There was no excitement like receiving the email informing me that I had been hired for a flight attendant position at Southwest!
Especially in my case, where I applied nearly TWO YEARS before my actual hire date. Whew! They really know how to build the anticipation! 😪
Needless to say, as excited as I was, when I heard that I’d be leaving home for flight attendant training, I had a LOT of questions.
How long would I be gone for? Where am I going? How much would I be paid? Is training difficult? Do I have to move? These are totally normal questions that all new hires have, and I’ll be sure to cover them all.
Table of Contents
Where and How Long is Southwest Flight Attendant Training?
Flight attendant training takes place in Dallas, TX, at the company headquarters.
The specific hotel can vary but it will likely be in downtown Dallas.
The good news is, unlike other airlines, Southwest does not require flight attendants to share a hotel room, so you can snore without judgement.
The daily schedule for training has been known to change in the past based on availability of instructors and class sizes, but it is generally one month long with most weekends off, although sometimes there may be additional required training on a weekend.
What is the Daily Class Schedule during SWA Training?
SouthWest daily class schedule during training can change depending on how many classes are running at a time.
In my training, we had a morning and an afternoon class, chosen very unfortunately at random.
I am an obligate night owl who was put in the AM class, and my shuttle time to the training center was 5:45am everyday. 😬
Somehow I survived with a lot of hydration, caffeine, and the promise of those sweet flight benefits upon graduation.
Is SouthWest Flight Attendant Training Paid?
Yes! Don’t get excited – it’s not great.
This is not Southwest-specific. I promise, no US airline is going to make you rich in the first month of initial new hire training.
The compensation for Southwest flight attendant training is $1,200 after completion.
Does Southwest Provide Food and Accommodation during training?
The company provides a food stipend in the form of a pre-loaded card.
It doesn’t last the entire month, but it does put a big dent in the amount of money you would’ve spent on food for the month.
There is no access to a kitchen, only a cafeteria in the training facility that provides lots of food options at a reasonable price.
The hotel accommodations are also covered by the company.
What Is the Dress Code for Southwest Flight Attendant Training? and What Items Should I Pack for It?”?
The dress code for Southwest flight attendant training is business-casual, which means you should avoid wearing jeans and yoga pants.
Slacks and layers are the way to go.
Remember, it’s Dallas, and the south looooves their a/c so as someone who runs consistently cold, I was always well-prepared with a sweater, even when it was 80 degrees outside. 🥶
Don’t forget to pack some fun outfits! It’s not all boring studying. Southwest encourages the new hires to get out there and explore and have fun on their free time. Isn’t exploring what being a flight attendant is all about?
What’s Included in Southwest Flight Attendant Training?
Lots and lots. Let’s go over some of the topics covered in the Southwest Flight Attendant program.
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1) Flow of Flight
This covers going to happen from when we arrive at the airport till when we step off the plane.
2) Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)
These are safety regulations implemented by our overlord ruler, the Federal Aviation Administration.
Not following these is against the law and can cost both a flight attendant and their company thousands upon thousands of dollars. They’re kinda important!
3) Emergency Procedures
While no one wants the plane to turn into a cruise ship or lose an engine or two in flight (news flash: there’s only two), the reality of it is that it has happened in the past.
Remember the Miracle on the Hudson? Those flight attendants sure do.
They also remembered their emergency procedures and guided an entire cabin’s worth of passengers to safety all because of their extensive flight attendant training!
New hire flight attendant trainees will go through all sorts of possible scenarios, including emergency landings, fires, unruly passengers, security threats, and medical situations.
4) Swimming and Sliding
The highlights of training!
As far as swimming, the trainees will spend an afternoon in a swimming pool to learn how to evacuate a plane to safety during a water landing.
This involves a giant raft that requires a little bit of upper body strength to hoist yourself up into.
Don’t worry, it’s not as intense as it sounds!
Then, sliding is the fun part.
During training, we learn how to deploy the giant, inflatable emergency slide (hopefully the only time in our entire career) and then slide down it.
Remember, cross your arms and jump! 🙃
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5) Emergency Equipment
We need stuff to deal with situations, and we need to know how to use it and where to find it fast.
While a portable electronic device fire isn’t going to happen everyday, medical situations are more common than one would think, and the very first line of response is… you guessed it, the flight attendants!
Some equipment can include fire extinguishers, megaphones, personal protective garments, medical kits, and an AED.
