People-Centric, and Proud of It

Nothing is more important to us than People, whether we’re providing our Employees with a workplace that honors diverse points of view, keeping safety top-of-mind, serving our Customers, or striving to make the communities we serve better places for the people who live there. Our Heart is devoted to taking care of others because we’re more than an airline—we’re your neighbor.

Key Accomplishments

Nearly 2M

Nearly 2 million hours spent in training and education programs by our Employees.

We served more than 124M Southwest Customers

We gave more than $25 million in monetary, in-kind, and ticket donations to nonprofit organizations in our communities.

Key Topic


At Southwest, Employees are shown the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.

We encourage creativity and innovation from all Employees as the best way to deliver our legendary Customer Service and Hospitality. We’re committed to treating Employees fairly and to providing a nurturing work environment that helps them learn and grow. After all, when you put your Employees first, your Customers feel the effect.

Sharing Our Profits
Sharing Our Profits
Employees earned $586 million in profitsharing for 2016.
Proud Employees
Proud Employees
Percentage of Employees surveyed who said they are proud to work for Southwest in our 2016 Employee survey.
Key Topic


At Southwest Airlines, it’s always been about Heart. It’s about People and putting others first. It’s about finding that one way to serve that makes each person feel special.

Making people feel special is the job of all Southwest Employees. Southwest is famous for friendly service because we treat our Customers with a sense of warmth, helpfulness, and a caring attitude that sets us apart.


Number of conversations with Customers in 2016, through our Social Listening Center

Increase in external Customer commendations in 2016

Key Topic


Whether in the air or on the ground, we believe community is more than a place—it’s at the Heart of what brings us together. Southwest has a strong history of investing in our communities. We champion causes that help bring People together.

Our Heart doesn’t simply give back, it gives forward because we know that the most resilient communities are the ones with the strongest connections. We believe the act of connecting can make the world feel a bit smaller and the future a little brighter—and it all starts with Heart.


Heart of the Community grants given (over $2M in investments)

“In meaningful interactions, we find the good in one another, which serves to open our minds and hearts to our fellow neighbor.”
– Gary Kelly, Chairman and CEO
Employee Volunteer hours (value of more than $3.5M)28

Looking Forward1

  • "Wings"
    An additional Headquarters building named Wings is scheduled to be completed in 2018. This Flight Training Center will house flight simulators, classroom space for Pilot training, and office space for operations departments. We plan to have all of our flight simulators housed in this new facility by mid-2018.
  • Heart of the Community Expansion
    In 2017, Southwest aspires to broaden its commitment to building connections that strengthen communities for a more resilient future by awarding grants to three additional communities and adding new key partners and initiatives through the Heart of the Community program.
  • Milestone Anniversaries
    In 2017, we will observe the 20-year anniversary of Adopt-A-Pilot® volunteer program and 10-year anniversary of our Medical Transportation Grant Program, two of our key community outreach programs, with some special celebrations and donations.

People Data Table

Five Year Summary
Active, full-time equivalent Employees at yearend53,53649,58346,27844,83145,861
Employees By Division22,27

41 %

42 %

43 %

42 %

42 %

6 %

6 %

6 %

6 %

6 %
Ground, Customer, and Fleet Services19,497

36 %

35 %

34 %

35 %

35 %
Administrative (Technology, Management, Finance, Marketing, Clerical Personnel)8,955

