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Is Southwest Early Bird Check-In Worth it?

Discussion in 'Getting There & Getting Around' started by WIZARD, Nov 18, 2016.

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  1. WIZARD

    WIZARD You're gonna need a Bigger Boat

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    Thank you to everybody that has responded with a lot of good information.
    I have never flown Southwest before, but I will be in a couple of weeks and I was wondering if the Southwest Early Bird Check-In was worth the money.
    It will cost $15 per person each way so for 2 people that will be a total of $60 additional charge for round trip.
    Is it worth it?, to get on the plane earlier.
    I could just check-in 24 hours before departure, how well does that process work?
    With United, I have always had assigned seating and have no idea how Southwest's procedure even works.
    I am flying out of Houston.(3 hour flight)
    Thanx for your input, in advance.

    Thank you to everybody that has responded with a lot of good information.
    Wizard
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  2. mescalita

    mescalita old and in the way...

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    We usually just do regular check-in on the flight to Vegas - exactly 24 hours before flight time. For me it's definitely worth the early boarding fee for the return trip. Flights are always packed coming home, and EB definitely gets us better seats. YMMV..... Safe travels and good luck!
     
  3. eaglejohn

    eaglejohn VIP Whale

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    depends how long flight is and also how far out you buy tickets. Closer to date, worse position from people that bought before. Also depends if a full flight or not. Bought 1 time and there were only 46 seats out of 175 taken. Other flights have been full. Non stop with no one aboard. But if you are on second leg with people remaining on plane, good seats will already be taken. Physically my wife cannot walk the distance to gate, so now we use wheelchair and get on early without purchase
     
  4. Snidely

    Snidely VIP Whale

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  5. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

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    • Southwest has no assigned seating
    • When you check in, you get assigned a boarding position
    • The worse your boarding position, the worse the seat selection and overhead availability is

    The benefits of EB are:
    • Being automatically checked in before all of the regular check ins and getting assigned (usually) a decent boarding position
    • Half decent seat selection and no problem with overhead space

    The benefits are mitigated by:
    • SW pre-boards tons of people (wheelchairs, kids, elite status) before they even get to the EBs
    • If you are boarding a flight where your airport is the middle stop, a bunch of people will be staying on the plane before you board and they'll all move to the front.
    • Couples who buy one EB and hold a seat for the other one (or more)
    I usually buy it because I hate waiting.

    With EB, you just get on the plane and into a seat faster.

    Without, you wait for your boarding group to get called. You wait in the line up. You wait on the jetway. Once you're over the threshold onto the plane, you wait while everybody dicks around with the overheads. And if you're not at the front of the plane, when you arrive, you wait while everyone dicks around with the overheads again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
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  6. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    With earlybird, you are much more likely to get a window or aisle seat. Depends on how important that is to you. You mention two people. If you and your companion want to sit next to one another, I would suggest one of you get earlybird and then hold the middle seat for the other person
     
  7. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    No, this is wrong!!! Pay the damn $15 for each of you. There is no holding seats because you are too cheap to spend $15. Our last flight a woman said the seat was taken. I said bullshit and we wanted those two seats. She moved her oversize bag and we took the seats. C boarding started and in came her husband/friend. We had A 20 & 21.
     
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  8. DaiLun

    DaiLun R.C., L.C., and A.A.N.G.

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    With earlybird you are "guaranteed" a place in the overhead bins for your luggage. I have been on many flights where some of the "C" people had to check their luggage.

    At least with pre-boarding, families with children board after the "A" group. Only unaccompanied minors board before the "A" group.
     
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  9. djslots

    djslots Low-Roller

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    I agree with Chuck, as an east coaster, it's practically mandatory to get the EB with the rarity of direct flights. (Plus I hate waiting as well) I'm flying with 2 other people in March and got EB for all of us just so we can get a row for us.
     
  10. kankan53

    kankan53 Low-Roller

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    Agree 100 percent. I hate it when people hold seats. The flight attendants should tell them that it is not allowed.
     
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  11. john1516inny

    john1516inny Low-Roller

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    why do people fly Southwest, never understood no seat picking and if you get "c" you are done.
     
  12. mrstealth

    mrstealth VIP Whale

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    Since it is your first flight on South West it's probably not a bad idea to spend the extra money and get the "early bird". SW Boarding your first few times is a little confusing and can be stressful for newbies.

