For nearly 50 years, Southwest has connected People and championed communities. We marshal our resources to help the communities thrive where our Employees and Customers live and work. As the airline with Heart, we do this by investing our time, creativity, and resources.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic provided us with new opportunities to serve People when they needed it most. Despite challenges to our business posed by the pandemic, the Southwest Family rallied to find a variety of ways to serve those impacted. Through our cumulative efforts to put our Heart in action, Southwest provided more than $3 million in support to help those affected by the pandemic.
Helping our Healthcare Heroes
Our crisis response efforts in 2020 included donating Southwest flights and cargo services for healthcare workers and their supplies. We provided more than 650 complimentary flights, valued at over $130,000, for medical personnel to assist in highly impacted areas such as California, Illinois, Hawaii, New York, and the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
As one example, during the summer we partnered with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to provide transportation for 198 courageous medical professionals who traveled to Hawaii to relieve local hospital employees. This relief effort was an important component of the state’s COVID-19 response plan and helped hospitals continue to provide high-quality care to patients.
At a time when the world was reeling from the effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state of Hawaii was coping with the strain on our healthcare systems, Southwest's efforts bringing medical surge staffing was crucial in saving lives and mitigating the spread of the virus throughout our population.
In true Southwest fashion, our Employees didn’t disappoint by welcoming and honoring these heroes. Our Teams at Oakland International Airport (OAK) and Daniel K. Inouye (HNL) created a unique gate experience for the medical professionals as they boarded and landed.
We also donated our cargo services to humanitarian relief organizations by shipping personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other life-saving medical devices across the country.
Sharing Heart and Snacks
While our community support often comes in the form of complimentary flights, last year we also donated food products traditionally used during our inflight snack and beverage service.
With food shortages in many parts of the United States, we identified a unique opportunity to donate unused products from our normal inflight snack and beverage service. In July, we provided nearly 13 tractor-trailers full of product (valued at more than $655,000) to 15 food banks nationwide that are a part of the Feeding America network. In addition to food banks, the donated products supported hospitals, homeless shelters, senior centers, and children’s feeding programs—putting food directly into the hands of those who needed it most, including frontline volunteers. These donations continued throughout the year, reaching additional people who needed the support.
Assisting Our Community Partners
To meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve, we have longstanding relationships with community outreach Partners throughout the country. In May, we asked our Customers for help by supporting three Southwest community partners working to build resilient communities in the face of COVID—Feeding America, American Red Cross, and Team Rubicon. We initiated a giving campaign that allowed Customers to support these partners through direct financial contributions—and any Customer who donated at least $25 was offered 10x the Rapid Rewards® Points for each dollar given. Through this campaign, our Customers helped us raise more than $650,000 to support organizations that provide vital services for those impacted by COVID-19.
2020 also marked what would have been the 35th Southwest Airlines LUV Classic Golf Tournament and Party. While we missed the traditional party in 2020, we celebrated in a unique way by donating a total of $1 million to 101 local charities focused on serving children, their families, and communities, and providing relief from COVID-19 impacts. This donation was timely and helped these organizations continue their missions.
Supporting Our Students
In 1997, Southwest launched our award-winning Adopt-A-Pilot program, which gives classrooms an opportunity to “adopt” a Southwest Pilot. Over the years, Southwest Pilots have touched the lives of more than 632,000 students, bringing aviation-themed curriculum to thousands of classrooms around the country.
In 2020, we adapted the program to help teachers and parents. Virtual learning can be challenging for everyone involved, and we wanted to help teachers and parents get away from the usual curriculum. Since Pilots were unable to visit classrooms, we brought the Adopt-A-Pilot program to viewers through a series of videos and lessons, allowing teachers and parents to supplement their virtual learning curriculum with STEM-centered content. These activities and experiments are taught by Pilots and designed to show teachers and parents various ways to engage the curiosity of fifth-grade students (teachers and parents may be able to adjust this education programming to engage other age groups). To access the curriculum, please visit Our Community Curriculum.
We remain dedicated to serving our communities in unique ways that are true to Southwest. We recognize there’s more work to be done as we respond to and recover from the pandemic, but together, we can continue caring for our neighbors in need. Because at Southwest, we believe community is more than a place—it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.
Today and every day, we believe a strong community is more than a place, it's at the Heart of what brings us together. We remain steadfast in our commitment to give back to the communities we serve, especially in a time of need.