In this article we’ll take a look at the Southwest Destination 225 pathway program.
There are a handful of companies that people just want to work for. They have a reputation for valuing their employees as individuals and cultivating a culture that feels like a family.
The benefits of such a culture manifest themselves in many ways–happy customers, high employee retention and job satisfaction, and no problems recruiting new employees, to name a few.
In an industry famous for union versus management battles and mass furloughs during economic downturns, possessing these qualities is rare for an airline. But a few stand out, the most famous of which is Southwest.
About Southwest Airlines
Southwest is the world-largest low-cost carrier and the only LCC to be a major airline in the United States. It’s based in Dallas, Texas, and serves 121 destinations in 11 countries. From 1973 to 2019, Southwest was profitable for 47 consecutive years–something no other airline can claim.
Southwest has a storied past and is a darling in the airline industry.
It was started by the singular Herb Kelleher in the late 1960s, initially offering service only inside Texas to avoid regulatory restrictions on interstate air travel. The company was famous for publicity stunts, and the idea of inexpensive, no-frills airline travel that undercut the major carriers was novel at the time.
Kelleher imagined Southwest competing with bus fares, not other airlines.
While Southwest has grown, it is still unique.
It operates a point-to-point network without the hub-and-spoke system of other airline networks. Their fleet is made entirely of Boeing 737s, which reduces crew training, scheduling, and maintenance costs. And all planes are set up with one economy class arrangement.
Even boarding a Southwest flight is interesting–instead of assigned seats, the company uses a more efficient grouping system to reduce turnaround time.
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The most notable thing about Southwest, however, is the company culture.
Since its founding, the company has made a reputation for putting its employees first. Southwest describes this as the “people-first approach.” More concretely, they have (remarkably) never furloughed an employee or cut pay. In addition, the company has a long record of profit sharing with employees. You can learn more about Southwest pilot pay in our article.
And it hires individuals based on their fit within the company, which improves retention and employee satisfaction.
For many pilots, a job at Southwest is about as good as it gets in terms of job satisfaction. Forbes detailed some of the reasons Southwest employees always seem so happy.
Destination 225º Program Overview
Like other airlines, Southwest has created a pilot pathway program to aid its recruitment process. The program includes pathways for pilots who are just starting to fly, those working on university degrees, and those already building time toward their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP or Restricted ATP) certificates.
The program’s name is a clever take on southwest, which is “225” in pilot talk.
For students with no piloting experience, the Cadet Pathway offers a chance to complete flight training with select training providers. The pathway is specifically geared toward recent graduates, folks in the workforce ready to make a change, non-pilots from the military, and even current private pilots.
The University Pathway is also available to Southwest Campus Reach Interns. Students will complete the course and flight training requirements and then work as flight instructor at the university. After that, they are eligible to be hired by one of Southwest’s program partners.
Several companies have committed to hiring Destination 225º participants to help them reach Southwest’s hiring minimums. Remember, even having ATP minimums will not likely be enough to meet Southwest’s hiring policies.
Applicants will still need to build time working as a CFI or a first officer with a Part 135 operator. XOJet, Jet Linx, and Swift Air are a few company partners for time building.
The program also encompasses pathways for military pilots and current non-pilot Southwest employees. More about these options can be found on the Destination 225º FAQ page.
Destination 225º Benefits
Destination 225’s greatest benefit for the student is its organization and connection to Southwest’s company culture. There are numerous possibilities for advancement in the program, and if you stick with it, it can provide a clear career path.
According to Southwest, the benefits include mentorship, multiple pathways and opportunities inside the program, and being part of the Southwest family. Cadets in the program will have direct contact with a group of Southwest first officers that will mentor them as they go through the program.
In typical Southwest fashion, this method is a little more “people-first” than other pathway programs, where mentorship is touted as a benefit but is more of an afterthought.
You can learn more about the Destination 225º pathway program and sign up for updates on the Southwest Careers website.