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Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

jennab5
New Arrival

So I'm confused.  We (my husband and I) will be travelling with our 6yo son.  From my understanding we can do family boarding between the A & B classes.  Would this leave enough room on the plane for 3 people to sit together?  When DH and I went before (no child) I checked in right at 24hr mark and we got the mid 30's in the B class and the only two seats together were in the 2nd to last row of the plane. 

 

Otherwise I thought about buying us all early bird checkin.  Then I read that early bird does not mean you will be in the A class for boarding.  So then I'm worried if I purchase early bird and we get assigned a B class that I paid extra for nothing since we could board earlier with family boarding. 

 

Any advice would be appreciated!  I don't mind paying the extra for early bird if it is a guarantee that we will sit together.  Also, how do they decide your position with early bird?  Is it when you first signed up?

8 REPLIES 8

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

franktravel
Rising Star
Solution

Depending on the plane there are 143 or 175 seats.  The A group is 1-60.  The number of pre boarders is not known so the family boarding could stand around 70? With that said you should not have a problem finding seats for three if you board in the family group after the A's.

 

Early bird positions:

 

Customers who have purchased Anytime Fares will receive priority over Customer’s who purchase Early Bird with other fare types. Boarding positions are assigned based on the time stamp of the EarlyBird Check-In purchase relative to passengers within the same fare class.

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

Cliff notes version: You should be fine at the time of family boarding for three seats together but probably have to go back to the wings or a little further.

 

Early Bird checks you in 36-hours ahead, basically guaranteeing that whatever the position is for checking in at 24-hours, you'd be at the front of that group, but behind A-listers, and still ahead of anyone that has a connecting flight that gets a few extra hours on the 24-hour limit.

 

Sometimes this is a late A-number, sometimes it is in the early B's...it isn't a guarantee of absolute position, only that you'll be checked in ahead of everyone else, whereever that happens to fall for that flight. Depending on the route there may be a lot of A-listers that would be in front of your EB check-in.

 

Anyway...I'd expect family boarding to be sufficient.

 

I believe the tie-breaker among early bird check-ins to be in order of purchase of early bird.

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

jennab5
New Arrival

Thanks for the advice!  I don't prefer to sit in the back of the plane but if that was my only option for us to sit together I would take it!  

 

Good to know on how they decide the early bird.  If I did purchase it soon I think we would end up in the A's since our flight is a long ways out yet.

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Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

billwh
New Arrival

I just purchased my firs Southwest airline ticket and opted for the Early Bird. The main reason is because I would be hard-pressed to find a computer to access on the return trip and would thus have a problem with that 24-hour check-in. I certainly see your point, if you're traveling with family and want to sit together. That would make me consider going with an airline that assigns seats, where you get both or all three together. That seems to be a drawback of the Southwest seating system, no assigned seats. I just purchased my ticket, and don't leave for three months, so hopefully this gets me a good seat. Good luck to you.

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

Steelers537
New Arrival

I’ve started to see them allow all the early birds board before families. Last flight coming from Denver they said family boarding will start after B whatever number it was. It’s been a tough subject since people are paying extra for that right as opposed to a family who may not have. I understand both sides but I don’t think it’s right for a family to jump in front of someone who paid for early bird. 

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@Steelers537 wrote:

I’ve started to see them allow all the early birds board before families. Last flight coming from Denver they said family boarding will start after B whatever number it was. It’s been a tough subject since people are paying extra for that right as opposed to a family who may not have. I understand both sides but I don’t think it’s right for a family to jump in front of someone who paid for early bird. 


 

FYI: This isn't official policy, so I wouldn't expect it to continue. Sounds like a rogue OPS agent. (I wonder how they would even know where the EarlyBirds stop? Without physically checking the boarding passes of everyone in the B group line. Which would just further delay boarding for everyone.)

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

StAugustine
Active Member

My wife and I always get early bird more for the automatic check in than for the boarding position. Means we don't have to get up early the day before our flight to check in or keep track of time on our last day of vacation. Our lowest boarding position using early bird was in the low B-40s. (Highest, btw, was A-18)There were a lot of preboarders and family boarders on that flight, which meant by the time we got on there were only a few single seats available near the front of the plane. One window and one aisle. As wer prefer to sit toward the front, we took the two single seats. We were not sitting together, but we somehow survived. In our minds, it is better to sit apart for 2 1/2 hours and exit earlier than to sit together in the back of the plane and wait to get off. 

Re: Confused - early bird checkin or family boarding?

Beccalynn99
New Arrival

We have always done family boarding even flying out of Orlando where there are usually a lot of families. With 4 of us (one being a lap child) we have always been able to sit together usually around the wings but never all the way to the back! We’ve done this on multiple flights (out of SDF, RDU, BWI, IND, CVG, MCO, ELP, and DAL) and never had an issue! I only ever buy early bird if I’m on work travel and going to be tied up at check-in time. I also have used the upgraded boarding position option at the gate mostly because of the perks that come with the RR credit card for this!