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EarlyBird Check-in: A Convenient Way to Travel

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Once again, Southwest Airlines is introducing a new product to make traveling a little easier for our Customers.  Many of you have told us how important it is to get an early boarding position so you can find that coveted seat without having to watch the clock for your 24-hour window to check in.  Today, I am excited to introduce EarlyBird Check-in - one more way Southwest is providing convenience during your travel experience.  For just $10 (one-way), EarlyBird Check-in Customers will automatically obtain a reserved boarding position before general check-in begins.  You no longer have to worry about checking in for your flight as we will do the work for you to help you get a better boarding position, which of course leads to improved seat selection and earlier access to overhead bin space. 

 

This project is one of many that we have been working on to bring you more options.  The process has been fast and furious, but with the help of several Southwest Teams, we were able to bring this new product to life in just a matter of months.  It started with just an idea on the whiteboard, but quickly went from an idea to a creative concept online that is now EarlyBird Check-in.  The fun part was coming up with the name for the product.  Check out just a few that didn’t make the final cut, and let us know what you might have called the new product.

 

  • Shotgun                                                                      
  • Leapfrog Check-in
  • Jet Ahead                                                                   
  • Gimme a Lift
  • First Dibs                                                                   
  • Jump Seat

                                                           

Of course, we continue to offer Customers our premium Business Select product, which guarantees that you will be one of the first Passengers onboard your flight—with a drink; extra Rapid Rewards credit; and FlyBy Security Lane access (at select airports) as added benefits!  EarlyBird Check-in Customers will begin boarding the plane after our Business Select and Rapid Rewards A-List Customers. For more information about EarlyBird Check-in, visit our web site: http://www.southwest.com/flight/early-bird-retrieve-reservation.html  

225 Comments
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Hi anonymous 10:07 and with all due respect there is no need for arrogance. I am puzzled as to why are you so sure that no one else could possibly hold another position? And if you had given some thought to your comment and looked over thi string of comments you would have realized that, if we were afraid of hiding anything, we wouldn't have posted every message on this subject. Perhaps those who have posted under a name have enough guts not to hide behind anonymous? Or it could just be as simple as registering here at the site. Think about this, we could have closed the post to comments also. As a Southwest Employee I recognize there are other opinions, and as a moderator, I have answered some questions but have let the debate run its course. (BTW at other sites like FlyerTalk the tone has been more positive.) I appreciate your commenting, but consider that others are entitled to their positions.
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Somehow I think Southwest is retreating from what made them not only less expensive but also almost a statement when selected. Price at this point is not what concerns me, but the process and quiet classification of the customer does. If you look into Southwest's history, they always seemed to be ahead of the crowd in meeting a challenge. Their solutions were audacious to some respects as well as innovative. Now, not so much. I was not happy with business select and this new early bird option makes me less so. Innovation seems to be dwindling into the mediocre. I would be happier if Southwest just raised their prices at this point a bit to adjust across the board and kept the model that worked so well over the years.
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I agree that the worst part about this fee is the chance that someone pays the $10 and gets in the "B" or "C" boarding group. Southwest should simply limit the number of EarlyBird'ers to those that will get an "A" boarding group. Also, even though I am not paying the $10 fee, I will still be online 23:59:59 before my flight to get the best of the rest of available boarding positions. I agree that those who purchase a ticket two months in advance and pay the $10 should be ahead of those that purchase a ticket two days in advance and pay the $10. How could Southwest come up with this new fee and not limit the number of people who can purchase this option? For a five hour flight, I think a lot of people will pay the $10 and some of those are going to end up with a middle seat. Other airlines give you the option to pay extra money to purchase a specific seat - and they tell you which seat you are paying for. How about this Southwest - when we are purchasing a ticket, tell us what boarding number we will get if we pay the $10? This was not thought out too well on your part.
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To Brian Lusk: Glad to see that you too think SWA hid the one about boarding order within the EarlyBird queue. Question number six(6) in the "EarlyBird" FAQ section clearly states that "Anytime Ticket" holders (aka: full fare passengers) will receive proity in boarding within the queue. I'm not talking about "Business Select" ticket holders, I'm talking about "Anytime Ticket" holders. Read it for yourself !
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I am also disappointed over this decision, but am particularly irritated now that I only found out about the new policy via other websites. I have travel scheduled for October and December and had no idea that this policy was going into effect. Why couldn't this wait until the next set of dates was opened up?
