A traveler walks previous a Southwest Airlines airplane because it taxies from a gate at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
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Southwest Airlines’ customer support brokers will quickly work 100% remotely because the provider strikes to shut its reservations facilities.
“Southwest Airlines just announced they are closing all the Reservation Centers and transitioning to 100% remote work,” mentioned the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the labor union representing the airline’s customer support brokers, in a word to members dated Wednesday.
The shift is efficient Sept. 1, Southwest mentioned, although the airline added that the majority reservations brokers have been working remotely all through the pandemic. It has greater than 3,200 customer support and reservations brokers based mostly in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and at Southwest headquarters in Dallas.
The brokers’ predominant job is to assist vacationers with reservations and journey adjustments. The bodily places the place brokers have been based mostly will now be open to different departments for repurposing, an organization spokesperson mentioned.
The union mentioned in its word that Southwest made the choice with out union enter. The group did not instantly return a request for remark Thursday.
The closures make Southwest the newest firm to weigh whether or not in-office work is critical, efficient and enticing for staff in a post-pandemic tradition. Southwest and different airways are scrambling to rent new employees as journey demand roars again after a two-year hunch.
“Evolving to a fully remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both in attracting and hiring new Employees from across the country, and in scheduling current Employees who have worked at record efficiency in a remote work environment,” Southwest mentioned in an announcement.
Many of Southwest’s employees who’re based mostly at its company headquarters have a hybrid mannequin “based on job function and business needs,” in accordance with the spokesperson.
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines nonetheless employees reservations facilities. A Delta spokesman mentioned the airline has no plans to alter.
Most of Alaska Airlines reservation brokers work remotely, a spokeswoman mentioned, and JetBlue Airways’ customer support brokers have labored from dwelling all through the airline’s greater than 22 years of flying.
Spokespeople for United and American did not instantly touch upon whether or not they plan to make an identical change to its Southwest rival.
Some airways are holding on to and even increasing in job areas that can not be executed remotely, like pilot coaching. United Airlines, for instance, not too long ago introduced a $100 million enlargement of its pilot coaching middle in Denver.