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Southwest Air’s $10 Boarding Upgrade

This article was written by in Travel. 4 comments.

Southwest Air, which is the airline I consider when I feel like saving upwards of 50% off the price of a ticket, today introduced a new option for boarding before other people.

If you’ve never flown Southwest before, you may not know that they don’t assign seats like, well, every other airline I can think of. You get put in a group, and something between the honor system and common courtesy then decides exactly when you board, and subsequently, where you sit.

Southwest also offers “Business Select” and “A-List Customer” designations, but now the rest of us also have the opportunity, if we want to spend an extra $10, of boarding early. From their Web site:

EarlyBird Check-in is designed for passengers who have purchased electronic tickets at the Wanna Get Away Fare, Anytime Fare, Senior Fare or DING! Fare

EarlyBird boarding positions are automatically assigned and confirmed 36 hours prior to your scheduled departure time

With EarlyBird Check-in, you’ll receive a better boarding position that is confirmed for your trip. Since you’re boarding earlier, there will be more open seats and overhead bin space from which to choose. Then you can sit back and relax as the other passengers board.

(See more Early-Bird Check-In FAQs.)


(Photo by adotjdotsmith.)

Unlike other airlines, which have recently begun charging for any and all baggage (pretending, I guess, that it wasn’t already included in the price of the ticket, and that they were voluntarily losing money on the proposition for the past few decades), Southwest is offering a somewhat-innovative service for the extra fee.

Southwest Air to charge $10 to board early, Deepa Seetharaman, Reuters, Sep. 2, 2009

Published or updated September 2, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar David@DINKS Finance

I love Southwest! They opened daily direct flights form MSP to Chicago for only $60 or something really cheap like that which is AWESOME! I definitely would be willing to throw in $10 more for early boarding.

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avatar Erica Douglass

The trick to getting A20 (the highest you can get without being Business Select) is to check in online exactly 24 hours before your flight. I mean down to the minute. I have alerts set everywhere so I am usually one of the first to check in.

You can check in on any mobile phone with a web browser by going to m.southwest.com.

Remember that you don’t have to print your boarding pass then and there to check in; check in, get your number, and then print your boarding pass when you get to the airport.

Never wait until you get to the airport to check in.


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avatar Barb

This bothers me. I liked that you could sit pretty much anywhere by virtue of checking in exactly 24 hours in advance. I was beyond happy when they started giving numbers, so you didn’t have to wait by the boarding area. And there’s no guarantee that $10 will save you from group B–what if a LOT of people pay it? I don’t like the nickel-and-diming going on, and this is just another instance of it. That being said, I do like the Southwest commercials on right now: “Why do they hate your bag?”

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avatar Liz

I paid $10 and got the LAST group. :(

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