Another initiative is to continue the work of integrating AirTran. This will allow the airline to expand their network to fly to more destinations and spread their low fares even farther (Gary's Greeting, 2012).
Southwest's initiative to refurbish their cabins is being called "Evolve: The New Southwest Interior." For the average customer, the differences probably won't be so obvious which is why Southwest is calling this an evolution rather than a revolution. The tones of brown and blue will be familiar, but with a closer eye, one will be able to see the changes. The changes will include:
Modern Cabin Design: The new design incorporates natural, earthy tones combined with Southwest's iconic Canyon blue and clean, aluminum accents for a more modern, fresh appeal. The redesign is inspired by Southwest's past with a nod to the future.
Lighter and More Comfortable Seat: The redesigned low-profile seat is more durable, made of eco-friendly products, is lighter, and more comfortable.
Increased Under-Seat Space: The new design allows for more under-seat room for carryon luggage and approved pet carriers.
Customer Living Space: Reducing the recline from three inches to two inches preserves onboard personal living space while still allowing for ample seat adjustment for Customer comfort.
Seatback pockets: The new netted seatback pockets are streamlined to provide more knee room.
Headrest: The fixed-wing headrest provides better neck and head alignment with side-to-side support for sleeping.
Improved Ergonomics: The combination of the low-profile cushion and fixed wing headrest improves ergonomics by positioning Customers "down and back" into the seat, allowing for better lumbar support, armrest alignment, and increased personal living space (Southwest Airlines Evolves Their Interior -- More Seats, but for the Better, 2012).
The new interior will allow Southwest to put in six additional seats on each aircraft. This is due to reducing the seat pitch from 32? To 31?, using skinnier seats and reducing the recline from 3? To 2?. This will allow Southwest to increase their profit, without having to add fees. The seats are made with eco-friendly materials and are designed to last longer, reducing replacement costs. Each seat weighs six pounds less than their predecessor, meaning real fuel savings for Southwest Airlines. The new carpet, which is made out of recycled materials, is put in by squares where a section can easily be replaced instead of taking out the whole carpet (Southwest Airlines Evolves Their Interior -- More Seats, but for the Better, 2012).
The company is preparing now for the next 40 years with a fleet modernization plan that includes the new interior, the Boeing 737-800 which is scheduled to come online beginning in March this year, and the 737 MAX, which is expected to join the Southwest fleet in 2017. The evolutionary changes that they are making with the new interior will uphold their low-cost roots and historic focus on Customer Service. The cabin upgrade also allows them to create significant revenue opportunities without adding unwanted fees (Southwest Airlines Evolves Their Interior -- More Seats, but for the Better, 2012).
The reason that Southwest Airlines has been so successful over the years is because they have managed to keep their costs low. Southwest has branded themselves a low-fare airline and it has worked. When looking at the prices of other airlines, Southwest is leading the air transportation market. By offering such low fares Southwest is a foremost competitor for a lot of airlines. In addition to its low fares, Southwest is the only airline that has not put into practice a fee for bags. In the airline business, Southwest is alone in putting customer service first. "Southwest allows each passenger to check two bags for free as long as it adheres to their weight requirements. Southwest also allows two carry ons per passenger, while many other airlines charge for more than one carry on" (Lester, 2010).
Struggling with the rising cost of fuel, a lot of airlines have been forced to implement fees for many services like drinks, food, blankets and pillows in order to make up for lost income. Southwest continues to provide complimentary in-flight services. "They serve complimentary coffee, juices and cold drinks on all flights. They also provide Premium Drink coupons for frequent flyers. For a flight less than 600 miles in length, passengers are served peanuts or pretzels. On longer flights, Southwest provides a select snack box" (Lester, 2010).
Southwest is one example of a company that has created a work environment where people can do their best work. Southwest is one of the few airlines that has maintained profitability and has a good track record as an employer. They take pride in its position as a low-cost, on-time carrier that is perennially profitable, in an industry that is notorious for its financial losses. Southwest is an example of an organization where leadership assesses the work environment defines the culture it seeks to create in terms of values and works to create alignment between values and behaviors. It all begins with assessment and while the process may take time, the rewards are well worth the investment (Young, n.d.).
Overall the path that Southwest has taken in regards to change management in their organization has worked very well for them. The have over the years used Kotter's 8 step change model in order to effectively change and build their culture to what it is today. Management at this company has known from the beginning that it was important to lay the foundation for how to be successful very early on. The vision that the founders saw for this company have been very successful over the years. Management was not afraid to develop the vision and then share it with all the employees in order to gain their buy in to how this company was going to be different. This has led to the culture that exists at the company today that makes this company a coveted place to work. The company treats their employees in the same way that they want the employees to treat the customers. In the end happy employees always leads to happy customers and Southwest proves this everyday.
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