What is Destination 225°? On a compass rose, 225° is the southwest heading, and Destination 225° was developed to lead aspiring pilots to Southwest Airlines. You may have heard that there’s a potential pilot shortage across the industry. With demand for qualified and skilled pilots only increasing, Destination 225° provides several pathways designed to meet future aviators where they are at their current experience level and create opportunities to take them to the right seat of our Southwest aircraft.
Destination 225° Cadet Pathway
The Destination 225° Cadet pathway is an ab initio—“from the beginning”—program. If you don’t have previous experience as a pilot, this four- to five-year program is for you. Southwest is proud to offer this program in a planned partnership with CAE, a worldwide leader in training for the civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare markets. Our planned program partners for the Cadet pathway include XOJET Aviation and Jet Linx.
The Destination 225° University pathway is designed for collegiate aviators who attend a Southwest partner university or complete a Southwest Campus Reach Internship. Southwest is working to partner with four universities to offer this transition training: University of Nebraska at Omaha, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, and Arizona State University. Our planned University pathway corporate flying partners include XOJET Aviation, Jet Linx, and iAero Group’s Swift Air.
This pathway bridges the gap for active military pilots who do not yet meet the minimums to start their career as an airline pilot. If you have transitioned to a staff assignment or are a rotor/powerlift military pilot, this pathway could help you develop the skills and experience for fixed-wing airline operations. Southwest is proud to offer this transition training through a planned partnership with Bell Murray Aerospace to meet you at your current experience level and help you prepare for your next career. Bell Murray Aerospace, an FAA 142 Training Center, is a company dedicated to exploring training opportunities in all areas of aerospace, including individual pilot training, corporate, and military aviation operations. The planned corporate partners for the Military pathway are iAero Group’s Swift Air, XOJET Aviation, and Jet Linx.
At Southwest, we’re known for our incredible Employees. We are proud to offer Employee pathways in a planned partnership with CAE, a worldwide leader in training for the civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare markets, and US Aviation Academy. Our planned corporate partners for the Employee pathway are XOJET Aviation, Jet Linx, and iAero Group’s Swift Air. If you’re a Southwest Employee, please see SWALife to learn more.
Why is Southwest Airlines introducing Destination 225°? Today, we’re fortunate to attract top candidates to fill our Pilot positions at Southwest Airlines; however, we see a potential shortage ahead. There are many contributing factors, from barriers to entry (money, time) to military draw down to heavy retirements hitting the industry in the next decade. Destination 225° will help us reduce our dependency on the open market by creating opportunities for future pilots to be trained on how to fly and, specifically, how to fly the Southwest Way.
Is there a fee to apply to the Destination 225° pathways? There is no cost to apply; however, candidates advancing through the selection process will be responsible for all costs incurred, including but not limited to:
Obtaining a USA DOT/FAA First-Class Medical Certificate
Completing an aptitude assessment
Travel & accommodations to and from the testing center
Costs associated with the testing and interview process (including travel accommodations)
Once selected, participants will be responsible for all associated costs of the program.
What is the anticipated cost to go through Destination 225°? The cost for each pathway varies.
University: Learn more by visiting our planned university partners’ websites.
Cadet: The price tag for the Cadet pathway is very competitive—less than $100k.
Military: The military pathway is designed to meet candidates at their level of experience, so the cost will vary.
Can I use the GI Bill to pay for Destination 225°? We’re excited that Destination 225° provides avenues for veterans who want to pursue a career as a Southwest Airlines Pilot. Because the pathways vary, we are still determining where the GI Bill might apply.
Can I work while participating in a Destination 225° pathway? The Destination 225° pathways are full-time commitments and will require 100 percent focus during the training period. Once the initial training stages are complete (approximately 12 months for the Cadet pathway), participants may have their first opportunity to get paid while flying!