    The "early bird" name is somewhat misleading as you do not "board before other people", all it does is automatically check you into your flight as soon as possible and assigning you a good boarding group. Usually in the mid to high A Group, but on super busy flights where a lot of other people have bought the early bird you may get in the low B's, which isn't really a problem.

    Basically there are 60 people in each boarding group. There are a series of pylons you line up based on your boarding pass position. A1-A30 on one site, A31-A60 on the other. There is a pre-board for medical/wheel chair/handicap, then the SW frequent flyers, and then the A1-A30 is called. and it goes from there. Families board between the A & B groups. If you hold an A boarding pass you will almost assuredly get the type of seat (aisle or window) you want, have overhead bin space and be able to sit together. Most flights same is true for the B group.
     
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  13. mrstealth

    mrstealth VIP Whale

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    "why do people fly Southwest, never understood no seat picking and if you get "c" you are done."

    It sounds worse than it really is. If you check in as soon as you can to your flight you will not get a c boarding position, and A & B will get you a good seat and overhead bin space.
     
  14. Fet297

    Fet297 108 survivor North Vegas

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    Our recent trip to Vegas we bought early bird for the return home flight only.

    My wife and I checked in for our "to" Vegas flight 24 hours before the flight. I received A19, wife B17. Apparently She hit check in about 10 seconds later than I did.

    Our return trip (where we purchased early bird) we received A36/37.
     
  15. CalifLovesVegas

    CalifLovesVegas Low-Roller

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    I'm A-List, so always get an A boarding pass.
    Spouse isn't, but we do our best (when flying together) to get BP's as close together
    as possible......so we don't get you guys mad for holding a seat. lol

    Agree with above...... if you're a newbie to SW, or in a Group, or long distance fliers?
    Pay the EB & get an earlier seat.

    I would also suggest EB for Vegas Return flights. (unless you are disciplined, like us, to set the Timer on your
    phone to do check in 24 hours ahead. Then you have your boarding pass on your phone.)

    Its also good to know upon Return, IF you get TSA Pre Check or not?
    Can make a difference at McCarran.
     
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  16. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    I do it all the time and never had anyone complain. The middle seat is not usually in demand, lol
     
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  17. greekjim

    greekjim High-Roller

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    Recently most flight on SW on have been on from MKE to LAS have been packed full.
     
  18. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty Doing retirement again and happily so....

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    Leaving tomorrow and checked in exactly at the 24 hour mark for a direct flight at 7:00 am. I am thinking this is the origination for the plane. B-12 & B-20. There are 60 slots in A group if you count the 1-15 upgrade possibilities. I call it a wash with the early boarders. Families load between A and B. This allows you to see where they plan to sit and if you so choose you can plop down right along side. There are probably(?) 25 rows which give you 50 seats for the middle.

    It's a gamble you may not be able to sit with your traveling partner if all adjoining seats are taken. We are going to vegas to gamble. If we sit apart for the trip we have the next 6 days to make it up. If seating with your partner is important you can guarantee it with EB. And one of you can reduce the number of middle seats. Thanks.

    We will probably get row 16 aisle and middle seats. It has been par on many trips previously. And what is 15$ in the big picture when going to vegas.

    However, I am much like Joe; the seat saving BS is out of whack. I will ask if the seat is taken just to force eye contact (if you've ridden swa you know exactly of what I speak). When told (inevitably) the seat is taken (almost apologetically) I look about confused and say "You might remind them about the door latch as the bathroom occupied sign isn't lit" and again make uncomfortable eye contact so they know just what an ass we both are. But whatever, as you must fill the time waiting as you make your way down the aisle for the bins to fill up with oversized bags so it helps.

    I love swa. And I love paragraphs.
     
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  19. Snidely

    Snidely VIP Whale

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    Depends on how you do it. If you take an aisle half way or further back, you can probably hold the middle seat and no one will complain but if you sit towards the front and try to hold a middle seat, that's might meet with some push back.
     
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  20. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    Actually, I usually find fewer people asking about the middle seat the closer I sit to the front. After all, everyone passes by the first few available middle seats near the front in their hope of finding an aisle or window seat farther back in the plane. My gf usually has a boarding pass somewhere between B20-30, so its rare that anyone asks at all by the time she gets on board
     
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