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

Midwest
posts: 4
reviews: 13
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.

157 replies to this topic
NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 26,382
reviews: 18
1. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

It is my understanding that Business Select, and A list rapid rewards people are automatically AHEAD of early bird people. So, if there are a lot of them on the flight--you are pushed back.

Killingworth...
posts: 41
reviews: 148
2. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

I often fly Southwest. I only use the early bird checking for segments where I cant get to a computer 24 hrs in advance of my flight - ie: return segment from vacation when I'm at a hotel. The early bird usually will give you A or b boarding status. The higher priced tickets automatically get the first A positions but that isn't very many. With any A boarding position and most B positions you will not have any problem getting the seat of your choice as long as you line up on time. In the future if you are near a computer just go on-line EXACTLY 24 hrs before your flight to get your boarding position without paying the fee. These are given out in order of when you log in.

Killingworth...
posts: 41
reviews: 148
3. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Additional comment to my original reply. Don't be upset with your $10 EB charge. Hopefully you'll find that you like SW. I fly them whenever I can - they just don't go everywhere I need to go. Nice perks- 2 FREE checked bags per person. I just paid $25 per bag each way on USAIR. Some things to know - no movies so bring your own -only snacks

are cookies and crackers.

Scotland
posts: 1,329
reviews: 12
4. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

No hats involved. Your position in the queue relative to others who have purchased Early Bird check-in is determined by when you purchased it... the earlier you buy EB, the lower your boarding number.

posts: 101
5. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

From the FAQ on the Southwest website:

Is there an order in which EarlyBird Check-In Boarding Passes are reserved?

Yes. Customers who have purchased Anytime Fares will receive priority over other fare types that are assigned their position based on the time stamp of the EarlyBird Check-In purchase.

southwest.com/html/…

I've done it about a dozen times, always getting the cheapest fare available, and always received an "A" boarding pass, though sometimes near the end of the A queue.

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 55
6. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

i was not a rapid rewards member or business select. Just bought the wanna get away ticket and said, yes, i'll have early bird as well. Checked in online as soon as it hit 24 hours til the flight and got A1. Moral of the story, the earlier you check in, the better A position you'll get!

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 26,382
reviews: 18
7. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Once you have earlybird there is no need to be concerned about checking in at the 24 hour mark. The fewer the number of people with automatic low spots the better an early bird position will be. Certain flights are less prone to have regulars. AND of course, if the plane you are boarding already has passengers from an earlier stop, your A1 could be meaningless too.

Ohio
posts: 13
reviews: 33
8. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

We leave soon flying SW. We purchased EB check in, but I am reading that I do not have to check in. It says on SW web site that if we have purchased EB check in, that we will automatically be checked in 36 hrs ahead of time and be sent our boarding passes via email. Is that not correct? (The 6th posting on this feed indicated that the person purchased EB but still checked in at the 24 hr mark.) I'm confused?

Seattle, Washington
posts: 8,446
reviews: 91
9. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

I don't understand post #6. You do not check in yourself if you purchase Early Bird Check-in; Southwest does it for you. How this poster got A1 anyway is puzzling, as you are always behind the Business Select people, etc.

I don't know anything about WN emailing you your boarding passes. I thought you had to log into your account and print them out at the 24 hour mark.

Edited: 11:22 am, February 08, 2013
Ohio
posts: 13
reviews: 33
10. Re: Southwest Airline's "Early Bird" Check-In Policy

Yes, I was mistaken on the boarding passes being emailed. My apologies, after further review I did realize that I still have to log in and print them out. I was just curious about the 24 hr mark. And if the assignments are made at the 36 hr mark to EB passengers, why can't we log in to print them then?

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