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Southwest is giving workers bonus points worth about $400 to say sorry for the ‘physical and emotional toll’ of the holiday meltdown

John and Lori Ingoldsby, who drove to Denver after the first leg of their flight on Southwest Airlines was canceled, wait for a flight to finish their trip at Denver International Airport on December 28, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.Southwest Airlines canceled more than 16,000 flights over the holiday season.

Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

  • Southwest is giving its 66,000 workers 25,000 SWAG points to redeem in its employee store.
  • The points can be converted into gift cards worth about $400, The Dallas Morning News reported.
  • CEO Bob Jordan told staff: “I’m sorry about the damage to your confidence and trust.”

Southwest Airlines is giving its 66,000 workers bonus points that can be exchanged for gift cards or other rewards in a bid to apologize for the “physical and emotional toll” of last month’s travel chaos.

In an internal memo issued on Friday, seen by The Dallas Morning News, CEO Bob Jordan said that all employees would receive 25,000 SWAG (Southwest Airlines Gratitude) points.

The points, which are usually issued to reward good performance or mark employment milestones, can be redeemed for flights, airline upgrades, merchandise, and gift cards. 

According to The Dallas Morning News, the 25,000 SWAG points could be converted into gift cards worth about $400. Southwest has about 66,000 employees, so it could face a bill of more than $25 million, according to estimates by Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

On Friday, Southwest estimated that its December meltdown could cost up to $825 million in lost revenue and passenger reimbursements.

Staff bore the brunt of passengers’ outrage after Southwest canceled almost 17,000 flights in December, leaving both customers and employees stranded across the country.

Union officials complained that Southwest crew had to book their own hotel rooms after being stranded — and couldn’t get in touch with operational staff to find out their next assignment.

According to one union leader, some Southwest ground workers even developed frostbite after working outside for extended periods of time.

In the memo, Jordan told workers: “I’m sorry for the physical and emotional toll. I’m sorry for the loss of time and memories that can never be replaced. Most of all, I’m sorry about the damage to your confidence and trust.”

Staff had long warned about Southwest’s antiquated systems, which contributed to the airline’s problems.

In an email on Friday, Lyn Montgomery, president of the TWU 556 flight attendant union, dismissed the points offer:  “Nothing will make it right until Southwest invests in its technology and its workers.”

Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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