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Travel Experts Share 7 Southwest Boarding Tips

    Travel Experts Share 7 Southwest Boarding Tips

    Southwest Airlines stands out for its unique boarding process, which can sometimes be confusing for passengers accustomed to traditional assigned seating. However, seasoned travelers have honed their strategies to navigate this system efficiently.

    Here are seven invaluable tips from travel experts to ensure a smooth boarding experience on Southwest Airlines.

    1. Early Check-In is Key

    Southwest operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Securing an advantageous boarding position starts with early check-in. Check in online exactly 24 hours before departure to maximize your chances of getting a favorable boarding group and position. Set an alarm if needed, as early check-in significantly impacts your boarding order.

    2. Know Your Boarding Group

    Upon check-in, you’ll receive a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a numbered position within that group. Groups are called in order, and each passenger boards according to their position. Aim for Group A or an early position within it for better seat choices and overhead bin availability.

    3. Utilize Early Bird Check-In

    For travelers who want peace of mind without the hassle of precisely timing their check-in, Southwest offers an EarlyBird Check-In option for a fee. This automatically checks you in before general check-in begins, securing a better boarding position.

    4. Gate Lurking Can Pay Off

    Even if you couldn’t secure a favorable boarding position during check-in, arriving at the gate early can still work in your favor. Passengers may not show up for their flights, creating last-minute opportunities to snag better positions during the boarding process.

    5. Strategic Seating Matters

    While Southwest operates on open seating, having a strategy for seat selection can make a significant difference. Consider the boarding process: if you’re in Group A, aim for seats closer to the front for quicker exit upon arrival. If in Group B or C, opt for seats towards the rear to minimize the chances of a middle seat.

    6. Families and Groups, Plan Ahead

    Traveling with a family or group? Coordinate your check-ins to maximize the chances of boarding together. Early check-in is crucial for securing adjacent seats, especially when flying during peak travel times.

    7. Be Flexible and Patient

    Southwest’s boarding process may not always guarantee your preferred seat, but being flexible can lead to a more pleasant experience. Stay patient, as there’s a high chance of finding suitable seating, even if it’s not your first choice. Keep a positive attitude, and you might end up enjoying unexpected perks like an empty middle seat.


    Southwest Airlines’ unique boarding system prioritizes early check-in and rewards those who plan strategically. By understanding the boarding process and implementing these expert tips, travelers can enhance their Southwest experience, securing better seating options and a smoother journey overall.

    Remember, while these tips can improve your boarding position, they don’t guarantee specific seats. However, with a bit of foresight and knowledge, you can increase the likelihood of a more comfortable and stress-free flight on Southwest Airlines.

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