Southwest Airlines: 2nd Best Place to Work

In case you missed my Memphis International Airport year in review story, one of the highlights of 2010 was the airport growing closer to landing Southwest Airlines Co.

In October, Dallas-based Southwest announced it was buying AirTran Airways, meaning it will take over AirTran’s Memphis-Atlanta daily routes with perhaps more coverage on the horizon.

But that’s not the only list Southwest is topping. For the second year in a row, the low-fare carrier has made’s Employees’ Choice Awards, which lists the top 50 best places to work based on surveys anonymously collected from employees throughout 2010.

Southwest received a 4.4 company rating and a 95 percent approval rating for its CEO, Gary C. Kelly. With a network of nearly 35,000 employees in 35 states, Southwest prides itself on giving its workers freedom to be creative, dress casually and have fun on the job.

In addition, employees and their spouses, eligible dependent children and parents fly for free.

“The company was founded on the principle that in order to succeed you need to treat your co-workers as well as your customers,” a Southwest flight attendant wrote in the survey. “This has led to industry-leading salaries, benefits and a fabulous place to work.”

Kelly’s approval rating is just 1 percentage point shy of Mark Zuckerberg’s 96 percent rate. Yep, Facebook earned the No. 1 spot, with employee perks such as cash paid vacation days, free food and transportation, $4,000 in cash for new parents, dry cleaning, day care reimbursement and photo processing services.