down’!” makes you less stuffy or insincere.

    If you want a better example of a “non-CEO type” communication, look at Steve Jobs’ letter after the iPhone price cut. It cut right to the chase without, explained what happened, thanked the early adopters, and gave a clear solution to the problem.

    Even more importantly, he put it out immediately, before the story could blow up beyond the blogs, instead of twiddling his thumbs for over a week like SWA did.

  25. lizzybee says:

    @atarisuicide: Funny you should mention that, because I don’t ever recall making such a statement. I’ll take a stuffy apology over a condescending sexist comment in the guise of an apology any day. Perhaps you’re right, I’m a “stick in the mud” for hoping that corporate CEOs don’t take unwarranted jabs at either young or middle-aged women.

  26. jmnugent says:

    that apology is 100% “FAIL”. great idea, but very poor execution. Doesnt seem sincere to me at all. A little humor would be fine, but this is condescending and over the top. Keep it simple, and heck, give her some free flights. Go out of your way to make it up to her. Its your image as a company we’re talking about here.

  27. Eh,

  28. Ok, comments section freaking out. As I was saying:
    Eh, I get that this isn’t the typical corporate apology shpeel, but I don’t really find it horribly offensive. Sure, they cracked some jokes, but that IS the way Southwest tends to roll. Everyone knows them as the fun-loving, if at times irreverant, airline company. Personally I give them a kudos for staying away from the canned PR horseshit I read all day long from every other major company.
    What’s up lately at the consumerist? Readers complain when a company doesn’t apologize, complain when a company does apologize just not in a tone that you like, complain when a company issues an apology that sounds TOO glossy and PR’ed… *shrug* As far as I’m concerned Southwest did the right thing. The apologized, they used a little humor, and they still managed to admit they were wrong.

  29. anatak says:

    @AT203: A stupid appology to a stupid person. Should have read more like:

    Dear amateur stripper-

    We’re sorry that you chose to come on-board our flight, just to flash your cooch to everyone. We also apologize for embarrassing you in front of a flight full of people. You should have been embarrassed to dress that way in the first place.

  30. Schminteresting says:

    @GothamCityProject: God, thank you! Couldn’t have said it better. Everyone needs to chill out and stop analyzing every little thing. So what they used a bit of humor and irreverence? Oh my god, NOT THAT! I personally find it refreshing. Go JetBlue!