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I've had a few days to calm down about this (okay, it really didn't affect me that much, I do have more important things to think about), but I agree with Mark DC on limiting the # of EarlyBirds per flight to some statistically determined number just like they do for Business Select. That way, you KNOW what you're buying with your $10, and then let the customer know what boarding number they're buying, or at least let the customer know that the # is limited, so the value proposition is more defined and you'll have a steady response to the initiative. I'd go for that. And I'd probably pay $10 for the privilege.
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Bill in PHX, You are right, and I am sorry for the bad information. Brian
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Where is the loyalty? When I called to ask about this new "convenience," I find it is hardly convenient at all. I pay my $10 each way - and my companions (so that one of isn't holding a seat for the other one) and I still have to have my fingers hovering over the key board at exactly 24 hours til my flight so I can hopefully scoop an A ticket. Call me crazy but if everyone falls for this, we all can't be A tickets! Some of us will (horrors) get B or even C tickets. Southwest -this is the nuttiest thing you've come up with in a long time. You are not the cheapest airline to fly anymore, not everyone entertains us with jokes or songs but you still have the free bags thing going on. Decide on who you want to be and who you want your passengers to be. Make the real call. Do you go back to where you were and just charge more for your tickets or do you start assigning seats??? Pick a lane and stay in it. Give us a reason to stay with Southwest.
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A big question mark for me will be what steps SW takes to ensure fairness and prevent passenger conflict, since the new policy clearly exacerbates a couple existing problems. A couple posters have mentioned the seat-saving problem. I will add another: the passengers who ignore the boarding numbers and cut in line. Almost every time I fly, someone holding a late boarding number will pretend to be clueless and try to board early. Sometimes the passenger is politely turned back by the gate attendant, but often he isn't. My sense is that so long as a passenger is in the right letter group, the attendant will let him board, even if he is A57 and has jumped ahead of the A16-20 passengers. This happens a lot, since the gap that forms between the Business Select passengers and A16-20 is just too inviting for some people to resist. Before, this behavior was merely irritating. But now that most A group passengers will be paying extra for their boarding number, SW had better enforce the boarding order more rigorously, or things might get ugly.
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Long, long-time 100% loyal Southwest Airlines customers here, but this new policy will have us shopping other airlines. Tacking on a fee of $10 per person per flight for us to TRY and sit together (family of 3) - not even guaranteed because if everyone does it, we'll be god knows where in line - that's just terrible. It ticks me off so bad, I don't want to do business with this company anymore. They don't look or act like the company that secured my loyalty in the past.
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Are there different boarding rules for people with special needs? Such as the elderly lady using a walker, or a person in a wheelchair or on crutches? What about a mentally handicapped adult? Are these people given help or priority boarding, and if they have a caretaker or attendant with them, are they seated together? If so, why should it be different for a young child or baby? By nature they have mobility and cognitive issues, and so should be allowed the same accommodations as any adult with the same limitations. Separating a young child from his or her caregiver should be against all airline policies. The main question should be, what constitutes "young". Well, I will be flying with my 14 year old soon, and if she isn't seated next to me, I hope the person who is will be willing to hold her hand and comfort her during take off and landing. She has only flown a few times and is still VERY nervous. I think that for a child between 10 and 18 it should be their choice to be separated from their caregiver. If they aren't comfortable with it, then the airline should be responsible to make sure they can stay together. Are there really people out there who really want to sit next to a crying 2 year old or chatty 6 year old that doesn't belong to them? As for me, having a "good' seat definitely comes after being able to sit with my kids.
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I am quite concerned that so many people will sign up for EBCI that people who don't will risk the dreaded "All available online boarding passes have been issued, check in at airport" even if they check in close to T-24. If that ever happens to me, I think that would be enough for me to permanently sever my relationship with Southwest. I feel that the idea is workable if the number of EBCI is limited and if the price point is raised a bit. Otherwise, we are being extorted for "protection money" to save us from the possibility that we might have the absolutely lowest boarding prority and risk involuntary bump.
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I think it's great! If I moved more of my flights to SWA, I'd be A-List anyway, but I'm not quite ready to make the full move. But you just might get me yet because this gives me a OPTION. Good job, SWA!
