Becoming a Skywest Airlines Flight Attendant: Insider Guide

skywest flight attendant

If you’ve flown a bit, you’ve likely stepped onto a smaller plane and thought, “This is much tinier than I expected!”

Chances are, you were on a regional airline like SkyWest.

These airlines contract out their smaller airplanes to major airlines (United, Delta, American, and Alaska) to cover the lower volume routes to smaller destinations that don’t require as many seats.

As a former SkyWest flight attendant, transitioning to a major airline added a unique twist to my journey.

In this article, we’re going to delve into the world of SkyWest Airlines, as well as talk about how an aspiring flight attendant can go about starting a career with this largest and most successful regional airline in the US!

Let’s start with the basics.

Skywest Flight Attendant Requirements

Ok, bear with me while we run through the kinda snooze-worthy, but necessary, basic requirements to become a Skywest flight attendant. 🥱

1) Academic and Legal Prerequisites

Candidates must possess a diploma or GED, and also show proof of being able to work in the US. 

More importantly, candidates MUST possess a passport by the time they attend initial new hire training. This is because SkyWest flies internationally to destinations in both Canada and Mexico.

2) Language Proficiency

Being able to read, write, and speak English is also a requirement in order to communicate effectively in both regular, day to day and also emergency/medical situations.

3) Age, Reliability, and Customer Service Skills

A few more basic requirements include the following:

Must be 21 years age.

Able to effectively manage allergies including but not limited to nuts, animals, latex gloves, perfumes, cleaning solvents, fumes, dust, pet dander, etc.

Be dependable, reliable, and prompt.

Pretty basic for a customer service-related job, I’d say! From here, it gets a little more interesting.

4) Physical Requirements

Height + Size + Fitness = A Flight Attendant Job With SkyWest

Being 6’2” might be a plus in the Hinge world, but in the airline world, it’s a no-go. These regional aircraft are teeny tiny! Being too short is also an issue because flight attendants need to be able to reach emergency equipment when needed, so candidates must be between 5’0” and 6’0”.

Along with height requirements, there are also size requirements. Listen, we’re all about body positivity in the airlines! That’s why weigh-ins are an ancient and cruel thing of the PanAm past, BUT according to the careers page on the SkyWest website:

“Flight attendants must be able to walk and fit comfortably down the aircraft aisle while facing forward, fit quickly through the over-wing exit, and sit in the Flight Attendant jump seat without modification or a seatbelt extension.”

In addition to the above, SkyWest requires a physical fitness exam upon conditional job offer. A doc must sign off that candidates can open exits and close aircraft doors weighing up to 45 pounds, push/pull beverage carts weighing up to 250 pounds, and also be overall fit enough for work. 💪

Not to mention fit enough for beating up the passengers who tell us to “smile” at the end of an 11.5 hour shift.

5) Personality Requirements

This one is actually pretty easy.

Have one! 🤗

Being a flight attendant is a public facing position, so as emotionally exhausted as we all get sometimes, it’s important to always be “on” while at work in order to make passengers feel safe and welcome.

SkyWest specifically requires the following, according to their new hire requirements page:

  • The ability to provide effective leadership, direction and assistance in emergency and non-emergency situations.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Comfortable resolving passenger situations including disorderly passengers and medical emergencies.

6) Drug Testing

Drugs are a big nope.

“But it’s legal in my state now! 🥬🍀🍃✌🏼” Still, nope.

Ugh, I know, my fellow hippies… I feel your pain. However, the job rules regarding legal/illegal substances are regulated by the Department of Transportation, not your state legislature and applies to all US airlines, not just SkyWest.

This is a safety-sensitive position that requires mental and physical clarity and alertness in any given situation.

New hires will be required to pass a standard drug test upon hire.

7) Willingness to Relocate

Not to put anyone off, but truthfully, I would consider this a drawback to working for SkyWest.

SkyWest strongly suggests against commuting and requires that all new hires must live in base or be willing to relocate, although many crew members opt to commute anyway.

What this means is that flight attendants aren’t covered by the grace of any commuter policy (which is usually offered by most other airlines) if they don’t live in base and miss their flight to work.