This leads us into…
Just to be clear, flight attendants do not get certified for CPR, but we still learn how to do it.
This is essential to passing new hire training.
During CPR training, we use a training AED to save Anne, our CPR dummy!
She’s non-responsive and ready for some life-saving techniques.
7) Self Defense
Get ready to beat up on Bob!
This is Anne’s less fortunate dummy friend we used to practice our martial arts moves on.
You can also re-name him after your ex like I did.
They don’t pass out black belts after class, but it doesn’t hurt to learn a few ways out of a sticky situation.
8) Sensitive Security Information
This program is in place to help us have a better understanding of how to keep everyone safe.
I can’t really talk about this one. Did I mention it’s sensitive?
9) The Planes
AKA our offices! We have 3 different models of Boeing 737 planes.
This is subject to change as Boeing comes out with new models and the company acquires new aircraft in the future.
Either way, we have to be familiar with the interior space of each of the planes as they all have different attributes such as the amount of seats, location of equipment, and galley layout.
Hang on, What’s a ‘Galley’?
You’ll learn this in training!
The galley is where flight attendants prepare the snacks and drinks they need for service.
Steps of service is included during training, but it’s a pretty short lesson.
This is mostly learned on the job in a, “just toss ‘em into the deep end” sort of style.
Good luck! 😅
How long does the probationary period last for flight attendants at Southwest Airlines?
The probation period for flight attendants at Southwest Airlines typically lasts a slightly tense 6 months.
During that time, the other flight attendants will be extra nice to the new hires, have sympathy for them, cover their airport shuttle tips, and even sometimes buy them lunch.
Enjoy all the attention while it lasts.
Where are most new flight attendants at Southwest Airlines based after their training? Do they have the option to choose their base?
New flight attendants can submit a list of cities in order of preference for their base assignment after completing their training but this is strongly subject to availability, seniority, and company need.
It’s very common to not receive your first choice of base.
Is it necessary for new Southwest Airlines flight attendants to relocate if their preferred base assignment is not granted?
The company offers a unique, unlimited commuter policy.
This means that as long as you follow contractual requirements like showing up to the airport within a certain time frame, you cannot be penalized for not being able to make it to your base in time for your trip.
It really came in handy when I was based all the way across the country for my first 4 months at Southwest!
Dos and Don’ts of Southwest Flight Attendant Training
Be late. This is HUGE. I cannot stress this enough, because it’s one of the biggest flight attendant no-no’s. When we’re late, 175 other people are also late, and then potentially all subsequent flights, creating a sort of domino effect of delays. I managed to stay on time by setting my watch ahead and also having an accountability buddy to make sure I was awake in the morning. I think we even saved each other’s butt a few times! There is a zero tolerance policy for being late during training, so do what ya gotta do because fashionably unemployed” is a lot less cute than “fashionably late”!
Look sloppy. How we look in class is a reflection to the instructors of how we will look on the job.
Take over the class time with questions or long-winded personal stories. Unless you want to be extremely unpopular. Ask one or two questions, and then save the rest for after.
Do the homework everyday and study, study, study! While I was in training, the homework was for our benefit, not checked by the instructors. However, I quickly found out how essential it was to complete it! There’s no better way to get through training than to be ahead of the game. If you’re not prepared, it’ll show!
Make sure to have the PA’s (public announcements) memorized by day one. They test you pretty soon after the beginning of training, and I found this memorization to be a real test to those rusty parts of my brain that I haven’t used in a while!
Expect that one flight attendant’s experience might be a little different from someone else’s. This isn’t necessarily about favoritism, but sometimes the inflight trainers can have slightly varying expectations. I remember in my class, a friend had to repeat her PA demonstration because she “didn’t sound confident enough.” The solution? Try to go into everything with confidence or embrace the popular saying, fake it till you make it!
Have fun! Move around and get to know different people during training. Try not to form cliques. Don’t be the antisocial one or it’s going to be a long month. This is not just for your own mental sanity, but the instructors are also paying attention to your interaction skills.
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Initial inflight training at Southwest definitely has it’s ups and downs.
A month is a long time away from daily life, and as you can clearly see, there’s a LOT of material to cover, so emotions may run high.
But the flight attendant position at Southwest is a sticky one, and by that I mean it’s rare for people to leave before retirement once they are hired.
One month is just a drop in the ocean of a lifelong career, so expect to reap the payoff if all the benefits when it’s over, and also to make friendships and connections during training that will last a lifetime. ❤️💛💙