Southwest Airlines scores contract deal with negotiators for flight attendants, mechanics

The 19,000-member flight attendant union at Southwest Airlines has been in mediation with the carrier since last summer.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has reached an agreement in principle with its flight attendants union after almost a year in mediation.

Transport Workers Union Local 556, the union representing Southwest’s nearly 19,000 flight attendants, filed for federal mediation in July 2022 to help with over three years of a stalled contract. The union’s previous contract was effective until October 2018, but COVID-19 also put a pause on negotiations in 2020.

It’s a key deal as the company looks to quell labor unrest heading into the holiday season. The company is still negotiating with the union for pilots and ground workers.

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No further details of the tentative flight attendant contract were available at this time, although workers were looking for major raises as part of the deal.

“We are pleased that we have reached an agreement in principle with TWU Local 556 regarding a new contract for our Flight Attendants,” said Adam Carlisle, vice president of labor relations at Southwest Airlines in a statement. “We appreciate the collective efforts of both negotiating teams which contributed to reaching this important milestone.”


The deal came through in “multiple negotiation sessions throughout the week of May 30,” according to a note sent to flight attendants from the union. Next week, both parties will finalize contract language before the negotiating committee presents a complete tentative agreement to the TWU Local 556 executive board for review. The review will be conducted in a series of meetings throughout the week of June 13.

The union’s constitution ensures that after a review of the tentative agreement, the executive board votes on whether to send the agreement to membership for a vote. Until membership voting begins, the negotiating committee and executive board will not be able to release details of the contract.

The union pushed for improvements such as boarding pay and compensation during trips that are extended by delays. In March, flight attendants picketed outside of Dallas Love Field, the first picket since the December meltdown.


Mechanics at Southwest also reached an agreement in principle to extend the current contract through August 16, 2027. Additional time is needed to finalize language in the contract, but once complete, a tentative agreement will be announced for employees to vote on.

Since October 2022, Southwest has reached agreements with seven of its union partners. Pilots represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association are still in mediation, and ramp, operations, provisioning and cargo agents are in negotiations. Last month, pilots at American Airlines reached an agreement in principle with the carrier. American’s flight attendants and passenger service agents are still in contract negotiations.