On Sunday, Oct 11, Southwest Airlines passengers on more than 800 flights around the country experienced lengthy delays due to a technical glitch in the company’s systems. Disgruntled passengers took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their grievances, prompting Southwest to execute an extensive social media campaign to apologize, personally, to customers.
We apologize for this morning's technical issues. We are working to restore service to our Customers, and we appreciate your patience.
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 11, 2015
@brijones79 Brianne, Employees are working as quickly as they can to assist in Las Vegas. We'll do our best to have her taken care of. ^LJ
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 12, 2015
The company responded to hundreds of customer questions and complaints via social media throughout the day and posted frequent updates about the status of flights. Southwest also offered advice and where to go for the most updated information.
Additionally, for good measure, employees handed out pizza to customers in particularly long lines at Los Angeles International.
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) October 12, 2015
In a statement by Linda Rutherford, vice president of communication and outreach for Southwest, she praised the contingency plan already in place for helping to organize and drive the response. A crisis response plan is imperative to any PR department. Crisis Media Training stresses that a public relations crisis communications plan is crucial to any business. While crises are far from ideal, you and your team can be ready with a well-developed plan in place when disaster strikes.
So, what do you think? Did Southwest handle the situation well? What is your best version of a crisis communication plan?