Tips & Tricks: How To Get Group A Boarding On Southwest Flights

For those that have never flown Southwest Airlines before. It is not like your usual airlines because you are not assigned a seat when you board the plane. They have an open seating policy and their boarding process is based on a first come first serve boarding order. Upon check in you will be assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a position (1-60+). This only reserves your spot to board the plane. The lower the number you have, the earlier you can board and snag a seat. If you forget or leave it until the last-minute to check in then you’ll definitely be in B group or worse the C group. No one likes C because you’re almost guaranteed stuck sitting in a middle seat.

So how do you get an A boarding group and low number? The simple answer is check in early. Sooner the better! Southwest will block out A1 – A15 for business select members. Then depending on how many early bird or A-list members there are they will take up A16-A30+. That means usually A30+ is going to be for general boarding. Personally the lowest boarding number I’ve gotten was A33.

Online Check In

Online Check In

Southwest will allow general boarding to check in 24 hours before the departure time. My personal tip is put an alarm clock 24 hours and 5 minutes before your departure time. To remind you to check in. Once your alarm clock goes off you have two options to check in. One is online on Southwest website or the Southwest mobile app. You can find Southwest’s online check in here. I will show you the process of checking in on the mobile app as I prefer the mobile app since we all have mobile phones nowadays.

  1. Log onto your Southwest Account and click on the “Check In”Screenshot_2015-07-22-22-46-26
  2. Input your “Confirmation #”, “First Name”, and “Last Name”Screenshot_2015-07-22-22-46-34
  3. Once you do that you can click on the “Look Up” button but you will be greeted with this following error. If you do not see this specific error than you may have entered your information incorrect. Screenshot_2015-07-22-22-47-56
  4. You simply would need to wait until your clock hits exactly at the 24 hour mark and then you can proceed to check in.
  5. With the app you can easily view your boarding pass unlike checking in through the web.

If you decide to check in through the web you can ignore the print your boarding pass option and  print your pass at a kiosk as soon as you arrive at the airport. Don’t worry your boarding number will still be assigned to you even if you print your pass at the airport. As long as you checked in then you are guaranteed that boarding number.

One other tip that I emphasize is that be ready to hit that “look up” button (mobile) or check in (website) right at the second it hits your 24 hour mark. This is critical because within seconds you can easily drop 10+ numbers. My girlfriend and I have literally checked in few seconds between us and I have gotten A33 when she has gotten A45. This process will not guarantee you to get A boarding all the time. As I mentioned above that it is totally dependent on how many A-list members and early bird purchases there are.

Bottom Line

To get the best  boarding number on Southwest. You will need to check in as early as you can. The earlier the better.



Jon Jovi

Jon Jovi Olaveja is the founder and editor in chief of Points of Early Retirement. He is passionate about saving money by traveling the world on points and teaching others how to accomplish this. He loves to write about travel and personal finance.

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