7 Tips for Mastering Southwest Check-In and Boarding

Many reasons make Southwest Airlines a popular U.S. low-cost carrier. Southwest flights are often cheaper. Southwest is the only U.S. airline without luggage fees 

Southwest's lack of seat assignments is its most unusual feature. At the gate, passengers line up by boarding position. On the plane, people can sit anywhere. 

Airline passengers board by “zone” and choose their seats. Each zone—A, B, and C—has boarding position groups of 1 to 30 and 31 to 60.

Your zone assignment depends on your ticket type, Southwest elite status, flight check-in time, and whether you have children under 6.

Wanna Get Away fareholders can now buy EarlyBird Check-In. This option automatically checks you in 36 hours before departure.

Southwest Airlines regulars can acquire A-List or A-List Preferred elite membership after a specified number of flights or Southwest Rapid Reward points. 

If you buy a Wanna Get Away fare without Southwest elite status, the airline gives you a zone based on when you check in. Remember that passengers can check-in 24 hours

Try to check in 24 hours before your flight. This is the ideal boarding zone if you didn't buy EarlyBird Check-In or a Business Select fare and don't have kids under 6. 

Individual check-in is required for Southwest Rapid Reward points travelers. This applies when checking in a Southwest Companion Pass holder. 

If you want a Southwest Companion Pass, sign-up incentives from cards like Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus can help you reach 110,000 points.