Southwest Gets Cheap With Customers

After several self-inflicted problems, as part of the package Southwest Airlines has offered to customers brutally snarled in its thousands of holiday cancellations, the compensation for affected passengers is an award of 25,000 points toward future ticket purchases. It is an insult. The award is added to refunds and other compensation for the cost incurred by people who could not travel due to the disaster.

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan blamed bad weather for the problem. Experts believe the primary cause was inadequate technology and an inability to fix it.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the award is worth about $300. That is not much considering the airline’s management decision ruined hundreds if not thousands of holidays. Jordan said, “I know that no amount of apologies can undo your experience.” That is cold comfort for travelers.

Among the issues the Southwest board faces is whether Jordan should be fired. He should bear the brunt of anything the company does to show it should be better managed.

The 25,000 points are similar to giving a Starbucks customer $0.25 because of lousy service or a Walmart customer $1 for a broken product bought at one of its stores.

Current corporate culture lets CEOs off the hook for major mistakes while continuing to pay them millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars. Unfortunately, customers have learned to expect this. That is a shame. It makes the decision to treat customers badly much easier.

Will Southwest do anything to make sure the catastrophe never happens again? More winter storms are coming. Then there will be a summer of heavy travel and spots of bad weather again. If Southwest falls apart, based on the recent problem, Jordan likely will not face any consequences again. That is, except perhaps, another 25,000 points.

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