Sonya Lacore | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Sonya Lacore


Southwest Airlines is known as the world's largest low-cost air carrier and is based in Dallas, where it is now in its 45th year of operation. 

The Mistake:

My first trip as a Southwest Airlines flight attendant left without me.

After all the training, the excitement and jitters leading up to my first trip, I wanted to arrive early. That meant commuting from New Orleans, where I lived at the time, to Chicago, where I was based. During training, we are taught to always show up on time.

“We are an on-time airline,” they would tell us. As a new hire, being a no-show usually meant the end of your career.

Unfortunately, I misread my trip sheet and missed my first flight. I thought about all the hard work in training, everything I’d been through to reach this moment. Was it over?

It was an honest mistake but I feared the worst when I went to talk with my boss.

My first trip as a Southwest Airlines flight attendant left without me.

The Lesson:

My leader listened to me and we had a detailed conversation about what happened. I vowed never to misread a trip sheet or no-show for a flight again.

But the logistics of missing my first flight isn’t the lesson here.

What has stuck with me through the years? Being given a second chance. For that, I’m eternally grateful. Had someone not given me that second chance 15 years ago, I wouldn’t be in the leadership role I am in today at Southwest.

I learned the value of second chances. I also learned the difference between honest mistakes, such as the one I made, and careless or intentional behavior.

All these lessons have served me well as today I am responsible for all 14,000 Southwest flight attendants. It’s been like a guiding light for me during my years as a leader.

Follow Southwest Airlines on Twitter at @SouthwestAir.

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