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Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Midwest
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Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Am I correct in assuming that Southwest Airlines puts your name/confirmation number in a hat and pulls it out along with all the other people who also paid for the "early bird" check-in to determine your boarding pass location?

When I purchased my ticket and "early bird" check-in in late March for a mid-July domestic flight on Southwest, common sense made me think that my purchased boarding position ($10 for each of the two flights) would reflex the early purchase date and be related to an "early bird" process.

So, I was surprised to be assigned an "A-58" position on the return flight (58th person to be able to board the flight). Upon inquiring at the check-in kiosk, Southwest personnel were not surprised and commented that sometimes "early bird" check-in can result in a "C" boarding position (an additional 60 positions farther back in boarding).

So, my $10 "early bird" check-in purchase per flight only gets me a 58th-to-120th boarding position? If so, I feel like a true fool.

A positive response to my initial question, will help me to conclude that this was my FIRST and LAST Southwest flight.

499 replies to this topic
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81. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

P.S. -... and before someone corrects me - I know it is automatic check-in. I am just repeating what the agent said. She kept changing her story (she seemed very confused by the C position and was trying desperately to defend it).

Saint Louis...
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82. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

I'm traveling today with three other people. Three of us paid for early bird boarding and have B seating priority. The fourth person did not pay for early bird boarding and is in the earliest section of A after the priority boarders. He has no special status with SW. What's wrong with this picture? I feel cheated out of the money spent on early bird. I won't buy it again and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

South Jersey
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83. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Sounds like the person lucked out and possibly got a "A" boarding position from someone who had it and cancelled their ticket. EB does not guarantee a better boarding position than someone checking in at T-24 it just makes it more likely. I won't pay for it since I am usually able to print out a boarding pass at T-24 and have been happy with the seat I get, especially since my SW flights generally have a connection and I get a head start on the passengers originating on the second flight.

Just read through the last couple of pages of this thread and you will see similar stories to yours.

Elwood, IL
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84. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

I know I'm going to get flack for this, but I never pay for EB seating. I fly to Florida about 6 times a year. I really don't care where I sit as long as I am on that plane! Sometimes I get window, maybe I'll get an aisle. And yes I also get middle. My husband flies with me a couple of times. If we get separated, so be it. It won't kill us to be separated for a few hours. That way I get to catch up on my reading and so does he. On the other hand, I have never seen someone turn down a mom so she could sit with her child.

Phoenix, Arizona
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85. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

<<The fourth person did not pay for early bird boarding and is in the earliest section of A after the priority boarders.>>

I would definitely file this under "stuff happens."

As mentioned above, we do not buy EB, as we almost always go with the Business Select, so have gotten A-Group boarding. I still try for the T-24 OLCI, and we're usually in the first 4 - 6 of the A-Group.

Now, we seldom have connections on our SWA flights, so that is not usually a consideration, but I like to get my stuff stowed, and quickly out of the way, so other pax can board efficiently. Of course, we do need to stand, when someone claims the window seat, but that can be done quickly, if everything else is in its place.

We do similar with other airlines and Business, or First Class - get on, stow stuff quickly and take our seats to free the aisles. Also, I do not mind if I have a glass of sparkling wine, while others are boarding. If we are in E+, then early boarding *usually* gets me a hanger for my jacket from the purser in FC. Makes life simple for us, and the rest of the pax.

Hunt

tucson, az
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86. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

>>I know I'm going to get flack for this, but I never pay for EB seating. I fly to Florida about 6 times a year. I really don't care where I sit as long as I am on that plane!<<

We did it coming back from Orlando last year- we weren't sure how full the Orlando-Phoenix flight would be- and it was so relaxing knowing we could just go to the parks and not worry about checking in at the 24 hour mark.

Ashburn, Virginia
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87. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

I have exact same problem. Looks like Early Bird check-in is another scam that's at-least how I feel. Purchased early check-in only for my wife. Checked in exactly at 24 hrs, got A16, then tried to check-in my wife who got early bird check-in(She got A51) tried to check in my two daughters who also don't have early bird check=in their numbers came A52 and A54. So it looks like they are giving the boarding group number as per the check-in time and not because we purchased early bird check-in just for one person. I am glad I did not purchase early bird check for everyone. From now on, I will check-in at 24 hrs before and never going with early bird check-in

Palmetto, Florida
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88. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Well I hope you gave your wife the A16 !

If this SW Early Bird is for the birds as people are complaining, then it's time SW fixes it or deep six it. It isn't good publicity.

Chicago, Illinois
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89. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

"Purchased early check-in only for my wife. Checked in exactly at 24 hrs, got A16, then tried to check-in my wife who got early bird check-in(She got A51)"

Not disputing the boarding positions, but something is not accurate. If you purchased early bird, you do not check yourself in. SWA checks you in automatically so you are only printing out a boarding pass so your wife's boarding position would have been assigned much earlier than when you printed it online.

Just guessing that the A16 never got taken. Either it was reserved for Business Select passengers and they ended up not needing it so they freed it up for general check in.

The other advantage to the early bird is you don't need to be at a PC right at 24hrs early to check yourself in. I have had times where I was working and could not get to the Internet at the right time and ended up with a poor B number or C group. Early bird prevents that.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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90. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Just checked-in exactly 1 minute after the 24 hour-before-flight time. My position...A 31.

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