The Southwest Flight Attendant Career
In this post, we’ll review everything you need to know about the Southwest flight attendant job, from the application process and requirements to the training, pay scale, and uniform.
Whether you’re considering a career change or want to learn more about this exciting profession, Future Flight Attendant has you covered!
Flight Attendant Job Description
A Southwest flight attendant’s responsibilities include ensuring passenger safety, excellent customer service, and cabin preparation.
In addition to their regular duties, Southwest flight attendants tidy the cabin and cross seatbelts after each flight. Multiple legs (flights) per day are standard.
The ideal flight attendant candidate must demonstrate leadership during emergencies, including evacuations, first aid, and handling unusual incidents.
They will also assist passengers with their carry-on items and serve beverages and snacks.
The successful candidate will work under various climatic conditions, turbulent air fluctuations, changing locations, and flexible work hours.
They should be capable of operating mechanical and safety equipment, reading and interpreting service and emergency directives, and communicating relevant information to crew and passengers.
Work Environment & Culture
Southwest has a “Culture of Caring” and encourage their employees to have fun!
Southwest Airlines’ “Culture of Caring” is ingrained in every aspect of its operations.
This culture reflects how they treat their employees, customers, and the communities they serve.
Southwest’s employees, or ‘Cohearts,’ see themselves as guardians of this culture and aim to offer top-tier hospitality to everyone they interact with.
This persistent culture is the lifeblood of Southwest’s identity and a testament to their relentless commitment to their employees and customers.
No airline is perfect, and every airline could treat its flight attendants even better regardless of its culture.
Becoming a Southwest Flight Attendant
Becoming a Southwest Flight Attendant is a dream for many people who love to travel and enjoy providing excellent customer service.
However, it takes more than just a passion for travel to become a Flight Attendant.
In this section, we will discuss the Southwest Flight Attendant requirements and the hiring process, so you can know what to expect when applying.
Southwest Flight Attendant Requirements
To be considered for the Southwest Flight Attendant position, you must meet specific requirements and prerequisites:
- ✅ You should be at least 20 years old.
- ✅ You must be a U.S. citizen or have authorization to work in the U.S. as defined by the Immigration Reform Act of 1986.
- ✅ Possession of a valid, unexpired U.S. passport.
- ✅ High school diploma or a GED. College coursework or a degree is a big plus.
- ✅ Ability to handle varying climatic conditions, fluctuating air pressure, and different work locations.
- ✅ Ability to adhere to the company’s appearance standards.
- ✅ Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
- ✅ Ability to provide exceptional customer service.
- ✅ Physical fitness to perform the demanding duties of a flight attendant, which include the ability to lift up to 50 pounds and fit comfortably in the aircraft’s aisles and exits.
Southwest Flight Attendant Hiring Process
The hiring process typically goes through several stages:
Application: Start by submitting an online application during a recruitment window on Southwest’s career website. Ensure all details are correct and your resume is updated.
Flight attendant applications typically open only once or twice a year.
Phone Interview: Successful applicants will receive a phone interview. This initial screening examines whether candidates align with Southwest’s company values and requirements.
Face-to-Face Interview: If you pass the telephone screening, you’ll be granted a face-to-face interview. The face-to-face interviews are in Dallas, Texas; while Southwest will cover your flight to the interview, you must pay for your accommodations if necessary.
Please keep in mind, there is a six month waiting period to reapply after an unsuccessful interview.
Flight Attendant Training
The comprehensive training program for aspiring Southwest flight attendants takes place over four weeks, hosted at Southwest’s headquarter city, Dallas, TX.
This training program is essential for preparing attendants for the various aspects of the job and is focused mostly on equipment and safety.
There’s no direct compensation during the training period. However, graduates do receive a $1,200 stipend after completion, subject to applicable taxes and deductions of course.
In addition, flight attendant trainees are provided with a pre-paid Visa card covering meal expenses during the training period.
Known for its rigorous standards, the program requires trainees to maintain a very high academic level. Trainees are expected to score 90% or better on every test.
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Flight Attendant Uniform & Bases
Flight Attendant uniforms are available only in standard sizes. Men’s uniforms have waist sizes ranging from 28 to 42 inches, while women’s uniforms come in sizes 0 to 18.
Custom-made uniforms are not allowed. To become a flight attendant, candidates must be able to wear the largest uniform size and maintain a professional appearance.
Brand new Southwest Flight Attendants have to pay for their uniforms. However, once the probationary period concludes, a $100.00 credit is allotted to their Uniform Accounts.
Following this, additional credits are deposited into their uniform accounts on the first day of the month after the yearly anniversary of their hire date.
During the first year, new flight attendants receive a credit of $250.00, and that credit increases each year.
Upon completion of initial training, flight attendants are assigned a base depending on the operational needs of the company and the seniority within the training class.
Currently, Southwest has flight attendant bases in 11 major cities:
✈️ ATL – Atlanta, GA
✈️ BWI – Baltimore, MD
✈️ MDW – Chicago, IL
✈️ DAL – Dallas , TX
✈️ DEN – Denver, CO
✈️ HOU – Houston, TX
✈️ LAS – Las Vegas, NV
✈️ LAX – Los Angeles, CA
✈️ OAK – Oakland, CA
✈️ MCO – Orlando, FL
✈️ PHX – Phoenix, AZ
The most senior bases at WN (Southwest) are ATL, PHX, and DAL.
