Southwest Airlines is at it again. They are the largest airline in the U.S. in terms of passengers carried, yet they still require new hire pilots to pay for their own 737 type rating. What kind of shady deal is this? Not that long ago you couldn’t even get an interview without the type rating. Now they’ll let you interview, but if you want a job you’re going to have to pay for your own type rating.
I can think of only one valid reason why an airline like Southwest would have such a requirement, and that is that someone is making money off of this deal. A 737 type rating is going to run in the neighborhood of around $10,000 to $15,000. But wait. If you guys go to this flight school we can get you a sweatheart deal. We can get you your type rating for around $8,000. Now I’m not going to mention this flight school by name. I’m smart enough to protect myself from a possible lawsuit. But the fact remains that the majority of pilots who are going to need to pay to get that type rating are going to be steered toward one particular company.
This is not just “pay for training,” the scourage of hiring practices past. This is outright fraud in my opinion. If you meet the normal requirements of total flight time and PIC jet time, there is no valid reason that anyone at Southwest can give to justify requiring that a pilot must also pay for a type rating. It’s not like Southwest is saving money. They still have to put you through the same amount of training. Just because this is how they did things way back when doesn’t mean that it’s okay now. It wasn’t okay then and it certainly isn’t okay now.
A pilot who has invested $40,000 or more on education, plus another $20,000 or more on flight training, then worked for five to ten years making $15,000 to $25,000 a year at a regional carrier, should not have to look at tacking on an additional penny just for the privilege of working for an airline, even if that airline is Southwest.
I recently learned that Southwest is no longer requiring a type rating. It must be a sad day for Southwest to now have to accept applicants who are substandard because of their lack of a type rating.