Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Highlighted

What is the boarding process?

camatuse
Active Member

When does the boarding process begin and how does it work? Am I assigned a specific seat or do I get to choose any seat I desire?

9 REPLIES 9

Re: What is the boarding process?

gmnader
New Arrival

Boarding begins about 30minutes before the flights departure. You will line up according to your boarding group and number. And you can sit anywhere you would like once onboard!

Re: What is the boarding process?

815Oceanic
New Arrival
Solution

It's really simple: when you check in, you get a letter and number. The boarding agent will tell each letter group when to line up and you line up in numerical order. Once you're on board, you get to pick any open seat!

Re: What is the boarding process?

camatuse
Active Member

Thank you for the response! It is greatly appreciated.

Re: What is the boarding process?

Trevorstew20
New Arrival

You are given a certain boarding position (A-C)(1-65). You will board in your position and sit in whatever available seat that you would like. 

Re: What is the boarding process?

Mrauber6847
New Arrival

Checking in for your flight is the first step in the boarding process. The earlier you check in, up to 24 hours prior to your flight, the earlier your boarding position will be assigned to you.

 

Your boarding position will be A, B, or C and 1-60. Customers will line up beginning 30 minutes prior to their flight to begin the boarding process.

 

Southwest also has Early Bird checkin for an additional $15 to automatically check you in for your flight before others are able to manually check in. This can help to give you a better boarding position. If you would like a better boarding position after you've received yours, you can see a Southwest gate attendant to upgrade to A 1-15 for an additional charge (when available).

Re: What is the boarding process?

cjacobfly
New Arrival

Great question! Southwest typically begins boarding their aircraft 30 mins before the scheduled departure time. For example, if your departure time is at 10:00AM, you want to make sure you are at the gate no later than 9:30AM. I would recommend being there 45 minutes to be safe. And you absolutely need to be at the gate 10mins before departure, or else your boarding ticket may be deleted and given to a standby passenger. 

 

Southwest has an open seating policy, so instead of being assigned a specific seat, you'll be assigned a boarding position and number. The position will either be A, B, or C, and the number will be between 1 and 60. Southwest boards in alphabetical and numerical order (A1, A2, A3...B1, B2, B3... C1, C2, etc). The customer service agent will ask customers to line up in order next to the boarding posts near the gate. Make sure you check with the passengers around you to see if you are in the right order. 

 

Once you board the plane, you can take any open seat! Window, aisle, middle- your choice. If you have a later boarding position in the C's, you'll probably end up in a middle seat. Make sure you check in for your flight 24hrs before the flight to get an earlier boarding position. 

 

 

Re: What is the boarding process?

famlyslave
New Arrival

Southwest's boarding process is the reason I've started flying with a different airline. It causes too much anxiety for me. I always check in 24 hours in advance, usually sitting at my computer refreshing the page until it's time. However, that doesn’t guarantee a decent spot in the cattle call. I resorted to paying the additional  $30/rt flight for early bird but again, no guarantee.  I've been stuck at the end of the B group after spending money to improve my chances. I truly wish Southwest would change this process because I like the airline but I'm much more relaxed about flying when I know where I'll be sitting in advance and don't have to worry about rushing aboard to get that seat.

Re: What is the boarding process?

MichaelJW
New Arrival

I have noticed that your early bird position seems to be affected by when you bought your ticket. If I have purchased a ticket a couple of months out with early bird, I'm usually in the A 16-30 group. If it was only a few weeks in advance it's been a later number.

 

I would definitely be at the gate no more than 45 minutes before scheduled departure. I'd also look to see if there's an exit row seat available once I'm on board, partiuclarly on a longer flight. DAL to BOS was a lot easier with the extra room. That's a huge advantage SWA has. I don't have to pay $150 extra for the exit row seat.

Re: What is the boarding process?

Duaneandkathy
New Arrival

I wish I had the options you have. After years of traveling with excellent compassionate service from Southwest Airlines I arrived at the SkyCap and asked for assistance with a wheelchair which I had preordered. I was told that due to abuse of the system there was no longer assistance for handicapped people. I was pointed to stand in the end of the line with only my walker and no where to sit. By the time I made it to the front from there I no longer had time to call a wheelchair. I missed my flight. I was given a boarding pass for a later flight. In order to be allowed to board that 8:55 flight I would have to be at the gate 30 minutes ahead plus two hours for the wheelchair service meaning that I must be to Southwest Airlines by 6:25. They politely parked my wheelchair at the gate almost 2 hours before the flight with no access to bathroom, drink, or food. I cannot move the wheelchair by myself. Are there any planned changes to boarding for the truly disabled? Or must we still be pushed to the back behind those not needing assistance?