Getting the Best with Southwest

Let’s cut to the chase. How do you get the best seats on an airline that doesn’t assign them? Do you arrive five hours early and wait in line? Not a good idea because you’re bound to fall asleep standing up and then someone will cut in front of you. If you say, hey I was first in line; they might respond with, “you were dreaming.” The reality is that getting the best seats is very easy if you’re flying with Southwest Airlines and here is how to do it.

Southwest assigns passengers into four sections: pre-board for families with children under seven or people with special needs and sections A, B, and C and people board the plane in that order. The time that you check in determines which section you receive. Normally people check in when they arrive at the airport and are then given their section, but if you have a ticketless reservation you can check in at midnight local time the evening before your flight. Go to the Southwest Airlines web site and click on the “check in online” icon near the top of the page. You can continue to check in online up to an hour before the flight leaves. Be sure to have your confirmation number ready and have a printer with paper so you can print out your boarding pass. By checking in online, as early as possible, you are very likely to be placed into section A. If you do not have a ticketless reservation it is suggested you check in at the airport about two and a half hours early if you want section A.

Even after you are assigned section A, you still have to compete with the rest of section A to get your desired seat. Some people could care less where they sit on a plane and to the other extreme some passengers go to great lengths to get a specific seat. If you want to be the first or second person in line for section A, be prepared to stand in line an hour before the flight leaves. Since bags can never be left unattended in a US airport, this means you can’t just throw your bags in line and then go for a latte. YOU must be the one standing in line, not your luggage.

So, now you know how to get the best seats on Southwest Airlines. It is all about the ticketless reservation and checking in online at midnight the evening before your flight leaves. Don’t forget to arrive at the airport early and secure your place in line about an hour before the flight takes off. Happy traveling–fly in comfort!

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