How you can Hack Southwest’s Boarding Teams

The Southwest Airways boarding course of is a apply maybe extra polarizing than whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza. However one factor’s for positive: The Southwest boarding course of is actually distinctive.

There aren’t any assigned seats. There’s no assure you’ll get that coveted window seat behind the exit row (which implies no seat immediately in entrance of you). There’s no assure you’ll find yourself seated subsequent to your bestie.

But it additionally means you get to choose your seat (from no matter is obtainable) as soon as on the airplane. If the man in row three has already whipped out his tuna sandwich, possibly you go for a seat at the least a number of rows again. The Southwest boarding course of can also be theoretically extra environment friendly (or at the least it’s, in response to MythBusters) than most boarding techniques with assigned seats.

How the Southwest boarding course of works

Relatively than assigning seats to passengers, Southwest has an open seating fashion. So far as figuring out who will get to choose their seats which order, right here’s the way it works:

A Southwest boarding group (both A, B, or C) and place (1-60) shall be assigned to you at check-in and it will be printed in your boarding cross. If you find yourself with A1 ,then it’s your fortunate day, as you’ll probably get to be the primary passenger on the airplane (Exceptions embody folks with sure disabilities, pre-boarders or folks on an earlier connecting flight.). If you find yourself with C60, effectively, hopefully, you’re fantastic with the center seat in entrance of the lavatory.

Because the gate agent prepares the airplane for boarding, they’ll name boarding teams (e.g., Group A, 1-60). From there, you’ll have to move to one of many numbered posts on the gate space, damaged up into smaller blocks (e.g., place 1-5, or place 6-10). Stand between the corresponding posts based mostly in your boarding place.

When you actually need to get exact, you would possibly ask the folks round you what their boarding positions are so you’ll be able to be sure that you’re actually the third to board in case your quantity is A3 (that’s provided that you’ll be able to’t probably danger your fellow passenger with place A4 taking the seat you wished). In any other case, you’ll board inside 5 folks of the boarding place you have been assigned.

As soon as onboard, decide any open seat, stow your stuff within the overhead bin or below the seat in entrance of you, and prepare for takeoff.

What’s the Southwest boarding order?

Right here’s the order of Southwest’s boarding teams, from first to final:


Southwest permits individuals who have a selected seating must accommodate their incapacity, who want boarding help, or who need assistance stowing an assistive machine to board first. To be part of that group, you’ll must request preboarding from a Southwest customer support agent on the ticket counter or departure gate. Anticipate to be requested what Southwest calls “fact-finding questions” to find out if you happen to meet the {qualifications} for pre-boarding. When you do, you’ll obtain a boarding cross with a selected preboarding designation, and also you’ll be allowed to preboard with one companion. When you’re touring with multiple different particular person, they’ll sometimes must board with their unique group.

People who find themselves preboarding are usually not allowed to occupy an exit row seat.

The A bunch

The subsequent set of individuals to board Southwest flights are folks with seats in A1-A15, which is usually stuffed with Southwest elite flyers and people who paid additional for his or her tickets or boarding. The remainder of the A bunch follows with A16-60.

Some folks with disabilities who don’t qualify for preboarding however want additional time to board might accomplish that after the A bunch however earlier than the Household Boarding and B teams. You’ll nonetheless want to talk to a Southwest customer support agent, who will print you a brand new boarding cross with an additional time designation, indicating which you could board with this group.


When you’re touring with a ba 6 years outdated or youthful, you and as much as one different grownup can board throughout Household Boarding, which happens earlier than the B group. This boarding group additionally consists of active-duty army.

Teams B and C

Everybody else now will get to board, with the B group going subsequent. And for big and full flights, there’s a C group. Each teams board in numerical order beginning with place 1 and shifting to place 60.

How you can get your Southwest boarding place

There are a number of methods to get an early Southwest boarding group place, however lots of them come at a further value. When you don’t need to pay something greater than what the Wanna Get Away or Anytime fare already prices, your boarding place shall be decided based mostly on the order you’ve checked in. You’ll be able to verify in on-line at or on the app starting 24 hours previous to your flight’s scheduled departure time. In any other case, you’ll be able to verify in on the airport or with an agent on the airport. However, the longer you wait, the more severe boarding place you’ll have.

Nerd tip: Set a calendar reminder or telephone timer for that 24-hour mark (possibly even a couple of minutes early to get the webpage loaded and logged in) to make sure you get as early a boarding place as doable.

How you can assure an A bunch place on Southwest

It’s doable to ensure an A1-15 group place on Southwest, but it surely’s going to value you. Right here’s how:

Buy a Enterprise Choose fare

Enterprise Choose fares include many perks together with Fly By precedence lane entry, a complimentary premium drink, and sure, assured receipt of an A1-A15 boarding place.

Enterprise Choose fares are usually not low cost — they will typically be a number of occasions dearer than Wanna Get Away fares — however they are typically a greater deal than Southwest’s center tier referred to as Anytime fares. When you’re prepared to pay for a seat improve, it’s nearly all the time higher to go for Enterprise Choose over Anytime fares, as you’ll get advantages like elevated factors incomes, plus the assure of a superb seat.

