Unfamiliar With Southwest Seating Assignment Process

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by wee-haggis, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. wee-haggis

    wee-haggis DIS Veteran

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    Having never flown with them,I am completely unfamiliar with Southwest Airlines seating assignment process.
    Is it just like a bus where you pick up your boarding pass and simply board the plane picking the best seat you can find?
    or
    Is it more civilized than that? (I can only imagine the chaos if it was that way).
    Then again,maybe I'm completely wrong in my assumptions :goodvibes
     
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  3. SB in KY

    SB in KY DIS Veteran

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    Well it is slightly more civilzed....but not much!!

    I call it the SW Boarding Circus. When you check in (anytime up to 24 hours before departure) you are issued a boarding pass, with an A, B or C on it. When you arrive at the gate they have 4 groups for boarding. First on are the "Pre-boarders"...includes people with disabilities and those travelling with a child 4 or under (and on MCO flights this can constitute a third of the plane. Then they call everyone with an A boarding pass, followed by B passes and finally the C's are allowed to board. Once you board you may take any available seat. If you have an A pass you can most likely sit with all of your family together....and depending on the number of preboards you can usually sit together if you have a B pass....however if the flight is full and you have a C pass you will likely be seperated....so moral of that story is check in on line early and get an A or B pass if it is a priority to sit together.

    Then keep your sense of humor and go with the flow!!
     
  4. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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    The earlier you check in online or at the airport the better chance you have of sitting together or getting the seat you want.

    Southwest hands out A,B,C boarding passes. If you have a C then you don't have a lot of seat choices when you board the plane.

    So the earlier you check in the better, also when they line up the closer to the front of the line you are the better.
     
  5. NotUrsula

    NotUrsula DIS Veteran

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    It is just get on and sit where there is an empty seat, but it is not a madhouse; passengers line up very early in their boarding group line and are almost always very orderly about boarding. This system is much quicker than the assigned seat system; it's not unusual for SWA to turn a plane around with only 15-20 minutes at the gate.

    You may check in online up to 24 hrs in advance of your dept. time, or wait to check in at the counter or at airport kiosks (if using the kiosks, be sure to have your CC handy to use it verify that you were the person who purchased the tickets.) The boarding pass you get when you check in will have a letter on it, A, B, or C, based on when you checked in; the earlier you do so, the better your shot at an A. That is your boarding group. (The passenger load is roughly divided into 3, and each plane holds about 137 passengers, so there are about 40 people in each group, with the extras ending up in the preboard category.)

    When you arrive at the gate, you will notice placards over the gate door that designate where the boarding line will form for each group, plus the preboard area. Preboarding is normally immediate families containing children UNDER age 5, or disabled persons who have asked for preboarding because they need extra time. Preboarders may not sit in the exit rows, but they otherwise may sit wherever they want to (those using carseats have to follow the placement rules that apply.) You get on when your row gets on, you see an empty seat, and you stash your bag and sit. If you have a C pass and the flight is full, be prepared for the possibility of being forced to gate-check your larger carryon; the bins may be filled by the time you board.

    Depending on airport, the B and C lines may start forming up to one hour before boarding, though 20 minutes is more normal. The A line rarely forms more than 15 minutes before boarding time, as most passengers with A's will get seats they are satisfied with even if they end up at the end of the A line. The exception are the folks who just MUST have an exit row seat; they may stand up early to be first in the A line. BTW, you cannot just plunk down your carry on bag to hold a place in a boarding line; you must actually stay in the line to hold a position.
     
  6. wee-haggis

    wee-haggis DIS Veteran

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    Thanks guys ....Very informative stuff !
     
  7. seashoreCM

    seashoreCM All around nice guy.

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    Sometimes the concierge, if not too busy, can print your Southwest boarding pass before you leave the resort for home or even do it the previous day, but you are not able to get Southwest boarding passes at the Magical Express desk before boarding the ME bus.

    Disney hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/dispass.htm
     
  8. inkkognito

    inkkognito <font color=green>I shall call him Mini-Me<br><fon

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    I fly SW a lot and see the A line form just as promptly as B and C (can be up to an hour beforehand). No matter what letter you are, if you want the best choice of seats, get in your line early. It's just as easy to sit on the floor than to park it in a chair. I'm usually no farther back than #8 or so in the A line and have a great choice of seats, even when the pre-board is pretty large.
    Barb
     
  9. applepwnz

    applepwnz <font color=deeppink>Future Imagineer<br><font col

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    Oh, also, I've never flown SouthWest myself, but my girlfriend recently flew with them to LA, people who are elderly, with small childeren, or who are disabled still get to board before the "A" line I believe.
     
