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Cranky's Summer Travel Tips

Explorer C

Can you believe that Southwest actually asked me to guest post on the blog?  What is this world coming to?  I must admit that I got excited when Southwest asked me to put together some summer travel tips.  Every year, airlines come out with summer travel tips, and every year they say the same boring thing.  So this year, I thought I’d try to give a little, um, more variety.

First, what is so special about summer travel that it deserves its own set of travel tips?  You probably already know the answer.  This is the time of year when families take that big summer vacation, so planes are packed more often than not.  With that in mind, here are my summer travel tips.

Check-in Online – It’s a time-honored tradition to gather the family by the computer, sing songs, and head to to check-in exactly 24 hours prior to departure so that you get coveted “A” boarding passes.  (What, you guys don’t sing?)  Checking bags?  You can still check-in and drop your bags at the airport.  Not near a computer?  No biggie.  Check-in on your mobile phone at and print it out when you get to the airport.

“Patience” Isn’t Just a Guns N’ Roses Song – Combine full planes with summer thunderstorms and crowded airports and you won’t be surprised if delays happen.  Just remember to be patient and don’t take it out on the friendly Southwest employees.  It’s not their fault.  So find a quiet corner of the airport and take a few deep breaths.  They’ll get you where you need to go, even if it takes a little longer than you hoped.

Wake Up Early and Fly – Ever notice that those summer thunderstorms tend to happen more often in the afternoon?  Flying early in the morning means you have a better chance of arriving on time.

Don’t Stop – I don’t think we need to do the math here.  If you don’t stop, there’s less of a chance that you’ll be delayed.  Fortunately, Southwest flies nonstop to plenty of cities from every airport in their system.

Pack Light – I know you want to check those two huge (but underweight) bags (and Southwest is just about the only one airline that will let you do that without charge), but come on.  It’s warm.  Just throw a change of underwear into a backpack and head on your way.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but try to get everything into a carry-on and you’ll have less to worry about.

Middle Gets the Armrest – Southwest doesn’t fly any small jets.  In fact, every plane is a Boeing 737 with 3 seats on each side of the aisle.  Of course, with that configuration, someone is bound to be in the middle seat.  If you’re on the aisle or window, give the person in the middle a break and let that person have the armrests.  It’s the least you can do.

Keep Your Kids Busy – If you’re a parent, you know your kids need to be entertained.  Except for some aspiring singers/flight attendants and the view out the window, Southwest won’t provide you with entertainment so you need to bring something for the kids.  While you’re at it, might as well bring some for yourself as well.

Don’t Crowd the Aisle – When you get onboard, put your bag up and get out of the aisle quickly so people can get by and your flight can depart on time.  On the way out, let those in rows ahead of you exit first.  No cutting.

Spread the Drink Ticket Luv – If you’re a frequent flier and member of Rapid Rewards, you probably have plenty of those free drink tickets lying around.  Spend ‘em if you got ‘em.  Buy your seatmate a drink and make a new friend.

Don’t Line Up – It’s been a few months since Southwest introduced Bingo Boarding, but old habits die hard.  Just remember . . . you don’t have to line up at the gate anymore.  Sit back and relax and wait until they call your small group of 5 numbers.  If you start lining up, others will get nervous and then everyone has to stand for no good reason.  Do you really want that?

Friends Don’t Let Friends Fly Drunk – If you’ve never seen Southwest’s starring role on A&E’s “Airline” television show, you may not realize that flying drunk means you have a very good chance of being denied boarding.  Oh yeah, no fighting either.  Don’t be that guy.

Wear a Suit and Tie – Yeah, right.  This is Southwest.  If the flight attendants wear polos and khakis, then you certainly can make yourself at home.

Bring Chocolate for the Crew – Could bribing with chocolate result in anything but a happier crew and better service?  I think not.

Bring Quarters for the Lavatory – Wait, this is still a joke right?  Ok, good.  Unless you want to honor Herb with a shot of Wild Turkey (or another alcoholic beverage or Monster energy drink), you won’t have to pay for anything onboard a Southwest flight.

Wear Closed-Toed Shoes and Socks – Seriously, I don’t want to see or smell your sweaty feet.  Besides, it’s safer that way anyway.

Take Public Transit to the Airport – This may be a challenge in some cities (I’m looking at you, Orange County), but you’ll save enough on gas and parking to be able to buy your family food in the airport.

Read My Blog, The Cranky Flier – If you like what you see here, come on over to my blog at  I write a new, helpful, and snarky post on the airlines every single weekday.

Happy (not Cranky) Flying!