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Bryan, yes, you have as you said answered the "How is check-in position ordered" question several times. Unfortunately, you've answered it incorrectly each time. It is NOT ordered by time of purchase. From Southwest's own FAQ page: ( http://www.southwest.com/flight/early-bird-faq.html#ebQuestion6 ) "Is there an order in which EarlyBird Check-in Boarding Passes are reserved? Yes, Customers who have purchased Anytime Fares will receive priority over other fare types during the initial boarding position assignment. " That is, someone who purchases a WGA or DING! fare the day the schedule is extended will still be placed behind someone who purchases an Anytime fare at T-37. Maybe *within* those categories it's ordered by time (but if so, we have only word to that, as it doesn't say so on the FAQ), but to say that is ordered by time as a blanket statement is simply not true. BTW, that FAQ has some other great tidbits: "Will EarlyBird Check-in Customers get an "A" Boarding Pass and be among the first to board? Probably, but not always. It depends upon how many Business Select, Rapid Rewards A-List, and EarlyBird Check-in Customers are on a given flight" "Will the number of EarlyBird Check-in Passengers be limited on each flight? No. All eligible Customers can purchase EarlyBird Check-in. " In other words, you could shell out your $20 round trip for this fee, and still get a C-17 boarding pass. With no way of knowing in advance what you're paying for, and no way to get a refund if you're not satisified with it. As for those claiming "this is an option, not a fee", no, it's not. In order to have the same experience that I have come to enjoy on Southwest - being able to obtain a BP in the A15-A30 range 9 times out of 10, I now have to pay a $10 fee. If I don't pay that fee, I will be relegated to a lesser position. Depending on how many are willing to pay that fee, it may be a MUCH lesser position. Instituting a "service" that directly detracts from the experience of those who "choose" not to utilize the "service", is a fee.
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This is just a "checked bag fee" by another name. I suggest you delete it or pull your ads about no checked bag fees before AA and Delta eat you alive for being such a hypocrite. I am VERY disappointed in you Southwest. This is a very non-Texas way of doing business, you should be ashamed of such shenanigans.
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Mrritty I assume I am the "Bryan" to whom you are referring (I spell it with an I) , and I realize that I had incomplete information (the Q&A answer was added after my initial responses). I appologized for the error. See Friday 9/4 at 14:18 Brian
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I'm curious who has flown since this new service was announced and were adversly affected by it? Real hard facts, not speculation on "what if's". Anyone? SW stil has no hidden fees and to infer that this rivals the fees other carriers have put in place for things that used to be free (and still are on SWA), is not comparing apples to apples. This is a new service, if you choose to use this service there is a fee. It is totally optional. Let SWA have a chance to evaluate it. I AM POSITIVE, they will tweak it if necessary and even limit the number of Early Birds available if too many are purchasing it if need be. Give it a chance, try it if you like, or check in online at 24 hours before your flight and see where your boarding pass is. I'm confident that families who check in online 24 hours before their flight will get a boarding number that allows them to sit together. However, if you don't check in at the 24 hour mark, your chances will go down. I personally enjoy the time alone to read a book. ;) Parents with children under 5 still board right after the A's. That's still in place. And btw, if a mom with a young child needs a seat together - the FA's are always accommodating. A flight will never go out with a very young child separated from their parent. Our fellow SWA passengers always come through and help accommodate this type of issue if a parent arrives late/last for check-in. Open minds, give it time - SWA has their customers best interest at heart and that will never change.
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I'm A-listed, so a lot of downside of this new program won't affect me directly, but by charging people an additional $10, Southwest is essentially highlighting three "rules" that it doesn't currently enforce: 1. on-board lugguge limits--many, many people bring on more than a carry-on and a personal item 2. cutting in line when boarding--since I'm A-listed, I see people all the time board after the Business Select who have A passes in the 40-50s or even B-C passes. Rarely, will the gate attendant deny them boarding. 3. saving seats--just this weekend on a oversold flight from SFO to Vegas, I saw a woman save two rows of seats for her family. Before this new program, the only people paying to board before others were the Business Select people, and I think they do now receive what they are paying for. But when others start paying for the EarlyBird boarding, the fact that Southwest does not enforce these rules is going to cause conflict between passingers.
