How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Checking in with Southwest Airlines

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Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular low-cost carriers in the U.S., offering many benefits such as free checked bags, no change or cancellation fees, and flexible seating options. However, Southwest also has a unique check-in and boarding process that can be confusing or frustrating for some travelers. In this article, we will share some tips and tricks on how to avoid common mistakes when checking in with Southwest Airlines and enjoy a smooth and hassle-free flight.

Understand the Southwest Check-in and Boarding Process

Unlike most airlines, Southwest does not assign seats to its passengers. Instead, passengers are assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1 to 60) based on several factors such as the type of fare they purchased, their elite status, when they checked in, and if they have children under six years old. The boarding group and position determine the order in which passengers can board the plane and choose any available seat.

“Follow the simple steps to make online Southwest check-in. You can also complete the process at the Southwest Airlines counter at the airport.”

The boarding process works as follows:

  • Pre-boarding: Passengers who need extra time or assistance to board, such as those with disabilities, can board before the general boarding. They do not need a boarding pass, but they need to get a pre-boarding document from the gate agent. Pre-boarding passengers can choose any seat except the exit row seats.
  • General boarding: Passengers who have a boarding pass with a boarding group and position can line up at the gate according to their assigned number. The gate agent will call the boarding groups in order, starting with A1 to A30, then A31 to A60, then B1 to B30, and so on. Passengers can board the plane when their number is called and choose any available seat.
  • Family boarding: Passengers who are traveling with children who are six years old or younger can board after the A group and before the B group, regardless of their boarding position. They can choose any available seat except the exit row seats.
  • Late boarding: Passengers who arrive at the gate after their boarding group has been called can board at the end of the line, after the C group. They can choose any available seat.

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Common Mistakes

Here are some tips and tricks to avoid common mistakes when Southwest Airlines checking-in and improve your chances of getting a good seat and a smooth boarding experience:

  • Check in as early as possible: You can check in online or on the Southwest app starting 24 hours before your flight departure time. The earlier you check in, the better your boarding position will be. You can also set alerts or reminders for your check-in time to avoid missing it.
  • Purchase EarlyBird Check-In or Business Select fare: If you want to secure a better boarding position without having to check in early, you can purchase EarlyBird Check-In or Business Select fare. EarlyBird Check-In costs $15 to $25 per person one-way and automatically checks you in 36 hours before your flight, giving you a higher priority than those who check in manually. Business Select fare is the most expensive fare option, but it guarantees you a boarding position in the A1 to A15 group, as well as other perks such as priority security lane access, a free drink coupon, and more Rapid Rewards points.
  • Use multiple devices to check in multiple travelers: If you are traveling with others and using Southwest Rapid Rewards points, each person must check in separately. To save time and avoid getting separated, you can use multiple devices (such as a laptop, a tablet, or a phone) to check in each traveler at the same time. Alternatively, you can book your tickets together using the same confirmation number, which will allow you to check in everyone at once.
  • Verify your fare type and eligibility: Some fare types and passengers may require additional verification or documentation at the airport, which can delay your check-in or boarding process. For example, if you are traveling on a Senior or Military fare, you need to show proof of your age or service at the ticket counter or the gate. If you are traveling with a pet, you need to pay a pet fee and get a pet carrier tag at the ticket counter. If you are traveling internationally, you need to have a valid passport and any other required documents. Make sure you know what your fare type and eligibility are and what you need to do before your flight.
  • Be courteous and respectful of other passengers: Southwest Airlines has a friendly and casual culture, but that does not mean you can disregard the rules or the etiquette of the boarding process. For example, you should not try to save seats for other passengers who are boarding later, as this can cause confusion and frustration for other passengers who are looking for a seat. You should also not try to board before your assigned group or position, as this can slow down the boarding process and annoy the gate agent and other passengers. You should also follow the instructions of the flight attendants and the safety regulations of the plane, such as wearing your seat belt, stowing your carry-on items, and turning off your electronic devices when required. By being courteous and respectful of other passengers, you can help create a positive and enjoyable flying experience for everyone.


    Southwest Airlines is a great option for travelers who want to save money and enjoy flexibility and convenience. However, Southwest also has a different check-in and boarding process than most airlines, which can be tricky to navigate for some passengers. By following the tips and tricks we shared in this article, you can avoid common mistakes when checking in Southwest Airlines and have a smooth and stress-free flight.

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