Booking a flight on Southwest Airlines and wondering what your boarding position means? Your position dictates when you’ll board the plane and how you can improve it for your next flight. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Your boarding position on Southwest depends on when you check in and your frequent flyer status.
The earlier you check in, the better your position.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Southwest Airlines boarding positions. You’ll learn how positions are assigned, strategies for getting the best position, and how to change your position after booking your flight.
How Boarding Positions Are Assigned on Southwest
When it comes to flying with Southwest Airlines, your boarding position can greatly impact your overall travel experience. Understanding how these positions are assigned can help you make the most of your flight. Here are a few key factors that determine your boarding position:
Check-in Time is Key
One of the primary factors that determine your boarding position on Southwest is the time at which you check in for your flight. Southwest Airlines uses a unique open seating policy, where passengers are not assigned specific seats but rather given a boarding group and position.
The earlier you check in, the better your chances of securing a favorable boarding position. Southwest allows passengers to check in online starting 24 hours before their flight departure time. It’s important to set a reminder and check in as soon as the clock strikes 24 hours before your flight to increase your chances of getting a better boarding position.
Frequent Flyer Status Matters Too
Another factor that can impact your boarding position on Southwest Airlines is your frequent flyer status. Southwest offers a tiered loyalty program known as Rapid Rewards, where members can earn points for their flights and enjoy benefits such as priority boarding.
Passengers with higher status levels, such as A-List or A-List Preferred, are given priority boarding positions. This means that even if you check in at the same time as another passenger, your frequent flyer status can give you an advantage in terms of boarding ahead of others.
If you frequently fly with Southwest, it may be worth considering joining their Rapid Rewards program to earn points and enjoy the benefits of priority boarding.
Understanding how boarding positions are assigned on Southwest Airlines can help you plan your travel better and increase your chances of getting a favorable position. Don’t forget to set a reminder to check in online as early as possible and consider joining their Rapid Rewards program to enjoy the benefits of priority boarding.
What the Boarding Positions Mean
When flying with Southwest Airlines, understanding the boarding positions can greatly impact your travel experience. Southwest uses a unique open seating policy, which means that passengers are not assigned specific seats.
Instead, they are assigned boarding positions based on when they check-in for their flight. Here’s a breakdown of what the different boarding positions mean:
A1-A15: Early Bird & Business Select Passengers
If you’re lucky enough to receive a boarding position between A1 and A15, you are either an Early Bird passenger or a Business Select passenger. Early Bird passengers have purchased this option, which allows them to check-in before most other passengers, securing a higher boarding position.
Business Select passengers, on the other hand, are given priority boarding as part of their ticket benefits. This means that you’ll have the opportunity to choose the best available seats and have more space for your belongings.
A16-A60: Checked In Early
If you have a boarding position between A16 and A60, it means that you checked-in early for your flight. These passengers still have a good chance of finding available seats together and have more flexibility in choosing their preferred location on the plane.
While you might not be among the first to board, you’ll still have a great opportunity to find a comfortable spot.
B1-B60: Checked In Later
Passengers with boarding positions between B1 and B60 have checked-in later than those with earlier positions. While you might not have the same advantage of choosing any seat, you’ll still have access to available seats and overhead bin space.
It’s important to note that as the boarding positions progress, the likelihood of finding seats together diminishes. However, Southwest strives to accommodate passengers as best as possible.
C1-C60: Checked In Last
If you find yourself with a boarding position between C1 and C60, it means that you checked-in last for your flight. While this might initially seem like a disadvantage, Southwest Airlines ensures that all passengers have a seat on the plane.
However, the available seating options might be limited, and it’s possible that you won’t find seats together if you’re traveling with a group. Nevertheless, Southwest’s flight attendants will assist you in finding available seats and make your journey as comfortable as possible.
Remember: Regardless of your boarding position, Southwest Airlines offers a unique and accommodating travel experience. Their open seating policy allows passengers to choose their own seats and sit with their travel companions.
So whether you’re an Early Bird, checked in early, or one of the last to check-in, you’ll still have the opportunity to enjoy your flight with Southwest.
Tips for Getting the Best Boarding Position
Buy Early Bird Check-In
One of the easiest ways to secure a good boarding position on Southwest Airlines is to purchase Early Bird Check-In. This optional service allows passengers to check in automatically 36 hours before their flight, giving them an advantage over those who check in later.
By purchasing Early Bird Check-In, passengers are assigned a boarding position before general check-in opens, ensuring they have a better chance of getting their preferred seat. It’s important to note that Early Bird Check-In is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s recommended to purchase it as soon as possible to secure a good boarding position.
