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airline---non reserved seating?

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authenticnow posted 7/21/2013 07:19 AM

We are planning a trip to Vegas in October and H is researching flights. Southwest has an offer where you can check in 24 hours before the flight and the boarding group you're in goes by whoever checks in the earliest. The flight is considerably cheaper than other airlines with reserved seating. We've never gone this route when booking tickets.

It seems strange to me. Has anyone done it? How does it work? Is it everybody at the gate pushing to get on? I really don't want to have to referee a fight because H will be the one fighting, lol. He is very tense before we fly and likes to get on the plane as early as he can.

Is is stressful? Is the stress worth the few hundred we'd be saving? Four of us are flying so it could be pricey.

cocoabean posted 7/21/2013 07:29 AM

When you check in online at Southwest you get a boarding pass. The passes are in groups A1 thru 60; B1 thru 60 or C1 thru 60 depending on when you check in. ( you can start checking in 24 hours before your flight). At the airport gates there are large poles with the numbers and you line up according to your boarding pass number. If you pay extra you can get an early bird check in which automatically guarantees an A boarding number.

There is no problem at the gate. The key is if you don't pay extra for early bird, you need to be on your computer at 24 hours before flight time to get the best boarding pass number.

MovingUpward posted 7/21/2013 07:30 AM

When you check in your boarding pass will get a number and you line up according to the number at the gate. So there is no mob rush.

Skye posted 7/21/2013 07:32 AM

Have done it many times. Not a problem at all. And if you speak to a person at the gate about your husband's fear, they will work with you.

Amazonia posted 7/21/2013 08:03 AM

My boss flies southwest a lot. She puts a calendar reminder on her outlook to check in exactly 24 hours in advance of the flight. The earlier you check in, the earlier you get to board and get the seat of your dreams.

hexed posted 7/21/2013 08:16 AM

check in EXACTLY 24 hours in advance on southwest. the longer you wait the worse boarding position you'll get. Its worth the extra $10 fee if they offer you the guaranteed 'A' group boarding pass.

This is southwest's 'thing' that makes them different. Their airfare used to be a lot cheaper but I don't see that so much anymore. IMO they have some of the best customer service in the business. No bag fees is a great thing for the infrequent traveller. If you're checking a bag those can really add up. YAY southwest. They also don't charge the $150 change fee if you decide to go on a differnt flight - only the fare difference. That's also really nice.

I fly them several times a month. I like them.

karmahappens posted 7/21/2013 08:22 AM

Ok, first things first...

I want to go to Vegas!!!

And second, yup it's easy as pie.

I always go onto southwest and prepare my online boarding stuff like 5-7 minutes before the 24 hours so at exactly 24 hours before my flight I hit the submit button and get my pass...

Easy and cheap....Remember when coming home you need to do the same thing. If you cannot print your boarding pass right when you check in you can print it later. Once you get your number it's done.

We went to Florida this year for our 25th and I paid the extra money for the pre-boarding...made it so I didnt have to check in 24 hours before, but did not give me any special spot. (better than the 24 hour check in I mean)

Have fun!!

[This message edited by karmahappens at 8:23 AM, July 21st (Sunday)]

BaxtersBFF posted 7/21/2013 08:43 AM

If you pay for the business class on SW, you will get in the A group probably in the 1-10 numbers, which will put you on the plane first, get you one free drink, and only cost about $15-$20 more per person than their regular rate. Sort of a good compromise.

Sad in AZ posted 7/21/2013 08:51 AM

Early check-in now costs $12.50 each way, but if you are traveling with carry-on only or you absolutely have to have an aisle seat, it's the only way to go on Southwest. Also, Southwest (I believe) is the only airline left that gives you two free checked bags, so if you find a slightly cheaper flight than SW, check to see how much they charge for your checked baggage, because that will significantly bump up the cost of the cheaper flight.

I used to hate SW when it was 'cattle-car airlines' but now with the boarding positions, it's a breeze.

I heard recently that SW is now considering charging for checked baggage which is a bummer.

authenticnow posted 7/21/2013 09:05 AM

Wow, what an overwhelmingly 'go for it' response.

This was very helpful. Thank you for all the responses!

Karma, Come with us!!!

karmahappens posted 7/21/2013 09:29 AM

Oh AN....don't say that twice!!

Rollercoaster posted 7/21/2013 09:51 AM

Chiming in a little late but YES do it! Worth it! My son recently flew the "low-cost" Spirit Airlines and all I can say is "never again"!

Southwest is the way to go!

metamorphisis posted 7/21/2013 10:03 AM

We almost exclusively fly Southwest from Buffalo to Orlando. You can also pay for Early Bird Check In (12.50 per person, per leg) and it will check you in automatically at the 36 hour mark. That's worth it to me to not have to be at the computer at exactly 24 hours go get the boarding position I want.
I honestly wouldn't call Southwest a discount flyer anymore. Their prices were lower for a long time because they entered a fuel hedging agreement which locked in their fuel prices for a very low rate for several years. The other carriers didn't and couldn't offer the low fares Southwest was offering.
When I think discount I think Spirit, Allegiant and the like. Typically their rates are low, but they slam you with fees all over the place (Seats, checked baggage, carry-on baggage etc). When it's all said and done it's not as cheap as it looks. Southwest also has way more routes and a newer/better fleet.

After all these flights I will happily recommend Southwest and Jetblue. We prefer Jetblue a little more but not enough to pay more for them.

In the end if LD is a nervous flyer (as am I) there will be no stress in purchasing the EBCI.. lining up according to your boarding position number (with EBCI it will be in the A group for sure and likely at the front). You'll have plenty of seating options if you are in the A and B groups. The EBCI will give you that small edge

I think I can posted 7/21/2013 10:08 AM

LOVE southwest. They are happy to see you, not annoyed that you are bothering them like most airlines.

authenticnow posted 7/21/2013 11:12 AM

Once we're in the air, LD is okay, usually with a xanax to take the edge off. He's more edgy with the whole hullabaloo leading up to the flight. Getting to the airport, parking, checking in at security, boarding, etc.

He's high strung on a good day. This whole process nearly puts him over the edge . (He's gotten better, though...maybe all the SI g2gs ).

Sad in AZ posted 7/21/2013 11:18 AM

I understand how LD feels; that's why I'm always pathologically early at the airport. It's nothing for me to arrive 3-4 hours early for a flight. I bring a book and my netbook and just relax. I just cannot handle being stressed over running late for a flight, not finding a parking spot, long security lines-ugh.

metamorphisis posted 7/21/2013 11:42 AM

Sad.. I am exactly the same. I actually have panic attacks from claustrophobia on planes. It's awful. It is the only area of my life where I will take meds to immediately calm down. But if we are running behind, get hung up at the border and then have a frenzied check in process the meds are not going to work because I will already be in fight or flight mode. It is very short step from there to full blown panic attack when the doors close. It is essential that I control what I can so I leave very early, we get a relaxing bite to eat and board early so I am near the front. It really really helps.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 11:43 AM, July 21st (Sunday)]

authenticnow posted 7/21/2013 12:34 PM

Definitely. We always try to get there early, check in and kill time once we're in the terminal. It's so much easier to be where you need to be instead of rushing until the last minute.

GrievingMommy posted 7/21/2013 16:43 PM

I didn't know about SW's nonreserved seating until I flew with them the first time. Now, I pay the extra $10/per way and get a better boarding position. I haven't any problems with it.

Plus I LOVE the two FREE checked bags! That alone saves $50+ per way!

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