Buy upgraded boarding (when accessible)

Whereas not fairly a assure, Southwest permits you to buy any remaining A1-A15 boarding place on the day of journey on the ticket counter or gate for a further charge (it’s $30, $40, or $50 per section relying in your itinerary). These positions are usually not assigned to common ticket prospects as soon as the 24-hour check-in window begins, so if the flight is low on elite flyers or Enterprise Choose passengers, there could also be some accessible for buy.

Nerd tip: Some bank cards, such because the The Platinum Card® from American Categorical and the Hilton Honors American Categorical Aspire Card, can offset the price of upgraded boarding providing airline incidental credit, that are annual assertion credit towards incidental air journey charges with one qualifying airline of your selection.

Use the Southwest Fast Rewards® Precedence Credit score Card to get complimentary upgraded boarding (when accessible)

As a profit of getting the Southwest Fast Rewards® Precedence Credit score Card, you’ll be reimbursed for as much as 4 upgraded boardings to positions A1-A15 each anniversary 12 months. The method is identical as anybody else buying upgraded boarding: You’ll must buy it on the day of journey on the ticket counter or gate, and it’s just for sale if seats can be found. However regardless of the fee — whether or not $30 or $50 — you’ll get that 4 occasions a 12 months within the type of a credit score reimbursement.

These boardings will be bought , or for various flights, so you could possibly decide to improve your posse as soon as, or give your self the VIP therapy a number of occasions all year long.

How you can get a superb seat on Southwest

The next choices gained’t assure an A boarding place, however they’ll nonetheless put you forward of others who attempt to verify in on-line 24 hours out or on the airport forward of their flight:

Have Southwest standing

Clients with Fast Rewards A-Record Most popular or A-Record Member standing get their boarding place routinely reserved 36 hours earlier than departure and earlier than regular check-in begins, placing you forward of everybody else who has to attend for that 24-hour window. The profit additionally applies to different vacationers on the identical reservation as A-Record Most popular or A-Record Members.

Whereas holding Southwest standing shouldn’t be a assure of an A place (e.g., if everybody else on the flight additionally had A-Record Most popular or A-Record standing), it should get you the earliest place accessible and most frequently lands you within the A1-A15 positions.

Buy EarlyBird Test-In

EarlyBird Test-In is an add-on choice to your ticket that routinely checks you in 36 hours previous to the flight’s scheduled departure time. That places you within the operating for the most effective boarding place subsequent to the oldsters with Southwest standing or Enterprise Choose fares and forward of everybody else who has to attend for the 24-hour window. EarlyBird Test-In sometimes prices $15-$25 one-way per passenger on prime of your fare worth.

So far as how the order of EarlyBird Test-In is decided amongst everybody who pays for it: Boarding positions are assigned based mostly on the time that EarlyBird Test-In was bought relative to passengers throughout the identical fare class (so Anytime passengers with EarlyBird shall be checked in forward of Wanna Get Away passengers with EarlyBird).

EarlyBird doesn’t assure a boarding place (once more, if everybody purchases EarlyBird, then some folks will nonetheless must be within the B and C teams), but it surely does enhance your odds of getting in a greater boarding place. Usually, you’ll end up in A20 or higher with EarlyBird check-in.

When to panic about your Southwest boarding quantity (and what you are able to do about it)

When you’re cool with checking your baggage ought to the overhead bins get too stuffed, and your life isn’t over if you happen to get the center seat (hey, one-third of passengers are going to have to take a seat in a single on a full flight anyway), then don’t panic if you happen to get within the C group.

But when you have to be among the many first to board, and also you checked in late sufficient that you simply ended up with a foul boarding place (and also you don’t have a 5-year-old in tow to weasel your method forward of the B group), your greatest wager is to get to the airport early and attempt to pay the $30-$50 for an A1-15 boarding place.

A great way to inform whether or not that A1-15 boarding place remains to be accessible is checking the seats nonetheless accessible on your flight. If there are Enterprise Choose fares left, then it is probably there are A1-15 spots leftover too.

If Enterprise Choose is offered out, you’re in all probability out of luck on buying upgraded boarding. Subsequent time, think about buying EarlyBird Test-In or reserving the next fare class to start with. Or, hold it easy and settle for that the center seat isn’t all that unhealthy. On the intense facet, it’s one much less particular person it’s important to bug once you want a rest room break than if you happen to had taken the window seat anyway.

The underside line

Whereas the Southwest boarding course of will be complicated at first look, bear in mind this: Test in precisely 24 hours previous to your flight, and more often than not you’ll be OK.

In any other case, be ready to pony up some additional money for costly tickets or upgraded boarding passes. Do know which of your bank cards might provide airline credit to offset these charges, as they will get you out of a jam once you miss the check-in deadline.

When you’re touring with a bigger group with a number of reservation numbers, everybody must deal with their enterprise and verify in individually if you’d like any shot at getting boarding positions close to one another.

How you can Maximize Your Rewards

You desire a journey bank card that prioritizes what’s necessary to you. Listed here are our picks for the greatest journey bank cards of 2020, together with these greatest for:

Supply hyperlink