17 %

17 %

17 %

17 %

17 %
Active and inactive Employees who participate in benefits programMore than 56,300More than 52,000More than 49,000More than 48,000More than 48,000
Employee benefit programs excluding 401(k) and ProfitSharing plans and share-based compensation (accrued)32More than $1 billionMore than $950 millionMore than $880 millionMore than $830 millionMore than $800 million
401(k) savings plan participation92 %92 %93 %Nearly 89% Nearly 85%
ProfitSharing Plan participationAll eligible EmployeesAll eligible EmployeesAll eligible EmployeesAll eligible EmployeesAll eligible Employees
401(k) and ProfitSharing plansMore than $936 millionMore than $945 millionNearly $644 millionNearly $500 millionMore than $370 million
Pilot hours457,563476,272546,867193,644300,496
Flight Attendant hours443,295241,900474,973115,900177,500
Maintenance hours147,312148,281154,723145,069159,000
Customer Support and Services hours175,447214,745128,84557,769175,278
Ground Operations hours730,088656,365693,687911,358439,635
Safety and Security hours (all Employees)More than 811,000More than 800,000More than 820,000More than 580,000More than 520,000
External Customer commendationsMore than 105,000More than 89,000More than 75,000Nearly
Ratio of external Customer commendations to personnel rudeness complaints6:14:14:1Nearly 5:1Nearly 7:1
American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)8078788177
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Customer Satisfaction rating (consumer complaints per 100,000 enplanements)0.470.520.500.340.25
Percentage of reported flight operations arriving ontime80.879.773.076.783.1
Number of mishandled bags reported per 1,000 Passengers2.983.314.063.723.08
Passengers denied boarding per 10,000 Passengers0.991.
Number of incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of animals during transport00000
Donation requests received systemwide15,23714,99515,04617,94119,053
Tickets donated53,29138,93643,18844,01944,559
Total monetary donations$ 3,280,307$ 3,258,761$ 2,748,305$ 2,034,431$ 2,104,871
Total corporate monetary, in-kind, and ticket donations$ 25,324,794$ 19,571,177$ 20,128,153$ 18,951,092$ 20,273,621
Monies raised through official Southwest fundraising efforts$ 675,000$ 675,000$ 640,000$ 700,000$ —
Employee volunteer hoursNearly
More than 145,000More than 144,000More than 144,000More than 137,000
Value of Employee volunteer hours28More than $3,500,000Nearly $3,500,000More than $3,300,000More than $3,200,000$ —
Social Management Approach
Employees represented by unionsApproximately 83%Approximately 83%Approximately 83%Approximately 83%Approximately 83%
Employee human rights training hours More than 51,000More than 22,000More than 54,000More than 20,000More than 17,000
Employees trained on human rights44.4 %36.1 %46.4 %6.7 %20.5 %
Employees and business associates who acknowledged the Code of EthicsMore than 59,000More than 53,500More than 50,800More than 46,500More than 46,000

Important footnotes and disclosures

1) The 2016 Southwest Airlines One Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are based on, and include statements about, the Company’s estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, and strategies for the future, and are not guarantees of future performance. Specific forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements related to (i) the Company’s Vision; (ii) the Company’s fleet plans, strategies, and expectations, including its fleet modernization initiatives, and the Company’s related financial and operational expectations; (iii) the Company’s financial position, outlook, goals, targets, strategies, plans, expectations, and projected results of operations, including specific factors expected to impact the Company’s results of operations; (iv) the Company’s plans and expectations with respect to its new reservation system and other technology initiatives, and the Company’s related multi-faceted financial and operational expectations and opportunities; (v) the Company’s construction initiatives and related operational expectations; (vi) the Company’s growth plans, strategies, and opportunities, including the Company’s network and capacity plans, opportunities, and expectations; (vii) the Company’s expectations and goals with respect to returning value to Shareholders; (viii) the Company’s expectations related to its management of risk associated with changing jet fuel prices; and (ix) the Company’s initiatives and related plans and expectations. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) changes in demand for the Company’s services and other changes in consumer behavior; (ii) the impact of economic conditions, fuel prices, actions of competitors (including without limitation pricing, scheduling, and capacity and network decisions and consolidation and alliance activities), and other factors beyond the Company’s control, on the Company’s business decisions, plans, and strategies; (iii) the Company’s dependence on third parties, in particular with respect to its fleet, technology, and construction plans; (iv) the Company’s ability to timely and effectively implement, transition, and maintain the necessary information technology systems and infrastructure to support its operations and initiatives; (v) the impact of governmental regulations and other governmental actions related to the Company’s operations; (vi) the Company’s ability to timely and effectively prioritize its initiatives and related expenditures; (vii) the impact of labor matters on the Company’s business decisions, plans, strategies, and costs; (viii) changes in aircraft fuel prices, the impact of hedge accounting, and any changes to the Company’s fuel hedging strategies and positions; and (ix) other factors, as described in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the detailed factors discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2016.

2) The Company's Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("GAAP"). These GAAP financial statements include (i) unrealized non-cash adjustments and reclassifications, which can be significant, as a result of accounting requirements and elections made under accounting pronouncements relating to derivative instruments and hedging and (ii) other charges and benefits the Company believes are not indicative of its ongoing operational performance.

