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Southwest Airlines Recognized for Innovation

The airline was ranked by Fortune as one of America’s most innovative companies

By Amanda Christensen

After conducting a survey among innovation experts, human resource executives, and employees to determine top innovative companies in the country, Fortune named Dallas-based Southwest Airlines at the top of the list as one of the most innovative. The survey and rankings were based on three pillars: product, process, and culture.

Southwest Airlines flight departing Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii. Sept. 26, 2023
Southwest Airlines flight departing Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii || Courtesy of Adobe Stock

The product pillar had survey takers evaluate a company’s products and services for attractiveness and usability. The process pillar analyzed internal workflows of a company’s improvements and techniques. And the culture pillar examined how well a company fosters a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship.

“Our history is rich with innovation,” says Tony Roach, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience for Southwest, in a prepared statement. “We were the first airline to issue a paperless ticket, and we continue to find ways today to innovate and remove friction from the travel experience.”

The Southwest Airlines mobile application. Sept. 26, 2023
The Southwest Airlines mobile application enhances the travel experience for customers. || Photo by Tada Images, courtesy of Adobe Stock

Some of the products and services provided by Southwest that were reasons for its Fortune ranking include enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity onboard flights, larger overhead bins, a first-of-its-kind policy among major U.S. airlines that eliminated expiration dates for all Southwest flight credits, enabling more self-service digital capabilities for customers, new airport signage to better help travelers navigate airports, arranging Innovation Stations where Southwest employees engage in the traveler experience and identify challenges and solutions on-site, and more.

Roach adds, “Of course, in all that we do, we are mindful to stay true to our roots as the airline with heart.”