replace: As a result of COVID-19, Southwest has made the next modifications to its boarding course of.
– Southwest might be boarding passengers in teams smaller than 10 at a time by their designated boarding positions. Flight attendants may also assist present steering on distancing throughout deplaning.
– Clients are required to put on a face-covering for boarding and the period of the flight. This consists of all passengers that beforehand had a medical exemption. If you don’t put on a masks, you’ll not be permitted to fly.
– Southwest is limiting the variety of tickets bought on every flight to permit further distancing for journey by means of September 30, 2020. The airline is dedicated to blocking center seats, however they’re sustaining their open seating coverage to permit households to take a seat collectively.

Southwest Airways has gained plenty of reputation through the years partly as a result of they do issues a bit in another way. They don’t cost change charges, they don’t cost for checked baggage, they usually don’t assign seats.

When you have by no means flown Southwest earlier than, this final one can throw you for a loop! However don’t have any concern — Upgraded Factors has bought you lined!

On this submit, we’ll element what makes the Southwest boarding course of totally different and what you have to know to navigate it like a professional. We’ll additionally present you some methods to assist increase your possibilities of getting the seat you need plus reply some widespread FAQs.

What Makes the Southwest Boarding Course of Totally different?

The Southwest Airways boarding course of is totally different as a result of they don’t assign seats. Nonetheless, it’s not a free for all — there’s a particular system that you simply’ll must observe to board the aircraft. Then as soon as you might be on board, you possibly can select any out there seat that you really want.

The Southwest Airways Boarding Course of [Detailed]

Why Checking in for Your Flight Is so Vital

Once you verify in to your Southwest Airways flight, you’ll obtain a boarding place. This boarding place will include a letter (A, B, or C) and a quantity (1-60).

The quantity you’re assigned relies (largely) on whenever you verify in to your flight — the sooner you verify in, the higher your boarding place might be.

Southwest opens check-in 24 hours earlier than your aircraft departs, so that you’ll wish to verify in as quickly because it opens. Seasoned Southwest passengers will set an alarm to remind themselves to verify in precisely 24 hours forward of time.

Checking in 24 hours earlier than your flight will often land you someplace within the B boarding group — which is usually satisfactory to search out both a window or aisle seat or 2 seats collectively if you’re flying with a companion.

Southwest Boarding Pass, Boarding Group:Position
Your boarding go will present your group (A, B, or C) and a quantity (1-60). Picture Credit score: Southwest

On the Gate

When it’s time to board the aircraft, the gate agent will first name the A bunch to get in place. You’ll discover 2 traces of individuals lining up in rows which might be labeled A 1-30 and A 31-60 (be aware the photograph beneath is exhibiting C 1-30 and C 31+). In every row, there might be a marker for each 5 numbers exhibiting precisely the place try to be standing in line.

Southwest boarding area
On the gate, you’ll see 2 units of displays to let you realize which group ought to be lined up. Behind the displays might be quantity markers for each 5 folks that will help you know the place to face in line. Picture Credit score: Katie Seemann/Zen Life and Journey

As soon as boarding begins, the gate agent will begin with pre-board passengers and people with boarding positions A 1-15 (often reserved for Enterprise Choose passengers). Then they’ll proceed with A 15-30 then A 31-60. As soon as A 1-30 have boarded the aircraft, the monitor on the entrance of the road will change to B 1-30. Then the B group can begin lining up whereas the remainder of the A bunch finishes getting on the aircraft.

When your quantity is known as, you’ll stroll in line to the gate agent to scan your boarding go and proceed on to the aircraft. As soon as you might be on the aircraft, you possibly can select any open seat.

Scorching Tip: For those who’re flying on Southwest Airways, make sure to familiarize your self with the Fast Rewards program. This frequent flyer program consists of numerous methods to earn factors (even with out flying) and provides straightforward factors redemptions with no blackout dates. Southwest flies to numerous worldwide locations plus Hawaii (lastly), so their Fast Rewards program is one you received’t wish to miss.

Southwest Boarding Positions

For those who aren’t conversant in Southwest’s boarding positions, they might be a bit complicated. Right here’s a rundown of what you possibly can anticipate.

Pre-Board: Pre-boarding is reserved for these passengers with conditions that require them to have a particular seat on the aircraft because of a incapacity or those that want help in boarding or stowing an assistive machine. A preboarding designation must be organized previous to boarding.

A1-15: These positions are often reserved for Enterprise Choose passengers (the most costly sort of ticket you should buy on Southwest). If not the entire Enterprise Choose tickets had been bought, different passengers can improve their place to the A1-A15 part for $30-$50 (the upgraded boarding applies to only that flight, not your complete itinerary). To improve your boarding place, you’ll must see the gate attendant earlier than the boarding course of begins.

