For years I have connected at Dallas Love Field and peered across the aircraft operations area, staring at the home of Southwest Airlines, hoping to one day visit LUV HQ. In the effort of transparency, I’ve made little attempt to conceal my preference for the airline, and we’ll discuss why I think that they’re the best in a bit. But here’s a hint: It’s the culture.
I have a hand-full of friends who work for Southwest and follow a bunch of their employees on Instagram who occasionally post photos from the inside. My desire for a visit intensified when I became aware that the company had recently opened a large addition to their Dallas footprint, just across the street from their long-standing centralizedÂ DAL-based HQ. The building, affectionately known as TOPS (for Training and Operations Support), drastically expands the company’s capabilities and makes room for employees of the largest domestic airline to spread their wings.
After 12 years in corporate America, I have become a self-described boring, stodgy, business-type guy. I think that’s one of the reasons I am so attracted to Southwest’sÂ culture. Â Because, it’s tough to not have a fun time around people whoÂ clearly enjoy their careers and are vested in the mission of their company.
On a recent late-night flight, an attendant came over the intercom to tell us they were turning down the lights and that we were welcome to turn on our overhead lighting. “If you want, push the button with a picture of a light bulb on it.”Â She continued, “However, pushing the button with the picture of a flight attendant on it will not turn on the flight attendant.”
It was late, we were all tired, and I think it’s fair to say the cabin had let their guard down. This unexpected bit of humorÂ solicited a chuckle from me and a large portion of my 737-trekking peers. It’s these small, unexpected, fun experiences after a long draining day of meetings, charts, and presentationsÂ that I have come to rely upon as a part of my decompression ritual.