Many people either love or hate flying Southwest Airlines because of its unique boarding process and open seating policy. While it can be stressful having to hustle to get a good seat on Southwest Airlines, I’ve found that with a few simple strategies that dreaded middle seat can easily be avoided.
Learn how the Southwest Airlines seating process works.
Southwest Airlines has a unique open seating policy – basically, seats are not assigned. When you check in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group. Your boarding group and position determine the order in which you will be allowed to board the flight. Upon boarding the flight, you may choose any open seat.
Learn about Southwest Airlines boarding groups.
When you check in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1-60). During the Southwest boarding process, passengers are instructed to line up in order based on their boarding group and position. So, passengers holding A group boarding passes board first, then B, then C. Within each group, passengers will line up based on their numbers. For example, A1 will board before A20.
The key to getting a good seat on Southwest is, obviously, to board early.
I’ve found that an A group or early B group (B1-B30) is always sufficient to provide me with several good open seats and plenty of overhead bin space. B31-B60 can be okay too but it depends on how many people you are traveling with, how full the flight is and whether the flight is connecting from somewhere else. The C group usually means “center seat” and may require you to also gate check overhead bags.
Check in EXACTLY 24 hours before your flight.
If you would like to get a good seat on your next Southwest Airlines flight, follow this rule. Check in opens 24 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. The earlier you check in, the earlier your spot in line will be. Many passengers will also be checking in 24 hours before the flight so a few minutes or seconds can make a big difference in your boarding group or position. This is especially true on weekdays. My strategy is to set an alarm or calendar entry five minutes before check in opens. I pull up my reservation, enter all the necessary details (name, confirmation number) and wait. As soon as the clock hits the time check-in opens, I hit that check in now button.
If you are unsure whether you will be able to check-in 24 hours prior to your flight, purchase Southwest EarlyBird Check-In.
I prefer not to spend any more money than I have to but found Southwest EarlyBird Check-In useful for those occasions I know I will not be able to manually check in. The cost for Southwest Early Bird Check In is $15 – $25 one-way per passenger depending on the length of flight and popularity. When you purchase EarlyBird Check-In, Southwest automatically checks you in and assigns your boarding position within 36 hours of your flight’s departure. Southwest Early Bird Check In does not guarantee an A boarding position, but you most likely will be in the A or early B group. (See related post: Is Southwest Early Bird Check In Worth It?).
Pay even more money or fly more often to guarantee early boarding.
The only way to absolutely guarantee an A1-A15 boarding position on Southwest is to purchase a Business Select fare. This isn’t the most attractive option for leisure passengers though as the fare is more expensive.
If you still want a crack at that A1-A15 spot but don’t want to purchase a Business Select fare, you can try Upgraded Boarding. Warning: this is not a guaranteed option as it may not be available. On the day of travel, inquire at the gate or ticket counter before the boarding process begins. If Upgraded Boarding is available, you can secure a boarding position in the A1-A15 group for $30, $40 or $50 per flight, depending on your itinerary.
Note: If you have a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business credit card (our referral links), you will be reimbursed for the purchase of up to 4 Upgraded Boardings each anniversary year.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards members with A-List and A-List Preferred elite status get priority boarding ahead of general boarding.
Traveling with a child? Familiarize yourself with Southwest family boarding.
Children age six years or younger and a guardian may board during Southwest Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding. If you have an A group boarding pass, go ahead and board with the A group instead of waiting for family boarding.
Don’t arrive late to the gate for your flight.
I repeat, don’t arrive late to the gate for your Southwest flight. There is no point in having an A or B boarding group if you will show up to your flight right before the airplane door closes. Sometimes that can’t be helped if your connecting flight was delayed so I guess at that point, just sit in your middle seat and be thankful you caught your flight.
If you have an early boarding group but by the time you arrive at your gate they are boarding a later group, don’t be shy. Immediately step to the front of the line to scan your boarding pass. No one will think you are line cutting.
