Founded in 1967 as “Air Southwest,” Southwest Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world. Based on both revenue and passengers carried, Southwest shares the air with other popular airlines such as American, Delta, United, and Lufthansa. It is also considered one of the best places to work in the United States: on lists ranking the top large employers to work for, both Forbes and Glassdoor gave Southwest high rankings. On the Glassdoor list, the airline came in at number 10; Forbes ranked it second.
There are plenty of reasons to love working for Southwest Airlines, including competitive salaries, profit-sharing opportunities, substantial paid time off, and vacation perks. The airline has established a legacy of avoiding layoffs and pay cuts at all costs—even during tougher economic spells. If you are seeking a job with Southwest Airlines, you might wonder what to expect from Southwest Airlines background checks.
First, understand that background checks will be a requirement for any Southwest Airlines position. Whether you are seeking a job as a pilot, a flight attendant, an on-the-ground technician at an airport, or even a customer service associate, you will find that the highly-regulated and security-sensitive nature of the industry means that background checks are a big deal across the board.
As is the norm with any airline background check, the Southwest Airlines background check is in-depth. It includes fingerprinting and FBI database checks among other searches. In particular, Southwest is looking for felony convictions, federally prosecuted crimes, appearances on terrorism/national security watch lists, indicators of drug or alcohol problems, and driving or traffic violations. Since many Southwest jobs involve operating a vehicle—whether a ground support vehicle or an airplane—serious traffic tickets and DUIs are typically considered red flags.
These vetting steps are not unique to Southwest Airlines background checks. All airline background checks are similar because commercial airlines are regulated by the same agencies, including the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA demands fingerprinting and background checks for all flight crew members and flight security employees. Some FAA requirements apply specifically to pilots, including license and qualification checks and health and medical checks plus investigation of a pilot’s drug and alcohol history for the past two years.
For these reasons, Southwest Airlines is typically identified as an employer that does not hire many (or any) felons. Given the regulations and the high-security nature of the air travel industry, Southwest does not have much room for leniency in hiring individuals whose criminal records, driving records, or personal records indicate that they may not be safe or trustworthy. With that point made, Southwest will still consider all background check findings on a case-by-case basis.
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