TPNx Notes – Southwest Hiring

MIL2ATP had the chance to hear directly from hiring representatives at TPNx (November 2018). Below are some of the details from their presentation and Q&A session.


  • 9692 pilots, ~750 aircraft (growing to ~770 by end of 2019), 13 pilots to aircraft
  • 2018 hiring complete (754 new hires, 45% military)
  • 528 new hires (minimum) in 2019 (the number is lower than 2018 because they are doing a large number of upgrades to captain)
  • Forecasting 4295 retirements through 2030

2-part process to apply:

  1. Create an app at Pilot Credentials.
  2. Apply at **Make sure your e-mails match!

Hiring windows will be open for 2-3 weeks; you can publish your app at any time, but you can only apply during those windows.

Expect to get a call a max of 6 months before your date of availability; it depends on what classes they need to fill – sometimes it’s significantly less.

Attend an expo! They are invite-only based on your Pilot Credentials app, so keep that updated. You will get to spend 10-25 minutes with a Southwest rep reviewing your app/resume. Also, they typically plan to offer a certain number of interviews to the expo attendees (it’s a much smaller pool to compete against).


Southwest is looking for 3 things:  flight experience (not just hours), education and leadership.

When sorting apps after a window closes, hiring sets parameters and sorts apps until the resulting resume matches what they are looking for. Then apps are reviewed by reps (the “human touch”) before invites are sent out.

There are a number of items that require your judgement to answer; when asked those specific questions during Q&A time, the representative would give their opinion and then emphasize, “Just don’t lie” …and be ready to explain it during the interview. For flight times, ask yourself: Is it reasonable? Is it conservative?

Update your application at least once a month to avoid the app becoming inactive. If a question is changed in Pilot Credentials, your answer is erased.

Recency: 2/5 past years flying. To reset currency, you can build flight time (regional, contract, etc.) or get a type rating (they want to see that you can make it through training). If you’re low on PIC time (airline definition – you signed for the aircraft), recommend flying for a company with quick upgrade to captain.

Answers to specific application questions:

  • Dual time can be counted as SIC.
  • Southwest is really looking at total and PIC – those are the important numbers.
  • Include instructor time in PIC.
  • There is no “accepted” percentage of A code or aircraft commander time to count toward PIC (typically 80-90%); just be ready to defend/explain – YOU know your military career best.
  • If you haven’t held the position, don’t check the box. **There is no Sq/CC box, so you can check Chief Pilot. Only check things that you are currently holding / are currently true (i.e. not “will have ATP by then” or “almost done with masters”).
  • For further explanation, there is a box that says “Is there anything else you would like us to know?”
  • 1000 hours fixed wing turbine PIC is “preferred” – that’s what makes you competitive.
  • Although a bachelor’s degree is only “preferred,” they rarely hire someone without one.
  • Add 0.3 per sortie (NOT per flight hour), even if you don’t need the extra time.
  • For the question that asks about failed check rides (question 9?), they do not want to see any busts/downgrades before you received your wings (don’t include pilot training). You can include all failures in question 34. **Pilot Credentials might be updated to make this clearer.
  • Mil comp is not important, but check it if you have it

Letters of recommendation:

  • Letters of recommendation don’t do anything for you until the interview.
  • You will need 3 on paper for the interview.
  • Internal recs will be added to your package (no need to upload at the Pilot Credentials link).
  • They prefer letters from people who have flown with you.

They will screen for app changes between interview offer and interview; they will notice any questionable updates (drop in GPA, added DUIs, etc).

You will be sent clear instructions on what to bring; included will be three letters of recommendation, documentation for positions and check rides, and contacts for past 10 years of work (preferably cells/e-mails from supervisors, but if not, co-workers).

The interview is a half day – 1-on-1 logbook review, 2v1 interview with a pilot and an HR rep, line oriented interview (looking for you to problem solve, come up with a solution, and execute plan…and debrief yourself well; done in paper cockpit – no knowledge of that cockpit needed).

Do whatever you want/need to do to prepare, but when you arrive, leave the script in the car. Listen to the question asked and answer THAT question. They want to meet/know/learn about YOU. So be you.

After the interview, they will go through referrals. Expect to receive a CJO approximately 2 weeks after interview.