What is a best seat on Southwest?
The best seat on Southwest depends on your own personal needs. Passengers with a connecting flight might need to sit in the front so they can deplane quicker. Taller passengers might have an eye on snagging an exit row seat. Larger groups and families traveling with small children might want to make sure they can sit together. Personally, when traveling solo I like an aisle seat – especially one with an empty middle seat next to it. When traveling with my kids, I prefer sitting towards the back.
Find out how full the flight is before you board.
Sometimes Southwest gate agents make an announcement whether the flight is full. If not, I will ask. This is helpful in knowing whether I have a chance at my coveted aisle plus empty middle seat scenario. On a completely full Southwest flight, I would choose an aisle seat with the middle seat already occupied by someone I wouldn’t mind sitting next to. Similarly, it would be helpful for someone traveling with a lap child to know whether an empty middle seat might be available.
Choose wisely what section of the plane you pick a seat.
Obviously not an exact science but often, older travelers and those with connecting flights seem to choose the front of the plane. Families typically head towards the back, where they hope to find seats together and maybe an empty middle seat for a lap child. My sweet spot on Southwest flights is from the middle of the plane to two-thirds of the way back. The reasoning is that the front middle seats will fill up quickly with people resigned to their middle seat predicament or eager to disembark. Also, people tend to pass up the middle section of the plane in hopes a random aisle or window seat can be found at the back. Once they are at the back, they will likely just grab any seat there since it is so difficult to turn around.
Saving seats on Southwest Airlines is controversial and murky.
No one likes to spend any more money than they have to. For some passengers, this means resorting to “seat saving”. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what Southwest’s policy is on saving seats as it is not uniformly enforced. Many people won’t necessarily mind if someone is saving a middle seat next to them for a traveling companion that is close behind but some passengers take it to the extreme. I’ve witnessed one man board early and attempt to block off a number of seats (on a full flight) for multiple travel companions with a C group. The flight attendant intervened but that is not always the case.
Recognize sneaky and dishonest tactics.
Much like the extreme seat-savers, some people think getting a seat on a plane is a no-holds barred type of thing. I’ve heard of passengers attempting to keep seats empty by pretending a nonexistent/imaginary travel companion is simply in the bathroom. Not only is this dishonest but also silly- what happens if they sit nearby and clearly no one returns from the bathroom? Conflict with fellow passengers is never a good thing.
On the less extreme end, sometimes two people traveling together try to block off a middle seat. This is great for late boarders. If you spot one of these twosomes, make a beeline for their row and ask to sit in the middle. Most likely, they will offer up either their aisle or window seat.
Ultimately, the best seat on Southwest Airlines depends on your personal needs and preference. If you simply follow some easy strategies and understand Southwest’s boarding process you don’t have to stress over Southwest’s open seating policy or suffer through a bad flight.
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Or you can sit in the middle of a couple and have them talk over you and pass things back and forth for four hours…my recent experience! But I guess sometimes you just get unlucky. But some of your other tips seem worth a try!
Ick, that sounds like a pretty bad flight!
Did you offer to switch seats with one of them?
My friend and I take an isle and a window, our personal preferences. If you take the middle we will not be moving which seems to surprise some passengers. If you are fun, join in our conversations
S Jumps I would join in on the conversation by asking why the two of you think you are worth three seats.
Best response ever
Did he say they’re worth two seats? Do they somehow make the third seat unavailable? NO! He said they both sit where they like and if someone comes to sit in the middle, that’s cool. They don’t swap seats just to be near their friends. Good God some people!
I would smack the shit out of your hands if you passed anything over me. I don’t mind getting apple juice all over me as long as it gets my point across.
You would then get your face smashed in and be on a breathing tube for the rest of your life… and yes, the jail time would be worth it
Are you and your friend portly people? You require that extra middle seat to share your snacks and arm rolls?