  10. marcyinPA

    marcyinPA <font color=blue>I'll never forget the strong, pun

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    I was actually wondering about this....will the front desk staff (we are ASMo, I don't think they have concierge, do they??) be willing to check us in at 12:01 the morning we leave?? We are a large group (11 of us), and although some of us can sit alone, we don't want the 5 children by themselves. Being in the A group is important to us!!

    Marcy
     
  11. inkkognito

    inkkognito <font color=green>I shall call him Mini-Me<br><fon

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    The disabled and children under 5 may pre-board, but SW does not consider being elderly (unless also disabled) a valid reason for pre-board.
    Barb
     
  12. disgirl

    disgirl DIS Veteran

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    Hi! This is all new to me also as we usually fly jetblue but paying $300 one way during Pres. week from JFK is just too much, expecially since there would be five of us. Are you saying you can check in and get a boarding pass online for SW up to 24 hours before the plane leaves? Is this what most of you do so as to try to get seats together on the plane? Thanks so much!

    I am waiting for the flights to be anounced for Pre. week so I can decide if we should go or not. I can not justify the really high airfare since I was going to take my dad for his 80th birthday but now he wants a party which is going to cost us a lot of money. Oh, I am not sure what to do.

    Also, for all of you SW experts out there, Are the internet special prices which seem to be the lowest very risky because they say you may not get a seat during busy holiday travel? Any advice would be appreciated and I hope wee-haggis that you do not mind me asking this on your thread. THANKS!! Good Luck to you!
     
  13. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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    Here is the type of planes that Southwest is flying.


    http://www.aviationtoday.com/reports/southwest.htm

    ASW: How many airplanes are you operating, and how many of them are equipped with the FOQA quick access recorders?

    SWA: All 106 of our B737-700 fleet are equipped. And we have approximately 219 B737-300 and B737-500s that are equipped. We are probably going to take a representative sample of those airplanes. We will probably bring on 30-50 percent of our total fleet.

    ASW: Let me sort out the count here. You gave me 106 B737-700 and 219 dash 300 and dash 500 airplanes. That’s a total fleet of 325.

    SWA: Yeah, a total of 325.

    ASW: So that’s the total Southwest fleet, right?

    SWA: Nossir. Our total fleet is 355.
     
  14. kathylovesdisneyworl

    kathylovesdisneyworl Can we go to WDW again!

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    The policy at SW has just changed. It is now 24 hours before your flight leaves that you can check in. No more staying up till midnight to check in for your flight.
     
  15. marcyinPA

    marcyinPA <font color=blue>I'll never forget the strong, pun

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    Thank you! That's a very convenient change!

    Now what do we do about checking in for our departing flight? Will hotel staff help us in the middle of the day? Or do we just wing it and hope for the best? (I don't "wing" things very well!)
     
  16. kathylovesdisneyworl

    kathylovesdisneyworl Can we go to WDW again!

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    The staff at PO riverside did it for me. They were more then happy to help.
     
  17. BunsenH

    BunsenH Bringing Order to Chaos

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    Thanks for all of the great tips. I have not flown SW and the info is valuable.

    I see no mention of checking luggage. How does this fit into the mix?
     
  18. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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    You can check your luggage at the curb at the Southwest stand. Be sure to tip the skycap or you can go inside to the ticket counter and check your luggage there. There is also kiosks you can use.
     
  19. KCMiller

    KCMiller Has decided she does not need anonymous approval,

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    Here's a good question. I understand the whole 'letting people with young ones preboard'. My kids were young once, too. But how many other people are allowed to board with them? If a family group is flying (Mom, Dad, 3 kids with one 5 and the rest over, Grandma and Grandpa), do they let all 7 preboard?

    Just curious.


    KC :sunny:
     
  20. tjmw2727

    tjmw2727 DIS Veteran

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  21. inkkognito

    inkkognito <font color=green>I shall call him Mini-Me<br><fon

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    In all of my flights, I have never seen the pre-board totally suspended, but they almost always are quite strict about the number of people who can board with a child. And if they deny boarding to other family members, they have to go to the BACK of their lettered line (which often results in some very colorful language). I don't feel sorry for the people who get sent back, as the gate agents make the policy very clear on the speaker beforehand.
    Barb
     

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