I took my mother-in-law to the Tucson International Airport this morning for her flight out to Los Angeles. We soon discovered that all Southwest flights from Tucson were cancelled at that moment. I quickly browsed on my BlackBerry and learned that Southwest had grounded 79 of its Boeing 737-300 fleet to inspect for their airworthiness after their yesterday’s emergency landing in Yuma, Arizona.
Soon, the ticketing booth became a Southwest employees’ nightmare. A long line quickly formed inside the terminal, and people were, obviously, confused and unhappy. I had to wait in line for about 30 minutes to change the flight for my mother-in-law.
On the “ground-level” where I was at, things didn’t look good for Southwest. But when I thought about it, they were doing the right thing. They were moving rather quickly to ensure the safety of their operations for their customers and employees. Now, I heard that their move to ground these many of those colorful blue-and-orange planes caused about 300 flights to cancel, which of course made a lot of people upset. But it made an impression to millions of other people who would probably fly Southwest in the future that they are committed to something larger, more important, than a day of flight schedule nightmare.
So, although I was one of those who were directly impacted by Southwest’s decision today, I give kudos to their “well-grounded” move.