And I’d do a Taliban on your ass if you touched me
Yeah… That’s called “self-importance” and fits perfectly into how modern day people think of themselves and others. In a world of common decency, the person with the aisle seat would offer to switch with the person in the middle. It’s called “courtesy” but I’m guessing that doesn’t fit into your worldview, moron.
My girlfriend and I do this. Take the isle and window and hope no one comes. But if they do, the above is correct, we’ll offer them window. As I like Isle and my girlfriend will just move over.
Nobody is worth two seats. We just want to sit together. And we just try to pick who we’d prefer to sit with by offering them a seat. It’s no different than picking what middle seat you want to sit in by who’s already there.
Hey, you do what you have to do to be comfortable for a long flight.
You would think that because the passengers are doing all the work here, the tickets would be dirt cheap. Passengers also should be able to get their round trip tickets once and for all. This 24 hour nonsence is horrible, especially if you are away on vacation and 24 hours before you leave you have to remember to get your boarding pass arrangements done. Think about it,we go online, book our flight, go through the 24 hour process and get back online to arrange your own boarding passes. I have tried paying the extra $15 and ended up in Group C! What a ripoff! I did a lot of flying with Southwest, but have not because they do not try to improve any of this. It is a shame because they are a convenient airline for me with very little delays, free baggage, however, their prices have escalated which probably include baggage fees unknown to the passenger.
I guess you only fly SW and think the grass in greener, but SW often runs $100+ less than the competition Basic Economy. This is a new fare that is below economy. This doesn’t even included access to the overhead bin.
One more tips. Before you board, ask if flight is oversold. In lots of cases, the gate agent would let you preboard and sit in the first row so he/she could easily locate you if the flight is actually oversold and a volunteer is needed.
That’s a good one- thanks for sharing!
Unfortunately, I have seen many instances where one passenger purchases early-bird boarding and saves a seat for a traveling companion who boards later. The flight attendants do nothing.
Yeah, I’ve seen flight attendants let it slide too a few times but usually in those cases the second person wasn’t too far behind.
You should just tell them, “Oh, well where are they?” They should have been here if they wanted it.” That easy, seriously. If that is the case, tell them you had that seat they are in already saved before you got on the plane. If they complain or say I sat here first though, say, “Exactly” and just sit down. People are just too submissive.
Nice write up. One thing I’ve noticed is that the FA’S will keep preboarders from sitting in exit rows for obvious reasons. If the flight is super light just wait until everyone has boarded and then go toward the back. Most people want to sit up front. I’ve been on planes where it is totally full in the first 15 rows and nearly empty in the back. People are funny like that.
Thanks! You’re right, people are sometimes in a hurry just to get settled anywhere they grab the first open seat they find.
Thank – you so much for taking the time to write this excellent and complete guide. I’m sure many people, like me, have found very helpful
Who benefits from this idiotic seating policy? Wish Southwest would change this system. Boarding doesn’t move any faster.
Just fly elsewhere, this seating policy sucks.
I just wish southwest would make people with the those huge overstuffed over head bags sit in the back of the plane.I missed a connecting flight because I was seated further back and had to wait almost 30 minutes for families and people trying to maneuver those big bags.I never take extra bags.just a tote that fits under the seat.
I always just have one regulation size bag that goes in the overhead and is really easy to manage. If it takes that long to maneuver a bag it probably should just be checked in- bummer missing a connection.
I agree. Also one time I decided to put my computer bag up top and people kept trying to push their oversize baggage into it and when I got it out I found it was ripped from some idiot.
I also note the number of wheelchairs (all are pre-boarded along with family members traveling with the wheelchair passenger). These passengers take front seats. If a passenger requiring a wheelchair is traveling alone, however, I’ve noticed that the seats next to them are often open and available.
That’s a good one- especially if you need to be up front to catch a connection.
