If low prices weren't enough for you to sing Southwest Airlines' praises, the company's charitable side may sway you. Today, the budget airline announced that it partnered with 75 hospitals and medical organizations to give free flights to people who need to travel in order to access medical care for themselves and their families. Those select hospitals and orgs will be getting 10,000 free round-trip tickets, which will be valid in 2017.
"We really believe it is our responsibility to give back, and one of the best ways we can give back is through air travel," Debra Benton, Southwest’s director of community relations and charitable giving, told the Dallas Morning News. "This is a population that really needs help. They reached out to us and we wanted to make sure we were assisting them."
This is just the latest move from the carrier, which has been unofficially (but oh so kindly) giving away medical-related flights since 2007 through its Medical Transportation Grant Program. However, this year's batch of 10,000 tickets is the biggest donation from Southwest ever. Lead staff at each of the 75 hospitals and organizations will use their own discretion when distributing their institution's share of the tickets — which can be used by patients, their caretakers, and members of their families. Since 2007, Southwest has provided "59,000 round trips valued at more than $23 million."
"We are a company with heart and we are honored to have been able to connect people with the medical treatment they need for the last 10 years," Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines vice president, said in a press release.
A company with heart indeed. To celebrate the announcement, Southwest partnered with Musicians On Call, a nonprofit that provides live music to patients in over 20 cities nationwide. Helping families and a side of sweet jams? We certainly like the sound of that.