It’s sometimes not likely (let alone guaranteed) that a new hire will be based where they want during their first month at SkyWest, so let me tell you, my class was SWEAT-ING 🫣🥵 when the instructors announced the base assignments to our initial new hire class.

Thankfully, I was based in their largest base, Chicago (ORD), my home city! Whew!

Skywest Flight Attendant Bases

Skywest Flight Attendant Bases
Skywest Flight Attendant Bases

Here are a list of Skywest’s current bases (and also good practice for memorizing those airport codes.. hint, hint 😉):

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boise (BOI)
  • Colorado Springs (COS)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fresno (FAT)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Palm Springs (PSP)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Tucson (TUS)

So, while commuting is not encouraged, there are a LOT of options – more than most airlines have to offer. Plus who knows – maybe a relocation can be the fresh start someone didn’t even know they needed!

Skywest Flight Attendant Salary

This gets a little sticky. 😬 Salary was one of the biggest factors when deciding whether or not to take the position at SkyWest.

For me, it was a lateral move financially, so it made sense to take the job to get my foot in the door of the airline industry while I waited for the major airline I wanted and am currently at.

However, this might not be the same situation for another given candidate, especially considering that one of the biggest cons to working for SkyWest is that a new hire will be on the lower end of the pay scale for flight attendants in the US.

And while there are raises, they will always be on a lower pay scale, overall.

Part of this reason is because SkyWest is not unionized (yet), so they don’t have anyone to push for competitive pay.

New hire flight attendants start out at $28.16 an hour. There is no significant raise until about 3 years in. After that, pay is raised $1-2 every year until they reach “topped out” pay at 25 years, which is $47.32.

As someone who has worked both, I can confidently say that I did the same if not more work at SkyWest than I do currently at Southwest but for nearly 30% more pay and soon to be even significantly more once Southwest’s company-union negotiations are finalized.

Other major airlines also make significantly more than SkyWest and other regional airlines’ flight attendants.

In the end, all that matters is what works for each person individually and their personal financial situations.

Skywest Flight Attendant Schedules

New hires at SkyWest are placed on reserve (on call every month, with a 72 hour guarantee) until their seniority moves up far enough to start “holding a line”, which in normal people’s words just means, having a regular schedule.

This is one benefit of working for SkyWest.

Once the flight attendants are off reserve, they’re generally (with a few exceptions) off reserve forever.

Major airlines have different systems (sometimes one month on reserve, one month off or mixed months of both reserve and trips), but it can take between 5-20 years depending on the airline to be taken off reserve completely.

As far as minimums, SkyWest flight attendants are required to fly 150 hours per quarter unless they get approved for part-time status. This is pretty standard in the airline industry and rare for an airline to not require minimum flying.

SkyWest Unionization

Along with the lower pay scale (and partly the reason for it) SkyWest is NOT unionized. (For now… Wink, wink.) There has been a recent push from the flight attendants to unionize.

Unions exist to protect the workers from unfair business practices and unlawful treatment of companies.

SkyWest has lasted this long without one because they generally have a good reputation for treating their employees well and for providing a safe environment as well as exceeding industry safety standards and providing thorough and effective initial new hire and recurrent training

Ok, if you’re feeling underwhelmed, I have an upside for you! (I know, it’s a roller coaster.🎢 )

Skywest Flight Attendant Benefits

SkyWest has some SWEET benefits.

We’re talking multiple plan options to fit anyone’s needs (including options for HSA/FSA) vision, dental, mental health, disability, life insurance, 401k, etc. So, the works.

And this is before I even get into their flight benefits!

SkyWest has one of the best flight benefits package in the system.

Remember that little bit about contracting their planes out to bigger airlines? Well, the flight attendants get the benefits for ALL of  those airlines!

Flight attendants and their eligible travelers (parents, spouse/partner, and eligible dependents) can fly standby for free domestically on any airline, as well as receive benefits (big discounts – they pay taxes only) with a comprehensive list of international airlines.

On top of that (which is already amazing), they can designate one companion per year on Delta and American.

Additionally, flight attendants can have TWO companions for United, and also receive 6 Delta buddy passes per year for anyone else to use on standby flights for a significantly discounted rate (once again – taxes only).

