The Dallas-based airline has more than 750 employees who currently serve in the National Guard and Reserves, along with thousands of customers who served or are serving in the armed forces.
Southwest is working with select nonprofit organizations across the country throughout November to thank and give back to the military service members and their families.
Southwest does not consider the events to be "marketing," according to spokesperson Ashley Dillon. "This is not a marketing promotion or driven by the marketing group," Dillon tells Marketing Daily. "It stemmed from our Community Relations and Charitable Giving group as a way to honor our heroes. This is one of many tributes we've done for the military over the 40 years we've been in operation."
On Veterans Day, Southwest will join the efforts of the "A Million Thanks" organization by providing its customers in airports and onboard the aircraft with a postcard and an opportunity to write a letter of thanks and encouragement to U.S. military members on Veteran's Day. Southwest will ship the postcards to service members at no cost to customers. "A Million Thanks" is a year-round campaign to show appreciation to U.S. military men and women through letters, emails and cards.
In San Antonio, Southwest will celebrate Veterans Day by dedicating a commemorative exhibit titled "24-7 Southwest Airlines' Family & Friends Tribute to the Military." Local employees organized this exhibit to pay tribute to the military members who pass through the San Antonio Airport every day.
On Friday, Southwest will welcome home the Operation Freedom Bird veterans in Hanger five at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The airline is also sponsoring the Honor Flight Network and 18 honor flights that will take place during the month of November, including the Lone Eagle Honor Flight on Friday. A Lone Eagle is a WWII Veteran whose application to visit the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. has been in the organization's national office for six months or more, yet he or she does not live close to an existing Honor Flight hub. The Honor Flight Network organizes the Lone Eagle trip specifically for these veterans.
On Nov. 22, Southwest is one of the sponsors participating in the unveiling of a new home in Fort Worth, Texas for "Helping a Hero," which provides specially adapted homes for qualifying service members and engages the community to provide services and resources for wounded heroes and their families. On Nov. 26, in celebration of Thanksgiving, Southwest will display decorative hearts on its aircraft with the wording: "We Are Thankful for our Employees, We Are Thankful for our Customers, We Are Thankful for our Family, and We Are Thankful for our Troops."
Efforts this month have included Southwest serving as the official airline of "The Mission Continues" Veterans Day Weekend in St. Louis Nov. 6-7 and Southwest sponsoring the Operation Freedom Bird sendoff in Phoenix on Nov. 9.