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Southwest Airlines

Nation's leading discount airline.

2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas, TX 75235
Employees: 60,767
CEO: Gary Kelly
Stock Symbol: LUV

Website: http://www.southwest.com

Career Site

Southwest is the nation's leading discount airline with over 4,000 flights daily to 102 destinations in the U.S. and nine countries.

Southwest is best known for its low prices and no-frills service. Southwest books most of its flights through its website to save money and doesn't participate in other travel websites, which would force the airline to pay commissions.

Known for its quirky style, Southwest specializes in direct flights from city-to-city. It turns planes around quickly from landing to departure so planes spend more time in the air instead of waiting on the ground. The top five airports served by Southwest based on daily flights are Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Dallas and Denver.

Southwest only flies Boeing 737 aircraft so it can standardize maintenance and save costs. Seats are not assigned and there is no first-class section. Meals aren't served on flights -- only snacks and beverages.

The airline also operates the 737 MAX aircraft which has been grounded since 2019 due to accidents and FAA investigations. The grounding of the new planes have caused Southwest to reduce its schedule and flights.

The Company ended 2019 with 747 aircraft in its fleet, including 3 leased 737 MAX 8 aircraft delivered in 2019 prior to the MAX groundings. All 34 of the Company's 737 MAX 8 aircraft were grounded as of March 13, 2019, to comply with the FAA emergency order issued for all U.S. airlines to ground all MAX aircraft. The Company's 41 MAX aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2019, as of the time of the MAX groundings, have not been delivered, and Boeing is not currently manufacturing or delivering new MAX aircraft.

Southwest planes can seat 122 to 175 passengers depending on configuration.

Most Southwest planes are now equipped with Wi-Fi for $8 per flight. Free movies and live TV are provided with the Southwest app.

Southwest has a Business Select program where customers can pay a higher fare and board the plane first since there is no assigned seating. Business Select passengers also get more points in Southwest Rapid Rewards program and a free drink.

The airline has continued its policy of not charging fees for first and second bags and for snacks unlike other airlines. Southwest also has no fees for making flight changes. Early-bird check-in is available for $15 to 25 per flight.

In 2019, Southwest reported record revenues of $22.4 billion, a 2.1% increase, and net income of $2.3 billion. The company has reported annual profits for the 47th consecutive year which is unheard of in the airline industry.

The airline reported a load factor of 83.5% for 2019 and flew 134 million revenue-paying passengers. Average passenger fare in 2019 was $154.98.

In 2019, Southwest began service to four airports in Hawaii: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Kahului Airport on Maui, Lihue Airport on Kauai, and Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole; from Oakland Metropolitan Airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport, and Sacramento International Airport

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Our operational and financial performances in 2019 were truly remarkable considering an estimated $828 million reduction in operating income and the significant reduction in planned flights due to the MAX groundings. We currently have 34 MAX aircraft in our fleet, and at the beginning of last year, we expected to have 75 at the end of 2019, and another 38 deliveries in 2020. With the ongoing uncertainty regarding the timing of the MAX return to commercial service, we remained nimble and adjusted our 2019 plans, as necessary, without abandoning our long-term goals. Our financial strength and preparedness for unexpected challenges allowed for sustained high levels of profits, earnings per share, returns on capital, cash flows, and returns to Shareholders; continued capital investments and growth in California and Hawaii; and job security for our resilient Employees. Our People performed superbly and delivered industry-leading Customer Service4, record annual operating revenues, prudent cost control, our best operational performance in years, and our 47th consecutive year of profitability. Once again, Southwest was named to FORTUNE's 2020 list of World's Most Admired Companies. I am extremely grateful to our Employees for their extraordinary efforts, for which we have accrued a record $667 million in profitsharing in 2019, including a discretionary, special $124 million pre-tax contribution—authorized by the Southwest Board of Directors during fourth quarter 2019—in light of the Boeing compensation related to the 2019 MAX groundings."

Southwest Airlines currently operates eight Customer Support and Services Centers in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio.

Southwest pilots are among the most experienced in the airline industry and are also among the highest paid.

Southwest said it received 356,014 resumes and hired 6,756 new Employees in 2019.

The airline said it would give its employees $667 million profit sharing bonus from 2019.


Southwest was founded by Rollin King and Herb Kelleher. The airline began service June 18, 1971 with three airplanes and flights to Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. They concentrated on getting customers to their destination on-time and at low fares. They also made sure people had a good time while flying.

Southwest carried its one millonth passenger in 1974. The company went public under the symbol LUV in 1977.

The airline topped the monthly domestic originating passenger rankings for the first time in May 2003.

In 2007, Southwest changed its boarding policy to allow users to board by specific number instead of just three sections A, B, C. It also introduced Business Select seating at a higher ticket price that lets passengers board first and includes a complimentary alcoholic beverage.

In 2011, Southwest acquired AirTran Airways for $1.4 billion. The AirTran name was retired in 2014.

In 2014, Southwest began its first international service with flights to Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica.


Below is a summary of benefits offered:

Passes/Travel Privileges

One of the special benefits of working at Southwest is flying free. Effective the first day of employment, Employees, spouses, eligible dependent children, and parents of Employees have unlimited space-available travel privileges on Southwest. Discounted travel arrangements with other carriers are also available through the Southwest Airlines Pass Bureau, subject to eligibility requirements and other restrictions.

ProfitSharing and 401(k)

Participation in the ProfitSharing Plan is offered to all eligible Employees. The plan is funded by Company contributions to profitsharing accounts. Company contributions are made when the Company meets profitability goals set each year.

The 401(k) Plan is designed to help Employees to prepare for the future. Eligible Employees may contribute up to 50% of their pay to the plan on a pretax basis. A Company match is offered based on Employee groups. Rollovers are accepted from the Employee's former employer's qualified plan.

Stock Purchase Plan

This plan was specially designed to allow Employees to share in the success of the Company. Through the plan, Employees may invest in Southwest Airlines Co. stock through payroll deductions. Employees pay only 90% of market value for the stock. The Company pays broker commissions on stock purchases.

Medical Insurance

Employees may choose from several different medical plan options depending on their lifestyle, needs, and priorities through a cafeteria style flexible benefits program. PPO Network and HMO plans are included. Most medical plan options are available to Employees at no cost with family coverage available at minimal cost.

Dental Insurance

Dental coverage is offered through several dental plan options. Basic dental coverage is available to Employees at no cost. Optional additions and family coverage are available at minimal cost. All dental coverage options include preventive, basic, major, and orthodontic coverage.


Vision coverage is offered to provide affordable vision care for Employees and their families. Coverage under the vision plan includes complete eye exams and lenses and frames or contact lenses. Under some plans, vision coverage is available only to certain work groups.

Life Insurance

Basic life insurance is provided to all Employees at no cost. Coverage is based on annual salary. Optional Employee and dependant life insurance are also available.

Sick Leave, Vacation and Holidays

Depending on employment classifications, Employees are able to accrue time off for personal illness and vacation. Employees celebrate several paid holidays throughout the calendar based on their employment classifications.

Other Benefits

Long-Term Disability Insurance · Dependant Care Spending Account · Healthcare Spending Account · Adoption Assistance Reimbursement Benefit · Child and Elder Care Resource and Referral Program · Mental Health Chemical Dependency/Employee Assistance Program

Updated February 8, 2020