Behind the Scenes at Southwest's Crisis Response


A Wall Street Journal article describes the Southwest Airlines management team's quick response during the recent engine blowout that killed a passenger. The article describes a group of executives meeting and hearing their phones alert them to a plane in trouble.

CEO Gary Kelly said, "Everybody has a checklist" and “The protocol is well understood. It’s just to affirm that this is how we are going to work together. We are here to support the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board)." Early steps included flying employees to the Jennifer Riordan's home to help the family manage travel arrangements and stopping all advertising on social media.

Airline employees also arranged for hotels or flights for other passengers and, for those staying in a hotel, left notes under their doors offering more assistance. Based on previous compensation to passengers in similar situations, the airline gave each traveler $5,000 an a $1000 travel voucher.


  • Read the article and identify all of the positive steps the airline took.
  • Reactions are consistently positive about the airline's response. What's your view? What were the strengths of their response and what, if anything, could the airline have done differently?
  • What do you think will be the long-term impacts of this incident on the brand?
  • To what extent do you think compassion played a role in how Southwest is perceived?