The most junior bases at WN are OAK, DEN, and LAX.
FLL Fort Lauderdale, FL and AUS Austin, TX are Satellite Bases, and new flight attendants cannot expect to be based there.
You are permitted to change your base assignment while on probation, and the probationary period for new flight attendants is six months.
Vacancies at different bases are awarded based on flight attendant seniority, as laid out in the flight attendant contract.
The duration required for a transfer to a preferred base is flexible and depends on various factors, including Southwest’s operational needs and the flight attendant’s seniority.
While it’s possible for a transfer to occur within a year, obtaining the preferred base could take much longer.
Remember that Southwest Airlines does not cover relocation costs to the assigned base. Flight attendants are expected to pay any relocation expenses.
While commuting to the assigned base is permitted, it’s not encouraged.
Southwest Flight Attendants have strict attendance obligations, and commuting can complicate their lives.
The process involves balancing operational needs with personal preferences, but it provides flexibility in finding the best possible work arrangement for each flight attendant.
Southwest Flight Attendant Reserve
The role of a reserve flight attendant is critical in ensuring that every flight is fully staffed with qualified and trained flight attendants.
There are unique challenges that a Southwest Flight Attendant Reserve may face, such as last-minute schedule changes, and not having control over their schedule.
Being on “reserve” means that flight attendants are on-call and cover scheduled flights when another flight attendant cannot.
They must be at their assigned base city during reserve duty.
The Reserve system for flight attendants at Southwest is a rotating reserve system.
Those below the top 35% in seniority at each base will be on reserve duty.
There are three main types of flight attendant reserve lines at Southwest:
Ready Reserve (RR) – On call 24-hours per day, typically for a three-day block. Flight attendants must be ready to report to their base within two hours’ notice. This includes Airport Standby (waiting at the base to be assigned a trip).
Morning Reserve (AR) – On call from 3 AM to 11 AM, typically assigned for three-day blocks.
Afternoon Reserve (PR) – On call from 10 AM to 6 PM, assigned for three-day blocks.
All reserve lines follow a schedule of three workdays, followed by four days off.
As a new Southwest flight attendant, you’ll be on reserve until you reach the top 35% seniority in your base.
This means you may switch between RR, AR (3 AM – 11 AM), or PR (10 AM – 6 PM) until you gain more seniority.
As a reserve, you can self-assign trips when on reserve.
This allows you to choose trips, giving you more control over your schedule.
However, trip availability depends on variable factors.
Another perk reserves can utilize is selling their trips, and that’s an amazing perk for the buyer and the seller.
The person who sells (although that money comes out of your pocket) the trip gets the time off, and the person who buys the trip makes the extra money in addition to getting paid for the trip.
It is important to remember that a Southwest flight attendant career offers rewarding opportunities, but it also requires adaptability during challenging times.
While this flexibility may be daunting at first, many flight attendants come to enjoy it.
Pay and Benefits
Pay is always a fun subject!
Southwest has Trips for Pay (TFP) for their flight attendants, which pads each trip with extra money.
The formula for TFP varies, so I won’t go into detail with the exact amounts that trips are worth.
The current pay scale is listed below without including the TFP. Then, they will make more than the standard pay rate.
There are other ways for flight attendants at WN to make extra money, as we covered earlier about buying and selling trips.
Let’s say a flight attendant wants to get rid of a one-day trip, and no one will pick that trip up.
They add $100 out of their pocket for someone to incentivize another flight attendant to pick it up, and there’s an extra $100 for whoever picks it up!
There is no set amount to sell a trip; it could be less or more; it just depends on how badly they need the days off!
There is also per diem that flight attendants are paid, and that pads their paychecks, too.
The current pay scale for Southwest Flight Attendants:
1st 6 months $25.14
2nd 6 Months $25.46
Step 1 $27.91
Step 2 $29.93
Step 3 $32.37
Step 4 $35.01
Step 5 $39.92
Step 6 $42.19
Step 7 $44.34
Step 8 $46.98
Step 9 $49.73
Step 10 $52.26
Step 11 $55.95
Step 12 $59.84
Step 13 $63.30
Perks & Benefits
Arguably, one of the more appealing perks is the airline’s generous travel privileges, where employees get free and discounted travel.
When non-revving, it’s first come, first served, and not by seniority. Most airlines seat non-revs (non revenue passengers) in seniority order.
Financial stability is another enticing aspect of joining Southwest. Employees benefit from a comprehensive 401k Plan, which includes a 9.3% company match.
They also partake in the ProfitSharing Plan, sharing the company’s success.
On top of that, the company offers an Employee Stock Purchase plan, allowing employees to purchase stocks at a discounted rate.
Southwest Airlines offers their employees numerous paid time-off options.
To ensure that their employees never stop growing, they provide individual career advising sessions, interview preparation resources, and virtual field days through their Career Mobility Center.
Southwest Flight Attendant Contract
As of now, Southwest Flight Attendants are in contract negotiations.
In December 2023, the flight attendants voted no to the proposed contract. (Rightfully so!)
It will be interesting to see their improvements in pay and work rules for flight attendants.
So there you have it, a complete guide to an exciting Southwest Flight Attendant Career. Is Southwest your dream airline?
If you want to fly International and work a first class service, Southwest may not be the airline for you. However, there are so many amazing other opportunities that come with the job.
If you want to help master the flight attendant interview process, get on the FFA Course & Coaching Program waitlist below and be notified when the program reopens.