How I Learned The Hard Way About Southwest Airlines’ Terrible Technology


Side of Southwest Airlines plane

Southwest Airlines/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

While you’re still stuck at some crowded airport — perhaps a place the police are telling you that you are trespassing – the apology has begun.

more technically incorrect

Southwest Airlines CEO Robert Jordan, after more than two tumultuous days, has finally released a heartfelt apology video.

I’m sorry. y i am a completely robotic video of an apology It looks like it was written by a lawyer whose hemorrhoid surgery has been postponed several times.

Of course, when the apologies poured out in an unconvincing torrent, the apologetics also showed up. Maybe half a million customer journeys have been ruined but this is the “perfect storm”, they declare.

Oh yes. So perfect. Poor Southwest Airlines.

The weather was a lot more extreme than the airline imagined. Who would have imagined places like Chicago and Denver could be so cold in December? Indeed, who would have imagined that some employees might not want to work in such cold, or might fall ill while doing so?

And who would have imagined that the airline’s management could have responded with harsh words to those employees and ask them to bring a doctor’s note?

Not that other airlines are not affected. Wait, but Southwest canceled 2,293 flights on December 26, while American Airlines canceled 12?

Software? What software?

But then there was the software.

The airline has a software system that dates back to the 1990s. Southwest had to try to contact their pilots and crew last week by phone because there were no apps or other technologically advanced means available. to discover their location. Some of the crew said they couldn’t get through for 10 hours.

Please don’t say that no one can see this supposed perfect storm coming.

When he became the CEO of Southwest, Robert Jordan freely confess airline systems are outdated.

Can I give you just one of his prophetic observations?: “When you are in the midst of unusual activities (such as cancellations and delays due to weather or other factors), I’ve had planes run out and customers run out, and this plane needs to end up at that maintenance facility.Perhaps there are tools that we can use to quickly spot problems. and come up with a solution.”

You see, dear customer of Southwest? The airline CEO told you this could happen last January. As Southwest pilot.

However, to be honest, I never thought about flying southwest during any busy times or dangerous weather. You see, I learned about Southwest’s negative attitude toward technology a few years ago.

Technology at its worst.

It’s a small story in many ways, but I can’t help but think it says a lot about airline attitudes towards technology in general.

Five years ago, I was at LAX on my way back from a meeting. I was flying southwest and thought it wise to sign up for email notifications.

A simple technology, this. You will think.

The airline lets you know of any changes to your flight so you can happily manage your time.

Indeed, Southwest emailed me to say that my flight was delayed by an hour and 15 minutes. It’s fine. LA to San Francisco is just a short flight. This delay will allow me to dine at LAX without feeling rushed.

Oh, but then another email. The previous departure time is 21:50 hours is 23:15.

Okay, okay, okay. Please take me home. But at 8:47 pm, another email. Departure time will be 10:50pm.

Hooray, I thought. So I went to a bar for dinner, where the man next to me also took advantage of Southwest email notifications. How convenient it is. How effective.

At 10 pm, my friend and I just walked back to the gate. The case of the gate agent seems to have several unhappy customers in his ear.

You’ve been there, haven’t you?

The plane left without us.

When we asked why, we got no real response. When we asked for compensation, the gate staff didn’t care. They said we should stay at the gate and listen to the announcement. We explain that we have an email alert system. The gate clerk explained that he couldn’t care less.

Put another analog in the fire, dear.

That was the day when I was a little less interested in flying Southwest.

That’s when I realized that Southwest is essentially a similar airline. Why invest in technology when you can make a lot of money doing things the old fashioned way?

Indeed, Southwest just thought about putting power outlets on at least some of its planes.

Too often with airlines, we learn the hard way. We hope the worst doesn’t happen, but very bad things happen all too often.

Please, however, Southwest customers know that the airline is really, really sorry and is committed to upgrading its technology.

But not as committed as it once was to ensuring its executives and shareholders make a lot of money.

Once the airlines received the government bailout, they were barred from buying back shares or paying dividends until September this year.

Then December 2022. Which airline do you think it is? the first to announce the dividend?

Yes you were right. It’s the airline that just loves its customers.

Who loves his shareholders a little more.

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