Understanding Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Schedule 

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Schedule 

Every airline has their own unique schedules, all of which can be extremely confusing. Southwest flight attendant’s schedules are definitely no different.

If you aren’t a Flight Attendant for a living, it could be hard to decipher our schedules. Not to mention, they change monthly, and very much depend on your seniority level at your base.

Thankfully, each of us has different wants/needs in their lives, so the schedule you desire will depend on you individually.

The question will be, can you hold the schedule you want as a SWA flight attendant? Or, will you have to wait a while, until you get others below you on the seniority list?

One thing that is imperative in this industry is flexibility. 

I’m a flight attendant at Southwest, so let me talk about some of the options.

Information included on a Southwest flight attendant roster/schedule

On every roster you will see your entire month’s schedule, which you can then click on individually, to delve into the specifics deeper.

  • If you are on reserve for the month, you will see the days you are scheduled to work, as well as what type of reserve it is. Reserve you won’t know what exactly you will be working that day until you are given an assignment. But each day you are on-call, you will be able to see what time you start your reserve block, essentially go on-call, and when you would be off.
  • If you are given a line, you would also know the days you are working, but you would actually see the trip on your schedule.

When assigned a pairing (a scheduled combination of flights), you would then be able to click on the trip to see what exactly you will be doing.

Each trip will show you:

  • what position you are working
  • where you are flying that day
  • how long your layover is
  • the crew you are working with
  • the hotel(s) you will be staying at
  • seniority numbers
  • flight numbers
  • how many passengers are booked
  • duty day
  • block hours
  • credit hours
  • transportation to hotel
  • Show time(s)
  •  etc.

Schedule while on reserve at Southwest

There are 3 types of reserve schedules at Southwest:

  • Ready Reserve essentially means you are on call 24/7 once you go on-call.
  • AM reserves are liable from 0300-1800 CST.
  • PM reserves are liable from 1000-0100 CST.

Each block consists of 3 days. 

You can move these around if you would like, as well as get rid of them, if you can.

Many flight attendants choose to block with another crew member, so they can place these blocks back-to-back, and have more days off in a row.

There are many groups you can join to work with others to attain the schedule you really want. It’s extremely easy to maneuver your schedule at Southwest, which is most definitely not the case at many airlines.

You can also drop your schedule to zero hours, if you would like. There are no minimums or maximums. You can work as much, or as little as you would like. 😉

As long as you can find others to work what is on your schedule, you can essentially build your schedule exactly the way you want it.

Otherwise, you can work the schedule your seniority can hold. Reserve schedules, you are at the whim of the operation needs of the company. You may work that day, you may not. There is a guarantee of 72 hours, regardless if you fly, or not.

However, if you stick with whatever your seniority can hold, especially if you are junior, you can expect to be working weekend ready reserve.

Examples of a junior Southwest flight attendant

PM Reserve

PM Reserve
Southwest Flight Attendant PM Reserve Schedule: On-call and ready from 1000-0100 CST. Prepared for any journey!

AM Reserve

AM Reserve
Southwest Flight Attendant AM Reserve Schedule: On-call from 0300-1800 CST, ensuring morning to evening readiness!

Ready Reserve

Ready Reserve
Southwest’s 24/7 Ready Reserve: Flight attendants poised for action anytime!

Schedule of a Senior Flight Attendant at Southwest Airlines

Honestly, this depends on the senior flight attendant. Everyone has their own wants/needs when it comes to their schedule.

Some Flight Attendants want to fly high time, which means they want to fly as much as possible.

On the other hand, some are low-time fliers or choose not to work at all. They can drop to zero hours, which anyone can, if you can get rid of what they put on your schedule.

I know many senior flight attendants who prefer to fly ‘turns.‘ This means they fly from their base to a destination and then return the same day. They don’t overnight, they fly back home. Many like this, so they don’t have to stay out on the road.

Then there are the commuter flight attendants – these are the flight attendants who don’t live near their airline’s main hub. They live in a different city or area, so they’ve got to travel to their base whenever they’ve got a shift. These commuters often prefer to get all of their flying done at one time. This way, they get more days at home and less time spent on the commute to their base.

Essentially, a senior Flight Attendant can make their schedule however they would like it. 

Which, being senior, they can do exactly that.

It also helps that you can change the way you bid each month. You aren’t stuck working the same schedule each month, you can change it based on your needs for the month.

