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Southwest Boarding Group/Check-In Questions

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#1
Our upcoming flights to Orlando will be over February break (when a lot of families will be traveling and flights will be full), and will be on Southwest. We've only flown on Southwest once before, and it was years ago, when EarlyBird was a new product, Smartphones didn't exist, and checking in right at the 24-hour mark on your big desktop computer using dial-up service through your screechy modem was all you needed to guarantee a good boarding position. I know times have really changed since then!

We have purchased EarlyBird for our return flight, but not for our outbound flight (nor will we be doing so). I'll be checking in for that on the dot of 24-hours-out. I just had a few questions for those who fly Southwest more frequently:

1 - Which is faster for checking in -- the app or the computer -- or are they the same number of clicks either way?

2 - We are in a group of 5, flying a 737-700 (143 seats). Assuming that when I check in at the 24-hour mark we're able to get mid-B group or better boarding positions, and assuming we split up our group of 5 (2 people and 3 people), do you think we'll be able to find sets of 2 or 3 seats together? Our flight will be originating at our airport (so there won't be passengers onboard already). However, we still won't likely be getting on until after the disabled, the A boarding group (<60 people), uniformed military, etc. and those entitled to family boarding (I imagine that many of those going to Orlando over a school break will have a child -- or several -- 6 or under) get onboard. We'll be traveling with two children (over 6, but requiring supervision) and an elderly aunt (hard of hearing, enough that one of us really needs to sit with her, even though she is not disabled in a manner that would require early boarding), and I want to make sure that neither she nor the kids end up sitting by themselves. Am I being silly to worry about that?

(More to the point, if you've flown Southwest recently sans EarlyBird, what was your boarding position if you checked in at 24 hours, and/or what was the seating situation when you boarded?) If worse comes to worst and we get on and all the remaining sets of 2/3 seats are being "saved" by others, are we entitled to just plop down in them anyway, politely citing Southwest's "open boarding" policy? Or is that a breach of some rule, written or unwritten? (Southwest doesn't make it easy, simultaneously saying on its website that it has "no policy for or against seat-saving," but in the same breath saying you are entitled to sit in "any unoccupied seat" when you board.)
 
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Darstarr

Well-Known Member
#2
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We fly Southwest all the time. As for the phone app vs computer, I always prefer the computer because my big thumbs wont get in the way.
Dont stress out about seating. I dont know where you are flying from but most people are nice about letting you sit with your kids. My kids are older now, but we never had a problem. Sometimes you can still snag an entire row with a boarding location in the early C’s.
Good luck! I will be down there in February as well. Flying Southwest.
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#3
We fly Southwest all the time. As for the phone app vs computer, I always prefer the computer because my big thumbs wont get in the way.
Dont stress out about seating. I dont know where you are flying from but most people are nice about letting you sit with your kids. My kids are older now, but we never had a problem. Sometimes you can still snag an entire row with a boarding location in the early C’s.
Good luck! I will be down there in February as well. Flying Southwest.
Thank you! That makes me feel much better. :)
 

WWWD

Well-Known Member
#4
If you check in at the 24 hour mark, you’ll be fine. Flying SW several times over the years with a family of 5 and we never got lower than mid “B” when checking in at the 24 hour mark. Remember with SW, “A” group means you can sit Anywhere, “B” group means Back of the plane, and “C” group means you’ll be stuck in the Center seat.😀
 
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Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#8
A joke, but yet remarkably accurate.
I figured it wasn't meant to be taken literally, but as a clever guide to where you're likely to end up based on boarding group letter. Like how my Dad used to tell people with a straight face, after some bad experiences with Delta airlines, that the name stood for Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport. ;) (I thought for years that he made it up himself, until the internet was born and I realized how prevalent that Delta acronym joke was...)
 
