I was in the Ft. Lauderdale airport waiting for my 1pm Southwest flight home, which had been delayed by air traffic control problems. I knew the situation because I’d gotten an automated phone call from Southwest a couple of hours earlier alerting me to the change in flight status. Since I had checked out of my hotel at 11am, I got to the airport gate by noon and just sat there reading a book while waiting.

The gate agent wasn’t sure exactly when we’d leave because there was a flight to Raleigh-Durham scheduled out of our gate first, but he figured it would be about an hour and did a good job of keeping us posted over the PA.

Thirty minutes or so later, my iPhone rang. It was another automated message from Southwest explaining that my flight status had changed again and was now back to its original 1:00pm departure time. As I listened, the guy next to me pulled out his phone and started reading a text message. So did the woman next to him and the guy next to her. I realized that they were being alerted by Southwest, too. While I stayed seated, all three of them stood up simultaneously and walked over to the gate agent to confirm the information. He looked surprised, since apparently he hadn’t gotten the word yet. In less than a minute, his monitor updated the flight details and he announced to everyone that they had changed planes so that our St. Louis flight could leave first, and the Raleigh-Durham flight would go after that.

I was impressed, not only by the airline changing planes to accommodate its passengers so well, but by how quickly we’d been updated — even before their own employees! Fifteen minutes later, I was in an emergency row seat (love that legroom!) headed home.

That’s good customer service, one of the reasons I like this airline.