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A Week In the Life of a SWA Flight Attendant

jmalone
Not applicable
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what it is like to be a Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant. I figure the easiest way to do this is to describe a recent trip. It's a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday three-day trip with layovers in Los Angelas (LAX) and Salt Lake City (SLC). It's Sunday night and tomorrow, I have a trip. I'm a commuter so my first order of business is getting to work. I log on to SWALife (our Company's internal web site) to check the loads for the flights to Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI)...my report time is at 12:10PM, so I try for the 7:40AM departure. Now that I'm listed for the flight, I make the last preparations for tomorrow. MONDAY It's 6:15AM and my alarm clock just went off...after a quick shower, I'm out the door headed for the airport by 6:45. We arrive in BWI right on time at 9AM and head for the Crew lounge, where I check in for duty by computer and print out a copy of my trip so I know where I'm going and when for the next three days. My trip sheet also lists the name and phone numbers of the hotels where I'll be staying.SupsOffice-1.JPGFA_CrewLounge.JPGMDW_CrewLounge.JPG Since I don't have to be at the gate until 12:40PM, I've got time for a nap and lunch. After a quick bite, I put on my uniform...I never commute in uniform because it's easier to stay looking crisp if I wait until it's time to actually work to suit up. 12:30PM, and I'm off to the gate. I meet my Crew, "Jack" and "Jill" (not their real names), in the jetbridge. The Captain briefs us for the flight, and before we know it the aircraft is pulling up to the gate...it's time to go to work. As the passengers begin deplaning, Jill and I step onboard to help the inbound Crew tidy up. I'm flying C position (we have three positions, A, B, and C, at Southwest) so I also need to check the presence and operation of all the emergency equipment, and Jack stays in the jetbridge and watches the luggage. We complete our Crew change, board the flight, and depart BWI right on time for Phoenix, AZ (PHX). Even though the flight is full, the next thing I know, we're descending for PHX. Five hours went by faster than I thought. We have two hours of ground time in PHX before working a flight to LAX. We tidy up the aircraft, complete our Crew change, and head into the terminal for a bit of "airport appreciation." It's nearly 7:00PM Eastern, and it's dinner time! By the time we find, purchase, and eat our dinner, it's time to report for our flight to LAX. After a quick Crew change, we're boarded and off for California. We get to LAX right on time and turn the plane over to an Oakland, CA (OAK)-based Crew who will take it on one more leg, and we're finally finished flying but not quite done. Jack and Jill have sold liquor on their flights today, and they have cash and coupons to record and deposit. Out we go to the curb to catch the hotel shuttle, and we only have to wait a few minutes. Once at the hotel, Jack signs us in; we decide on a time to head back to the airport tomorrow; and we're done for the night. Once I get to my room I grab a quick shower, iron tomorrow's uniform, and it's off to bed. It's almost 10PM eastern, and I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow. TUESDAY Lobby call is 8:45AM Eastern, but I still could have used a few more winks. Fortunately, there's a Starbuck's in the hotel lobby...mmmmmmm caramel macchiato. Today looks pretty easy on paper--only four legs, and they are all relatively short. We arrive at the gate 30 minutes prior to departure. It's the aircraft's first flight of the day, and it's clean as a whistle and ready to go. We perform our various pre-flight duties, board up, and off we go. Three stops and just under seven hours later we arrive in Salt Lake City (SLC). We change Crews and head for the hotel. Jill wants to check out a shopping center she heard about and asks us to come along. After a quick change, we meet up again in the lobby, and the hotel van driver gives us a lift to the mall. We go our separate ways with plans to meet up in a couple of hours for dinner. At dinner, we check out the Hard Rock Cafe. Dinner is good, and we all get to know each other a bit over the meal. Jill has a three-year-old daughter, and her husband is an attorney. Jack is working on his real estate license and plans to sell commercial property on the side. We call the shuttle for a lift back to the hotel, confirm tomorrow's lobby time, and head off to our rooms. I make a few phone calls, check my e-mail, watch a little TV, and it's time for bed. Wednesday 7:00AM Eastern, and we're on the Crew van headed for the airport and then to Phoenix, AZ (PHX). It's day three of a three-day, and we're looking forward to going home at the end of the day. We depart SLC right on time, but getting out of PHX is a different story. It's raining in PHX this morning, and traffic is delayed. Unfortunately, we are about an hour behind schedule when we lift off for Austin, TX (AUS). We like to stop in AUS because the airport has excellent food, and we nominate Jack to make a food run while Jill and I tidy up and board the aircraft. He gets barbecue (another mmmmmmmm). Two and half days, nine legs, four states, and countless peanuts later we are back in BWI at 4:00PM local time. We're only 20 minutes late, which isn't bad considering we left PHX over an hour late. We complete one last Crew change, and we're done. Jill dashes off to catch her flight home, Jack heads to the parking shuttle, and me? I've got about two hours before my own flight to home checks in. I change out of my uniform and find a quiet spot in the terminal to relax. I make it home around 9:00PM. It's been a long day. There's three days' worth of mail in my PO Box and laundry to be done, but that can wait til tomorrow. I had a great Crew to fly with, and now I've got Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.