#9
Sometimes, you'll encounter the dreaded SW early-bird workaround, whereby one person in the group buys early bird, boards and proceeds to save seats for the rest of his/her party. SW doesn't really enforce it, but saving seats isn't something permitted on SW. Also, wheel chair parties board first, then A list, then early bird, then A, family boarding, B,C.
 

daisyduckie

Well-Known Member
#10
I pay for Early Bird, as I don't want the stress worrying about if I will be able to sit with my family. Only you can say if the cost is worth it for you.
 

WWWD

Well-Known Member
#11
I figured it wasn't meant to be taken literally, but as a clever guide to where you're likely to end up based on boarding group letter. Like how my Dad used to tell people with a straight face, after some bad experiences with Delta airlines, that the name stood for Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport. ;) (I thought for years that he made it up himself, until the internet was born and I realized how prevalent that Delta acronym joke was...)
We were on a Disney cruise a few years ago and the comedian made a Delta joke during the all ages show that the kids still repeat today. He said Delta stands for “don’t expect luggage to arrive.”

During one trip to WDW, we actually had no luggage for close to two days and the airline had no idea where it was until it showed up in our hotel room - better than Christmas feeling. We now all have carryons so at least we can “survive.”
 

StarWarsGirl

Well-Known Member
#12
I love Southwest. I cannot speak highly enough about them. I have preboard permission, but I usually hit the 24 hour mark anyway. I usually end up in the A or B boarding group; there's even been a few times where I haven't hit it right away and still ended up in B. The flight attendants are always wonderful. I have a peanut allergy, and even before they stopped serving them completely, they were wonderful. My elderly grandmother has also recently started flying again after not having flown since before 9-11, and they have been fantastic with her. We've only had one issue ever with them where they lost a suitcase, and it showed up the next day. Turned out it was just on the flight after ours. I never even look at other airlines. They're cheap, they're reliable, and from my home airport, they have the best availability.

The boarding will go like this:
1. Preboarding - anyone using a wheelchair (even in airport) or those who need more time to board, such as if you need to wipe down a seating area for an allergy
2. A boarding group - including early bird and business select 1-30 (note: there won't always be 1-30 people in front of you. They leave a certain amount open for anyone who wants to upgrade). Then there's 30 more spots in the A boarding group.
3. Family boarding - anyone with children under four plus the parents/siblings who are not in the A boarding group.
4. Groups B & C. If you're in B, you'll be fine and can sit together

As far as sitting with your group, I've literally had Southwest flight attendants hold a flight until a parent and child can sit together. I would suggest with your aunt that you mention she's hard of hearing. Even though my grandmother is very mobile, I always ask for wheelchair assistance for her and for her to preboard. They do have an option when you book. They'll make sure if you need to be together, you'll be together.

I actually got a better boarding position on my phone than on my computer last time. One tip: get ready to click it five minutes before, and then when you click it on your phone when it's right at your time, count to five after it switches over. Southwest's clock I always find is five seconds behind my phone's.
 

thomas998

Well-Known Member
#13
Our upcoming flights to Orlando will be over February break (when a lot of families will be traveling and flights will be full), and will be on Southwest. We've only flown on Southwest once before, and it was years ago, when EarlyBird was a new product, Smartphones didn't exist, and checking in right at the 24-hour mark on your big desktop computer using dial-up service through your screechy modem was all you needed to guarantee a good boarding position. I know times have really changed since then!

We have purchased EarlyBird for our return flight, but not for our outbound flight (nor will we be doing so). I'll be checking in for that on the dot of 24-hours-out. I just had a few questions for those who fly Southwest more frequently:

1 - Which is faster for checking in -- the app or the computer -- or are they the same number of clicks either way?

