This Apology Letter From Southwest Is Refreshingly Honest And Informative

A fluid leak forced Deepak’s Southwest flight from Oakland to Seattle back to the airport. Southwest shifted passengers to a waiting plane, and everyone made it to Seattle about two hours late. Within a week, Southwest sent passengers an extraordinarily honest and informative letter detailing exactly what went wrong, and by way of apology, tossed in a $175 voucher.

Deepak writes:

With all the bad press airlines have been receiving of late, here’s a positive story for you. My wife & I were on a flight back to Seattle from Oakland a few weeks ago (Aug 10th). Almost immediately after take off, the pilot came on the intercom and said that a pressure sensor had gone off, and we had to go back to Oakland. After a collective groan from everybody on board, we turned back around and landed. They kept us on the plane for a short amount of time while the mechanic examined the issue. He apparently determined it wasn’t fixable in short order, so they deplaned us, and put us on another plane. All in all, the delay was maybe 2 hours tops, and everybody at Southwest was very nice, as were all of the passengers.

So we arrive in Seattle a couple of hours later than expected, no big deal for us at all, given it was a Sunday afternoon, and we weren’t in a rush to get anyplace but home. A week or so later, we each received the following letter from Melissa Chalupa, Assistant Manager, Proactive Customer Service Communications. Sorry I don’t have a scanner, so I’m transcribing it instead. Included with this letter was a $175 voucher for Southwest!

I’m already a pretty loyal Southwest customer, but this was an unexpected (to me at least) gesture!

Southwest’s letter:

I’m sorry for the unexpected circumstances surrounding the disruption of your Aug 10 flight from Oakland. In addition to my apologies, I’d like to provide you with some information about what happened that afternoon.

Shortly after takeoff, the Pilots received a low pressure indication for one of the two independent hydraulic systems (A&B) on the aircraft. In response to this situation the Captain returned to have the aircraft inspected. In this case, the problem was with the A hydraulic System – there was a fluid leak. After speaking with our Maintenance Department, I learned that the supply line which helps operate one of the movable panels on the aircraft’s wing surface was leaking hydraulic fluid, and as such, the corresponding line was then replaced to fix the problem.

Thank you for your patience while alternate flight arrangements were made to continue your trip. With the hope that you will grant us the opportunity to prove there are better experiences to have with us, I’m sending a LUV Voucher to each person who was onboard your flight that we invite you to apply toward future Southwest reservations. We truly appreciate your valued patronage, and we look forward to welcoming you back again real soon.

Kind Regards
Melissa Chalupa

Enclose : One Southwest LUV Voucher.

Compare Southwest’s response to U.S. Airways’. The situations are obviously different, but Southwest is practically eager to throw around vouchers to keep customers happy. As we’ve seen, happy customers mean profitable companies. The difference is just one of the reasons U.S. Airways’ profit plummeted by almost 20% last quarter, while Southwest’s soared 11%.

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