Southwest's boarding procedure is unusual. Southwest does not segregate seats; rather, the check-in procedure determines when you board and, as a result, where you sit.
As a result, checking in Southwest flight might be unpleasant, especially if you are new to this airline or traveling with your young children. You may be most concerned when your child will not able to sit with you, or that you will be forcedly to sit in center of plane's turbulent rear row. Checking in on Southwest is simple with a little practise and organization (and even the appropriate airline credit card!). You'll be an expert at getting the greatest seats in no time.
Southwest does not assign seats when you check-in. Instead, you'll board by "zone" and select your seats once on board. A, B, & C are zones, and each zones is divided into mainly two groups: 1 to 30 & 31 to 60.
A zone can be provided to you based on following criteria:
Guests may check-in up to 24 hours before the departure time of their flight. You will specially be seated in order in which you check in or if you wait until last minute to check in, you may be last passenger on plane (C 60), and you will have to take middle seat next to randomly strangers rather than your family or friends.
Check in as soon as clock strikes 24 hours before the departure (more on that later).
Those with Wanna Get Away fares can buy "EarlyBird Check-In," which checks you in 36 hours before your flight's departure in the order that travellers ordered the service.
EarlyBird charges between $15 and $25 per person each way, which may add up for families. EarlyBird cannot guarantee you a seat in the A boarding zone; rather, it promises that Southwest will check you in ahead of people who did not purchase EarlyBird. It's still an excellent option if you must sit in a specific part of the plane, such as near a bathroom along the aisle — or if you're traveling with a group and sitting together is critical.
After a set number of flights or qualifying Southwest points, regular Southwest travelers can get Southwest A-List or A-List Preferred elite membership. Like EarlyBird Check-In, if you have elite status with Southwest, the airline will check you in for your journey 36 hours in advance, putting you ahead of other customers.
Southwest checks in Business Select first, then A-List Preferred, A-List, and finally EarlyBird – all in the sequence in which they booked. You can still board between the A and B boarding groups if you are an A-List Preferred or A-List member.
Families with children aged six and under are permitted to board between the A and B zones. Boarding is permitted for the entire family, not the child and one parent.
Southwest also permits people with special seating needs to accommodate their disability, who must help board the plane, and/or who need to stow assistive equipment to board the plane first - Prior to Business Select including the A boarding group.