The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the labor union that represents Southwest Airlines’ customer service agents, recently wrote in a note to its members that, “Southwest Airlines just announced they are closing all the Reservation Centers.” The airline’s customer service agents will be transitioning to 100% remote work, the labor union continued.
The airline has over 3,200 customer service and reservation agents based in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and, of course, Southwest’s headquarters, Dallas. Most have been working remotely since the pandemic.
The transition will be effective September 1st. Southwest hopes the change will help in making them a more (or continued) attractive workplace for both current and potential employees.
“Evolving to a fully remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both in attracting and hiring new Employees from across the country, and in scheduling current Employees who have worked at record efficiency in a remote work environment,” as per the spokesperson.
ZDNet contributor Chris Matyszczyk suggests the change may also wind up with an unexpected improvement for customers, in the form of happier employees who will be more willing to pleasantly help you with your travel-related issues.
No longer will your customer service agent be huddled right next to another customer service agent, who’ll be wishing they weren’t huddled right next to anyone.
Instead, they’ll be huddled next to their dog, their cat or a strange green statue they bought on vacation in South Carolina.
Of course, that’s assuming you can get a Southwest rep on the phone – until they manage to hire and keep (15-25% ghost the airline and never show up for their first day at work) more employees with this new work “perk,” the wait is undoubtedly still going to be hours.
Southwest won’t be the first airline that has its reps work from home. Jetblue’s customer service agents have largely been doing it since the airline’s inception in 1998. Most of Alaska Airlines’ reps work remotely, as well. The legacy airlines, Delta, American and United, still have and use call centers.
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