Southwest Airlines Offers Employee Incentives For Holiday Operations

Southwest Airlines is offering incentives to its members of staff during the upcoming holiday season. The carrier is preparing for an active period as air travel continues to robustly return in the United States.

Snow Southwest 737
To help handle the expected rush, Southwest Airlines is offering rewards to its operational employees over the next few months. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Busy skies

The holiday season is always a busier than usual time. In 2019, TSA screened over 26 million passengers and crew members during the Thanksgiving weekend. Therefore, carriers will need to ensure that they have the right number of personnel to take on the challenges ahead.

When it comes to Southwest Airlines, its operational staff, including flight attendants and pilots, who work qualifying shifts between November 15th and January 14th will be offered the initiative. Overall, the incentive is up to 120,000 Rapid Rewards Points from the operator’s frequent flyer program.

This move comes on the back of a challenging October for Southwest that saw cancellations amount up to a cost of $75 million. On the weekend between October 9th and 10th, the operator canceled over 1,900 flights.

A mix of bad weather and air traffic control issues in Florida were the major causes of the issues according to Southwest. However, CNN notes that short staff was also an issue leading up to the events last month.

Snow Southwest
Weather across the US will also be a major factor to keep an eye on during the holiday season, often contributing to cancellations. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Airline rewards

Simple Flying reached out to Southwest Airlines for comment on the incentives. The carrier shared further details about the program.

“The Southwest Team looks forward to welcoming Customers onboard throughout the upcoming holidays, and Southwest’s Operational Employees are eligible for a Holiday Incentive Program that will award Rapid Rewards Points for their dedication to serving our Customers during this special time of year,” a spokesperson for the carrier stated.

“Eligible Employees can achieve up to 120,000 Rapid Reward Points, redeemable for confirmed travel, by working qualifying shifts from November 15, 2021 through January 14, 2022 (the number of qualifying shifts/hours/days varies by workgroup and has been determined by each operational department’s holiday scheduling needs).”

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Other airlines are offering incentives heading into the holiday season. For instance, American Airlines recently shared that it was giving flight attendants working during the period a holiday pay premium. Like Southwest, AA also had an operational struggle in October.

Boeing 737 MAX, Deliveries, Recertification
Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have been incredibly active over the last few months. Photo: Getty Images

Looking ahead

Amid the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic, airlines and their staff are having to adapt to the conditions. Several employees across the industry are finding themselves overworked amid all the ongoing travel requirements.

Even during some of the peak months of the pandemic, the holiday season offered a glimmer of hope for the US travel industry. Sunday, November 29th, 2020 was the busiest day of travel in the country since March last year.

Nearly 1.2 million travelers hopped on board an aircraft that day. Carriers also felt operational struggles during this period despite the general downturn of the time. So, in this era of recovery, Southwest will be preparing for a wave of travelers heading into 2022.

What are your thoughts about Southwest Airlines’ incentives to its operational employees for the holiday season? What do you make of the overall move by the carrier? Let us know what you think in the comment section.