Some people don’t like the bulkhead seats because there are no trays so you have to hold drinks and or food. What i dont like is that those seats are not kept open for handicapped people who board when that flight was a continuing flight and those passengers are allowed to move to different seats. I had this happen when my handicapped mom and i were on a continuing flight and 2 other bigger guys moved to the bulkhead seats. Then there were handicapped passengers boarding who had to take further seats back. I think southwest needs to change that procedure. Another situation in which i voiced my opion mightily was when our flight was delayed and my mom, which they knew she was handicapped, didnt keep an open seat up front for her and i. We ended up way in the back with her in a middle seat and me in a middle seat further back. She is very hard of hearing so she kept looking at me everytime an announcement came over the pa. If the flight had had difficulty i would not b near her to help her. Its time southwest starts doing seat assignments. It takes just about the same amount of time or longer to board a southwest flight as other airlines. It would b so much easier particularly with all the stupid people who bring big duffles etc on board.
Southwest is Southwest. You really need to fly with someone else. Why would you want to change the only airline with unassigned seating? So many of us love their procedures. I’m partially handicapped. I don’t expect people to wait on me, just give me a little more time. As long as I can get on that plane and get a seat…I’m happy to be going. I love Southwest.
I agree. Southwest is southwest. Overall their my airline of choice domestically for short to mid-range flights. Each airline has different boarding procedures so it sounds like individuals that need customized travel options should go with another carrier. I sometimes do this when I travel. For example when I’m flying to coast to coast or a two to three convection I go with another carrier.
From these comments I think I will stick with United and know I have the seat I want
My son is handicapped and we usually take the first seats. Why? because he cannot walk very far and its easier. We don’t mind waiting to be the last off, as its much easier because they have the wheelchair waiting for us it lets all the others go ahead so there is no waiting. Yes we stay on the plane and do not change but we also stay in the same seats I cannot move to another seat as he is unable to communicate People have difference reasons for staying with the person that is handicapped. besides not able to walk very far he is also mentally chanallanged
I am handicapped and endured the same situation where people were already seated in the first row. I was confused cause there was no handicap first row. I asked the flight attendant where the handicap seating was and she flippantly gestured to the entire plane. I had to tell her that according to the law you must provide accomodations to the handicapped. She immediately changed her tune and asked for volunteers to move. I felt so empowered after that.
Great tips. I have seen many with an imaginary friend, some with two. They simply put all of their things on every seat in a row. Once an FA told somebody like that that they know all the tricks and made her move her stuff. Also encountered somebody with a high B ticket who said that she could stand at the very front of the B line. Even though several of us pointed out that she needs to find her number, she insisted on being in the front. I like Southwest because of their free luggage policy and the ability to bank money when changes are made.
It’s pretty funny when someone gets called out for sketchy behavior. Agree, Southwest’s change policy has come in handy more than a few times for me.
I could have really used these tips when I was selling travel! Great post!
Thanks glad you found them helpful!
The seating policy is the main reason I choose to not fly Southwest. Only time it’s beneficial for me is if I’m traveling with my toddler and get to take advantage of family boarding. Plus, I hate Midway.
I am kinda neutral on the seating policy but it does seem like most people either love or hate it.
I agree! Midway is a drag. I live close to ORD and I’m dreading that I had to book with Southwest out of Midway. Way cheaper and with my trip being in January I needed the flexibility to change if the weather was bad (cruise) and other airlines had little to no nonstop to Houston Hobby. Oh love the not nickel and dining you tho (bags,seats etc) that other airlines do.
its not so much the seating policy for me as it is the 3×3. Why not a 4 and a 2? id pay extra for the 2. would you?
Would love a 4 by 2 as well. I don’t particularly like sitting next to strangers as I require a lot of personal space.
Only fly 2-3 times per year; 3×3 ? Or 4×2 ?
Hate the seating policy, love to sit with my wife. I must have an isle sit; I am extreame Claus-tro-pho-bic. The anxiety starts the day before the flight, and gets worse until the flight is over & then the return home!!! Most times the flight booking is done by someone else. When I am in control, I fly with other carriers.
