21 episodes

Most airlines don't have stories about high stakes arm wrestling, planes full of dogs, and a decade of go-go boots, but Southwest isn't like most airlines. To celebrate 50 years of flying, Southwest Airlines proudly presents this 20 episode series featuring first-hand stories from the people who lived through the wildest and most memorable moments in the airline's history. Hosted by Southwest employees Quinnie Jenkins and Lucas Hershberger, produced by LA Times Studios and At Will Media.

This is a paid podcast funded by Southwest Airlines. The Los Angeles Times newsroom was not involved in the production of this podcast.

Is This Seat Open‪?‬ Southwest Airlines | L.A. Times Studios

    • Leisure
    • 4.5 • 38 Ratings

Most airlines don't have stories about high stakes arm wrestling, planes full of dogs, and a decade of go-go boots, but Southwest isn't like most airlines. To celebrate 50 years of flying, Southwest Airlines proudly presents this 20 episode series featuring first-hand stories from the people who lived through the wildest and most memorable moments in the airline's history. Hosted by Southwest employees Quinnie Jenkins and Lucas Hershberger, produced by LA Times Studios and At Will Media.

This is a paid podcast funded by Southwest Airlines. The Los Angeles Times newsroom was not involved in the production of this podcast.

    Episode 20: Flying Through A Pandemic

    Episode 20: Flying Through A Pandemic

    Passengers stopped flying. Cleaning protocols needed to be overhauled. Keeping an airline running through a global pandemic is no easy task, but Southwest Airlines pulled it off, and without involuntary furloughs, layoffs, or pay reductions. In this episode, Southwest Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly and Managing Director Communications & Outreach Laurie Barnett discuss how they respectively tackled the greatest threat to their airline in the company’s 50 year history.

    For more stories on Southwest Airlines’ 50 years of flying and a look behind the scenes, check out latimes.com/isthisseatopen

    • 8 min
    Episode 19: Yes, This Seat Is Open

    Episode 19: Yes, This Seat Is Open

    Window, aisle, or middle? Since Southwest Airlines first took to the skies, seating has been customer's choice. The reasons behind the open seating have as much to do with the airline’s unique culture as they do with an optimized boarding process. In this episode, Managing Director Customer Experience Tony Roach explains the policy that sets Southwest apart from the rest.

    For more stories on Southwest Airlines’ 50 years of flying and a look behind the scenes, check out latimes.com/isthisseatopen

    • 6 min
    Episode 18: The Last Flight Of Rosa Parks

    Episode 18: The Last Flight Of Rosa Parks

    Lou Freeman can lay claim to a lot of firsts. He was in the first group of students to integrate his high school in Dallas. He was the first African American undergraduate to train at his air force base in Texas, He was the first Black pilot at Southwest Airlines, and he was the first Black chief pilot of any major U.S. airline. So, when Rosa Parks passed away and was to be flown to Montgomery, Alabama, for a final farewell, Lou Freeman got the call. In this episode, we’ll hear the story of the last flight of Rosa Parks, as told by the flight’s pilot, Retired Southwest Chief Pilot Lou Freeman.

    For more stories on Southwest Airlines’ 50 years of flying and a look behind the scenes, check out latimes.com/isthisseatopen

    • 7 min
    Episode 17: Hedging Against Jet Fuel

    Episode 17: Hedging Against Jet Fuel

    One day, Gary Kelly and his team had a billion-dollar idea. Literally. In the 90s, Gary implemented a cost-saving measure to protect against fluctuations in jet fuel prices, and it paid off. In this episode, we’ll hear from the Southwest Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer himself about how he and a small team of analysts pioneered a program that would have one of the biggest financial impacts in the history of the airline.

    For more stories on Southwest Airlines’ 50 years of flying and a look behind the scenes, check out latimes.com/isthisseatopen

    • 7 min
    Episode 16: Donating Time, Talent & Tickets

    Episode 16: Donating Time, Talent & Tickets

    Bill Baracani didn’t grow up with much, but he never had to worry if there would be food on the table. Through his volunteer work, Southwest Airlines Ramp Agent Bill discovered how fortunate he really was, and was inspired to save and dedicate almost all his time off to charity work. In this episode, we’ll hear about Bill Baracani’s passion for volunteer work, and how Southwest’s Tickets for Time program provides one free round trip ticket, up to six per year, for every 40 hours a Southwest employee spends volunteering at qualifying nonprofit organizations and schools.

    For more stories on Southwest Airlines’ 50 years of flying and a look behind the scenes, check out latimes.com/isthisseatopen

    • 6 min
    Episode 15: A Flight For Her Life

    Episode 15: A Flight For Her Life

    The news was hard to hear. Nicole Parris’ infant daughter had survived a high-risk double lung transplant, but she would need to return to a hospital in St. Louis every 6 months for the rest of her life. For Nicole and her family in Florida, this would be nearly impossible if not for Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program. In this episode, we’ll hear how the program that was created to provide much-needed assistance to medical patients and their family members forever impacted recipient Nicole Parris.

    For more stories on Southwest Airlines’ 50 years of flying and a look behind the scenes, check out latimes.com/isthisseatopen

    • 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

Tucson Retiree Grandma ,

The LUV is mutual

This week’s SWAir flights were predictably pleasant. I had just listened to the first group of ten podcasts and shared their existence with several personnel as I traveled Tucson to Seattle. The day before I was to return I needed to make a change in my flights. Flawless and fast.

Some of my retirement funds are invested in SWAir stock, but the dividends I enjoy most begin when I board each flight.

Thanks!

jane3083 ,

Propoganda

Southwest Airlines corporate propaganda. No thanks

debdawg414 ,

Is This Seat Open?

Thank you for providing the 10 podcast sessions. I laughed, I cried, I listened and I learned. People always ask me “why do you only fly Southwest Airlines when there are others with lower rates?” Not every flight I’ve taken has been flawless for various reasons, and I’m just another soul when boarding a flight, some flight crews are overly friendly and others it’s clear when they’ve had a long day or a passenger may have tried their patience. It happens we are all human. Unlike the uniforms, the logo has probably been redesigned a few more times, but the HEART is in everyone that not only has a position with Southwest Airlines but supports Southwest Airlines! That is an ATTITUDE that is priceless!!!

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