Inside Southwest Airlines’ December Crisis Response

May 2023
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Save the date: On the next Strategies & Tactics Live, join Editor-in-Chief John

Elsasser and Linda Rutherford, chief administration and communications officer, Southwest Airlines. Tune in on LinkedIn here: Wednesday, May 24, 1 p.m. ET.

During the week between this past Christmas and New Year’s Day, Winter Storm Elliott caused far-reaching disruptions to U.S. airlines at the height of the holiday travel season.

However, the impact of the sprawling weather system turned into a widespread operational meltdown for Southwest Airlines that left an estimated 2 million travelers unable to reach their intended destinations.

From reported staffing shortages to outdated software systems, Southwest struggled to return to a relatively normal flight schedule. It was an unprecedented event for the Dallas-based airline, not to mention its top communicator.


Here, Linda Rutherford, chief administration and communications officer at Southwest and a 31-year veteran at the airline, takes us through their crisis response and its lingering impact on the well-regarded brand.

Return to Current Issue Crisis Management | May 2023
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