As a result, the Company also provides financial information in this report that was not prepared in accordance with GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to the information prepared in accordance with GAAP. The Company provides supplemental non-GAAP financial information, including results that it refers to as "economic," which the Company's management utilizes to evaluate its ongoing financial performance and the Company believes provides additional insight to investors as supplemental information to its GAAP results. The non-GAAP measures provided that reflect the Company’s performance on an economic fuel cost basis include Fuel and oil expense, non-GAAP; Total operating expenses, non-GAAP; Operating expenses, non-GAAP; Net income, non-GAAP; and Net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP. The Company's economic Fuel and oil expense results differ from GAAP results in that they only include the actual cash settlements from fuel hedge contracts - all reflected within Fuel and oil expense in the period of settlement. Thus, Fuel and oil expense on an “economic” basis has historically been utilized by the Company, as well as some of the other airlines that utilize fuel hedging, as it reflects the Company’s actual net cash outlays for fuel during the applicable period, inclusive of settled fuel derivative contracts. Any net premium costs paid related to option contracts are reflected as a component of Other (gains) losses, net, for both GAAP and non-GAAP (including economic) purposes in the period of contract settlement. The Company believes these economic results provide a better measure of the impact of the Company's fuel hedges on its operating performance and liquidity since they exclude the unrealized, non-cash adjustments and reclassifications that are recorded in GAAP results in accordance with accounting guidance relating to derivative instruments, and they reflect all cash settlements related to fuel derivative contracts within Fuel and oil expense. This enables the Company's management, as well as investors and analysts, to consistently assess the Company's operating performance on a year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter basis after considering all efforts in place to manage fuel expense. However, because these measures are not determined in accordance with GAAP, such measures are susceptible to varying calculations and not all companies calculate the measures in the same manner. As a result, the aforementioned measures, as presented, may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies.

In addition, the Company’s GAAP results in the applicable periods include other charges or benefits that are deemed “special items” that the Company believes are not indicative of its ongoing operations and make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or to its competitors’ results. Financial measures identified as non-GAAP (or as excluding special items) have been adjusted to exclude special items. Special items include:

1. A one-time $172 million Special revenue adjustment in July 2015 as a result of the Company’s amendment of its co-branded credit card agreement with Chase Bank USA, N.A. and the resulting required change in accounting methodology. This increase to revenue represented a nonrecurring required acceleration of revenues associated with the adoption of Accounting Standards Update 2009-13;

2. Union contract bonuses recorded for certain workgroups. As the bonuses would only be paid at ratification of the associated tentative agreement and would not represent an ongoing expense to the Company, management believes its results for the associated periods are more usefully compared if the impacts of ratification bonus amounts are excluded from results. Generally, union contract agreements cover a specified three- to five- year period, although such contracts officially never expire, and the agreed upon terms remain in place until a revised agreement is reached, which can be several years following the amendable date;

3. Expenses associated with the Company’s acquisition and integration of AirTran Holdings, LLC, the parent company of AirTran Airways, Inc. (“AirTran”). Such expenses were primarily incurred during the acquisition and integration period of the two companies from 2011 through 2015 as a result of the Company’s acquisition of AirTran, which closed on May 2, 2011. The exclusion of these expenses provides investors with a more applicable basis with which to compare results in future periods now that the integration process has been completed;

4. A gain resulting from a litigation settlement received in January 2015. This cash settlement meaningfully lowered Other operating expenses during the applicable period, and the Company does not expect a similar impact on its cost structure in the future;

5. A noncash impairment charge related to leased slots at Newark Liberty International Airport as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration announcement in April 2016 that this airport was being changed to a Level 2 schedule-facilitated airport from its previous designation as Level 3; and

6. Lease termination costs recorded during 2016 as a result of the Company acquiring five of its Boeing 737-300 aircraft off operating leases, as part of the Company’s strategic effort to phase out its Classic aircraft from operations by the end of third quarter 2017 in the most economically advantageous manner possible. The Company had not budgeted for these early lease termination costs, as they were subject to negotiations being concluded with the third party lessors. The Company recorded the fair value of the aircraft, as well as any associated remaining obligations to the balance sheet as debt.

