MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.
WADE GOODWYN: Unidentified Man #1: Well, you know, route what you want, we're still going to run 18. But then they have to wait for parts on Flight 15 inbound. And if that's the case, it's going to be forever.
GOODWYN: Randy Hopkins has a broken plane in Harlingen, Texas, down on the border, and he's working on getting every passenger on that flight to their destination, only their trip is no longer going to be the way it was originally drawn up.
RANDY HOPKINS: We call it voodoo connection. Just one of those little lingoes, little connection things. We get them there. It may not be the same time, it will be an hour or two later.
GOODWYN: Southwest president decided that was one screwed up way to relate to angry customers.
COLLEEN BARRETT: My goal when I first came up with the idea to have a proactive customer service group was that we would reach the customers before they could reach us. And history has taught me that if people are really ticked off at us, and they're so ticked off that they're going to sit down and they're going to actually try to compose something and get to us that way, then it's going to take three days for them to be able to do so.
GOODWYN: So twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, Southwest customer advocates get briefed on the day's operations.
HOPKINS: We've suspended gate services in Islip, Baltimore and Philadelphia...
GOODWYN: Unidentified Man #3: There is some fog right now in Spokane. It's found to an eighth of a mile. It should burn off in the next couple of hours.
GOODWYN: Southwest President Colleen Barrett doesn't want any more federal regulations. She believes that if other airlines are leaving passengers on the tarmac for six or eight or 10 hours, that will be good for business, Southwest's that is.
BARRETT: I feel that, you know, the marketplace should dictate who provides the best customer service and I think that passengers vote for that with their pocketbooks. I just don't want the government telling me what I need to do for every given specific situation.
GOODWYN: Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.
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