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AND once again, a really bad idea!!!! Everyone will pay the damn fee with NO GUARANTEE of anything. It will just make it worse. One will get no credit for arriving early, and no credit for confirming ON-TIME. Do we get our money back if you give us a "C" boarding pass??? My wife will only fly if she can get a window seat. She needs to hide and make herself small on an airplane. Will she get a full refund if she cannot get one??? Look at the inconvenience of going to the airport and getting the bad news. One will not be able to plan a trip at all with her condition on YOUR AIRLINE. I just signed up for your credit card and have been awarded a free flight. I'm even doing your Boston flight to go to my daughter's wedding. I guess we will have to change that since you cannot guarantee that window seat. At least we knew how to get those "A boarding passes" ahead of time. Before that, we just arrived VERY EARLY. Really, why don't you just go to reserved seating????????? Give us a chance. We had worked out a system whereby we always checked in exactly 24 hours in advance. Now you will be forcing her to the other airlines where she can get a confirmed window seat. I really love all your other policies including the 1 year credit for reservation cancellations - a BIGGIE - compared to the other airlines. THIS ONE IS REALLY BAD!!!!!!! Are the boarding passes going to be granted on a first come first serve basis conditional on who pays the $10 first???? Will one be able to find out before paying your funds whether all the "A" boarding passes are spoken for? Come on guys! Revolt. Tell SWA where to go! AND, SWA, I don't need any of your canned comments on this blog about how great this idea is!!!!!!
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I would like this option when I am traveling with other people and can't be at a computer at T-24, and $10 seems fair. That said, you have a great "no fees" brand image (even if that isn't strictly speaking true), and this optional fee breaks that image. If I were you I'd drop it. Gut feel always wins out over rational logic, especially in marketing. Sorry.
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I just read about this new "product" in a newspaper (gasp!) and it drove me straight to my computer to comment. I frequently fly your airline for BOTH business and family travel, enough to have enjoyed a Companion Pass for my 7-year old son (I pay for my 5 year old of course!). I have often bragged to others about your airline, but this put me on the other side of the line for now. I was so disappointed when you shoved family boarding behind A boarders, but remained silent because we discovered that we could still find seats together as a family despite being back of the bus every time. I read one comment from another mother about being separated from her 7-year old. Do you people have any idea what it is like to travel with children? Would any of you expect your 5 year-old child to have to sit in another row with strangers? I don't get this one at all. I work in marketing myself and this totally flies in the face of you current campaign. You have lost my trust and travel due to this. Please change your minds today! I will volunteer my free services to participate in these meetings to help you get it right!
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Anon of 9/8 @ 10:12, Check out some of the recent threads on flyertalk.com for some actual real non-guessing experiences: "Normal" online-checkins http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/southwest-rapid-rewards/759743-post-your-boarding-card-non-list-non-earlybird-checkin-15.html "Heading to LAS at T-24 -- A47 and A50" "MDW-OAK-RNO 9/5/09, leave at 10:00AM. Checked in at T-23:56 and got B13 & B14 for the first leg, A45/46 for second leg." "For 9/09/09 flight: BWI - TPA (866) A-40 and A-43 @ T-24h and T-24h+10s" "Checking in my wife on companion pass tickets, HOU - OAK - 3 hours late B-17, OAK - HOU - 2 hours late B-1" Early Bird check-ins: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/southwest-rapid-rewards/991379-post-your-boarding-card-eb-checkin.html "9/4/09, Flight 258, SLC-PHX-SNA, EB A-53" "09/08/09, 3345 sna-oak, eb b02, 624 oak-slc, eb a28" http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/southwest-rapid-rewards/991886-earlybird-check-bunk-potentially.html "I purchased a ticket for travel and paid for early bird check-in on 9/2 in the evening. For some reason when the check-in occurred, I received B-17" I grant you that I have selectively pulled out the worst of the bunch. But the fact that *any* of these have happened, just days after EBCI was announced, speaks volumes to how terribly bad an idea this thing is.
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jkociemb, "Are the boarding passes going to be granted on a first come first serve basis conditional on who pays the $10 first????" No. People who buy Anytime fare are positioned before those who bought WGA or DING, regardless of when the fare was purchased or the EBCI fee was paid. "Will one be able to find out before paying your funds whether all the "A" boarding passes are spoken for?" Nope. You pay the fee blind, and could wind up with absolutely anything from A16-C17, with no way to recover that fee if you're not happy with what you just paid for.
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I bet "jkociemb" and his wife can find a window and a middle seat together near the back of any Southwest flight without paying for EBCI. At worst they might have to ask politely if anyone at a window would mind switching to an aisle "for my wife who really needs a window seat." Most people are happy to help accommodate you UNLESS YOU SHOUT AT THEM!!!!! :). It works on blogs, too.
