Part of something special and unique.

By Steve Moran

I have a friend, Hans Yao, who is a pilot for Southwest Airlines (and whose son Andrew is in the class I teach at church). Fairly frequently he flies one of the west coast to Hawaii routes, which is, for Southwest, a long non-stop. His big contest is called “Halfway to Hawaii”. The rules are simple. Passengers can submit their guess at any time until they pass the halfway point. Just write it on a piece of paper and give it to a flight attendant (on their own piece of paper since Southwest is a budget airline.)

The winner gets a choice of chocolate or old plotting charts.

Frequently, the flight attendants also run an art contest for the kids. Here are some of the submissions from a recent trip from Hawaii to Oakland, CA, during which virtually every kid participated. The way it works is that the flight attendants run the contest, and collect the submissions that are taken to the cockpit for judging by the pilots. 

In chatting with him about his contests he notes that they only work when the whole crew including flight attendants have fun doing this, so it is something everyone is engaged in. 




And this is what happens when teams love coming to work:

Why You Should Care

Here are my big takeaways . . .

  1. For him and the rest of the crew, this is an extra duty. You respond, “yes but super fun”, and true, but there are many airline crews that would feel put out if they had to do this and would never want to do it.

  1. There is risk on the part of the crew and the airlines that some passengers will find this whole thing annoying when they are trying to sleep, work, or read. They have figured out that it is a reasonable risk.

  1. It is also a risk for the airline that a flight crew will go too far trying to have fun, though, remarkably, I have never heard a story about this happening — ever, which says a lot about trusting your team.

  1. It makes a long flight a ton more fun for everyone.

  1. At the end of the day, it makes the team members love working for Southwest, in part because they are part of something special and unique.

This kind of freedom and fun is a perfect fit for senior living.

In case you are interested here are links to two of his facebook posts where he shows off more art and talks about these trips:

What are you doing like this?