BTW, the horrible Clause -Tro-Pho-Bic Anxiety began 50 yrs ago by being pinned down in fire fights in war
Explain this; I check in to a flight the second it’s available and get B15. My friend checks in to the same flight hours later and gets A25. What’s up with that?
I am guessing your friend might have paid for EarlyBird check-in or maybe has A-List status.
I’m traveling for first time on Southwest with 5 family members (adults) and now worried this was bad decision. Nothing like getting stressed the first day of vacation! Suprised there haven’t been numerous altercations.
I don’t think it was necessarily a bad decision as there are a lot of positives about flying Southwest. You should be able to sit together as long as you can board early (in As or low Bs). I recommend putting an alarm and checking in exactly 24 hours before the flight time OR purchasing EarlyBird check-in.
If you want to save money, 3 of you can pay for EarlyBird check-in and save the middle seats. I think seat saving is more an issue when 1 person is saving a lot of seats especially those in the aisle or window.
On a positive note, I find that Southwest has more legroom than other airlines so you should have a more comfortable flight. Plus they don’t charge for checked bags.
Southwest planes are the DIRTIEST in the industry. Be sure to take disinfecting wipes with you and DON’T use the lavatory
Maybe that’s why the SW planes are so dirty. People aren’t using the bathrooms!
You should carry wipes no matter what plane you’re on. Some people are just nasty and the flight turn arounds aren’t enough time to clean up properly. This or they just don’t care enough.
I’ve written a guide (for myself) with assorted info for the first-time LUV flyer (again me). There’s lots of good tips here that I can add to my cheat-sheet. It’s helpful to be aware of all protocols before flying with them.
By flying Southwest, I’m willing to relinquish an assigned seat (United) as long as I know how to get the best seat for me. Thanks!
How do you get on the A list or preferred list
A-list is for frequent flyers. You need to fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year.
I will be flying Southwest from Milwaukee to Los Angels – then American Airlines to Hawaii and return to CA. In your opinion, how important is the TSA pre-check program for this type of flight?
Hi Freeman, Sorry for the delay in responding. While it is always nice to have TSA Precheck its value depends on how often you fly. I would not sign up for it only to use it on one trip. How often do you think you will be flying in the next 5 years? Do you knave any children under 13?
Thanks for your reply. We have no children under 13 nor any under 30. And we are in the 75 to 80 plus range, so I don’t know how many more years we might be traveling our selves. So even though we might get caught in a long line this time, based on the dollars, it likely won’t pay off to have the TSA Pre-check?
Probably not worth it to pay for TSA Precheck if will only use it once or twice in 5 years. It is hard to predict the future but I would suggest that each person should divide the cost of TSA by your estimate of how many flights you think you will take in the next 5 years to see how much you would pay for each use.
If you have a credit card that gives you free TSA Precheck then you might as well sign up.
You might also get TSA Precheck randomly on your boarding pass. In the past, seniors were likely to get TSA Precheck without even signing up.
Even if you do not have TSA Precheck, the line might not necessarily be long-it depends on many factors including what time and day you are flying. I would recommend going to the airport early to be on the safe side. You would have to take off shoes, jackets and belts which some people find annoying.
Thanks for the information and your help.
Now I’m worried – I just purchased 8 tickets – for me and my husband and our 8 children. The youngest one is 10, and it would be HORRIBLE if she couldn’t sit with one of us! The others are older and would love not sit with us, but I’m worried about the 10 year old! Is it possible that she would get a boarding number not by mine????
If you are all on the same reservation I think you would get nearby boarding positions.
Even if your boarding groups were not next to each other you can still board together – but you would have to board with the family member that had the last boarding position. (For example, if two people were traveling together and one had A40 while the other had B12, they would both have to board at B12 to be able to walk on the plane together.)
