7 Business and Leadership Lessons From Southwest Airlines

I have been traveling quite a bit lately, which has caused me to really assess my different flying experiences.  My conclusion is quite simple…  Southwest Airlines @southwestair “gets it” and the others don’t seem to quite “get it.”

I know that’s a relatively broad generalization, but for the most part it’s true.

If we look at purely a bottom line perspective, Southwest Airlines continues to report profits, while the rest of their competitors are struggling financially.  There is something about their unorthodox style that just makes good sense for their organization and their customers. They continue to make money and make fans (like me), for some reason fans and money seem to go hand in hand.

7 Business and Leadership Lessons From Southwest Airlines:

  • 1. Change With The Times – That class system is so 1980, get rid of 1st class and get your customers in a seat.
  • 2. Consistency Matters – Southwest flies the same type jet, to the same places, by the same people all of the time.  I can’t stand those little regional jets propeller planes.
  • 3. Add Value – Seriously, who gets excited about paying $25+ dollars for a bag of luggage and don’t get me started on the no-snacks policy for Southwest Airline’s competitors.  Southwest offers free luggage, good snacks, great flying experience and great rewards program.
  • 4. Efficiency – Southwest always ranks high in the fuel efficiency of it’s aircraft’s (helps the environment for those green people).  Southwest is always at the top of the list for on-time flights and the boarding process is the most efficient.
  • 5. Discount Fares – Value and price always matter.
  • 6. Leverage Social Media – Southwest Airlines does a great job of leveraging Social Media.  They have a very active and effective twitter account with over a million followers.  That’s 10 times as many followers as their competitors.  They embrace the essence of this post.
  • 7. Customer Service – When an airline has the best discount fares, offers free snacks, has efficient check-in, doesn’t charge for luggage, treats all customers the same, adds value to customers through social media…  That’s an airlines that cares about their customers.

There seems to be a direct correlation between excellent customer service, a consistently good product and great overall value.  If you don’t believe me read my thoughts on what Chick-fil-A Can Teach us About Success.

Every business and leader can and should learn from these 7 Lessons.  The additional value for businesses like Southwest Airlines and Chick-fil-A is the fact that their customers blog about, tweet about and share their great experiences. When was the last time you read a tweet, facebook update or blogpost about someone being happy about paying $25 dollars for their luggage to fly with them.

Change with the times, listen and learn.

Share your thoughts on Southwest airlines or other businesses that get it.  Why are some businesses willing to stay behind the times and not learn from the success of others?

  • Anonymous

    Good points Scott. I have never had a bad experience flying Southwest. They definitely get it.

  • I don’t fly nearly as much, but each time I’ve flown Southwest the experience has been great for my family.  Nice post!

  • Definitely agree here. Don’t think I’ve ever flown Southwest but they sound great and not having to pay for extra luggage, snacks, and the removal of class systems..love it!

  • There are some great lessons we can learn from Southwest as it relates to meeting the needs of those you serve!

  • Thanks for this concise article! Yep I agree with you I wish German Lufthansa, Airfrance would understand that and “upgrade” not the planes but the “mentality” by stopping already the pilot anouncement with Herr such and such and Frau such and such! It is so German, boring outdated and just painful! I guess customer service on this side of the pond is a painful experience to say the least! 

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