My wife and I happened to be on today’s flight #792 from Los Angeles to Denver that hit a light pole. (Since we were taxiing, most of us had our phones turned on, and were able to get some pictures…)
We had arrived 20 minutes early to Denver, were taxiing, and the pilot just told us that our gate was occupied and that we were pulling to the side to wait. Suddenly there was a “bang” but it felt more like being in a car as it drove on gravel or bumped into a trash can. Everyone on the plane was OK, and seemed more amused (shocked and relieved) than frightened. Firetrucks quickly arrived, and the staff was very cordial.
By the time they bused us back to the terminal (about 30–60 minutes since they moved us 25 at a time), they had already reassigned a plane for flight 792 (the original 792 was stopping off in Denver before continuing to Philadelphia), and got most of us to connecting flights immediately.
That’s what was so impressive: the Denver Airport and Southwest personnel appeared to follow emergency protocols wonderfully AND the personnel inside the terminal must have gone through a logistical nightmare to ensure smooth continuity of service. By the time I got home, Southwest’s Assistant Manager of “Proactive Customer Service Communications” had emailed me:
Greetings from Southwest Airlines:
I regret the unexpected disruption after your flight arrived at Denver this morning, and I’m sorry for any subsequent inconveniences to your plans. Along with my apologies, I want to thank you for your patience and cooperation while our Inflight and Ground Crews made arrangements to take you to the terminal. In addition, we would like you to know that we are working closely with the appropriate federal agencies regarding this overall situation.
We would like you to have much better memories the next time you travel with us. In this spirit, I’m sending a LUV Voucher* (separately, but to the same e‑mail address) as a humble gesture of goodwill that we invite you to apply toward a future Southwest reservation. We hope you will allow us another opportunity to make up for this flight experience and you can be sure we are looking forward to seeing you again soon.
What’s also amazing to me is that while taxiing at an airport is an intricate interplay between pilots and traffic control, there wasn’t finger pointing. Southwest took responsibility, quickly rectified things, and apologized. If their intent was to make me a loyal customer (and share my experience with others), it worked. I hope to learn from their example of customer service: there is wisdom in fixing things instead of laying blame.