Southwest Airlines Delivers Customer Delight (Again!)


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southwest-with-a-heartPeggy Uhle was on a Southwest  Airlines flight from Chicago to Columbus taxiing on the runway waiting to take off when the plane suddenly turned back to the gate and a flight attendant asked her to get off. She was directed to customer services and asked to ring her husband.

He told her that, very sadly, their son had fallen into a coma due a to a brain injury. Before this obviously distraught mother could even start to make emergency travel arrangements to get to Denver to be at her son’s side, the Southwest Airlines team told her that they had already booked her on a non-stop flight to Denver to be there.

They offered her a private waiting area, rerouted her luggage, allowed her to board first, and packed a lunch for when she got off the plane in Denver – and it didn’t stop there! As Peggy explained “My luggage was delivered to where I was staying, and I even received a call from Southwest asking how my son was doing.”

Now THAT’S Customer Delight!

It has all 6 of the ingredients of Customer Delight:

  • It produces a wow reaction!
  • It’s spontaneous or unexpected!
  • It’s the personal touch!
  • It makes the customer feel valued!
  • It’s genuine… and…
  • It creates a ‘talking point’!

I’m sure that Southwest Airlines don’t have written in their staff handbook ‘in the event of  a passenger’s son going into a coma in Denver, this is what you do’, but what they do clearly have is a culture that engages, empowers and enables their people to take action and do things like this.

I’ve written about Southwest Airlines before (and they feature in our book!) The founder of Southwest Airlines Herb Keheller describes culture as “It’s what people do when no-one’s looking” and it’s clear that they’ve created a culture that makes a real difference to the way they deal with their customers.

Have you?

Here are two FREE e-books you might find useful to help develop this further – just click on the images to get them!


ps. Peggy’s son is still recovering.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


  1. This is a beautiful story of the ultimate in customer service and exceeding expectations. Any business could benefit from reading how Southwest team members are encouraged and empowered to think beyond the P&P handbook, and really meet the needs of their customers. Great effort!


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