Tips for Flying Southwest Airlines

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Below are a few of my top tips when flying on Southwest Airlines.

No Change or Cancellation Fees– You can change or cancel a flight for free. This is a great way to save you points if the price of your flight decreases.  

Check-In 24 Hours Beforehand– Southwest flights don’t have assigned seats, but you are given a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1-60).

The earlier you check-in, the better your boarding number. If you want to avoid a middle seat, be sure to set an alarm so you can be ready to check-in exactly 24 hours before your flight.

The best boarding positions A1-A15 are typically assigned to elite members, business select fares, or customers who purchased the EarlyBird check-in.


Best Seats on Southwest- The best seats on Southwest that you should try to get are:

  • Window Seat on the Second Exit Row– These two seats don’t have a seat in front of them, which allows you to fully stretch out. 
  • Bulkhead Seats– The first row is a good place to sit if you have a tight connection on Southwest, but you won’t be able to put your personal item in front of you.
  • Rows Behind the Exit Row– If you don’t manage to snag one of the seats above, the rows behind the exit row are likely to give you the best chance of having an empty seat next to you if the flight isn’t full.

2 Free Checked Bags– Unlike other airlines who charge for everything, Southwest gives you two free checked bags and a carry-on bag. This is a very nice benefit, especially when traveling with skis, golf equipment, moving, or for a long vacation.

All Boeing 737 Planes- Southwest flies one plane type, the Boeing 737, which is great because you don’t have to worry about flying on a cramped regional jet. The average seat pitch (space in between seats) is 31 to 33 inches, which is generally better than most United or American Airlines flights.

Free Alcohol on Holidays– Southwest gives you one free alcoholic drink on certain holidays, which you can find by reviewing the drink menu on the flight. Historically, these have been: January 1st, Valentines’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Southwest’s Birthday (June 17th), July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.

  • There is also an unwritten rule that if your Southwest flight is delayed by more than one hour, you can get a free alcoholic drink. Your experience may vary, but I’ve been successful at this 3 out of 3 times. (I always have my credit card ready just in case I need to pay for it.)
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