The key to all sit together is to board early (A group or early B group). I would recommend setting an alarm and checking in exactly 24 hours before your flight’s departure time.
We just had this happen on a full flight to Florida. I explained that my 10 year old could not sit alone and the crew asked if anyone could make room. No one responded so crew upped their game and offered free movie or drinks if someone would move to allow 2 free seats. If this happens to anyone speak up. Crew will work with uou
That is great advice. The crew does not want young children sitting alone and will usually help you sit together.
will be traveling with granddaughter and lap baby will I be allowed to board with her during family boarding in order to help with baby? This will also be first time for granddaughter to fly.
I think you would be allowed to board during family boarding. According to southwest: “An adult traveling with a child six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding.”
Traveing southeest airline with a 88 year old individual, that uses a non electric wheel chair and has difficulty walking. Will this person be given pre boardimg seat assignment,early boarding and/or any other preferential treatment. Thanks for your assistance.
My first time flying southwest:
I checked in exactly 24 hours before the flight. Got boarding pass b17
Second time completely forgot, and checked in about 3- 4hr before the flight. Got A17.
The “early you check in the better” theory is down the drain.
What I did noticed was:
My first B position I paid 64 bucks for that flight.
My second A17 boarding position I paid over $100 for that flights.
So I guess that’s what really matters. Not how early you checked in.
We have flown on many Southwest flights and do find that, in general, the earlier you check in the better boarding position you get. One factor that affects your position is how many other people are also checking in early for that flight. For example, I have noticed that on weekday flights, I have to check in right at 24 hours because most of the people on those flights are experienced business travelers that also check in at 24 hours. On the other hand, I have checked in later for Sunday morning flights and still got a good boarding position. I have noticed that most people on Sunday flights are traveling for leisure for the weekend, are less experienced and too busy on Saturday to check in at the 24 hour mark. I wonder if that was a factor on your flights?
People may have bought early bird with a reservation. And were automatically checked-in by SW, then less than 24 hours before (even up to 10 minutes before flight) the flight if they cancel their reservation – their ‘A’ boarding position gets put back into the system and whoever checks in next gets that boarding position.
Here is a step by step guide I put together to setup automatic check-in on your own computer at the 24 hr mark – http://www.theartoftravelhacking.com/automatic-check-southwest-flights/
If you sign up for early bird check in, do you still need to check in as well to make sure you have a good boarding position? Or will it automatically show you when you log in what your boarding position is?
early bird checks you in automatically to get a good boarding position – but you will still have to print a boarding pass, get one at the airport kiosk, or pull it up on your phone before you head through security.
We signed up for the Early Bird check in. Does anybody know when I will be able to see what boarding position we received? If I log in 24 hours before the flight to check, will it be there already? Thank you for all of the other great information in this post and in the comments!
I see it when I log in 24 hours before my flight to print my boarding pass.
You’ll be able to see your boarding position right away at the 24 hour mark before you depart. Get the southwest App and they’ll send ya a push alert of your boarding position with early bird.
If you have a connecting flight, and have paid for early bird seating on the first flight, does it also apply to the second flight? We will have to change planes too!
This is one of these rules that often can vary. It should check you in but I’ve had times when I’ve had early bird that it checks in a B assignment.
This might already be mentioned by exit rows also have language, age and mobility requirements. Plus if your on a B737-700 series the window exit seat is removed on some of the aircraft. When in doubt check seat guru!
My husband and I are traveling with 5 children, the youngest being 5 years old. Does that mean that we can all board during family boarding?
In my experience, you will probably be fine. The issue Southwest tries to eliminate in Family Boarding is the opposite…4 adults trying to board with one child/toddler. Just check with the gate agent and be friendly.
Are seniors (85 years old) permitted to board a flight early, and if so, are there certain restrictions as to where they sit?
