Southwest Airlines customer service completely goes away, booking centers are closed

A passenger passes a Southwest Airlines plane as it drives out of a gate at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Southwest AirlinesCustomer service agents will soon be ‘100%’ working remotely as the carrier moves to close its reservation centers.

“Southwest Airlines has just announced that it will close all reservation centers and 100% telecommuting,” the International Association of Machinists and Space Workers, a labor union representing the airline’s customer service agents, said in a memo to members dated Wednesday.

Southwest said the switch was effective September 1, although the airline added that most reservations agents have been working remotely throughout the pandemic. It has more than 3,200 customer service and reservation agents based in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and its Southwest headquarters in Dallas.

Their main job is to assist travelers with reservations and flight changes.

The union said in its memo that Southwest made the decision without union involvement. The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The shutdowns have made Southwest the latest company to weigh whether in-office work is necessary, efficient and attractive to workers in a post-pandemic culture. Southwest and other airlines are scrambling to hire new staff as travel demand returns after a two-year Covid slump.

“Evolving into a completely remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both in attracting and hiring new employees from across the country, and in scheduling existing employees who have worked with standard efficiency in the remote work environment,” Southwest said in a statement.

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Delta AirlinesAnd the United Airlines And the American Airlines Still the staff of reservation centers. A Delta spokesperson said the airline had no plans to change that. Spokespeople for the other airlines did not immediately comment on whether they plan to make a similar change in Southwest.

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