A16-30: This group is often assigned to A-Checklist Most well-liked or A-Checklist members and anybody who bought EarlyBird Test-In. Nonetheless, an A boarding place is not assured even when you’ve got A-Checklist, A-Checklist Most well-liked, or EarlyBird Test-In.

Household Boarding/Energetic Responsibility Navy/Passengers Needing Additional Time: Households touring with a baby who’s 6 years outdated or youthful can board after the A bunch no matter their assigned boarding place. This doesn’t must be organized forward of time. You’ll simply line as much as the facet and board after they name for households with younger youngsters.

Any active-duty army passengers are allowed to board right now as properly.

Any clients with a incapacity who simply want a bit further time to board can go on this group. This must be pre-arranged by talking to a ticket counter agent or a gate agent previous to boarding.

B 1-60: This center of the street group can differ relying on how full the aircraft is and the way many individuals bought EarlyBird Test-In. You may nonetheless find yourself within the B group whenever you buy EarlyBird Test-In, nevertheless, you’ll most likely be on the entrance of the pack in the event you do.

For those who verify in precisely 24 hours forward of time, you’ll often find yourself someplace within the B group. When you have a B group boarding place, the probabilities are good that you simply’ll nonetheless have the ability to get a window or aisle seat or discover 2 seats collectively in the event you’re touring with a companion.

Scorching Tip: In case you are within the B group (and even one of many first numbers within the C group), head to the again of the aircraft. Folks are likely to fill within the entrance of the aircraft first leaving open seating within the again. Whereas this doesn’t all the time work, you’ll have higher possibilities of avoiding a center seat in the event you head to the rear of the plane.

C 1-60: That is the group you’ll most certainly get in the event you don’t verify in proper on time. Whereas the C group isn’t a assured center seat, the probabilities are fairly excessive you received’t be sitting within the ultimate spot.

For those who’re touring alone, it’s price it to go to the again of the aircraft in quest of a window or aisle seat. If there are solely center seats left, the flight attendants will announce it so that you’ll know when to surrender and take the primary seat you see.

Suggestions for Discovering an Open Seat

  1. The flight attendants will often be standing in a row of seats close to the center of the aircraft (typically within the exit row) throughout boarding. They’re often more than pleased to maneuver in the event you’d like to take a seat the place they’re standing.
  2. You’ll see folks with their baggage on the seat in an effort to avoid wasting them for touring companions with a later boarding quantity. While you’re technically allowed to ask them to maneuver their gadgets so you possibly can sit there, you’ll have a grumpy seatmate for the entire journey. It’s most likely greatest to maneuver on.
  3. Usually you’ll see 2 folks in a row who’re touring collectively however sitting within the window and aisle, leaving the center seat empty. For those who ask to take a seat there, most of the time certainly one of them will transfer over, supplying you with a window or an aisle seat.
  4. Don’t go up a major empty seat within the entrance of the aircraft. I see this on a regular basis! You’ll typically see a good empty seat within the entrance of the aircraft that individuals are passing up. Not like different airways, these are not reserved for anybody, so be happy to take an excellent seat within the entrance if it’s out there (I’ve used this trick to attain a second-row aisle seat with overhead bin house regardless that I had a C boarding place!).

Household Boarding

Flying on Southwest with younger youngsters is 1 occasion when bringing the children makes your journey simpler! That’s as a result of dad and mom touring with a baby that’s 6 years outdated or youthful get to board after the A bunch no matter what boarding place is listed in your boarding go.

Meaning you don’t have to fret about checking in precisely 24 hours forward of time — which is a luxurious when flying on Southwest.

Boarding proper after the A bunch additionally ensures you’ll have the ability to discover a group of seats collectively, which is important when touring with little ones.

Southwest plane
Fortunately, Southwest provides particular consideration to households touring with youngsters 6 and underneath. Picture Credit score: Katie Seemann/Zen Life and Journey

Household boarding is proscribed to 2 dad and mom solely and their youngsters so long as one is 6 years outdated or youthful. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or anybody else touring with you’ll nonetheless must board of their assigned place.

In case you are touring with a baby and also you each have A boarding positions, you’re greater than welcome to go forward and board with the A bunch — you don’t have to attend for household boarding.

Backside Line: For those who’re touring with a baby who’s 6 years outdated or youthful, you’ll have the ability to board throughout household boarding. This takes place between the A and B teams which is able to guarantee you could find seats collectively. This courtesy solely extends to youngsters and a pair of dad and mom — another touring companions will nonetheless must board based mostly on their boarding place.

