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Southwest Airlines

Nation's leading discount airline.

2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas, TX 75235
Employees: 49,583
CEO: Gary Kelly
Stock Symbol: LUV

Website: http://www.southwest.com

Career Site

Southwest is the nation's leading discount airline with over 3,900 flights daily to 97 destinations in the U.S. and seven 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 (Love Field) and Denver.

The company acquired AirTran in 2011 and the name was retired in December 2014.

In 2014, Southwest began its first international service with flights to Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica. The airline also flies to Mexico, Belize, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

Southwest aircraft fly an average of nearly six flights or about 11 hours and 15 minutes per day.

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.

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

The company ended 2015 with 704 aircraft in its fleet. This reflects the delivery of 19 new Boeing 737-800s and 24 pre-owned Boeing 737-700s, as well as the retirement of four Boeing 737 Classic aircraft during the year. At the end of December 2015, the Company revised its future firm delivery schedule to reflect 33 additional -800s, and the conversion of its remaining 25 -700 firm orders to -800s. In addition, two pre-owned -700s were added to its delivery schedule.

Most Southwest planes are now equipped with Wi-Fi for $8 per flight and on-demand movies for $5 each. Live TV with 19 channels is offered free for passengers using their own smartphones or laptops.

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 $12.50 one way.

In 2015, Southwest reported record revenues of $19.8 billion, a 6.5% increase, and net income of $2.18 billion. The company has reported annual profits for the 43rd consecutive year which is unheard of in the airline industry.

Southwest carried a total of 144.5 million passengers in 2015, up 6.5% from last year, with a load factor of 83.6%. The average flight was 994 miles. The average passenger fare paid in 2015 was $154.85, down 3.1%. The average fuel cost per gallon paid by Southwest was $1.90 per gallon at the end of 2015, down 35.2%.

Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Our network is performing well, and we are pleased with the investments we have made over the past couple of years, particularly at Dallas Love Field. In fourth quarter 2015, we were thrilled to launch international service from Houston in conjunction with the opening of Houston Hobby's international terminal, and demand, thus far, has been encouraging. We ended the year with a 7.2 percent year-over-year increase in available seat miles (capacity), as expected, and we continue to plan for 2016 year-over-year capacity growth in the five to six percent range. We have increased our future aircraft delivery schedule to support our recent decision to accelerate the retirement of our Classic fleet to no later than mid-2018. This decision is expected to reduce operating costs over the acceleration period and improve the Customer experience with better ontime performance and WiFi-equipped 737 aircraft, with a manageable increase in our capital spending."

Southwest Airlines currently operates seven Customer Support and Services Centers in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, 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 178,299 resumes and hired 4,136 new Employees in 2014.


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.


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 January 29, 2016