Southwest Rep Live-Tweets March Madness Game for Mid-Flight Passenger
The bad news: Southwest Airlines WiFi ain't no Google Fiber. The good news: The LUV carrier's customer service rocks.
The airline's "About" page features a quote from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly: "Our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring longterm competitive advantage." Southwest Customer Service Representative Mike exemplified that quality Sunday night for mid-flight passenger Renée Stoeckle.
For the first time in its 98-year program history, Xavier University in Cincinnati was the No. 1 seed going into the NCAA Tournament this year, creating true March Madness for its loyal fans everywhere. Xavier was slated to play against the Florida Seminoles on March 18... right when Xavier alumna Stoeckle was scheduled to fly from Columbus (CMH) to Tampa (TPA) on SWA Flight 1566. Undeterred, Stoeckle paid her $8 for in-flight WiFi and prepared to live-stream the game from 35,000 feet up.
Unfortunately, Stoeckle discovered that the connection wasn’t strong enough to stream the game. So, as customers are wont to do in this day and age, she tagged the airline in her tweet of disappointment:
From there, things got adorably interesting.
“I logged into the site a few minutes before the game and pretty quickly realized it wasn’t going to load, so I tried tbs.com and the Southwest in-flight live tv, but none of them would stream,” Stoeckle told TPG Wednesday. “I pulled up ESPN.com in one window so I could watch the score, then logged onto Twitter and was frantically trying to find someone live-tweeting the game.”
Stoeckle found true customer support in Mike at Southwest, who explained the situation while offering a substitute solution:
Grateful for the quick response, Renee replied:
And Mike delivered a slam dunk:
What followed over the next hour was pure gold, with Mike sketching out the second half in a series of 140 characters posted directly from Southwest's official Twitter account:
Unfortunately, the end result was less than ideal for Xavier. In Mike's own words:
However, Stoeckle's anguish at her team's loss was mitigated by Mike's MVP performance:
Even the strategic director at Xavier University chimed in to thank the LUV airline:
“My brackets have had Xavier winning it all every year since high school, so my bracket is busted again,” Stoeckle said. “But this will definitely rank among by most memorable Xavier defeats. Plus it was far better than a free drink coupon.”