Using Southwest’s $12.50 Early-Boarding option

For anyone not familiar with Southwest and in case you fly them in the future, just know that Southwest offers an early boarding option at $12.50 per passenger that will allow you to board with a better boarding position.


Southwest does not have assigned seating, so exactly 24-hours prior to your departure time, it’s a mad dash to be near a computer or have your phone app running and checking in as early as possible within the 24-hour window, as your check-in time will determine your boarding position and consequently your choice of seats.

Now, I’m not one to pay airlines (any airline!) for incidentals or premium features (I do LUV you, Southwest!). However, on this particular flight we were taking, it was 4 of us, including my wife flying for free via my Companion Pass, and we had back to back 4 hour flights from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Baltimore and then to San Antonio. Now, we were coming back from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on Carnival, and I already knew that by being on the ship, on the 24 hours before our flight, I would be on St. Marteen with no internet or phone service (roaming) all day, and none of us would be able to check-in early enough to get decent boarding positions. So in this particular case, it made total sense for us to pay $12.50 per person ($50 total) to let Southwest do the check-in for us, not have to worry about racing everyone else, and get a good boarding position so all 4 of us would be able to sit together for the two long flights. It was money well spent.


Even if you already have made a reservation, you can still go into your Southwest profile and select the early boarding choice by adjusting your reservation, pay your $12.50 with a credit card, and guarantee earlier boarding. While this will not guarantee 100% that you will get the seats you want, we were able to get into the low B’s boarding numbers, which was good enough to sit together on their 737-800 planes.

When traveling Southwest, just keep in mind this option if you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to grab a good boarding position and think about whether paying the fee is something that could be worth it to you for your own personal convenience and comfort.

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