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I'll tell you what - I've been a loyal Southwest passenger and almost A-list flyer for the past 10 years (averaging 10-12 flights per year, just below the A-List cutoff). But if I check in 24 hours before a flight and get a boarding pass that forces me into a middle seat, that will be the last time I fly Southwest. The present plan of assigning passes in numerical order based on a hard and fast deadline works fine. Everyone has an equal chance to get a good boarding position. I understand the need to offer business and frequent travelers preferred boarding. But letting anyone and everyone "jump to the front of the line" won't accomplish anything at all, other than pushing everyone else to the rear. That's a big step away from the level playing field that has made Southwest successful to date. If you have to raise the fares, raise the fares. But don't start nickle and diming us.
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I am delighted to see the number of negative responses. I just found out about this new "option" when checking in 24 hours before my flight yesterday. Needless to say I was not happy to receive a low B number at as close to T-24 as possible. I agree with others that all the kinks have not been worked out and I paid $10 to $20 dollars extra and still received a B or C I would be very cranky. I always check SWA first when traveling and have dealt with having to camp out in line for an hour and now do my utmost best to be at a computer or mobile device to check in for a reasonable chance at a good seat. Now I will be checking many airlines before committing to SWA. What was broke SWA?
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To those who are saying that the $10 early bird check in is a fee, in reality it is not. It is an optional add-on that is the choice of the passenger when he or she books a flight on Southwest. Let's look at it this way: When you book a flight on Southwest, you get a choice of fares depending on how soon you purchase and how much you want to spend. Of course you want to pay the smallest fare possible and you have a choice from the low "Wanna Get Away" fares to the higher unrestricted fares. If you take the higher unrestricted fares you have the option of upgrading to Business Select which puts you anywhere in A-1 to A-15 among other things. It's like options that you get when you buy a new car: Hand crank windows or power windows? Radio or Radio/CD player? Hand seats or power seats? Automatic transmission or manual transmission? You start with a base price for a car and then add the options you want. It's the same thing with Southwest: You start with a fare you want to pay and add the options you want. The key word I am emphasizing here is options. One can choose to pay the extra fee for the convenience. Now that's my opinion.
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This is hands down the most disappointing news to come out of SW. I absolutely love flying with SW. Any time I fly I always check SW to see if they fly to the area I'm heading. Part of what I like about SW is that if I do my part in paying attention to check in times I can at least make sure I'm in A group. This new option is terrible. Paying the money doesn't even guarantee getting into A group. I have no control at this point. Just give them my $10 and hope to stay towards the head of the pack. The only way to make sure I don't get stuck in C group is to pay the much higher fares and if I'm going to have to pay those prices I might as well look at other airlines that have comparable prices but will let me choose my seat. I don't like the idea of paying $10.00 extra but I am even more bothered by the fact that if I choose to pay the money I still don't really know where I'll board. I really like SW and have very happily flown SW for years, but I can't see myself committing to flying without having any real control over where I sit. I hope SW realizes how much this new policy goes against everything that makes SW great.
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NOT SURE I LIKE IT AS THE MORE PEOLPE WHO PAY THE EXTRA $10 THE LESS LIKELY ONE WILL GET A BETTER "A" POSITION. I NORMALLY DID GET AN "A" BOARDING PASS WHEN I LOGGED IN 24 HOURS AHEAD. BUT NOW I THINK THERE'S EXTRA STRESS NOT KNOWING WHAT I WILL GET IF I DON'T PAY THE EXTRA $10. I THINK I LIKE PICKING MY OWN SEAT AT THE TIME OF TICKET PURCHASE THE BEST. THAT WAY I KNOW WHERE I WILL BE SITTING, NO ARGUMENTS, NO STRESS. I'M A BIG FAN OF SOUTHWEST AND USE THEM EXCLUSIVELY UNLESS THEY DON'T FLY WHERE I AM GOING. I THINK I WOULD RATHER GO BACK TO THE FORMER WAY "24 HOURS BEFORE" OR PICK A SEAT AT TIME OF PURCHASE. I ALSO THINK SOUTHWEST NEEDS TO BE MORE FORCEFUL WHEN LETTING PEOPLE BRING RIDICULOUS SIZED BAGS ONBOARD BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH CHECK IN OR WAIT AROUND FOR THEIR BAG ON LANDING. THERE WOULD BE PLENTY OF ROOM IF ONLY CORRECT SIZED BAGS WERE ALOUD IN THE OVERHEAD STORAGE.
