Multiple stories of the Southwest Airlines that were released on social media went viral and smacked a company with a record-breaking $145 million in revenue. Companies like this need to know how to deal with crises and disasters, and these incidents show companies must be prepared for negative press coverage.
The “southwest airlines crisis case study” is a story of Southwest Airlines failing the two most basic lessons in crisis communications. The company’s response to a computer glitch that caused thousands of flights to be canceled was inadequate.
Southwest Airlines Fails To Learn The Two Most Basic Crisis Communication Lessons
on October 14, 2021 by Gary Leff
You want to get the complete story out at once when a negative story is going to break, and you want your first article to be the story.
When a tale goes awry, the worst thing that can happen is that you lose control of the narrative. You don’t want a dribble, dribble, dribble of information to leak out and lengthen the tale. And you don’t want your story to unravel.
That is why you must come up with a tale that is both factual and coherent. Don’t offer the audience a place to go with the plot.
So, what did Southwest Airlines do when their operation went down last weekend? They put the blame on the weather and the FAA. The FAA, on the other hand, retaliated forcefully.
Aircraft and employees that are out of place continue to cause scheduling issues for certain carriers. (2/2)
— The Federal Aviation Administration (@FAANews) on October 10, 2021
The public may always check the status of air traffic control in real time.
At any moment, take a look. Check it out for yourself at the source: https://t.co/2JqKd70wIr
— The Federal Aviation Administration (@FAANews) on October 11, 2021
Other airlines with hubs in the same locations, such as United Airlines, which saw some of the worst cancellations, were unaffected. Southwest and American both have their home bases in Dallas, but American only had around 10% of the cancellations that Southwest did.
So, how can Southwest explain why a fifth of their flights were canceled on Sunday? On Friday, there were some issues in Orlando. Okay, that’s OK.
Orlando International Airport, which houses one of our major Crew Bases, was closed to incoming and arriving air traffic for around seven hours on Friday, halting the flow of aircraft and Crews into the network.
Pilots opposing vaccination requirements were featured in a number of news pieces. The union disavowed it (because to the fact that it would have been illegal), and Southwest claims to have no knowledge of it. But, in the lack of a coherent explanation – in the absence of transparent communication, with the complete truth, that has become the prevalent narrative. To put it another way, the plot has gotten away from them.
In a crisis, at the very least, you don’t want to be shifting tales. Stick to your story, even if it involves gaslighting, since altering your explanation implies you’ve already lost.
More From the Wing’s Perspective
Southwest Airlines has been struggling with how to handle their crisis communications. The company’s first response, which was a tweet from the CEO, was not well received by customers or media. Their second response, which was an apology letter from the CEO, did not do much better. Reference: southwest flight attendant.
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