69 Comments
Rhonda_L_Hopson
Not applicable
Thanks a bunch for posting this article. I just, today, found the blog for SW Airlines... is awesome and full of information. On Monday, 9/11/06, I was in Phoenix, AZ for the FA group session/interview. It was such a great day~ Although, after our break and whomever wanted or needed to leave left - there were still 27 of us left. Time was just noon - and Randy and Connie said they would not be able to interview everyone that day - so 1/2 of us got sent home. I was part of that group... although I know the obvious of not getting to all 27 of us to be interviewed, I was still let down knowing I had to go home. Randy and Connie said to the 1/2 that were sent home - we will be receiving a call with a different set day and time for our interviews to be done. Unfortunately, I am impatient because I want this so bad and am willing to do whatever it takes to become of the SW Family!!! So now, me along with the rest of the folks who were sent home Monday, MUST be patient and keep the Faith~ We will get our calls or letters letting us know when our interview(s) will be. I hope I am blessed to see you folks I met Monday again @ the interviews. Again, was a great day~ THANK YOU SOUTHWEST~ Warmest regards, Rhonda L Hopson
Megan_Simon
Not applicable
James, I read your above post on how the reserve system works. If you are on reserve, do you get paid during that time if you don't get called? Also, how do you think it would be commuting out of DAL? It'd probably be easier once the Wright Amendment is resolved. Thanks for the great, informative post! Megan
jmalone
Not applicable
Megan - you do get paid while on Reserve. You are paid 6.5 Trips for each day that you are on Reserve wheather the Company uses you or not. What you are not getting is any per diem if you are not used. Commuting is commuting is commuting no matter what city you are in. You just have to be very aware of where you are trying to go and look at the flights that will get you there and then make an informed decision on your routing. Good luck! James Malone MDW FA
Sunny21
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i am married,and i have a childen,can i apply for flight attendant ?
Amy18
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Hi James, I was trying to get an idea of income possibilities as a SWA flight attendant. I have always had an interest in this position, as a matter of fact I tried in 1993 but didn't make the cut. I am 37, live in Dallas and have a good job in sales but am a little tired of the whole m-f,7-5 life. Boring. The concern I have is pay. I know FA's are paid per trip but I was wondering about how many trip are in an average day, how many days a week on average are worked, pay while on call and opps to grab more trips. I was basically wondering if I could afford to be a FA. Thanks in advance for any info or advice you may be able to give me. Amy
James5
Not applicable
Amy - You can make as little or as much as you want at this job. Our PLANNED lines come out of Crew Planning at between 80 trips and 130 trips a month. I believe as a beginning Flight Attendant you will make about 18 dollars a trip. You will work an average of 14 days a month, with a typical schedule being 4 on and 3 off while on probation then based on seniority you can move up to a 3 on and 4 off schedule. If you have any other questions, please let me know. Regards, James Malone MDW FA
Amy18
Not applicable
Thank you James. Is it pretty easy to find extra trips as a new FA? What seems to be a realistic number if any? Do some people have flexible part-time jobs other than FA? I think I'm just going to apply. I'm sure I will have plenty of time to figure financial details since the process can sometimes take a little while. Thank you for helping, Amy
Dan_Delaney2
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I have been in public transit (Front Lines) for 23 yrs. The last 12 as a Public transit bus driver. Flight Attendants are not only the backbone of the airlines, but the professionals who will save your life in an emergency. Any time I travel, I make a point to get names of the F/A's and write a good letter about them to the airline. They sacrifice very much and many people do not realize all the responsibility and duties they carry out. You guy's are truly the unsung heroes. God Bless all of you. Sincerely, Dan Delaney Olympia,WA
linda_mortensen
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I am retiring from 25 yrs. of teaching a year from now. I am planning on applying with Southwest for a FA position. My only problem is that I live 1 hour outside of Albuquerque. Would it still be possible for me to work for Southwest since Alb. is not one of its bases? Also, would it be possible to commute to Phoenix or Dallas? Also, could my flights begin in Albuquerque? When would be the time to apply?
Charlene_C
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How long is FA training and is it in Dallas? Do the inflight supervisors do the same training and if so how many weeks? Thanks
James5
Not applicable
Training is approximately 3.5 weeks and it is held in Dallas. Inflight Supervisors go thru the same F/A training and then they do on the job training at their base. James Malone MDW FA
michael_hoeflin
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hello everyone, i have a quick question, i will be moving to orlando in december and thinking about becoming a swa flight attendant., the question i have is how senior are the different f/a domicles. i realize that there is no guarantee on knowing what base you would get but a little insight would be helpful, the last question i have is mybe it would be better to become a ground agent first (kmco) and get some insight from flight attendants there on postions available at that location and then move from ground agent to f/a postion, thanks for your time and have a nice flight. michael
James5
Not applicable
Michael - In order of Seniority (in my opinion): 1 - Dallas (highest) 2 - Houston 3 - Phoenix 4 - Chicago 5 - Orlando 6 - Baltimore 7 - Oakland (most junior) I would expect most of the new classes from hear on out to go to Las Vegas, which opens October 1st. I would recommend getting on as a F/A as soon as possible, that way you can start accruing seniority instead of having to switch over and then have a new probation period, seniority starts over, etc... James Malone MDW FA
michael_hoeflin
Not applicable
james thank you for your time, it nice to here from a f/a that works at luv. i was a f/a for many years with other airlines i work at a retail store and miss flying very much, if you can keep in touch with me and let me know if you see any changes to drop me a quick note, i realize that your probably very busy flying. james let me say thank you for taking the time for sending me this information. and have a great day, michael
Jessica_taormin
Not applicable
Please have somone contact regarding a flight attendat postion. I am very interested in it. However, I am not sure what exactly what is required. I don't even kow what website to star searching, thank you .
James5
Not applicable
Jessica - you can check out the Flight Attendant position at www.southwest.com/careers
Cygnus
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Jessica, Read Leah's posts, and go and do as she does.
s__king
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I know Southwest flight attendants get paid by the "trip", not per hour. Does anyone know what 11th year pay per "trip" is and what is the average number of "trips" in a monthly line? thanks.....sue
James5
Not applicable
Sue - We actually "top" out at 12 years at around 52.00 a trip. The monthly lines can be built between 80 and 130 trips a month. I hope this helps! James MDW FA