Earlier this year when we traveled to Walt Disney World, we booked our flights on Southwest Airlines. This was our first time flying with them. The fares were reasonable, they did not charge for baggage and their cancellation policy is one of the best ones out there. There is a catch though. They do not assign seats. I did not realize this. Luckily, a friend of mine was also traveling on the same flight (we were both heading to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration). She had flown on Southwest before and knew the ins and outs of traveling with them. Since she was in the know, she and her family were in the first group to board. We were in the 4th group. Since they boarded first, they saved us 3 seats so that we could sit together. After that trip, I did some research on how to make sure to get good seats on Southwest Airlines and am offering up a few tips you can use, to get the seats you want and more importantly get seated together as a family.
Southwest Family Boarding
As I mentioned earlier, Southwest does not offer assigned seats. once you board the aircraft, you can pick any seat you want that’s available. This is why boarding order matters a lot. Passengers are assigned into groups. You will either be grouped into the A, B or C section. The A section gets to board first, however, families traveling with young children under 6 years old are allowed to board before the B section or group. But if you have an A group ticket, you should board first with the A section, instead of waiting for family boarding.
Check In as Early as Possible
Check in opens 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. So you should check in as soon as it opens. In fact since there are numerous other passengers also rushing to check in, to get better seats, you should start clicking about 60 seconds before it opens! It may not seem like it, but a few minutes or even seconds can make a huge difference in your group or position. Please note that weekdays are especially busy. So what you can do to ensure you are the first to check in is set an alarm for about 5 or 10 minutes before check in opens and pull up your reservation and enter all the necessary details. This will ensure that you are ready to hit that button as soon as check in opens.
Getting into the A Group
One of the best ways to get into the A group is to pay for Early Bird check in. When you purchase Early Bird Check In, Southwest automatically checks you in 36 hours before your flight. Standard check in is 24 hours before the flight so by electing this service, you get first dibs at getting a better boarding pass number. Please note though that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get into the A group. You can also wind up being in the B group. Nevertheless, you’ll have more empty seats to choose from and also more available overhead bin space for you carry-on luggage.
Do you know of more strategies on how to get good seats in Southwest Airlines? Please share them in the comments below.