Do I sound jealous? I’ll try to reel it in, but maybe just a little. 😅

Flight benefits allow flight attendants to do what they do best – be flighty! Seriously, get the hell out of here. I tell people all the time, I didn’t become a flight attendant to pass out pretzels. 💁🏽‍♀️🏝️

How to Become Flight Attendant at Skywest

Here is a step-by-step process for being hired at SkyWest Airlines:

  1. First, fill out an application online. This, along with other information about the position, can be found on the SkyWest Airlines careers page.
  2. On the careers page, you’ll see a list of “Recruiting Events”. These are essentially open-call group interviews. They run all over the country, specifically taking place in SkyWest domiciles.
  3. Then, be prepared to sweat it out while you stand up in front of 50-100 people and tell them why you think you’d be a good flight attendant. Don’t worry, you got this!
  4. Hurray, you got the conditional job offer! 🎉 Wait, conditional? What does that entail? This is the part where your physical fitness exam comes in as well as that drug test and a standard background check.

SkyWest Flight Attendant Training

The initial new hire training program will be 32 days of inflight training in the beautiful Salt Lake City, UT!

Ok, it’s not a Sandal’s tropical resort vacation (that’s for when it comes time to get those sweet flight benefits), but it’s a pretty nice city!

Here, flight attendants will learn all the ins and outs of being a flight attendant in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

If that sounds extensive, it is.

This includes the following:

  • Emergency situations and evacuation procedures
  • Company policies
  • PA memorization
  • First aid techniques
  • Fire fighting
  • Security
  • Aircraft training
  • Self-defense
  • Phases of flight duties
  • Crew Resource Management

And more. Considering all this, 32 days almost doesn’t seem like enough!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

➡️ How long does Skywest Airlines application process take?

This can vary based on company need, but generally it’s a quick process! Personally, I was interviewed and received my conditional job offer within a week.

➡️ How can I prepare for Skywest interview process?

First, make sure you meet all the requirements, or you might waste your time going all the way out to an interview. At my group interview, I saw people have to turn around and go home before they could get through the door just for being too tall! ☹️

➡️ Is the Skywest interview hard?

Not necessarily hard unless you have a severe phobia of speaking in front of a group of people! Practice in front of friends, family, and the mirror and think about questions like.. Why do you want to be a flight attendant? And, What would make you a good flight attendant? (This is actually what they have been known to ask.).

Here you can find more frequent flight attendant interview questions and help to answer them.

➡️ What are the most important qualities Skywest Airlines looks for in a flight attendant candidate?

Customer service skills is #1 by far.

Remember, you can train a person on the job skills, but you can’t train someone on how to be a good person and care about the well-being of others!

Natural positivity and kindness will win over robotic corporate experience any day of the week.

➡️ What is SkyWest company culture?

If there’s one thing I can give a raving review about, it’s the culture at SkyWest.

One major difference between SkyWest and major airlines is that at regional airlines, the pilots and flight attendants are together for the entirety of the trip (usually about 4 days).

When I moved to a major airline, I found that crews are split up all the time. It makes for a much more transient lifestyle and more difficult to create strong connections with co-workers.

If there’s one thing I miss about working for a regional airline, it’s the friendships and adventures I had with my crews.

Is Skywest Airlines a Good Airline to Work For?

Absolutely! SkyWest Airlines is an excellent choice for those prioritizing minimal commuting, offering numerous domicile options in the industry. While the pay isn’t the highest, it’s a valuable entry point for a career in the airline industry.

As someone who took that exact route, I would say yes! I even knew a few flight attendants where pay wasn’t even a factor for them because they were empty-nesters who just wanted the job out of sheer boredom!

So as you can see, everyone has different needs for their lives and should take the time to carefully consider their personal situations.

While SkyWest airlines worked for me at the time while I was there, it may not work for someone else coming from a different financial or career background.

Or it maybe works even better, and could end up being that fulfilling lifelong career someone didn’t even know they needed! Either way, working for SkyWest is a very special experience, and what can be promised is a strong culture of crew comradery and career-long connections. After all, just like any flight attendant position with any company…  it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle! ✈️💙

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