Boarding for Passengers With Disabilities

Clients with disabilities that require preboarding because of a particular seating want or those that want help with a medical machine want to talk to a ticket agent or gate agent earlier than boarding begins. If the passenger qualifies, a brand new boarding go with a preboarding designation might be issued. Anybody who preboards could not sit in an exit row.

If a buyer with a incapacity simply wants a bit further time, they are going to be permitted to board earlier than household boarding between the A and B teams.

This courtesy extends to 1 journey companion as properly — any extra household or mates might want to board with their assigned teams.

Get a Higher Boarding Place

If you’d like an excellent boarding place, however don’t wish to fear about checking in on the proper time (or paying for a Enterprise Choose fare), there are different choices that will help you safe a coveted increased boarding place.

  1. Earn Southwest elite standing
  2. Buy EarlyBird Test-In
  3. Buy an upgraded boarding place on the gate (topic to availability).
  4. Get a bank card that comes with upgraded boarding passes or a journey credit score to cowl the charges.

Earn Southwest Elite Standing

You may earn elite standing on Southwest Airways by means of the variety of one-way flights you’re taking or by means of the variety of elite qualifying factors you earn in 1 calendar 12 months. Southwest additionally permits different passengers on the identical reservation because the elite member to board similtaneously the elite member.

Southwest Standing Required Variety of Qualifying One-Method Flights Required Variety of Tier Qualifying Factors
A-Checklist 25 35,000
A-Checklist Most well-liked 50 70,000

Southwest additionally will often run promotions that will help you quick monitor your standing, or you possibly can attempt a standing match.

Scorching Tip: Whereas having a Southwest Companion Cross is a implausible perk, it doesn’t make you eligible for any sort of precedence boarding.

EarlyBird Test-In

Including EarlyBird Test-In to your reservation will mechanically verify you in as much as 36 hours forward of your flight, supplying you with the next boarding place. Nonetheless, it doesn’t assure an A bunch place. You could possibly nonetheless get a B boarding place even in the event you pay for EarlyBird Test-In.

You may add EarlyBird Test-In whenever you buy your ticket, or you possibly can add it to an present flight. It prices between $15-$25 one-way per individual.
Picture Credit score: Southwest

Buy Upgraded Boarding on the Gate

If there are open boarding positions out there within the A1-A15 group, you’ll have the ability to pay to improve to certainly one of these positions on the gate.

The price is $30-$50 per individual per flight section (it doesn’t cowl your complete itinerary). Upgraded boarding may be bought on the gate earlier than boarding begins by talking to a gate agent.

Backside Line: Your greatest bets to get the next boarding place with out having to earn elite standing are EarlyBird Test-In and upgraded boarding on the gate. Nonetheless, each choices will price you. EarlyBird Test-In prices $15-$25 one-way per individual and doesn’t assure you’ll get an A boarding quantity. Upgraded boarding on the gate is topic to availability and prices $30-$50 per flight per individual, nevertheless it will get you an A1-15 boarding place.

The Greatest Credit score Playing cards for Upgraded Boarding

In fact, perks like upgraded boarding or EarlyBird Test-In are even higher whenever you don’t should pay for them. The excellent news is that some bank cards will cowl these prices for you.

Southwest Credit score Playing cards:

An A1-15 boarding place sounds nice, however paying as much as $50 per individual isn’t nice. Fortunately, there are bank cards that may make it easier to cowl this price.

The next Southwest bank cards every include four upgraded boarding passes per 12 months:

Different Credit score Playing cards:

Some bank cards provide credit for journey purchases. You should use these credit to improve your boarding place or to buy EarlyBird Test-In on Southwest Airways.

The airline payment credit score on these American Specific playing cards will solely be reimbursed if the cost comes out of your chosen airline (so make sure to select Southwest!). These credit don’t apply to airfare, so if you wish to use your credit score for EarlyBird Test-In, make sure to buy it individually out of your flight.

Amex bank cards that supply airline payment reimbursements embody:

Chase and Citi additionally provide playing cards that include a beneficiant journey reimbursement. Utilizing the journey credit on these playing cards is simpler than these on Amex playing cards. You don’t should designate a particular airline or fear about ensuring you pay for EarlyBird Test-In separate out of your flight.

Closing Ideas

Southwest is an airline that does issues a bit in another way. This consists of their boarding course of — as a result of they don’t assign seats! Whereas the concept of not having an assigned seat generally is a little complicated at first, when you get the grasp of it, it’s straightforward peasy.

We hope this information provides you the arrogance to board your subsequent Southwest flight like a professional!

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