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I was visting my family the other day and they mentioned a family friend that has been a pilot with SWA for 16 years. This pilot is saying he plans to retire very soon because he can't take it anymore. He says the "last six years have been hell". This shocked me since normally you don't here many complaints from or about SWA. I have asked my family to ask him more details when they see him again, but does anyone on here fly for SWA? Any ideas?

As a side note, my brother and I were talking about pensions, etc. and we were wondering if he would even have a pension if he left before 20 years?
Keep us posted if you hear anything.

Some folks just lose the love ("LUV?") after a while. Hope that's the case here.
Just speculating here, but what I think you see happening is what happens to pretty much all companies eventually. As you grow, you stop being a place where everyone at least has heard of everyone else and become a place where bureaucracy and titles take over.

I saw this happen first hand at a place I used to work. I don't recognize it anymore. It used to be a place where I would see the company's founder in the elevator and he'd talk to me about what I got for lunch from the grocery store in the building. Now it's a place where they won't allow you to charge to the company welcome lunches for new employees or give videotapes of their programs to people.
For some guys, the grind eventually wears them down. This happens with all airlines. Some pilots have thicker skins than others.

I think since 9/11, all the security hassles have taken their toll as well. For lots of guys, the job just insn't fun anymore. The only reason they are still doing it is the money. Most pilots aren't qualified to do anything else that would pay close what they make after 15 or 20 years. They get to the point where they feel trapped, and every little thing weighs them down even more. Those guys are also no fun to fly with! It is probably the best thing for all concerned for them to go ahead and retire early.

I could be a senior F.O. and drive to work, but I choose to commute half-way across the country to sit reserve as a captain so I don't have to fly with guys like that anymore. They are a minority, but every trip with a guy like that feels like an eternity.