5 Things You Need to Know About a Potential Pilot Strike at Southwest Airlines

SWAPA wants to give you a quick guide to understand why the word “strike” is being used, what it means, and how it may impact travel for our passengers. These are the five things you need to know about a possible strike occurring at Southwest


Our pilots value you, our passengers, and make your reasons for travel the very core of our mission. While talk of the possibility of a strike at Southwest raises concerns for you and your travel plans, it also has tremendous impact on our pilots and their families. We don’t take either lightly.

SWAPA wanted to give you a quick guide to understand why the word “strike” is being used, what it means, and how it may impact travel for our passengers.

These are the five things you need to know about a potential strike occurring at Southwest:

  1. When can a strike happen?

    A strike can happen once Southwest and SWAPA are released from mediation by the National Mediation Board, and, the steps outlined in the Railway Labor Act for parties to seek self-help (strike) are met.

    That process starts when the assigned mediator declares an impasse in negotiations, and can take 30 days, or up to 90 days given Presidential or Congressional intervention.

  2. What happens to our travel arrangements if a strike happens?

    If a strike is called, all services to Southwest Airlines provided by its pilots will cease until an agreement is reached. All questions regarding interruptions will be directed to Southwest Airlines customer service.
  3. Will all Southwest Flights be impacted?

    When a strike is called, all flights that originate after the onset of the strike will be impacted by pilots not reporting for those flights. All flights that departed prior to the strike being called will continue to their scheduled destinations but continuation of any connecting flights will not be served.

  4. How long will the strike last?

    It's hard to tell. Your Southwest pilots will only strike as a last resort and only long enough to secure a contract for the most productive pilots in the industry. We will provide updates via our social media channels and our website (swapa.org) to let you know if and when any disruption may occur.

  5. Why are the pilots willing to strike?

    You, our valued passengers, are our reason for being here. You deserve the very best pilots in the world to fly you when you buy a ticket on Southwest. The decision to park our airplanes and strike isn’t made lightly. Below are just a few reasons why we feel this may be necessary:

    1. For you and your family: When you bought your ticket, you have the rightful expectation of safety and reliability. Rather than focusing on these priorities, the c-suite has chosen to divert money to bonuses and dividends rather than to maintain the systems that make our airline reliable. The contract that SWAPA is proposing will pressure Southwest to build in efficiencies and reliability promoting processes to ensure that our airline can recover in challenging environments.

    2. For our families: For Southwest to attract and retain the best pilots in a very competitive industry, the contract that they work under must also be competitive with our counterparts at other major carriers. Currently, if a Southwest pilot gets sick, or loses the ability to fly, their family loses their healthcare and benefits, including their life insurance if that illness turns to tragedy. We want to care for our families back home while we are out caring for you and your family in the skies.

We want our passengers to have trust in their travel plans. We know that this puts stress on holiday travel into the new year, and we are working tirelessly to secure a contract that not only prevents a disruption to your travel, but creates a more functional and resilient airline for you to travel on. As a pilot family, we want to also ensure that the very best come to Southwest to fly you and those you care most about to your destination.

Below are some resources to help you understand more on the “why” behind the threat of the strike.

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Helpful Resources

8/31 – Casey Murray and John Murphy, The Future June 19, 2023
99.2% – Casey Murray, Ready to Strike May 15, 2023
$11.9 Million – Jody Reven, Kurt Heidemann, Damian Jennette, SAV and Negotiations May 01, 2023
SAV Vote Opens April 30, 2023

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