Working for Southwest Airlines Means Flying for Free and Sharing in the Profits — Here's How to Get a Job (Video)

It’s easy to imagine that crisscrossing the country each day and flying high above the Earth would have its perks: the world doesn’t seem quite so big when you’re flying 30,000 feet over it.

For airline workers, that sky-high lifestyle is routine. Starting the day in one place and ending up in another is part of their daily life. And people who work for Southwest Airlines are encouraged to do it with just a bit more humor sprinkled in.

“We just allow people to be themselves. There are certainly rules associated with certain jobs … but we don’t ask people to check their personalities at the door. And I think that’s huge,” Greg Muccio, Southwest Airlines' director of talent acquisition, told Travel + Leisure. “We don't want folks to take themselves very seriously. We want them to take the work and the role and the responsibility that comes with that very seriously, not necessarily themselves.”

Southwest Airlines has been ranked among Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work for 10 years in a row, and it’s based on reviews from employees of the company itself. It’s no wonder that some of the best, feel-good stories you hear of airline employees pulling off good-natured pranks or going the extra mile to help passengers often come from the Dallas-based airline.

In July, a flight attendant greeted passengers boarding a flight from Nashville to Atlanta from inside the overhead compartment. It was the sort of humor that the airline called just part of the company culture. Last year, a pilot officiated a wedding over the intercom for two passengers who said their vows as they traveled from Las Vegas to Baltimore. And a customer service representative played along when someone tried to prank the airline a couple years ago, complaining about poor treatment from a flight attendant who turned out to be Britney Spears from the artist’s “Toxic” music video. “Oops, she did it again,” the agent joked.

“We can train people on [procedures]. What you can’t train or necessarily hope shows up is that attitude and that warmth and that hospitality,” Muccio said. “Those are things that my folks are just really, really keen on looking for in an individual. We know we can take somebody and we can train them to be a flight attendant or customer service agent ... what we know we can’t necessarily train is for them to have empathy.”

Southwest Airlines
Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Southwest employs 58,000 people, most of whom work in operations — like pilots and flight attendants. Southwest also hires people in technology fields, finance, marketing, and meteorology, and even offers high school and college internships. And if sitting still isn’t your thing, the airline has looked for “storytellers” and “influencers” to create travel content.

Here’s what to know about applying for a job at Southwest and the perks of actually working there.

Check out their careers website

To apply for a job, start by looking for career openings or job interests on Southwest’s careers website. You can search by uploading your resume or answering questions about what you’re looking for. You can choose interests like customer support, airport operations, or inflight operations and add your skills and preferred work locations.

Take advantage of Southwest’s campus recruitment initiative

Southwest’s Campus Reach program offers internships at the company (or “Have fun, get paid,” as the airline puts it), as well as opportunities for recent graduates, like an associate software engineer for people who majored in things like computer science or computer engineering.

Southwest also engages the youngest airline enthusiasts with its Aviation Days camp for third through eighth grade students.

Consider becoming a pilot

Southwest’s Destination 225° program helps train future pilots through either a four- to five-year cadet pathway, a university pathway, a military pathway, or a pathway for current employees who want to learn how to fly.

Keep in mind, Southwest shares their profits

Southwest spreads the wealth; sharing profits with its employees as it has done since 1974. This year, employees collected about 10.8 percent of their eligible compensation based off profits from 2018. In total this year, Southwest shared $544 million with its employees.

You can fly for free

Employees get unlimited free flights for themselves and their eligible dependents (and at least three weeks of paid time off by their first year to take advantage of those free flights).

You get swag

Employees can earn Southwest Airlines Gratitude points, or SWAG, by being recognized for being great at their job by their fellow employees or customers. They can then exchange those SWAG points for things like guest passes for friends and family, Rapid Rewards points, or gift cards.

You get to party

Southwest aims to foster a fun and creative work environment, so it’s no surprise that the airline hosts several company-wide celebrations each year like parties and chili cook-offs (they are based in Texas, after all).

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