Southwest Airlines chief executive Gary Kelly has issued an ultimatum to warring employees following a series of embarrassing and high-profile incidents involving staffers including a pilot who was recently cited by police for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant over a mask dispute.
“The sobering reality is we are seeing an alarming increase of behavior that stands in stark contrast to our long-cherished north star of following the Golden Rule, and that is beyond disappointing,” Kelly wrote in new memo to Southwest employees following weeks of rising tensions.
Southwest’s ‘Golden Rule’ is short and very simple – “Treat others as you would like to be treated”.
“Let me be clear, any behavior that deviates from this deeply rooted core value of our company is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the memo continued. “Put simply, enough is enough,” Kelly wrote.
“I’m not addressing any one example in particular – I’ve seen an uptick in these issues recently, and it must end. Individuals who choose to not comply with our stated expectations in Guidelines for Employees and Company policies and Employee expectations will be held accountable”.
Last week, a memo co-signed by the head of the pilots flight operations department and the head of inflight operations which oversees flight attendants warned employees that they faced dismissal for “crossing the line in a heated conversation”.
Kelly laid the blame for employee infighting at the “political discord and divisive nature of current events and our ever-increasing polarized society”.
The airline was recently forced to open an investigation after a pilot reportedly decided it was appropriate to finish a passenger announcement by using the derogatory anti-Biden slogan: “Let’s go Brandon”.
The alleged behavior drew a rebuke from Southwest management who reminded pilots that a Southwest plane was not the place for them to share their individual political opinions.
Tensions are also on the rise because of Southwest’s decision to back the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for government contractors. Southwest did, however, confirm that the deadline to get vaccinated would be pushed back from December 8 to January 4, 2022 in line with federal recommendations.
The delay will hopefully see off holiday travel chaos that could have ensued if unvaccinated airline workers went sent home in the run up to Christmas.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.