Because management believes each of these items can distort the trends associated with the Company’s ongoing performance as an airline, the Company believes that evaluation of its financial performance can be enhanced by a supplemental presentation of results that exclude the impact of these items in order to enhance consistency and comparativeness with results in prior periods that do not include such items and as a basis for evaluating operating results in future periods. The following measures are often provided, excluding special items, and utilized by the Company’s management, analysts, and investors to enhance comparability of year-over-year results, as well as to compare results to other airlines: Operating revenues, non-GAAP; Total operating expenses, non-GAAP; Operating expenses, non-GAAP, excluding Fuel and oil expense; Net income, non-GAAP; and Net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP.

The Company has also provided free cash flow, which is a non-GAAP financial measure. The Company believes free cash flow is a meaningful measure because it demonstrates the Company's ability to service its debt, pay dividends, and make investments to enhance Shareholder value. Although free cash flow is commonly used as a measure of liquidity, definitions of free cash flow may differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for free cash flow. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, the Company generated $2.3 billion in free cash flow, calculated as operating cash flows of $4.3 billion less capital expenditures of $2.0 billion less assets constructed for others of $109 million plus reimbursements for assets constructed for others of $107 million.

The Company has also provided its calculation of return on invested capital, which is a measure of financial performance used by management to evaluate its investment returns on capital. Return on invested capital is not a substitute for financial results as reported in accordance with GAAP, and should not be utilized in place of such GAAP results. Although return on invested capital is not a measure defined by GAAP, it is calculated by the Company, in part, using non-GAAP financial measures. Those non-GAAP financial measures are utilized for the same reasons as those noted above for Net income, non-GAAP and Operating income, non-GAAP - the comparable GAAP measures include charges or benefits that are deemed “special items” that the Company believes are not indicative of its ongoing operations and make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or to its competitors’ results, and the Company’s profitability targets and estimates, both internally and externally, are based on results excluding special items since in the vast majority of cases the “special items” cannot be reliably predicted or estimated. The Company believes non-GAAP return on invested capital is a meaningful measure because it quantifies the Company’s effectiveness in generating returns, relative to the capital it has invested in its business. Although return on invested capital is commonly used as a measure of capital efficiency, definitions of return on invested capital differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for non-GAAP return on invested capital in the accompanying reconciliation tables (see Return on Invested Capital), in order to allow investors to compare and contrast its calculation to those provided by other companies.

Information regarding special items and reconciliations of reported amounts to amounts excluding special items are included in the accompanying reconciliation tables in the Performance section.

3) An available seat mile (ASM) is one seat (empty or full) flown one mile. Also referred to as “capacity,” which is a measure of the space available to carry Passengers in a given period.

4) Calculated as operating revenues divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as "operating unit revenues" or "RASM," this is a measure of operating revenue production based on the total available seat miles flown during a particular period. Year ended 2015 RASM excludes a $172 million one-time special revenue adjustment. Including the special revenue adjustment, RASM would have been 14.11 cents for the year ended 2015.

5) The average amount of passenger revenue per revenue passenger carried.

6) A slot is the right of an air carrier, pursuant to regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration, to operate a takeoff or landing at a specific time at certain airports.

7) Calculated as operating expenses divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as “unit costs” or “cost per available seat mile,” this is the average cost to fly an aircraft seat (empty or full) one mile, which is a measure of cost efficiencies.

8) As measured by the Department of Transportation O&D Survey for the twelve months ended Sept. 30, 2016 based on domestic originating passengers.

9) Average number of weekday flights as of Dec. 31, 2016.

10) Number of scheduled flights that arrived less than 15 minutes after scheduled arrival time divided by total scheduled flights.

11) Load factor is RPMs15 divided by ASMs.3

12) Calculated as passenger revenue divided by revenue passenger miles. Also referred to as “yield,” this is the average cost paid by a paying Passenger to fly one mile, which is a measure of revenue production and fares.

13) Average distance in miles the aircraft is flown per trip.

14) U.S. Department of Transportation Form 41 and T100 data, through Sept. 30, 2016. Based on costs that have been adjusted for Southwest’s average stage length and represents domestic mainline.

15) An RPM is one paying Passenger flown one mile. Also referred to as "traffic," which is a measure of demand for a given period.

