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Southwest keeps the LUV alive at SAN during the pandemic

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


Southwest Airlines is known for its warm smiles and hilarious high jinks both on and off the ground. While the airline’s focus over the past year has undoubtedly been on safety, it has found small ways to make a big impact on the travel experience. 

We caught up with Debbie Ripa, General Manager of Southwest at SAN, to find out what it’s been like to work for an airline during the pandemic.

Debbie has worked in many industries but says there’s no comparison to her work at Southwest. The connections she’s made with co-workers and customers has created a rich sense of community, which has been critically important over the past year.

“At Southwest Airlines, the culture is like no other. We believe in hospitality not only for our employees, but also for our customers. That’s the reason you’ll see us conducting fun flights where we act silly, play games, and dress up in costumes. Flying can be stressful, and if we can do just one small thing to make a difference in the travel experience, we’re game to try.”

A little over a year ago, Debbie’s job was all about customer service and managing the hustle and bustle of everyday travel. But during the pandemic, the travel industry took on an additional role of ensuring employees, their families, and customers were safe.

True to form, though, Debbie and her crew found ways to keep that famous Southwest spirit alive. Recently, the crew at Southwest was spotted dressed up in animal costumes, dancing with passengers at SAN as they waited for their flight.

“We wanted to show our customers that we were still smiling, even behind the masks!”

Speaking of smiles, Debbie is looking forward to when she can see full-face smiles again in the terminals. We’ll chicken dance to that, Debbie!