Flight Attendants Become Galley Designers
When we decided to change the galleys in our new Boeing 737-800 airplanes to make them better suited to our unique service model, we went straight to the experts: the Frontline Southwest Employees who work onboard our planes. After all, no one knows more about galleys than the Employees who work in them every day.
Following a “Design Your Own Galley” contest, 10 Flight Attendants and a Provisioning Agent became the Design Team for the new galleys. We tasked them with creating the most superb onboard experience in the industry while still maintaining our Southwest Brand and superior style of service.
One thing that made the galley project so successful was that Senior Leaders empowered Employees to build their own work areas. We couldn’t have done it without support from the top to find a better way.
One big issue was the way the galleys were configured. “Of the four Flight Attendants flying the 737-800, three were stationed at the aft galley with one at the front,” explained Jamie Willard, Southwest’s Inflight Operations Director of Safety Standards and Regulatory Compliance, who oversaw the project. “This resulted in a cramped space and inefficient workflow for the Flight Attendants in the aft galley.”
For the first six weeks, the design Team met almost weekly, putting ideas on paper and white boards. The Employee-based Team started by reconfiguring the galleys to have two Flight Attendants stationed in each one, which means better service for Southwest Customers. “The Design Team looked at every detail,” said Jamie. “For example, because we serve with trays, Flight Attendants must be able to access product quickly and are constantly in and out of the galley compartments. So the Team incorporated special doors and latches that are not found in a standard galley.”
In May 2016, after more than three years of work, the first 737-800 with the new galley entered service. The galleys will also be part of Southwest’s new 737 MAX 8 airplanes. “One reason the galley project was so successful was that Senior Leaders empowered Employees to build their own work areas,” said Jamie. “We couldn’t have done it without support from the top to find a better way.” And, of course, we couldn’t have done it without the dedication of our Employees, who always find a way to do more than asked—and do it for the satisfaction of knowing they helped improve Southwest service.