Check In Exactly 24 Hours Before
If you prefer not to purchase Early Bird Check-In, another tip for getting a good boarding position is to check in exactly 24 hours before your flight. Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy, which means that boarding positions are assigned based on the order of check-in.
By checking in as soon as the check-in window opens, you increase your chances of securing a better boarding position. Set a reminder to check in online or through the Southwest Airlines app exactly 24 hours before your flight to maximize your chances of getting a good spot in line.
Get A-List or A-List Preferred Status
If you frequently fly with Southwest Airlines, it may be worth considering earning A-List or A-List Preferred status. These elite status tiers offer several benefits, including priority boarding. A-List members are assigned a boarding position between A1 and A15, while A-List Preferred members receive a boarding position between A1 and A10.
By achieving one of these statuses, you can significantly improve your boarding position and ensure a better chance of securing your preferred seat. To earn A-List or A-List Preferred status, you must meet certain qualifying criteria, such as flying a certain number of flights or earning a specific number of Rapid Rewards points.
For more information on Southwest Airlines’ boarding process and tips for getting the best position, you can visit their official website at www.southwest.com/boarding.
Changing Your Boarding Position After Booking
Once you’ve booked your flight with Southwest Airlines, you may wonder if it’s possible to change your boarding position. Fortunately, Southwest Airlines offers a few options for passengers who wish to improve their boarding position.
Pay for Upgraded Boarding
One way to change your boarding position is to pay for upgraded boarding. This service allows you to secure a better boarding position within the A group, giving you access to choose your preferred seat and have more space for your carry-on luggage.
Upgraded boarding can be purchased at the gate or ticket counter on the day of your flight, subject to availability. Keep in mind that this is an additional expense, but it can be a convenient option for those who value a higher boarding position.
Change to an Earlier Flight
Another option to improve your boarding position is to change to an earlier flight. Southwest Airlines allows passengers to change their flight without any change fees, which means you can switch to an earlier departure time if seats are available.
By doing so, you may have a better chance of securing a higher boarding position on the new flight. It’s important to note that this option is subject to seat availability, so it’s recommended to check the availability and book the new flight as early as possible to increase your chances of getting a better boarding position.
By utilizing these options, you can enhance your boarding position on Southwest Airlines and have a more comfortable and convenient travel experience. Remember to plan ahead and consider the availability of upgraded boarding or earlier flights to maximize your chances of securing a better position.
Does Boarding Position Really Matter?
When it comes to flying on Southwest Airlines, the boarding process can be a bit different than what you may be used to. Instead of assigned seats, Southwest operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
Passengers are assigned a boarding position, which determines the order in which they can board the aircraft. But does boarding position really matter? Let’s take a closer look.
Benefits of Early Boarding Positions
Securing an early boarding position can offer a range of benefits for Southwest passengers. Here are a few reasons why it can make a difference:
- Seat Selection: Being one of the first to board means you have a better chance of snagging your preferred seat. Whether you prefer a window or aisle seat, or simply want to sit with your travel companions, getting on the plane early can increase your chances of finding the seat that suits you best.
- Overhead Bin Space: Early boarding positions often mean there is more space available in the overhead bins. This can be particularly important if you have carry-on luggage and want to avoid the hassle of having to gate-check your bags.
- On-time Departure: Southwest aims for quick turnarounds between flights, and having passengers board efficiently plays a part in achieving this goal. By boarding early, you can help contribute to an on-time departure, ensuring a smooth and efficient travel experience for everyone.
Keep in mind that while early boarding positions can offer these advantages, it’s important to be respectful of your fellow passengers and abide by any specific boarding instructions provided by the airline.
Downsides of Late Boarding
On the flip side, late boarding positions can come with a few downsides. Here are a couple of reasons why being towards the end of the boarding process may not be ideal:
- Limited Seat Options: If you board late, you may find that the majority of the desirable seats are already occupied. This means you may have to settle for a seat that is less comfortable or not in your preferred location.
- Increased Stress: When boarding towards the end, there can be a higher likelihood of not finding space for your carry-on bags in the overhead bins. This may lead to the need to gate-check your bags, which can add stress and potentially slow down your overall travel experience.
Ultimately, the importance of boarding position will vary depending on personal preferences and specific travel circumstances. Some individuals may prioritize being one of the first to board, while others may not mind boarding later.
It’s important to consider your own needs and priorities when evaluating the significance of your boarding position.
For more information on Southwest’s boarding process, you can visit their official website here.
Now you know everything there is to know about Southwest Airlines boarding positions. The key takeaways: check in as early as possible, aim for A1-A15, and consider upgrading your status or purchasing EarlyBird check-in.
An optimal position means first dibs on overhead bin space, elbow room, and deplaning quickly.