Reserve lines normally pay 90 to 96 trips per month. In short, 6 TFP (Trips for Pay) for a reserve day. Take your pay rate X your TFP and there you have it.
Things get a little more complicated as to whether you will be paid more than that number, due to, in part, whether your reserve block is a 3 or 4 day and what you actually flew.
You have to block over 13 mins (if memory serves) to receive any additional pay for a leg flown. In essence the first 12 mins over block is free labor for the company (another SWA pilot might want to chime in here I'm wrong).
The "trip" goes back to when SWA had 3 cities, DAL, HOU, and SAT. It was originally based on mileage. Now it also has something to do with time, i.e. BWI-LAX pays more than LAX-BWI. I'm not sure how time figures in, but for distance, from the contract:
"For purposes of this section, a "standard trip" will be any trip for which the nonstop mileage according to the CAB book of airport to airport mileage is two hundred forty-three (243) miles or less.
A non-standard trip will be any trip for which the nonstop mileage according to the CAB book of airport to airport mileage exceeds two hundred forty-three (243) miles. Non-standard trips will be paid at the rate of one standard trip plus one-tenth trip for each forty (40) mile increment over two hundred forty-three (243) miles, rounded up or down to the nearest forty (40) mile increment."
It works out that an average trip is 13% less than an hour. So to figure our pay, if we make $100 per trip, then that is roughly $113 per hour.
I thought part of the reason that SWA pays by the trip versus by the hour is because it removes the "incentive" to go slow. With most airlines paying by the hour for actual time flown, there would seem to be a possibility that pilots might take extra time because you get paid more if you fly longer. Whereas with SWA the pay is the same for the trip regardless (although I'm not sure about that being just a poolie and not an employee) so the pilots would be more likely to ask for direct, shoot the visual, taxi faster than a man can walk, etc.
Trip pay is a "legacy" thing -- that's the way it's been done before, and it continues to work. Could SWA convert to hourly pay? Of course they could, but at what cost? Right now, everything contractual (both pilots' and flight attendants') is done based on trips. Doing a conversion when both contracts aren't being negotiated simultaneously would be a bear. Things that are now easy round numbers (6 trips per reserve day, 6.5 trips average daily guarantee, 5 trips duty period minimum, etc) would become ugly numbers (4:32 duty period minimum, etc).
Also, there are some unique features to the trip system, one of which was touched on, that the first 12 minutes are "free," which reduces the incentive to taxi slow for more pay, without removing the extra pay when a flight gets well & truly delayed. There are some other interesting twists to the "trip" system, such as no flight being worth less than 1.0 tfp (trips for pay -- the official term), and a balance between the "time" and "milage" formulas so that crews get the better of the two (i.e. pay based on distance going LAX to BWI, and on time going the other way).
Then there's the $ cost to reprogramming all the scheduling and payroll computers to think in terms of hours for pay rather than trips. Computer programming for large, complex systems isn't cheap!
Could all of the above be dealt with, adapted, and overcome to change the "trip" system? Of course. It's just not on anybody's radar screen to do it right now. The costs (both monetary, and in terms of confusion) seem a lot higher than the benefit of "having an easy comparison" to everybody else. The standard conversion formulas work well enough for most purposes.
It's just like converting miles an hour to knots. When you started working on your private, knots were foreign. Now, years later, you can't even imagine flying an airplane by miles per hour.
It's just a different way of thinking, which is the hallmark of how SWA does business. I've also heard that 1 TFP is usually about 52-54 minutes of flying on average. But just start thinking TFP!
Incidentally, I believe the first "Trip" SWA ever flew was DAL to HOU, about 243 miles. That was the first "Trip" and all others were measured from this (I think). Just remember, SWA is 30 some years of tradition unhampered by progress!
there is no reason to convert to hours... we work for trips.... not hours
"MOST" pilots here average around 90 TFPs (as Slug pointed out). However, you can work as much as you want to, crew rest considered.
For example, my line paid 91TFPs this month. I picked up some extra fly trips (3 days of flying) and will get paid for 114 TFPs in Oct.... a buddy of mine is getting paid for 135 TFPs this month.... All a matter of what you want. Time off, or more $$$?? BTW, I still managed to have 13 days off this month!
Here are a few contract points to consider since you are trying to compare what a SWA pilot makes to some "other" airline that pays by the hour;
scheduled line guarantees;
85 TFPs 28/29 day mo.
87 TFPs 30 day mo.
89 TFPs 31 day mo.
There is also a duty rig;
1 TFP for every 2 hours on duty
a Duty min.;
5 TFPs min. per duty period
AND, a trip rig;
min. of 1 TFP for each 3:10(hours) away from domicile
Reserve Line mins;
90 TFPs (except 28/29 day months = 85 TFPs)
However you want to consider per diem, for what it's worth, add another $350-500 per month.
As mentioned previous post, once you get here you will never think about hours vs. TFP, no reason to do so......