2 - We are in a group of 5, flying a 737-700 (143 seats). Assuming that when I check in at the 24-hour mark we're able to get mid-B group or better boarding positions, and assuming we split up our group of 5 (2 people and 3 people), do you think we'll be able to find sets of 2 or 3 seats together? Our flight will be originating at our airport (so there won't be passengers onboard already). However, we still won't likely be getting on until after the disabled, the A boarding group (<60 people), uniformed military, etc. and those entitled to family boarding (I imagine that many of those going to Orlando over a school break will have a child -- or several -- 6 or under) get onboard. We'll be traveling with two children (over 6, but requiring supervision) and an elderly aunt (hard of hearing, enough that one of us really needs to sit with her, even though she is not disabled in a manner that would require early boarding), and I want to make sure that neither she nor the kids end up sitting by themselves. Am I being silly to worry about that?

(More to the point, if you've flown Southwest recently sans EarlyBird, what was your boarding position if you checked in at 24 hours, and/or what was the seating situation when you boarded?) If worse comes to worst and we get on and all the remaining sets of 2/3 seats are being "saved" by others, are we entitled to just plop down in them anyway, politely citing Southwest's "open boarding" policy? Or is that a breach of some rule, written or unwritten? (Southwest doesn't make it easy, simultaneously saying on its website that it has "no policy for or against seat-saving," but in the same breath saying you are entitled to sit in "any unoccupied seat" when you board.)
I used to be like you and sign on as soon as I could... then I started getting lazy and don't think I've bothered to worry about hitting the earliest time in years... My average is probably 8 hours before the flight when I get around to signing in... and we have never gotten in group C. I think the worst we've had is about B46 and on all those times I'm sure if we didn't mind seats near the back we could have gotten 5 seats in a group either across the aisle or 3 in front of 2.
 

hakunamatata

“Woke” about the flatness
Premium Member
#14
I love Southwest. I cannot speak highly enough about them. I have preboard permission, but I usually hit the 24 hour mark anyway. I usually end up in the A or B boarding group; there's even been a few times where I haven't hit it right away and still ended up in B. The flight attendants are always wonderful. I have a peanut allergy, and even before they stopped serving them completely, they were wonderful. My elderly grandmother has also recently started flying again after not having flown since before 9-11, and they have been fantastic with her. We've only had one issue ever with them where they lost a suitcase, and it showed up the next day. Turned out it was just on the flight after ours. I never even look at other airlines. They're cheap, they're reliable, and from my home airport, they have the best availability.

The boarding will go like this:
1. Preboarding - anyone using a wheelchair (even in airport) or those who need more time to board, such as if you need to wipe down a seating area for an allergy
2. A boarding group - including early bird and business select 1-30 (note: there won't always be 1-30 people in front of you. They leave a certain amount open for anyone who wants to upgrade). Then there's 30 more spots in the A boarding group.
3. Family boarding - anyone with children under four plus the parents/siblings who are not in the A boarding group.
4. Groups B & C. If you're in B, you'll be fine and can sit together

As far as sitting with your group, I've literally had Southwest flight attendants hold a flight until a parent and child can sit together. I would suggest with your aunt that you mention she's hard of hearing. Even though my grandmother is very mobile, I always ask for wheelchair assistance for her and for her to preboard. They do have an option when you book. They'll make sure if you need to be together, you'll be together.

I actually got a better boarding position on my phone than on my computer last time. One tip: get ready to click it five minutes before, and then when you click it on your phone when it's right at your time, count to five after it switches over. Southwest's clock I always find is five seconds behind my phone's.
When did SW quit serving peanuts. I want to say I had some on SW within the last month.
 

CaptainAmerica

Well-Known Member
#16
3. Family boarding - anyone with children under four plus the parents/siblings who are not in the A boarding group.
This is not always true. It varies widely from airport to airport and even flight to flight.

1. The age of the child that qualifies is variable. It's usually 6.
2. Whether siblings are allowed varies.
3. Whether multiple parents are allowed varies.
4. Whether grandparents or other members of the traveling party are allowed varies.

Flying to Orlando usually has some of the tightest rules since such a large percentage of people are boarding with children.
 
