Southwest Airlines Had a Brilliant Reaction When a Passenger’s WiFi Wouldn’t Work

Meet Mike, who works for Southwest Airlines.

Actually, we’ll probably never truly meet Mike. We don’t even know his last name. All we know is that he’s part of the Southwest Airlines Social Care Team–the group of people on the other side of the Southwest Airlines Twitter feed.

Oh, and we also know that he was working Sunday afternoon, around the same time that a Southwest Airlines passenger named Renée Stoeckle paid $8 to access in-flight WiFi on her trip from Columbus to Tampa.

Short version: The WiFi didn’t work very well. And that was a problem.

You see, Stoeckle is an alum of Xavier University in Cincinnati, which was a number-1 regional seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and which was playing right then against Florida State–where as it happens, all four of Stoeckle’s siblings went to college.

After she’d shelled out her $8, however, she learned that the connection wasn’t powerful enough to enable live streaming at 35,000 feet. So, she asked the flight attendants for help; they in turn asked the pilots if anything could be done.

The pilots’ suggestion? Tweet at @SouthwestAir, and let them know about her frustration. So she did. And that’s where Mike came in. 

“Sorry to disappoint, Renée,” Mike tweeted under the Southwest account. “Please know we limit access to certain high bandwidth applications and websites. That said, you’re up 34-32 at the half.”

(He signed the tweet, “–Mike,” which is how we know his name was Mike.) 

“I’ve probably sent a dozen tweets ever,” Stoeckle told me last night. “I was pretty tickled that they even wrote back at all. But then I thought, it doesn’t hurt to ask, so I asked him if he’d live tweet the game for me.”

Challenge accepted. (Yes, to summarize what happened, I’m embedding a Facebook post that in turn, embeds a series of tweets. Welcome to 2018.)

Throughout the second half, Mike tweeted updates. It was an exciting game, and he kept Stoeckle’s attention until almost the end, when the flight landed and she was able to watch the final minutes on her phone.

That part wasn’t so great for her, as her alma mater, Xavier, lost 75-70. But we won’t focus on that. Let’s focus instead on Mike. 

Southwest didn’t give me his last name, and said only that he’s “one of many” on the social team, working 24/7 to respond to customers in real time.

“Our People constantly look for ways to go above and beyond to connect our Customers to what is important to them,” a spokesperson said in an email. “This is just another great example of that famous Southwest customer service in action.”

The airline also said it wouldn’t disclose exactly how many other people are on the social team, so I took a look at the Twitter feed. 

A quick aside however to Lindsey, Warren, Kayla, Grayson, Nicole, Victoria, Alane, Ariel, Natalie, Lauren, Sarah Jo, Linnea, Steve, Alice, Nidhi, Adam, Shelley, Cheryl, Cynthia, Emilia, Mallory, Jennifer–and probably others, who also signed tweets–Mike owes you all a cup of coffee or something, for being the one guy who got singled out here.

Because this really is an imitable example of customer service. It’s certainly nothing that Stoeckle really expected, and it didn’t cost Southwest anything except a few minutes of Mike’s time. But it also says something about the company’s culture–the kind of thing that led Southwest to be named the best economy airline by Consumer Reports.

Don’t forget, this all started with the fact that the paid WiFi didn’t work as desired. And yet, Mike’s efforts over Twitter left Stoeckle singing the airline’s praises anyway.

And also wondering, who this guy actually is. 

“So many people have asked me: Is Mike single? How old is he? My brother was saying we need to get you and Mike on Ellen,” Stoeckle told me. “It’s like a great little ‘meet cute.'”

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