Go inside Southwest Airlines flight attendant training

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DALLAS, TX (KTVI)-The largest air carrier at Lambert Airport has opened a new training facility for new flight attendants.  Southwest Airlines opened the new training center last year in Dallas, Texas. FOX 2 went behind the scenes for a look.

The job of a flight attendant is lot more than serving a soda and a bag of peanuts.

Instructor Becky Hickey says, “This is really serious business. We’re not playing down here. This is the real thing.”

The teachers are veteran flight attendants.  Students repeatedly use the word intense to describe the demanding five week course inside this brand new $120 million, 492,000 square-foot, energy-efficient Training and Operational Support (TOPS) building.

Bayne Barnes, a student in the program, “It’s very hard. And for me to be able to handle anything is the rewarding part about it.”

Eight hours a day, five days a week the students are in class. They learn C.P.R. and how to be prepared for all kinds of medical emergencies.

Instructor Margo Valencia says, “I have helped a passenger who went into a diabetic coma basically.”

Students put in many hours in a room that contains many simulators for hands on experiences. Things like learning to open the door above the wing, inflate life vests, and how to operate the emergency rafts.

They train in a jet mock-up. With hydraulics underneath, students feel severe turbulence. Inside the plane, oxygen masks come down all the time and the emergency slides are deployed frequently.

Hickey said, “I’ve flow 29 years for Southwest and I am ready for anything because of the training I’ve gone through.”

Every year about 1,000 people are selected to become a flight attendant.   Southwest is very picky.  It’s easier getting into a big name Ivy League university than being hired by the airline.

Student Katheri Angion said, “It’s very, very tough. A lot of people have tried for years to get in and I’m blessed to be here.”

Barnes added, “Very tough to get in. I got in on the second try and it took a long response and there’s a lot of competition out there.”

When students receive their final report card, B’s and B’s are not acceptable.

Hickey said, “They all graduate as straight ‘A’ student because you can’t make less than a ‘A’ on your test. You have to make 90 or above. So when they graduate these students they are straight ‘A’ students.”