Browsing Tag: EarlyBird

Passing Mt Rainier onboard a Southwest Airlines 737 - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Passing Mt Rainier on-board a Southwest Airlines 737.

When I wanted to get between Seattle (SEA) and San Jose (SJC) via a direct flight, I didn’t have too many choices. I could have either flown on Alaska or Southwest Airlines.  Since I had never flown Southwest before, I decided to give it a try and tick a new airline off my list.

The whole experience began the day before my flight when it was time to check in.  I had read a few guides (although not the one written by the founder of this very website — oops) on how to deal with a Southwest flight.

Southwest, unlike any airline I had ever flown before, does not assign seating — it is a “Free for all”.  Your ticket simply lists your boarding group (A, B or C) and a number which is your place in line.  When you get on-board you are free to sit wherever you want.

The first 15 in the A group are reserved for Southwest’s frequent flyers or “A listers”. Some fare classes and those who pay for automatic early check-in [aka EarlyBird] snag the majority of the A group.  The first 60 guests get the A group, the next 60 get B and whatever is leftover gets C. You obviously don’t want to be in the C group, if you don’t like middle seats. I luckily scored an A group ticket — game on.

The new Southwest interior with new seats and carpeting. Photo by Southwest Airlines.

These tips will help you find the best seat on a Southwest flight – Photo: Southwest Airlines

Love it or hate it, Southwest Airlines has a unique seating process. Where most airlines will assign you an exact seat, Southwest gives you a boarding number and you can choose any open seat on the plane. Some enjoy choosing who they sit next to, but others don’t like the added anxiety of not knowing where you will sit until you are on the plane. I wanted to run down some ideas on how to get the best seat possible on a Southwest Airlines flight. They have seemed to work out pretty darn well for me over the years.

If you haven’t flown Southwest before, it can be a little confusing. When you check in, you will get a boarding letter – A, B or C – and a number – 1-60. A1 is the best and C23 (on a 737-700) / C55 (on a 737-800) is the worst. No matter what number you have, there are ways to improve where you sit — unless you are last to board.