16) Aircraft in the Company's fleet at yearend, less Boeing 717-200s removed from service in preparation for transition out of the fleet.

17) The 2016 Southwest Airlines One Report may contain information obtained from third parties, including ratings from credit ratings agencies such as S&P Global Ratings. Reproduction and distribution of third party content in any form is prohibited except with the prior written permission of the related third party. Third party content providers do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of any information, including ratings, and are not responsible for any errors or omissions (negligent or otherwise), regardless of the cause, or for the results obtained from the use of such content. THIRD PARTY CONTENT PROVIDERS GIVE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE. THIRD PARTY CONTENT PROVIDERS SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, EXEMPLARY, COMPENSATORY, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, COSTS, EXPENSES, LEGAL FEES, OR LOSSES (INCLUDING LOST INCOME OR PROFITS AND OPPORTUNITY COSTS OR LOSSES CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE) IN CONNECTION WITH ANY USE OF THEIR CONTENT, INCLUDING RATINGS. Credit ratings are statements of opinions and are not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, hold or sell securities. They do not address the suitability of securities or the suitability of securities for investment purposes, and should not be relied on as investment advice.

18) Source: Bloomberg as of March 16, 2017. Moody’s Senior Unsecured rating used (if unavailable, Long Term Corporate Family or Long Term rating used); S&P’s Long Term Issuer rating used; Fitch’s Senior Unsecured rating used (if unavailable, Long-term Issuer rating used).

19) In terms of domestic passenger traffic.

20) Metro areas are areas around cities that may include multiple major airports; Co-terminal: Airports that share a common city or region; for example, Newark, LaGuardia and JFK are considered co-terminals to one another.

21) Earnings before interest and taxes.

22) Active, full-time equivalent Employees as of Dec. 31 for specified calendar year.

23)Tax amounts for each individual special item are calculated at the Company's effective rate for the applicable period and totaled in this line item.

24) Net adjustment related to presumption that all aircraft in fleet are owned (i.e., the impact of eliminating aircraft rent expense and replacing with estimated depreciation expense for those same aircraft). The Company makes this adjustment to enhance comparability to other entities that have different capital structures by utilizing alternative financing decisions.

25) The Adjustment for fuel hedge accounting in the numerator is due to the Company’s accounting policy decision to classify fuel hedge accounting premiums below the Operating income line, and thus is adjusting Operating income to reflect such policy decision. The Equity adjustment for hedge accounting in the denominator adjusts for the cumulative impacts in Accumulated other comprehensive income and Retained earnings, of gains and/or losses associated with hedge accounting related to fuel hedge derivatives that will settle in future periods. The current period impact of these gains and/or losses are reflected in the Net impact from fuel contracts in the numerator.

26) Calculated as an average of the five most recent quarter end balances or remaining obligations. The Net present value of aircraft operating leases represents the assumption that all aircraft in the Company’s fleet are owned, as it reflects the remaining contractual commitments discounted at its estimated incremental borrowing rate as of the time each individual lease was signed.

27) Flight includes Cabin Service Support, Inflight, and Flight Operations. Ground, Customer, and Fleet Services includes Provisioning, Customer Services, Ground Operations, and Operations Coordination Center.

28) Based on Independent Sector’s estimated value of a volunteer hour. For more information, visit:

29) Source: Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Impact Evaluation: 2016 (Research conducted by Nicolas Ronderos Consulting).

31) Each plane ticket is valued at $400.

32) Includes Southwest’s contributions to Employee health and welfare plans, workers’ compensation insurance, and employer payroll taxes.

33) A revenue ton mile (RTM) is one ton of revenue traffic (passenger and cargo) transported one mile.

34) Conversions to MWh are based on default densities and heating values from the CDP guidance document, “Technical Note: Conversion of fuel data to MWh.” We use this unit of measurement for consistency with our CDP reporting.

35) Eligible equipment includes belt loaders, pushbacks, and bag tugs.

36) Water consumption is primarily for domestic use at our facilities.

37) NOx and SOx emissions are reported in our annual emissions inventories for our DAL and PHX facilities. Data is from prior year due to air emissions reporting cycle.

38) Material recycled from aircraft and select facilities as part of the Southwest co-mingled recycling program. Does not include international flights due to regulations that require waste from international flights to be incinerated. Does not include AirTran flights.

Important footnotes and disclosures