Southwest Airlines is to permanently close its physical call centres and send customer service and reservation agents to work from home forever. The airline confirmed it would shutter seven call centers around the United States for good on September 1 and instead rely on remote-based reservations staff.
The Dallas-based airline sent call center workers to work from home at the start of the pandemic and, like many companies, noticed productivity significantly increased when employees were working from home rather than the office.
Southwest employs around 3,200 call center staff and has physical offices in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, and Phoenix. The office space will be turned over to other Southwest departments and may be repurposed for other uses.
Along with saving money on maintaining a physical call center, Southwest believes the move to 100 percent remote work with help attract employees and increase the available pool of candidates.
Southwest is desperately trying to keep up with a huge surge in the demand for air travel which shows no immediate sign of abating despite inflationary pressures and rising gas prices that are having a knock-on effect on airfares.
“Evolving to a fully remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both in attracting and hiring new Employees from across the country, and in scheduling current Employees who have worked at record efficiency in a remote work environment,” the airline said in a statement confirming the move.
According to the CNBC, reservations staff at jetBlue have worked remotely throughout the airline’s entire 22-year history. Delta Air Lines, however, has no plans to shutter its physical call centers.
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.