Is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?

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Southwest Airlines would not have fancy onboard choices. However, it does have a singular boarding course of the place you get assigned a particular boarding quantity that determines when you’ll be able to board the aircraft. The order you get on the aircraft is vital since Southwest makes use of first-come, first-served seating. The earlier you board, the higher seat choices you will have. All of its planes supply a 3-3 seating configuration.

Your Southwest boarding task will fall into teams A, B or C, and you can be assigned a quantity starting from one to 60 inside that group. It feels a bit like you might be lining up like cattle to board the aircraft, however when you get the dangle of it, it is not that horrible — at the very least when you have boarding group quantity.

Checking in on time will not get you the perfect boarding group

Southwest boarding in St. Louis. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll wish to examine in to your flight precisely 24 hours earlier than departure as a result of Southwest assigns boarding teams within the order you examine in. This means you will ideally wish to set your alarm to remind your self. However, as with virtually every thing within the airline trade, it is not fairly that easy.

The coveted first A1-15 spots go to those that buy pricier Business Select fares. You may also generally improve (for a payment) to an A1-15 boarding spot half-hour to 24 hours earlier than the flight’s scheduled departure time. This choice is barely obtainable if Business Select prospects do not fill the A1-15 slots, and it prices between $30 and $80 (per section, per buyer).

While this may be an extremely dear add-on, these with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card obtain 4 upgraded boardings per yr. This perk alone is why these two are a few of our favourite Southwest playing cards for households.

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Next within the boarding course of come these with Southwest A-List or A-List Preferred elite standing; these vacationers are robotically assigned a boarding quantity earlier than the 24-hour mark. Checking in exactly 24 hours earlier than your flight will not get you forward of these vacationers, both.

Finally, there may be additionally the problem of passengers who booked a direct however not a nonstop flight. Unless you might be on the primary flight of the day, there’s a affordable probability some seats on the aircraft will go to these passengers even earlier than the primary particular person in Group A will get an opportunity to board. After all, Southwest frequently sells tickets that require stops with out aircraft modifications.

Related: How to get seats collectively as a household on Southwest Airlines

What is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In

Now, let’s speak about Southwest EarlyBird Check-In itself. The airline’s EarlyBird Check-In service lets you robotically reserve your boarding spot beginning 36 hours earlier than your flight.

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EarlyBird Check-In serves two apparent functions. First, it eliminates the human ingredient of forgetting to examine in precisely 24 hours earlier than your first flight.

Second, it scores you a boarding task that ought to be higher than these obtainable 24 hours earlier than departure. The nearer the boarding move task is to A1, the sooner you board. The earlier you board, the higher collection of seats and overhead bins you’ll have.

Southwest aircraft inside. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

EarlyBird Check-In prices $15 to $25 per particular person per course of journey. The worth varies by flight and represents an actual financial funding when you have a number of folks touring. For our household of 4, we’d be out as much as $200 by utilizing EarlyBird Check-In on a round-trip Southwest journey.

However, word that a number of Southwest bank cards supply just a few EarlyBird Check-Ins on every card anniversary. For these with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card, you will obtain two EarlyBird Check-Ins per yr.

Additionally, the EarlyBird Check-In payment ought to set off The Platinum Card® from American Express annual airline payment credit score when you have chosen Southwest as your airline for the yr.

While Southwest has versatile insurance policies for altering your flight, the cash you spend on EarlyBird Check-In just isn’t refundable. If you cancel your flight, Southwest would not refund your EarlyBird Check-In buy.

If you alter your flight at the very least 25 hours earlier than the unique flight’s scheduled departure to a flight that does not depart for at the very least 25 hours, then the EarlyBird Check-In will switch — so long as the affirmation quantity stays the identical.

Related: Everything you have to find out about the perfect seats on Southwest Airlines

Is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?

Given all that, is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?

For some folks, this reply will at all times be no. The actual boarding place is not all that vital to some vacationers, and different passengers could also be unable to afford the additional value. Meanwhile, some household vacationers could also be okay with household boarding. After all, Southwest gives household boarding the place “two adults traveling with a child six years old or younger” can board.

Family boarding takes place between the A and B teams. So, if your loved ones meets the household boarding standards, a Group A boarding move will make it easier to, however a Group B boarding move will harm you.

In my expertise, for those who’re eligible for household boarding, there may be completely no cause to buy EarlyBird Check-In as your loved ones can have no downside sitting collectively.

Southwest household boarding happens after Group A. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

If you’ve got the price range to think about shopping for EarlyBird Check-In, it is likely to be worth it in just a few circumstances. First, EarlyBird Check-In is likely to be worth it if the flight is very lengthy, corresponding to a Southwest flight to Hawaii. The size makes seat choice extra priceless.

Second, if your loved ones or group should sit all collectively — and also you both do not qualify for household boarding otherwise you’re anxious there will not be sufficient seats left collectively — it might be worth it.

The early check-in is likely to be worth it if you realize you can be too busy on the 24-hour mark to examine in. Last however not least, if having EarlyBird Check-In reduces your stress or nervousness in regards to the flight, that alone might be worth the fee.

Now that my household not qualifies for household boarding, we would take into account buying it for choose flights — particularly when touring throughout well-liked college break intervals.

But usually, I’m fairly good with checking in proper on the 24-hour mark. I additionally do not thoughts sitting at the back of the aircraft with my household or splitting up into pairs. That may not work for each household, although, making the payment extra of a necessity.

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Finally, know you could buy EarlyBird Check-In only for one course of your journey or simply for just a few vacationers. In quick, it would not should be an all-or-nothing resolution. If you solely wish to buy EarlyBird Check-In for some vacationers, buy the flights to your whole group after which log in so as to add EarlyBird Check-In to the prevailing itinerary for the specified vacationers.

Related: How to reprice a Southwest flight when the fare decreases

Southwest bank cards to offset the fee

As talked about all through, there are 5 completely different bank cards to assist offset the price of EarlyBird Check-In and Upgraded Boarding. So here is a recap of the cardboard advantages and the present welcome gives:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass (good by Feb. 28, 2025) plus 30,000 bonus factors after spending $4,000 in your card within the first three months from account opening. The supply ends March 11. With this card, you will obtain two EarlyBird Check-Ins per cardmember anniversary yr.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass (good by Feb. 28, 2025) plus 30,000 bonus factors after spending $4,000 in your card within the first three months from account opening. The supply ends March 11. With this card, you will obtain two EarlyBird Check-Ins per cardmember anniversary yr.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass (good by Feb. 28, 2025) plus 30,000 bonus factors after spending $4,000 in your card within the first three months from account opening. The supply ends March 11. With this card, you will obtain 4 Upgraded Boardings per cardmember anniversary yr.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: 60,000 factors after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. With this card, you will obtain two EarlyBird Check-Ins per cardmember anniversary yr.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: 80,000 factors after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. With this card, you will obtain 4 Upgraded Boardings per cardmember anniversary yr.

Bottom line

At $15 to $25 per particular person every means, Southwest EarlyBird Check-In might be worth the fee. However, it will not at all times be a slam-dunk deal — particularly if household boarding is an choice to your group. It additionally will not assure a Group A boarding move.

If you resolve to buy Southwest EarlyBird Check-In, you’ll be able to earn bonus factors by utilizing the suitable bank card for the acquisition. Or, take into account selecting up a Southwest bank card, since all of them supply a set variety of Upgraded Boarding or EarlyBird Check-In perks per yr. Otherwise, take into account placing your EarlyBird Check-In buy on a card that reimburses miscellaneous airline charges.



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