Tips & Tricks for Southwest’s Boarding Procedures
Yesterday I posted a little bit of a tongue in cheek comment about Southwest’s boarding procedure in our Facebook Group. It got a lot of responses on both sides of the issue. I know that this topic is pretty evenly divided. Some people love the procedure while others hate it.
Regardless of whether or not you hate it most of us still fly Southwest because of the value it provides for award travel. Especially if you are someone with the companion pass.
My Southwest Boarding Tips & Tricks
Here are my tips and tricks for Southwest’s boarding procedures. Share any that you have in the comments section. Also share why you love or hate Southwest’s boarding procedures in the comments section as well, please keep it civilized.
Set an Alarm on Your Phone and Calendar Reminder
What I usually do is place a calendar reminder the evening before I need to check in as a reminder that I need to remind myself to check in. Annoying already right? Just kidding… kinda.
When that goes off I set an alarm on my phone for a few minutes before the 24 hour check in window. I also set an alert on my calendar so I get an email 15 minutes before. This gives me some time to put everything in order. Especially if I am checking people in on a separate confirmation number as well, which I usually am.
2. Fly With Small Children
Well this one only works for some but it is one to be aware of. If you have small kids (6 years and under) you can skip everything above. I am sad that I only get this for another year and a half. I may need to put another one in the oven. Currently debating whether or not it is worth it. Upcoming Southwest flights over the next 6 years vs changing more diapers….I guess I’ll pass :).
You are allowed to board during the family boarding period if you have small children. This happens after the A group boards but before B group boards. You can wait to check in at the airport if you want and still all sit together. No need to get up early while on vacation solely to check in for your return flight!
3. The Devil You Know Is Better Than the One you Don’t
I always try to sit in a seat where I complete the row. So if I am flying with my wife I choose a row that already has someone sitting in the window seat. This ensures that I know who our seat mate will be. Choosing usually works out better than leaving it to chance.
If we are flying with kids I usually pick an empty row and we split up, 1 adult with each child. Since the kids are so small I don’t worry about having space as much and I prefer ensuring them a window seat over anything else.
4. The Way to Avoid Early Morning Alarms on Vacation
We are a group of deal seekers so paying $15 extra per person for Early Bird check in doesn’t work for most of us. Early Bird automatically checks you in so you will have a good boarding zone no matter when you go to print/download your ticket. The one instance where I will consider it is if we have an early morning return flight or if we will be somewhere with spotty wi-fi for check in.
Nothing peeves me more than having to set an alarm to wake up while on vacation, especially to check in for a flight! So to avoid this I will sometimes pay the $15 fee. Some people will only pay for one person and save a seat for other members in the party. We have done this in the past when we got C boarding the day of and paid the $40 fee to get bumped up before the flight. This is a grey area for Southwest and we try to avoid doing it though.
If you do use Early Bird make sure that it is a flight that you are sure you will take since Early Bird is non refundable.
5. Earn A-List Status
This isn’t going to work for most people but if you earn A-List status then you don’t need to worry about checking in for yourself anymore. A-List members are guaranteed A boarding. It does not extend to family members or people on your itinerary though.
6. Leave the Middle Open
If you are flying with another person and want to get a row to yourselves your best bet is to sit in the back of the plane. Also leave the middle seat open since those are the least desirable. If someone ends up sitting down in your row just have one person move to the middle so you are sitting next to each other.
If that doesn’t work then get yourself some discounted drink tickets off of eBay and that should make the experience a little more fun :).
While Southwest’s boarding procedure isn’t my favorite it is a neccesary evil. 4 of my next 5 flights are on them. Hopefully a few of these tips make your experience a little easier the next time you fly them.
Do you use any of the above tricks or do you have a new one to share? Let me know in the comments section.