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Man, you people are hysterical! Automatically assuming the worst before the product has even been rolled out. Reminds me of when SWA went to A-B-C boarding, and then the numbers in between, and the internet check-in, and the move to Family Boarding, and, and, and.... And guess what? Everything turned out just fine. I have been an employee for quite some time, so I've seen it all. Will people find a way around the rules? Will they discover a loophole? Of course they will, it happens every day, in *every* industry. It's human nature. But it's not every human. By the way, I've checked in nearly 100 people today on 4 different flights, and 2 people--count 'em, that's TWO--had Early Bird. So why the drama on these posts? I do think that eventually, if EBCI gets more popular, that we should limit the number allowed on each flight. Until then, simmer down!
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Edward, It is a fee. It is a fee if the experience you have had all along is now at extreme risk of being lessened unless you pay for the new "service". Your analogy to the new car does not hold. If I have always got a car with power windows, and then they suddenly tell me on my next car that if I want power windows, I have to pay more, then the analogy would hold. Previous to now, checking in at T-24 was nearly guaranteed to get you a low-to-mid A. Now, because other people are willing to pay the $10 fee, you have the option of either paying it too (and if you do, it's still a crap shoot what you'll get), or of accepting that you will no longer get a low-to-mid A by checking in at T-24. Take a look at the threads I linked to on Flyertalk.com. Both people checking in at T-24 and using EBCI are getting B boarding passes. That did not happen before this "optional service" was introduced. Any time you have to pay a new amount to maintain the level of product/service you're accustomed to procuring, it's a fee.
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EDWARD ONCE MORE PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THE EARLY BIRD CHECK-IN I AM SURE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WITH EARLY BIRD WILL INCREASE. AGAIN I LOVE SWA AS I FLY IT EXCLUSIVELY BUT NOT SURE IF THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA. TIME WILL TELL. I WILL BE HAPPY IF I AM WRONG.
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For someone who is flying to a destination that doesn't have access to a computer 24 hours before their flight, this is great. It gives us a chance to purchase EBCI and not be worried about printing a boarding pass. It is automatically assigned to you. Just print it when you check in at the airport. Alot of resorts and hotels charge you for printing boarding passes. This is actually cheaper than the fee you pay. This is totally an optional program. the $10 fee each way still doesn't add up to what other airlines are charging for the same flight.
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Until this month, we have loved Southwest and always used them if at all possible. Because of early bird check-in, we have decided to no longer fly with Southwest. We always check in at exactly 24 hours and know we will be pretty high up in the A group. With Early Bird check in, you no longer can have any idea where you stand. Southwest does not limit it, so theoretically every person on the plane can pay the $10 fee, making it a total surprise where you will wind up. I would think that a large number of people who are not traveling alone would fork over the extra fee to try to sit together. We have no intention of forking over the extra fee only to find out we are in the B or C group. We will not take the chance. With early bird check in we can no longer insure that our family will find seats together even by paying the fee; therefore we will no longer fly with Southwest Airlines. It's a shame because we really liked Southweest.
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I love SWA, and fly often, but I dislike this new fee very much. In fact, I was about to book two tickets to MCO for January for business and have decided to spend a little more money on Delta to avoid the huge hassle that I envision at MCO's SWA gates. One person in a family will be buying EB and saving seats for the rest. I've always been happy checking in 24 hrs ahead of time and getting a decent A boarding pass, but I can't imagine it working out very well anymore, out of MCO anyway.
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Posted this on another thread, but as a long time SW flier, if I get herded back to the C group as a result of this program... I will switch to AirTran effective immediately. If I want to pay for a seat, then I might as well get the exact one I want. It's that simple. If they want to play hijinks with fares, start charging for baggage or carry-ons, but don't ruin the one practice that makes SW unique.
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I am a Companion Pass holder with Southwest. Every move I've seen lately from this airline - Business Select, A-list, the rumors of Rapid Rewards 2.0 and now Early Bird - has to my mind devalued the brand and removed what distinguished this once proud company from the other airlines. I have never and will never purchase a BS fare or this new EB fee. Southwest used to service the routes I fly with the lowest fare without question, but this is no longer the case. I've seen my average seating position checking in at exactly 24 hours before the flights I regularly take plummet from ~A20 to ~B10. Now with Early Bird I expect to fall again to the mid- to late-Bs or worse. So I will be punished for refusing to pay this thinly disguised fee. Southwest still garners my business while the Companion Pass is valid or while the existing Rapid Rewards structure is in existence because these factors compensate me sufficiently for those times that the SWA fare is higher, and my flight patterns will never allow me to obtain elite status on any other carrier. I fully expect that a serious devaluation of Rapid Rewards is on its way and when that occurs, what bruised and damaged loyalty I still retain towards this airline will be completely erased.