Recent experience would indicate that most people are paying for the early check in and/or that there are many A+ travelers that automatically get higher boarding numbers. Bottom line if you are an occasional SW flyer be prepared to be at the back of the bus. Checking in early will do you little good. I just checked in and got B51. Started hitting the check in button 2 minutes before my phone showed the exact 24 hour before wheels up time.
I fly SWA exclusively and am A+Preferred meaning I usually board from A16-A21. Not sure I’d pay extra to board A1-A15 as sometimes the flight is a non-originating flight and still contains many passengers flying to the next destination so you don’t get the seat you really want, hence you may have wasted your money unless the goal is to just be able to get an aisle seat or room for your bag. If I don’t get the emergency aisle I’ll sit in row 9 or multiples of 9 as they receive drinks first. I’ve only had a couple bad experiences with miserable flight crews but the exceptional experiences far outweigh those. Great airline and once you learn the boarding process and use the aforementioned tips you’ll never want to fly other airlines. Did I mention free drinks for A+ and above and the Companion Pass Program?
I will protest to the flight attendant when an early boarder puts his personal items in the seat next to him and claims he is saving a seat. I have talked to the airline and this is against their policy. I feel someone doing this is more rude then my complaint!
Travel often with Southwest, and I get really steamed when I see” wheelchair’ passengers get to board early, but on the other end of the flight,often see these same passengers sprinting around the baggage carousels lugging big suitcases.
Southwest needs a better system to identify truly deserving
pre-boarders who abuse the system and laugh at the rest of us.
Perhaps its time to require medical certificates signed by doctors?
The second paragraph heading, “The key to getting a good seat…,” made me ask myself, “what’s a good seat?” I appreciate that you addressed that later in the article. As with you, I do prefer an aisle seat if just for the sake of the feeling of extra room on one side of me (briefly tucking in when the service carts come thru), though if I intend to nap on a longer flight I prefer having a window to lean up against, which is also good when a very broad passenger takes the center seat. Despite where you pick to sit, a good seat is ultimately one with overhead storage! I know overhead bin space isn’t earmarked per seat, but there is a common sense factor that makes it somewhat of an unspoken guideline. I despise when a person puts their stuff in the first open bin spot then goes to the back of the plane. The later groups board and someone filling a hole near the front of the plane has no overhead storage and has to make their way to the back to find room in a bin, then make their way back to their seat. If that isn’t bad enough, now they have to get their stuff from the back when the plane deboards, all on the account of a jerk that puts their stuff in a bin space that would typically be for a passenger in that row, rather than putting in close to the seat they chose.
Seat savers are simply violating my right to sit in a seat I’ve paid for. After a trip to Aruba last year we will never, not for all the tea on China ever, fly SWA again.
Paid for business Select, arrived very early (this scenario played out identically both inbound and out) and wat in rows 7 and 13 respectively.
Outbout a group of 5 children preboarded with 1 adult, each kid took a middle seat and held the entire row for others in their group in later boarding groups.
FA’s were useless. Disinterested and unresponsive.
I am 6’1”+, 275 and thought that paying for BS (appreciate) seats we’d have options. The seat saving kid brigade took the bulkheads and wing exit rows…how can a child hold a wing exit seat?
Bonus, one of the FA’s I had asked to assist us took the opportunity to be discourteous and unprofessional the entire AUA-ISP with stop in MCO trip.
Written complaints (email) followed the flights with zero SWA response.
I opened 2 Chase Visa cards and purchased BS to maximize points, now I’ve got 150,000 points I will not use.
Oh, almost neglected to include that through the credit card spend bonuses I had achieved my Companion Pass. SWA did not honor it for the AUA trip…!
Paid full fare for both wife and I, still have a never used Companion Pass.
Yikes, SWA will never see another thin dime of my hard earned dollars.