#18
Our upcoming flights to Orlando will be over February break (when a lot of families will be traveling and flights will be full), and will be on Southwest. We've only flown on Southwest once before, and it was years ago, when EarlyBird was a new product, Smartphones didn't exist, and checking in right at the 24-hour mark on your big desktop computer using dial-up service through your screechy modem was all you needed to guarantee a good boarding position. I know times have really changed since then!

We have purchased EarlyBird for our return flight, but not for our outbound flight (nor will we be doing so). I'll be checking in for that on the dot of 24-hours-out. I just had a few questions for those who fly Southwest more frequently:

1 - Which is faster for checking in -- the app or the computer -- or are they the same number of clicks either way?

2 - We are in a group of 5, flying a 737-700 (143 seats). Assuming that when I check in at the 24-hour mark we're able to get mid-B group or better boarding positions, and assuming we split up our group of 5 (2 people and 3 people), do you think we'll be able to find sets of 2 or 3 seats together? Our flight will be originating at our airport (so there won't be passengers onboard already). However, we still won't likely be getting on until after the disabled, the A boarding group (<60 people), uniformed military, etc. and those entitled to family boarding (I imagine that many of those going to Orlando over a school break will have a child -- or several -- 6 or under) get onboard. We'll be traveling with two children (over 6, but requiring supervision) and an elderly aunt (hard of hearing, enough that one of us really needs to sit with her, even though she is not disabled in a manner that would require early boarding), and I want to make sure that neither she nor the kids end up sitting by themselves. Am I being silly to worry about that?

(More to the point, if you've flown Southwest recently sans EarlyBird, what was your boarding position if you checked in at 24 hours, and/or what was the seating situation when you boarded?) If worse comes to worst and we get on and all the remaining sets of 2/3 seats are being "saved" by others, are we entitled to just plop down in them anyway, politely citing Southwest's "open boarding" policy? Or is that a breach of some rule, written or unwritten? (Southwest doesn't make it easy, simultaneously saying on its website that it has "no policy for or against seat-saving," but in the same breath saying you are entitled to sit in "any unoccupied seat" when you board.)
We go during Spring Break which is peak season, so I usually fork over extra $$ for early bird. Sometimes on our flight over, but for sure on flight back. This guarantees me not forgetting to check in straight up at the 24hr mark, which no matter how much you think you won’t, you will when you are busy in the parks the day prior to departure. Also, I used to worry about printing up my boarding pass and then realized Resort airline check in at Disney resorts will print it for you. Love SW airlines. Refreshingly fantastic customer service. Now, just a note, I have found that when I do go to check in for the flight to Orlando, even at the 24hr mark, it is surprising how far along in the boarding process you’ll end up. Apparently everyone means business and they are on top of this! Last trip, I booked early bird for both legs of the trip. Even then, it seems my daughter and I sat separately on at least one flight. She’s a teen and was okay with it. Grab the first seat you see!!! I don’t think I am going to get to go next year and it is just killing me.
 
#19
As a frequent Southwest flyer for pleasure and business:

1. It's the same either way, but I usually do it from the app. Just make sure that your app is working okay the day of, because the app tends to be a bit finicky. It jammed up on us on our last WDW trip, but we wound up getting in a few minutes later, and still wound up in the B-20's.

2. You will almost certainly be okay. If you're in the mid-B's, there'll definitely be open seats. I usually log in right at the 24 hour mark and am generally in the B-10's through B-20's. If you have the Southwest Priority Card it affords you four A-List boardings a year for free, if the A's aren't sold out ahead of time.

Also, download Airtime Player beforehand. All of the inflight entertainment will be through that app, and you can also stream live TV through Southwest's website, the address of which will be on a card in the pocket of your seat.
 
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WDW_Emily

Well-Known Member
#20
Don't stress too much! My family of 4 went down end of June two years ago and we are all Mid-late B group. We found 4 seats together a couple rows behind the wing.

Last year, my sister and I were C7 and C12 (checked in at the 22 hour mark) on the Sunday starting February break, with 90% of our plane going down to run princess. We ended up together three rows from the back but with an empty middle seat!
 
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