Of course, this also depends on which base you are at. Some bases, you can maneuver your schedules easier than others. You could be extremely senior at one base, and not senior at all, at another.

Some senior Flight Attendants commute to bases that give them that flexibility. The only requirement is you complete recurrent training each year.

🚀 Truly, the best place to be, is the top 35% of your base. This would mean that you are senior enough to hold a line each month. Essentially, you know not only the days you will be working, but the trip you will be working as well. The higher you go up, say you’re the top 5%, you can virtually hold whatever you would like. This looks different for everyone, but it would be amazing to not have to maneuver your schedule around. Just automatically get what you are looking for.

Example of a line – Senior flight attendant roster

Example of a line
Example of a Southwest Flight Attendant Line Schedule: Mapping out the journeys from OKC to PHL and DCA to SAN. Busy skies ahead!

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Schedule FAQ

➡️ When do Southwest Flight Attendants get their roster?

The timing for Southwest Flight Attendants to receive their roster depends on the bidding round they’re in.

If you are in the first round, and you get a line for the month, you find out on the 6th of the month.

If you are in the second round of bidding, reserve roster, you get your schedule on the 16th of the month.

➡️ As a Southwest flight attendant, do you have to work 3 days on 4 days off each week for the whole month?

No, you do not have to work 3 days on and 4 days off each week for the entire month. You can make your schedule your own if you can find others who will take your blocks.

However, you cannot break up the blocks. They are three-day blocks. If you would like to keep what you were assigned, then it would stay at three days on, four days off: What days of the week these fall on, depends on what your seniority can hold at the time.

➡️ Can you work as much as you want as a Southwest flight attendant?

Yes, technically you can work as many hours as you would like, you just have to have a 24-hour break after working six days in a row.

This is a federal aviation regulation. If you have a trip with a 24-hour layover, this will cover that mandated break.

➡️ How long does reserve last at Southwest?

Reserve typically lasts for the first six months of your assignment, but there is nothing against giving away your reserve/trading/etc.

The only individuals who are guaranteed a line, are the top 35% of the base.

➡️ Are you called frequently on reserve as a flight attendant at Southwest?

The frequency of being called on reserve varies depending on the base and the time of the year.

Summer months/holidays/high travel periods, you can expect to be called.

Slower months, you might not get called as much.

Each base is different, so this fluctuates. Currently, it seems that reserves are being used pretty consistently.

➡️ Do you still bid for a schedule when you’re on reserve at SWA?

Yes, you bid for what type of reserve you would like and the days you would like to work.

You can put in specific parameters and list them in the order you would like.

It all comes down to what you can hold. There seem to be more ready reserves (available to the company 24/7 during your on-call days, than any other reserve type).

➡️ Do you usually get what you bid for as a SWA flight attendant?

Securing your desired schedule largely depends on your preferences and your seniority level.

I personally have been getting the reserve days I would like to hold, but I also have enough people under me, where I don’t have to work the days I don’t want.

However, you can change your schedule as much as you would like, if you can find others who want to trade/pickup your blocks/trips. You would be surprised how many people are willing to take your weekend reserve blocks/trips.

➡️ How many flights per day do you fly as a Southwest flight attendant?

Typically, you are looking at 3-4 flights per day. However, it can range anywhere from 1-6 flights.

➡️ Is it easy to commute as a Southwest flight attendant?

Commuting is relatively easy. You are allowed to commute on your own airline, or others, to get into base.

They have just implemented a revenue standby system for customers, which seems to make it more difficult for commuters. The loads are changing at the last minute. However, there is a commuter clause you can use if you aren’t able to commute to your base. There are parameters around this, however.

Last Thoughts

Many airlines across the system have pretty strict parameters when it comes to their schedules. Southwest is by far the easiest to really be able to move your schedule the way you would like it.

Everyone has different wants/needs, and it’s wonderful when you can work with others to attain the schedule that works for you.

Flight Attendants schedules can be difficult to understand, but once you understand the terminology, and what you’re looking at, it gets a lot easier to decipher.

At the end of the day, most rosters are decided by base, and seniority. It’s up to you, to find others who are willing to trade/drop/etc. to get the schedule you would like to have. Otherwise, you can expect, as a new hire, that you will be working weekend reserve. At least, until more people are hired, and you gain more seniority.

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