With apologies to T.S. Eliot, March is the cruelest month of the year.
One week before the other Eliot stepped down in the middle of a scandal, and Geraldine Ferraro played an “accidental” race card,” Southwest Airlines put three employees on paid leave and grounded 41 planes. With such an inspired management team, it has never needed to get to this level of damage control. At the Southwest blog, Nuts About Southwest, they have done an admirable job of addressing unflattering issues in the past. They are one of the few companies that allow employees and not just the marketing or PR types to be the voice of the organization. But on this issue, the lawyers seem to have been dragged in and scuttled the bloggers to the back of the plane.
Last week’s post “We take safety seriously” (about a voluntary disclosure by the airline of cracks in 2007) began with “Friends…” but had language that was more lawyered than the usual blog talk from pilots, ground staff and flight crew. This week the blog was a cut-and-paste outlet for its press releases.
Through all this, one thing they are doing a great job of is allowing readers/passengers to leave comments, many of them unflattering. Some readers have challenged the critics, but at least there is a conversation going on.