During the boarding process, passengers have the option to choose their own seats. However, if you want to have an advantage over others, you can pay for EarlyBird Check-In.
Southwest is an airline that focuses on simplicity and doesn’t provide fancy features like a first-class cabin or reserved seating. If you want to board the plane early and secure a good seat, you have the option to pay extra for early boarding. The prices for boarding among the first range from $15 to $25 per segment, depending on your payment method.
Southwest uses a unique boarding system. Instead of getting a specific seat, you are given a boarding position. People with an A on their boarding pass get to board before those with a C. There are several ways to ensure or increase your chances of getting an A next to your name. One of the options available is called EarlyBird Check-In.
Is it worth it to pay for Southwest’s EarlyBird Check-In? Here is the information you need to make a decision.
What is EarlyBird Check-In?
EarlyBird Check-In is a service that ensures you will be among the first passengers to board the plane. However, this service requires an additional fee. The price for each person on each flight can be anywhere between $15 and $25. If you have a round-trip ticket and want to add this feature for both the outbound and return journeys, you will need to purchase it separately for each part of the trip.
Even if you pay for EarlyBird Check-In, you may not be the first to board the plane. If you buy a Business Select ticket from Southwest, you are guaranteed one of the first 15 boarding spots. Your place in the boarding line with EarlyBird Check-In is determined by the number of Business Select tickets you purchased on your flight.
How did EarlyBird Check-In work?
As mentioned earlier, Southwest has a unique boarding procedure that is different from most other major airlines. When you book a flight, instead of choosing a specific seat, you will be assigned to one of three boarding groups: A, B, or C.
After that, you will be given a number that corresponds to your place in line. This means that A1 will be the first person to board, followed by A2 and so on.
If you don’t want to pay for early check-in, it’s generally better to check in early for a Southwest flight. This way, you’ll have a better chance of getting a good boarding spot. That’s why a lot of passengers check in as soon as they can, which is exactly 24 hours before the flight is scheduled to leave.
Many passengers aim to board in group A or B to secure better seats, find sufficient space for their bags in the overhead bins, and avoid being separated from their fellow travelers. If you don’t have EarlyBird Check-In, there’s a chance you might end up with a middle seat, far from your loved ones, or without enough room for your carry-on.
How to Get Free Earlybird Check-in on Southwest Airlines?
You don’t have to buy EarlyBird Check-In for any of these four ways to board early with Southwest.
- Purchase a Business Select Ticket
- Purchase an Anytime Fare
- Purchase Upgraded Boarding
- Apply for a Southwest Credit Card
Purchase a Business Select Ticket
People with Business Select fares are at the top of the list for priority boarding and get to go in groups A1 through A15.
Southwest has four different types of fares: Anytime, Business Select, Wanna Get Away Plus, and Wanna Get Away. The most expensive ticket, the Business Select, comes with a lot of benefits besides priority boarding. These include a full refund up to 10 minutes before departure, a free drink on most flights, a high rate of points earned (12 Rapid Rewards points for every $1 spent), priority lane access, same-day changes, and standby.
Purchase an Anytime Fare
In 2022, Southwest made EarlyBird Check-In free for any time prices that were bought more than 24 hours before the flight. You can get a full refund up to 10 minutes before your flight with an anytime price. You can also get priority lane access, make changes the same day, standby, and earn 10 Rapid Rewards points for every $1 you spend.
When you book your flight more than 36 hours before it leaves, you will be checked in immediately 36 hours before the flight leaves. This is 12 hours earlier than the normal check-in time, which is 24 hours before the flight.
People who buy Anytime tickets between 24 and 36 hours before the flight will still be able to use EarlyBird Check-In, but the process of assigning seats will already be in progress, so you might not get the seat you want.
Purchase Upgraded Boarding
You can pay extra for improved boarding if you want to get a better spot than EarlyBird but don’t want to pay more for a Business Select ticket. People in groups A1 through A15 can buy a seat for $30 to $80 each way. If it’s still available, you can buy it at the gate or at the ticket desk the day of the flight, or you can buy it online from Southwest’s website up to 24 hours before the flight.
Who Might Want to Pay for Earlybird Check-in?
If none of the other ways to get early boarding work for you, buy EarlyBird Check-In if you are afraid of:
- Enough room in the overhead bins. If your carry-on is big or bulky and you want to improve your chances of being able to store it on board.
- Having a place that isn’t very good. If you can’t stand the thought of sitting in the middle seat on the flight from Los Angeles to New York, you won’t be able to check in for your trip at the 24-hour mark.
- Being split up from your group. It can be stressful to travel with old parents or other people you worry about, and being split up could make things even worse. Family boarding on Southwest lets two adults traveling with a child 6 or younger immediately board after the A group and before the B group.
If any of these three reasons sound like you, you should really think about paying for EarlyBird Check-In.
Who Should Not Use Earlybird Check-in?
Not everyone needs EarlyBird Check-In. We suggest that the following travelers choose not to participate in it:
Families With Small Children:
If you’re traveling with little kids, you might not need EarlyBird Check-In because Southwest has a family boarding policy. Parents traveling with children who are 6 years old or younger can board the plane after the A group but before the B group. In most situations, this should allow you to obtain at least two seats that are next to each other.
A lot of people choose to fly with Southwest because they want to save money on their tickets, even if it means making some compromises. If you prefer having money in your pocket over getting your preferred seat, it’s probably a good idea to skip EarlyBird Check-In.
For Group Traveler:
If you’re traveling with a group, paying $15 to $25 for early boarding may not seem like a lot at first. However, it can become a significant expense when multiplied by the number of people in your group. A family of four could spend up to $200 for this perk on a round-trip flight.
How to Purchase Earlybird Check-in on Southwest Airlines?
Booking a New Flight
On Southwest.com, EarlyBird Check-In can be purchased at the time of checkout. You will be asked to enter passenger details after choosing your flight, reviewing the pricing summary, and maybe adding a rental car to your reservation. You have the option to add EarlyBird Check-In before entering your contact details.
For Already Booked Flight
To get to your Trips, log in to your Southwest account. Click on Details next to the flight you want to add the service to. Click on the “Add EarlyBird Check-In” button and then “Buy.”
In conclusion, Southwest’s EarlyBird Check-In can be a valuable choice for travelers seeking better boarding positions and seat selection. Priced between $15 and $25 per segment, it provides an advantage, but alternatives like Business Select, Anytime Fares, and Upgraded Boarding also exist. Consider personal priorities, as not everyone may find it necessary, especially those prioritizing cost savings or traveling in groups. The decision hinges on individual preferences and the balance between convenience and associated costs.