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Response to : How does this work with Southwest Vacations? I dont see a early bird option for a already purchased vacation package. How do you buy your way out of C boarding and the middle seat on a 4 hour plane ride to Las Vegas? Nothing like having to pay a extra $40(2 passengers RT) on a already paid for vacation. Anonymous — Wed, 09/02/2009 - 08:35 and anyone else with the SWA Vacations issue. If you were already holding SWAV tickets when this option became available, you are getting screwed. SWAV flights aren't eligible. I am hold SWAV tickets for Sept26 and would have booked directly if I had know this was going to be an option, now it is out of my control. Shame on Southwest for not having some interim policy for these ticket holders. I guess they are arrogant enough to figure they don't "need" any one passengers business, so they can just screw you and not worry about it. I called (214) 792-4223 and got $100 voucher out of them but all I really wanted was the option to buy Early Bird like everyone else (like I said, would I have known abou this option I would have booked directly through SW and not complained) I suggest every single person in this predicament call (214) 792-4223 and demand something in return for getting screwed and being taken advantage of. Maybe enough phone calls will make them rethink this stupid policy. Start assigning seats like a civilized airline!! This is likely my last flight with Southwest as I have had several bad experiences with their idiotic boarding system. SWA Seating With Anxiety
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I just tried the EarlyBird for the first time today, and frankly, I don't like it. On my outbound flight, I did the typical 24-hour advance check-in and got A22 as my boarding position. On my return flight, I paid the $10 and got A35! I've read all the FAQs in detail and spoke with a SWA agent this morning (I couldn't figure out why I couldn't print my boarding pass 36 hours in advance - she explained that the EB option ASSIGNS the boarding position 36 hours out, but I still can't check in until 24 hours before the flight). The FAQs explain that my EB assignment is based not only on far in advance I pay the fee (as Brian Lusk noted above), but ALSO on the fare paid, with Anytime Fares getting the highest number. So, since I was smart and booked my flight a month in advance and got a great discount fare, I got a lower number. I've read through at least 50 of the posts above mine, and it appears that most SWA customers have the same feelings I have - this is a program that Southwest needs to abandon QUICKLY. It has too many real/perceived negatives and, as far as I can see, no positives. I agree with another poster -at this point, if fares are comparable, I'd rather book on another airline and select my seat rather than pay $10 for an EarlyBird "lottery ticket" and then pray that I get an "A" position. The rub is, the more people who pay the EB fee, the worse it gets for those who don't, so this is another case of people with no spending limitations having some advantage over people on a tight budget, something I don't like. I've been a Rapid Rewards member since 1991, and a SWA customer longer than that, and I have to say that this is the first time I've written to complain about a program or policy. I have been an ambassador for SWA for many years, singing the praises of their "flyer friendly" policies. Now, I feel like I just lost a good friend, like I've been fooled. I've heard it said that a happy customer will tell about 10 people about their positive experience, but an unhappy customer will tell 100 people about their dissatisfaction. Enough said! Southwest, if you need additional revenues, just raise the price of every ticket by $5 or $10, but don't try to fix something that wasn't broken! BTW - I travel primarily for business, and I don't think my company will pay for "boarding fees" since they're optional, so any EB fees would come out of my own pocket. Not a great feeling in a down economy.
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THE COMMENTS BELOW WERE POSTED BY A SWA EMPLOYEE (WHO ADMITS THAT, BUT GOES BY "anonymous"). IF THIS PERSON WORKED FOR MY COMPANY, THEY WOULD RECEIVE A PERFORMANCE REVIEW FOR REFERRING TO CUSTOMERS AS "hysterical" AND TELLING THEM TO "simmer down". SWA - I HOPE YOU'RE READING THESE BLOG POSTING AND NOTING WHEN YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE INSULTING YOUR CUSTOMERS! YOUR MODERATOR SHOULD BE CATCHING THESE COMMENTS AND EDITING OR REFUSING SUCH POSTS. CUSTOMERS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS AND DON'T DESERVE TO BE TOLD TO "simmer down". REMEMBER, "anonymous", THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO PAY YOUR SALARY. "Man, you people are hysterical! Automatically assuming the worst before the product has even been rolled out. Reminds me of when SWA went to A-B-C boarding, and then the numbers in between, and the internet check-in, and the move to Family Boarding, and, and, and.... And guess what? Everything turned out just fine. By the way, I've checked in nearly 100 people today on 4 different flights, and 2 people--count 'em, that's TWO--had Early Bird. So why the drama on these posts? I do think that eventually, if EBCI gets more popular, that we should limit the number allowed on each flight. Until then, simmer down!"
