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Southwest’s inaugural day of service with its new 737 MAX 8 aircraft didn’t quite go as planned. After the the aircraft’s first flight, WN1 from Dallas Love Field (DAL) to Houston Hobby (HOU), a maintenance light came on in the cockpit. After three separate delays, the aircraft was eventually swapped out for an older 737 model. While the first flight went off without a hitch, the rest of the day was rather disappointing for both AvGeeks and Southwest employees on board — including the company’s CEO Gary Kelly.
Kelly was around for the day’s activities and had plans to complete the entire “Texas Triangle” routing — DAL-HOU, HOU-SAT and SAT-DAL. His enthusiasm was felt throughout the first flight, and his disappointment was apparent after it was announced that the aircraft would be swapped. Many passengers ended up abandoning the rest of the “Texas Triangle” routing, disappointed. Now, passengers on board for the MAX festivities have received an email from Mr. Kelly himself, apologizing for the letdown.
The generous offer of a full refund for the cost of their one-way airfare, as well as an additional $250 voucher is a classy move from Kelly on behalf of Southwest. I can’t say this move is surprising, however. During the abbreviated MAX day, Kelly made himself readily available to all passengers on board and in the terminal to ask questions, take photos, shake hands and sign autographs.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see a CEO of a major airline who shows such interest in putting the customers first. This note from Kelly himself shows his character as not only a leader of a great airline that cares about its passengers. Good move, Southwest and Mr. Kelly!
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