Southwest Lays Out Really Generous Offers For Employees To Take Leave Or Retire Early

Last week word broke that American was targeting letting go 30% of management and support staff. They were being offered voluntary departure packages, at 3 to 6 months at one-third pay. Hanging around and being terminated later wouldn’t be as good a deal.

United meanwhile changed its internal rules so that laid off employees receive no severance.

Southwest Airlines, by contrast, is being really generous with its employees. They laid out their plan two weeks ago. And now they’ve shared voluntary separation options with employees.

  • Employees can take leave for periods of time ranging from 6 to 18 months while continuing to receive half pay and benefits. (Pilots can take up to 5 years’ at 55 hours a month pay.)

  • Employees can also take an ‘early out’ leaving the company with a lump sum amount of pay based on years of service. Employees with Southwest up to 4 years receive a month’s pay per year with the ariline. At 5 to 9 years they’re offering 6 months’ pay. And for employees with the company 10 or more years they’re offering a year’s pay. In addition they’re offering a year’s benefits and four years of standby travel (for those without enough years to receive retirement benefits and travel).

Some of the specific details vary by workgroup. Here’s Southwest’s internal document laying out offers for union contract employees and frontline supervisors; pilots; and non-union employees.

With a primarily domestic route network, Southwest should see a greater percentage of its business come back more quickly than United, Delta, and American.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Herb still lives on inside the culture of Southwest. No doubt. Things may have changed somewhat over the years but the foundation he laid in working with unions as partners, not foes, along with respect for employees, is perhaps his greatest legacy. He was a terrible arm wrestler but his principles are still strong.

  2. Im with American and havent heard Any News as of today July 15th.

    Are you saying they are delivering warn letters today?

    I wonder why internally we have heard nothing, but can learn of this news through a journalist. We’ re a pretty big population as you said, so that’s a lot of people to make very anxious before time, especially with the company saying they don’t think they will have to do it. I do not like having the news delivered to me in this way.

    I can’t tell if you are speculating or have firm info on that.

    Its great to be the first with breaking news but it sure makes a lot of good people suffer, perhaps needlessly.

    Please follow up with a firm or speculation about American Airlines. Thank you.

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