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It's beyond the pale that SW would charge for a "service" that garners the customer nothing. Let me log on 24 hours ahead as always and just take my $10.00 at the gate. I'm so disappointed in the language used to justify this. Put a limit on the number of early bird check ins allowed, or don't tout it as a service to anyone. Disgraceful.
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This is a bad idea. When a WN gate agent told a nun to get out of the A line with her B plastic pass (yep, a while ago), I said that an airline this fair was the one I wanted to fly. Then Business Select and A-list started chipping away, and now a $10 fee to board in the A group no matter when you check in. I'll fly twice more to get my second free flight voucher this year, but after that, it's whatever airline that will get me there -- even if it's NOT WN. Sorry, guys, but I'm free to move about the airlines.
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I just booked SW airlines because 1) they were lower than any other airlines , 2) the 24 hour advanced check in/boarding worked fine, 3) they're friendly, and 4) no baggage fess. With the e-mail confirmation, I just found out about the Early Bird Check In. Now if I want to be somewhat guaranteed to have a somewhat good seat (next to my companion) I have to pay $40 extra dollars. It's not an extraordinary fee, but it is extra money that I did not count on. This also makes SW NOT the lowest airline. This makes the cost equivilant to my second choice - I should have booked with them, at least I would have a guaranteed seat. SW is still friendly and charges no baggage fees, but if they need to make additional money, why not go ahead and charge a $10 baggage fee instead of RUINING THE BOARDING PROCESS?
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Southwest, do you feel like you need a shower after this? Do you feel dirty? Do you have no shame? Is this just a conniving way of being able to still advertise "no baggage fees" but still make free money? Isn't that what it is? There is nothing tangible the consumer gets, other than to satisfy their overwhelming sense of being able to get on board the aircraft before everyone else. There is nothing more I despise than companies nickel and diming the customer to make more money. And because I have principles, and will not stoop to paying extra $$ to "buy" my seat, you have created an inequity in which people can buy privileges over others. Pretty pathetic in my eyes. Simply stated, I will not fly Southwest again. One customer means nothing to you, but at least I'm not mindlessly feeding into more corporate greed.
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I also feel that charging customers $10 to board early in todays economy is just plain greedy. Hopefully the income that they hope to generate will not be as large as they hope it will be, and will go back to the way it was, first come first served. As a loyal SWA flyer, I am very dissapointed in their new early check-in fee.
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Soooo, I paid the 10 bucks and was B40. Seriously. B40?? Cap the number of seats for which you charge the "convenience fee" or admit that it is really just a fee to print out a boarding pass. I also heard someone in A say that they didn't pay, was online 24 hours ahead (as I would have been)... is that possible?? and if so, how? How can you charge for something that you can't deliver? As I said in an earlier post, just take my 10$ at the door of the plane. I'll pay it, but don't lie to me to get it.
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Paid the extra $10.00 for my ticket, but DID NOT pay the extra for my wife. (Just to see the difference) Results: My boarding pass # was: A25 (Paid for EB) Her boarding pass # was A16 (Did NOT Pay for EB) Both passes were retrieved exactly 24hrs before boarding time. So, this program is obviously a total scam and a waste of money. -w-
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I just purchased the early bird check in, since I am flying from Florida to California and I need my exit row seat. After reading the comments about people who paid for early bird check-in and got stuck behind people who did not, I am wondering if I am going to get a notice about some class action suit against Southwest in a year? That is what it sounds like to me. If I get stuck behind someone who did not pay, you can bet your bum you will be hearing from me.
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I emailed a complaint about being seated behind people who had not paid the convenience fee and was told that it had been referred to customer service and that I would get a response within 45 days. Southwest has now reached United level service. Deplorable.
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Southwest is a great option if you are flexible and want low prices. If you must have x, or y, or z, if you can't sit in *any* seat in a plane when the fare is hundreds less than other carriers, if you are not willing to occasionally wait the 15 or 20 minutes for checked luggage to arrive, etc - then you need to pay for your priorities and get on with it! My only peeve is that airlines (incl SW) do not plop everyone's carry on into the size gauge and make all the behemeth suitcases automatically be checked. SW has earned my loyalty for the bulk of my travel. When I have to have assigned seating, I go elsewhere.