I’m a Southwest Employee, but not a Pilot. Can I apply to the Destination 225° program? Yes! At Southwest Airlines, Employees are encouraged to consider pursuing the career of their dreams, whether on land or in the air. Employee-specific information on Destination 225° is on SWALife >My Life >Career >Destination 225°.
Will I need to relocate for Destination 225°? Yes … and maybe more than once. For example, the Cadet pathway training is based in Phoenix, and you may need to relocate to a different city while building your flight hours.
Each pathway has different requirements, but you should expect to relocate during your time in Destination 225°.
Can I visit the training facility prior to joining Destination 225°? Facility visits differ for each pathway. As you advance through the interview stage of the selection process, you are welcome to ask more about your particular pathway and possible facility visits.
Do the Destination 225° pathways guarantee a job at Southwest Airlines? While a job at Southwest Airlines is not guaranteed, Destination 225° was created to equip participants with the skills needed to start their career as a Southwest First Officer and is designed to build a pipeline of talented Pilots for Southwest. Neither acceptance into nor successfully completing the program guarantees employment or re-employment at Southwest Airlines.
Can I fail out of Destination 225°? Our Destination 225° pathways are designed to set you up for a successful flying career through a rigorous and challenging training program. However, failure to successfully complete any of the requirements or training areas or meet the expectations of Southwest Airlines or its partners may lead to removal from the program.
I have previous flight experience; can I still apply to the Cadet pathway? You can, but the Cadet pathway is designed for someone starting without previous flight experience. Prior flight time does not provide any advantages during the application and selection process or reduce the cost of training.
What if I want to participate in the University pathway, but my university isn’t among your partners? As we launch this exciting program, we selected these particular university partners for a number of reasons, to include the quality of their program and geography. But we expect our number of university partners to continue to grow!
In the meantime, aviators from other university programs are encouraged to apply to our Campus Reach college internships. A successful internship can lead to acceptance into the Destination 225° University pathway, though applicants will still be expected to meet the basic requirements of each program, respectively.
Becoming a Southwest Pilot
What are the qualifications and experience required to become a Pilot at Southwest Airlines? Learn more about the qualifications to become a First Officer at Southwest Airlines at https://careers.southwestair.com/pilots.
I am currently a pilot, and would like to work at Southwest Airlines. Where can I find more information? Learn more about the Southwest Airlines First Officer position and application process here https://careers.southwestair.com/pilots.
I have the required flight experience today and have applied to be a Southwest Pilot. Is there still a possibility I’ll get in through the traditional hiring process, or should I apply for a Destination 225° pathway? Individuals who already meet the qualifications and experience required to become a Pilot at Southwest Airlines should apply through the traditional hiring process. Find more information https://careers.southwestair.com/pilots. In particular, the Cadet pathway is designed for someone without previous flight experience, so prior flight time does not provide any advantages during the application process or reduce the cost of training.
How are Southwest Airlines First Officers paid? Our Pilots are guaranteed a certain amount of Trips for Pay each month and are paid for each trip based on the number of years they have been with Southwest and in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Pilots are also paid a per diem based on the amount of time they are away from base.
Pilots have “trading privileges,” which allow them to pick-up, trade, and give away their trips at their own discretion.
More than just a paycheck, a career at Southwest Airlines comes with several WorkPerks, from Southwest’s legendary Culture to travel privileges for Employees and their eligible dependents. Southwest offers an excellent benefits package, including currently a very generous non-elective 15 percent contribution in the 401(k) plan that vests automatically, subject to certain compensation limits, as well as a ProfitSharing Plan.
Where are the Southwest Pilot domiciles? Southwest domiciles—also referred to as bases—are where a Pilot’s trip typically begins and ends. Our domicile locations include ATL, BWI, MDW, DAL, DEN, HOU, LAS, LAX, OAK, MCO, and PHX.
Southwest Pilots bid on their domiciles. Opportunities in each city are based on demand, and this process takes into account seniority, so not all locations may be available during your initial domicile selection.