A behind-the-scenes take a look at Southwest’s Dallas headquarters

Think about strolling into work in your first day solely to obtain a red-carpet welcome out of your new colleagues who’re all lined up in droves cheering you on.

Whereas that will sound intimidating or maybe misplaced for an airline, of all corporations, this red-carpet welcome is a daily affair at Southwest’s headquarters in Dallas. Every new class of workers is greeted on this similar custom, and it is grow to be a ceremony of passage for all new hires.


Personally, I had no thought about this follow till I discovered myself in the midst of one on a current morning. I used to be in Dallas over the past week of November for Southwest’s media days, that are a sequence of conferences with executives and airline leaders to debate the state of the airline.


Whereas I’ve additionally shared a recap of what we discovered, maybe essentially the most thrilling half, particularly for this aviation fanatic, was getting a behind-the-scenes look inside Southwest’s headquarters.

Now, you possibly can, too.

An AvGeek’s dream

From the second you step inside, you may shortly notice you’ve got entered an airline’s headquarters — there is a large Boeing 737 hanging from the ceiling of the principle entrance.

The airplane sports activities Southwest’s up to date livery and greets you as you discover your manner by way of the constructing.

Turning left brings you to the Southwest retailer, which is stocked with branded attire, luggage, mugs and loads of different swag. (New joiners will need to look out for a 20% coupon that is included within the worker welcome bundle.)


When you clear constructing safety, you are free to maneuver about. Lining the halls are inspirational messages, a treasure trove of Southwest collectibles, engine cowlings and even some spare airplane seats.

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In actual fact, the Boeing 737 engine that is constructed into the wall jogged my memory of an identical design I not too long ago noticed at United’s headquarters in Chicago.


All through the constructing, you may discover nods to Southwest’s previous, together with footage of founder Herb Kelleher and chairman Gary Kelly, detailed timelines of the airline’s 51-year historical past and previous advertising and marketing supplies.

The airline even has a devoted tradition and archive heart situated on campus that has a precise reproduction of Kelleher’s workplace, in addition to a speaker that permits you to hear to a few totally different variations of Kelleher’s giggle.


You may discover a pair of the unique “sizzling pants” worn by Southwest flight attendants (or “hostesses,” as they have been referred to again when the airline began flying in 1971), too.

Irrespective of the place you flip, you are certain to find an attention-grabbing nugget about Southwest.

An airport on the bottom

When airport brokers start their careers with Southwest, they descend on the airline’s Dallas headquarters for a coaching course. Throughout that point, the up-and-coming brokers spend time within the classroom studying concerning the airline’s tradition and familiarizing themselves with their new tasks.


Earlier than they graduate, they should put their studying into follow. Whereas they may theoretically head to close by Dallas Love Subject (DAL), which is situated only a stone’s throw away, Southwest has a mock-up of a check-in foyer on-site.


Right here, check-in brokers study extra about the way to function the kiosks, weigh checked luggage and use the airline’s reservations programs.


Gate brokers are additionally skilled on campus, and there is a precise reproduction of a gate space on the second flooring of the coaching constructing. In case you shut your eyes, you may think your self in an airport — the seats and the boarding stanchions are precisely the identical as those you’d discover at a Southwest gate.


There’s even a functioning PA system to assist workers discover ways to modulate their voices when welcoming the A, B and C boarding teams.

Studying inflight service

Flight attendants additionally spend time at Southwest’s headquarters earlier than they earn their wings.

They start their coaching within the classroom with shows detailing all of the ins and outs of the Boeing 737. They will find out about offering environment friendly and customized service, dealing with safety points and evacuating a airplane throughout an emergency.


After weeks behind a desk, the flight attendants follow inflight service in a specifically configured Boeing 737 cabin expertise coach.

That is primarily a cross-section of an airplane with the home windows eliminated for straightforward viewing from the surface. There are giant TVs hanging above the airplane that present a livestream of what is taking place inside for the observers to see.

The cabin itself comes from a retired Southwest jet, and it nonetheless options the unique seats and overhead bins.

This coach is the proper manner for flight attendants to get some hands-on expertise with out taking a totally functioning airplane out of service.

In case of emergency

Along with service supply, flight attendants must discover ways to deal with inflight emergencies, and Southwest has an space at its headquarters devoted to only that.


This emergency preparedness heart is outfitted with one other cross-section of a airplane, however this one can simulate many forms of inflight emergencies starting from fires to water landings to smoke within the cabin.


There’s even a slide linked to this airplane, which helps flight attendants follow evacuating the plane.


You may discover loads of different emergency tools right here, together with life rafts, exit door trainers and life vests.

Pilot coaching

Pilots have a rigorous coaching schedule. They not solely must find out about how a airplane operates, however additionally they must commonly spend time in plane simulators studying the way to fly in all situations, together with throughout emergencies.

Whereas simulators price hundreds of thousands of {dollars}, Southwest has invested in a whopping 26 of them for its all-Boeing 737 fleet.


These machines are precise replicas of an actual 737 cockpit, and almost each sort of emergency or climate scenario might be simulated throughout coaching.

Southwest operates these simulators across the clock starting at round 6 a.m. every day and going till 3 a.m. in some circumstances.

Controlling the airline

With greater than 4,000 each day flights, Southwest is likely one of the largest U.S. airways.

Whereas it takes tens of 1000’s of workers to run the operation, maybe none are as vital because the 1,000 who oversee your complete community.

These workers sit within the NOC, or community operations management heart, which is basically the central nervous system for your complete airline. Right here, flights are dispatched and tracked, climate programs are monitored, technical malfunctions are addressed and extra. The airline even has a minimal of two meteorologists working at any time to forecast climate throughout the community.


This constructing on Southwest’s campus is so vital that its partitions are thick sufficient to face up to an F3 twister on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. In different phrases, it is constructed to face up to winds blowing as much as 206 mph.

Quite a lot of division leaders sit within the NOC, starting from the chief pilot to the chief flight attendant to the pinnacle of floor operations and the chief of technical operations. These key stakeholders meet thrice a day — at 8:30 a.m., 3:15 p.m. and eight p.m. — within the so-called scenario room to debate the state of the operation, with a deal with the airline’s 15 largest airports.

When issues are working easily, these conferences can take only a few minutes, however when there are climate programs throughout the nation or air site visitors management delays in key hubs, they could run extra time.


Hopefully, the following time you fly with Southwest, it will be on a day when issues are working easily within the NOC. If they’re, there is a good likelihood that your flight will function on time.

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