Preventing Corporate Crisis with an Employee App

Air travel during the holidays often comes with challenges and tribulations. In 2022, though, badly timed storms across the US mixed with high passenger volumes and airline staff that were still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. The result was a perfect storm of chaos and cancellations, resulting in an unprecedented number of people delayed and even stranded.

Southwest Airlines, in particular, had a cascading series of operational failures and software issues that resulted in the cancellation of over 16,900 flights—more than a third of its schedule—from December 21st through 31st, affecting nearly 2 million passengers. This ripple effect was far wider in scope than that of the other airlines with whom Southwest competes. While many things contributed to this situation, one clear exacerbating factor was the lack of adequate communication infrastructure.

The airline’s existing systems struggled to cope with the rapidly changing situation, leading to widespread confusion and frustration among passengers and staff. The inability to effectively coordinate responses across various airports and departments amplified the chaos, illustrating the severe consequences when large-scale operations are hampered by inadequate communication systems. 

The importance of communication infrastructure

This event became a case study in the importance of having resilient and flexible communication tools in complex, high-pressure environments. Southwest took a massive hit to its reputation, and it was recently announced that they would have to pay a $140 million civil penalty, on top of the $600 million they’ve already paid out to passengers.

That’s an expensive lesson. It’s also orders of magnitude more expensive than, say, a comprehensive intranet and communications suite that enables nimble crisis communication to the far-flung reaches of your employee base. Per the New York Times, “Southwest has identified three root causes of the issues: The airline was underprepared for severe weather, it lacked the ability to reshuffle planes and crews as quickly as needed and it had communication gaps among teams.”

In this article, we will explore how this cautionary tale might have been diminished in power by the adoption of a platform like MangoApps. While we wouldn’t help directly with the first two points above, fixing communication gaps between teams is very much at the heart of what we do, especially when you’re talking about frontline teams in dynamic, fast-paced roles.

Frontline teams left in the dark

While Southwest Airlines is a particularly splashy example of this phenomenon, they are by no means the only company today that struggles with intradepartmental communication.

The main reason that Southwest found themselves in this situation was that more things went wrong in more places at the same time than they were prepared to handle. When multiple storms hit different parts of the country at the same time, during one of the highest-traffic travel periods of the year, their team couldn’t react quickly enough to solve one set of problems before another arose. This is understandable—there’s only so much anyone could do in that situation. However, the effects of this cascade were that many of their flight crews wound up in places they weren’t supposed to be, and their customer-facing teams in airports across the country had hordes of angry passengers to answer to.

Like many people in frontline roles around the world, these airline employees were likely left in the dark as all this unfolded. Flight attendants and pilots had no clear indication of what to do or where to go while they were stranded around the country, and gate agents didn’t have any real-time insights into what the company was doing to resolve the issues, or what they should tell passengers.

How a modern Employee App helps

There are a number of ways that a platform like MangoApps can help companies address situations of this ilk.

Mobile Access

First and foremost is the ability to enable easy mobile access to company resources. With MangoApps, there is only one place to find company policy information, and content governance ensures that you’re looking at the latest version. Furthermore, our strong search function and AI chatbot helper get you to exactly what you’re looking for in seconds. We see this in action every day with our customers—frontline team members equipped with this technology are able to find answers quickly without asking anyone for help. This could have made it easier for stranded flight crews to understand what they were supposed to do.

Emergency Alerts

Beyond that, MangoApps enables emergency alerts. When something unprecedented happens, it takes seconds to fire off an alert that goes to everyone who is affected, and you can track who has seen your alert in real-time. Our customer Ram Tool, for example, used this to navigate the historic ice storms in Texas in 2020, keeping their delivery drivers in the know and saving everyone hours of headache and uncertainty (see case study).

Consistent Messaging

Another easily overlooked aspect of a situation like this is the need for a way to keep messaging to customers consistent. Gate agents were likely forced to improvise, spreading a lot of incorrect information. One of the easiest ways to handle an emergency situation like this is to establish a single document where everyone can find the latest information. The link doesn’t change, and file versioning enables leadership to continually update the information there as the situation develops, and then push out alerts to all relevant parties as they make updates. This reduces incorrect or outdated information being spread around, and ensures that everyone stays on the same page and knows where to look.

For example, our customer Pinion Global used this approach to navigate quickly changing financial regulations during the 2020 pandemic. Through MangoApps, their team was able to advise their customers in a rapidly changing situation and keep everyone informed and ahead of the curve (see case study).


In conclusion, the Southwest Airlines debacle serves as a stark reminder of the importance of effective communication in crisis situations. A solution like MangoApps could have immensely mitigated the communication challenges that contributed to the meltdown.

With key features such as easy mobile access to resources, emergency alerts, and a consolidated platform for consistent messaging, MangoApps empowers companies to remain agile and coordinated, even in dire circumstances. Businesses, especially those with frontline teams, must invest in such robust, modern communication tools to ensure they are well-prepared for any unforeseen disruptions.

As illustrated by our satisfied customers Ram Tool and Pinion Global, MangoApps can be instrumental in navigating crises smoothly and efficiently. Don’t wait for a disaster to strike; equip your teams with the technology they need to excel in today’s fast-paced, unpredictable business landscape.

Contact us today to explore the unmatched potential of MangoApps in transforming your workplace communication.

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