Is Southwest Airlines Safe? (Yes, It Is.)

Southwest is to this day one of the top low-cost carriers in the world. Based out of Dallas, Texas, the airline has destinations in 121 locations in the United States and 10 other countries. However, like with many low-cost carriers, people start to question if the price point reflects safety.

Some begin to ask, is Southwest Airlines safe? The short answer is yes, the airline is safe. If you’re willing to find out why, then keep reading.

Is Southwest Airlines Safe?
Southwest Airlines is, just like all other FAA-certified airlines, safe to fly with.

Southwest Airlines Operates a Modern Boeing Fleet

Many consider the age of the aircraft to be in correlation with its safety. While this is not the case, you may have peace of mind knowing that Southwest still has a very modern fleet. Being the carrier with the largest fleet of Boeing 737s in the world, Southwest has been maintaining these aircraft for decades. Southwest solely operates 737s and maintains the integrity of its fleet.

Southwest currently operates with the 737-700 and the 737-800, and they were the launch customer for 737-MAX8, and will be for the 737-MAX7, which will arrive in 2022.

After a series of accidents in 2019 that were declared to be a system error in the 737-MAX8, Southwest had to put these aircraft on standby. After two years of being grounded, the 737-MAX has rejoined the skies in 2021 with airlines around the world. Southwest has stated that they are confident in the performance of the 737-MAX and are satisfied with its FAA approved software enhancements.

The airline has revised operational procedures and pilot training requirements to ensure safety while operating the 737-MAX.

Southwest continues to modernize its fleet, keeping new aircraft in circulation, providing new features, and bringing peace of mind to those who are nervous about the older aircraft. The airline will continue to add to their 737 fleets and are confident in their aircraft meeting the FAA requirements.

Southwest Airlines Is Certified by the FAA

Southwest Airlines Co. is a certified airline by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States and carries an official air operator’s certificate. Their AOC code is SWAA304A and can be searched within the FAA database.

The FAA ensures all safety codes and laws are abided by in the United States. By carrying their issued air operators certificate, Southwest is demonstrating their commitment to safety by maintaining the aircraft to a certain standard, as well as providing service to a predetermined level.

Although it is important to make the decision yourself, sometimes reviewing some ratings aids the process. You’ll find that has given Southwest a solid 7/7 safety rating, which means:

  • It hasn’t experienced a fatal crash within the last 10 years.
  • It has not experienced several serious pilot-related incidents.
  • It is not blacklisted in Europe or the United States.
  • It passes the International Air Transportation Association safety audit.
  • It has been complying with COVID-19 standards.

While COVID-19 is a new safety hazard that airlines must find ways to work around, it has been made clear that Southwest Airlines is not only being safe in regards to the pandemic but also the traditional safety requirements.

As a result, Southwest Airlines meets all the safety requirements as any other airline, making it just as safe for travel.

Southwest Airlines Incidents and Accidents

In 2012 Southwest Airlines was considered one of the ten safest airlines in the world. To this day there are only 4 deaths concerning Southwest, as well as some minor injuries.

The two most recent deaths were two separate incidents for Southwest. The first was in 2018 when debris from one of the engines broke through a passenger window. The aircraft made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport, and the sudden depressurization pulled a passenger half through the window, causing injuries that lead to her death.

The other incident was on May 7th, 2020, and made national news. The pilots reported a person on the runway upon landing, and the body was discovered after presumably having come into contact with the aircraft as it landed.

In total, Southwest has had 9 accidents. Considering the airline has been operating since 1967, it is an incredible feat to have so few deaths and accidents under its name.

Southwest Airlines 737
Southwest Airlines 737.

How Can Southwest Be Both Safe and Cheap?

The idea that cheap means less quality is common but does not apply to airline flying. Because of Southwest’s business model, the airline can keep flights at a lower cost while still being able to provide safe, quality flights.

By hiring the right employees that are hard-working and well equipped for every scenario, Southwest saves money on not having too many employees. By hiring the right people and focusing on the quality of their team they have fewer hands that do nothing, and more hands that get the job done.

Passenger loyalty is an important step at keeping flights cheap, as the more passengers there are the easier it is for Southwest to keep the flights less expensive. Quality service and experience is a huge factor in keeping Southwest’s passengers.

Southwest also provides a rewards program that attracts more passengers so that the cost of flights is reduced as a whole. The more passengers that want to fly with Southwest, the more they can reduce the cost of flights.

By having the same aircraft in their fleet, Southwest can reduce costs on maintenance. Southwest doesn’t need to invest in different parts for different aircraft as they operate only 737s. The airline also doesn’t lose any money by waiting around for aircraft to be fixed, as they have more aircraft in the fleet that can take over the flight with the same performance characteristics.

By maintaining the quality of their aircraft and keeping them safe from accidents, Southwest can ensure the best quality of their flights while still maintaining a low cost. As a result, it is still one of the most recognized airlines in the United States.


Just because Southwest Airlines was considered one of the ten safest airlines in 2012 doesn’t mean that their quality has gone down since then. Luckily, it just means that other airlines are beginning to catch up in terms of safety.

The airline has a very strong record of only nine accidents within the decades it has been operating. That combined with how well-received their flights and services are, goes to show that Southwest is a very respectable airline.

Southwest Airlines is a safe airline that carries millions of passengers every year. Compared to its so few accidents, this just goes to show how many passengers have flown safe and sound with Southwest.

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