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Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

Colombia
posts: 6
Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

I am going to Chicago with a group of 8 family members in late August and I am trying to determine whether it is worth getting Early-Bird Check or stick with the usual check in they have online. Three small kids are in our group too. I booked our tickets in May

I called Southwest and they said that our flight is originating from ANOTHER city with passengers on-board so even if I do get it, would their be any advantage or disadvantage getting Early-Bird tickets at this stage in the game? Also, it is $12.50 per person so it is going to be an epic hit on the wallet.

I don't care if we are in A or B group, but as long as we are sitting together.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 5,609
reviews: 75
1. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

It improves the odds if sitting together. Don't know how else to put it. I doubt you would get 8 together but if you check in exactly 24 hrs ahead you can minimize how split up you are. Also I think if the kids are young enough, you get some boarding priority but am not positive how much it the age limits.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 42,601
reviews: 57
2. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

You will not find 8 seats together!

Not sure why that is necessary? As long as each child is near their parent or well known other adult it should all be fine. Families with young children usually board after the A group so the parents and kiddos will be fine if you don't pay for early bird check in.

Edited: 4:03 pm, July 09, 2013
Colombia
posts: 6
3. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

"You will not find 8 seats together!

Not sure why that is necessary"

Because we are family and want to be together. We have no interest in being scattered.

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 24,801
reviews: 17
4. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

I would be shocked and amazed if you find 8 seats together. You are going on to an aircraft with 3-3 seat configuration. The people who are already on the plane will take the emergency seats ( which you can't take with kids) and many of the aisle. seats. The people who board ahead of you ( A-list and Business) will take many of the remaining aisle seats. That means that the odds of getting 3 together gets slim. You will probably be able to get 4 seats of two, but not necessarily in adjacent rows.

I understand you are family but it is a plane of probably relatively short duration. I assume your family is not usually glued at the hip, so family or not--you should be able to handle the separation. I do not remember the age of the child that qualifies for early boarding but it is relatively young. Also, I do not know if all 8 family members would be able to board with that one child. (are you immediate family, ie. mom, dad and 6 kids or are you exteneded family) Early Bird also does NOT allow you to save seats for others! I strongly suggest you just be prepared to possibly not sit together. The world will not end.

Colombia
posts: 6
5. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

I know it is a 3-3 configuration. However, out goal is 3-3-and then 2 behind or across or some other combo.

That is what I mean by "together".

"Early Bird also does NOT allow you to save seats for others! I strongly suggest you just be prepared to possibly not sit together. The world will not end."

I know that but so far everyone has FAILED to answer my question. My departing flight orginates from another city so I was wondering if it is WORTH to even get Early-Bird.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 42,601
reviews: 57
6. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

Early Bird MAY get you a spot at the end of the A group.

Since the parents and "very young children" will be allowed to board right after the A group and before the B group I don't think it pays for them to get the early bird. Even if you get the early bird and get an A group or beginning of B group slot there is no guarantee that you will find a complete row of 3 empty at that point in the flight . It is possible but since many people like aisle or window seats the odds of having all 3 seats empty by the time you board is not very high.

Edited: 6:03 pm, July 09, 2013
Colombia
posts: 6
7. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

"Even if you get the early bird and get an A group or beginning of B group slot there is no guarantee that you will find a complete row of 3 empty at that point in the flight ."

I am suprised. Well even if it is 2 people divided among 4 adjacent rows of 3 , that would be acceptable. Either way, I am making prepartions if the worst does happen. And in the future after this, I will be SWA as my last option. Didn't realize it could be this nightmarish.

Also, the thing with Early Bird it it has its own line-up in the system because I heard of people waiting online that got a better boarding position before those that got Early Bird because some people that opted for Early Bird did so late in the process.

Edited: 6:16 pm, July 09, 2013
Chicago, Illinois
posts: 5,609
reviews: 75
8. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

The problem is the first people on the plane most of them take the aisles because most people like those best. And most of the others take windows. So by the end of the A group, most of the rows have at least one person in each row.

There is no separate line for early bird. Early bird purchasers are automatically checked in 36 hours ahead of time. They are checked in automatically and I believe assigned boarding positions based on who purchased their ticket earliest. People who do not purchase early bird and don't have any other type of status have to check in online 24 hours ahead. This is after all the early birds are checked in so they go in the boarding line after everyone with early bird. If someone told you differently, they were wrong.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 42,601
reviews: 57
9. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

SWA is not really "nightmarish" unless you have a large group that needs seats together!

For those groups an airline that lets you pick your seats when you purchase the ticket would be more logical than an airline without assigned seating.

Colombia
posts: 6
10. Re: Southwest Check-In/Early Bird Question

Well I wish I knew that before I purchased my tickets. I would have just taken United to O'Hare. But now it is done. I didn't think SWA was extremely anti-family.