I am concerned after reading everyone’s comments. I am traveling from New York to California with my elderly mom who will be using airport wheelchair assistance to/from the gate, but she cannot sit alone and must be with me as she is non-verbal due to aphasia from a stroke and needs assistance in other areas. It’s also hard for her to get up and down. I was hoping to get the bulkhead seat with her. I’m also nervous because we have a connecting flight changing planes and we need to disembark quickly, which is going to be very difficult. What are your recommendations. She’s already stressed and I feel terrible for her.
I have come to the conclusion that Southwest is the least predictable airline there is both from comments and from my own miserable experience with them. If you haven’t already traveled, can you get a refund on your tickets and book with another less “cattle car” airline? That bulkhead seat is highly coveted by a lot of people for a lot of reasons – claustrophobia, long legs, etc. and usually goes with the first person on the plane. A communication problem will not get you the bulkhead seat. Another airline may cost more but it might be worth it not to have the worries ruin your trip. Southwest may be cheap but there is an old saying: You get what you pay for. Best wishes on your trip.
Hi….I have flown many times with Southwest. People in wheelchairs and whoever is flying with them generally get on the plane first and have the bulkhead seats. The only advantage to flying with them is free baggage. Their tickets are not all that cheap anymore. It takes forever to get a free ticket and there are so many blackout dates. I would fly with them for airport convenience, however, I started to hate when a trip that takes 2-3 hours becomes an all day deal because they stop in Baltimore. I always hated the seating issue and having to stop what you are doing to get your boarding pass online and try to not end up being in C group. Good luck when flying with them.
Blackout dates? Are you kidding me? No such thing!
This policy sucks. Southwest is the walmart of airlines. They heard people in and let them fight for seats that don’t suck. You will not sit with friends/family most of the time. They provide no seating service, letting people fight over seats. If you like being treated like you’re in a third world country, fly Southwest! Dreadful policy.
Print this out and save it. It is from Southwest website. No one can really save a seat.
Pick a seat, any seat
At Southwest®, we let you sit where you like. We don’t assign seats on our flights, so feel free to sit in any available seat once you board the plane.
i pretend to be sick and start coughing. unless the flight is completely full, nobody wants to sit next to the guy that might be sick/ill.
may be deranged but it works!
Just completed a roundtrip from L.A. to Newark on Southwest with layovers in Denver and Chicago. Out of the three seating groups I know of (A, B & C), the best we managed for early check- in was B. There was always an offer for A group boarding at the gate for an additional $15-$16 when available. Boarding before the next group also makes overhead storage space easier to find. Southwest ends flights to Newark in November(?) 2019.
Postscript – I forgot to mention my shock when a guy with a full-size guitar case was allowed to take it aboard. There went two overhead storage spaces for the price of one…
Twice, or a flight from Phoenix to Baltimore and back in June I picked the middle seat in the front of the plane with more legroom because I had a small dog and was told it was occupied. I told him I didn’t Believe him ..call him an A hole and told him that If he wanted to mess with me for the rest of the flight which was five hours long. Go ahead. Never heard another word out of him for the rest of the flight. You don’t have these problems on other airlines because you get to pick your seat before your flight. Ruined my flight.
Active duty military board right after “A” (pretty much ~usually have to ~ have to have your CAC card or orders printed…). If you have uniform (which military kind of discourages unless returning from deployment) SW will also cut slack for slightly heavier bag (uniforms + boots etc…) military travel usually has deals with other carriers so frequently does seem to book with SW for some reason. TSA also seem to be nice to me when I use CAC for ID purposes in line. Only had to fly home from deployment once in uniform but number of people and other military people from almost every service were super nice (especially older heroes from ww2 etc…) military generally strongly strongly strongly discourages any alcohol drinks while in uniform so always best to decline drinks except pop or coffee. Families of other service members usually super nice too.
Mil travel *DOESNT* seem to like to use SW for some reason…
If I have 2 southwest planes within 2 hours of each other on one reservation to complete my trip, how many calls are necessary to get my boarding area for entry for both planes.