Passenger Dies on Southwest Flight

An engine exploded on a Southwest flight, which blew out a window and killed a passenger. The company has communicated about the tragedy consistently and in several forms.

On its website, Southwest posted several updates regarding the situation, starting with the initial event and ending with more information.

SW announcements.png

The second statement has the most detailed information and confirms the passenger's death:

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) confirms an accident involving Southwest Airlines Flight 1380. The flight made an emergency diversion to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) earlier today after the Crew reported issues with the number one engine which resulted in damage to the fuselage.

We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is one fatality resulting from this accident. The entire Southwest Airlines Family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the Customers, employees, family members and loved ones affected by this tragic event. We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy. For a message from Gary Kelly, Southwest Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, please click here.

The aircraft involved today was a Boeing 737-700 (N772SW) and was enroute from New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Dallas Love Field (DAL). In total, the flight had 144 Customers and five Southwest Crewmembers onboard.  We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Southwest Pilots and Flight Attendants who acted professionally and swiftly to take care of our Customers during the emergency diversion and landing.

Finally, Southwest Airlines officials are in direct contact with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to support an immediate, coordinated response to this accident. Southwest is in the process of gathering additional information regarding flight 1380 and will fully cooperate in an investigative process.

Please join the Southwest Family in keeping all of those affected by today's tragedy in your thoughts.

CEO Gary Kelly conveyed his sympathy in a video posted on the Twitter and during a news conference. Both are obviously scripted, but perhaps this is appropriate given the timing and severity of the situation.

Image source.


  • Assess Southwest's communications overall. What is they company doing well, and what could be improved?
  • Now assess the news conference video, which is similar to the video message posted on Twitter. What delivery skills does the CEO demonstrate? What could be improved? Should he use a more natural style and "speak from the heart"? What are the potential downsides of this approach?
  • How well does the company demonstrate compassion?