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Holiday Travel Ideas: Tips & Tricks from Southwest Airlines for a Stress-Free Holiday Travel Season


The holiday season is here which means airports are busier than usual as travelers head to visit family and friends. While holiday travel may seem daunting, there’s no need to fret! At Southwest, we want holiday travel to be as stress-free as possible so we’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks to make the season a little brighter. 


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Before Your Flight: Get the 411 on Southwest’s Check In Process and EarlyBird

We recommend Customers check in 24 hours in advance to get the best possible boarding position. And if you download the Southwest App, you can check-in for your flight while you’re on the go (if notifications are turned on, then you may be sent a reminder too!). Southwest has open seating, so when you get on the plane, you can sit wherever you’d like!


Want Southwest to do the work for you? Purchase EarlyBird Check-In®. With EarlyBird, we’ll automatically check you in and assign your boarding position within 36 hours of your flight’s departure—12 hours before general boarding positions become available. With our open seating policy, EarlyBird improves your seat selection options to help you choose your favorite seat, and it’s one less thing to think about prior to travel.




Time Flies: Leave Plenty of Extra Time before You Head out the Door

Depart from home far earlier than you would at any other time of the year. We recommend arriving at least two hours prior to your flight to allow ample time to check your bag(s), receive or print your boarding pass, go through security, and even grab a bite to eat before your flight departs. Flights typically begin boarding 30 minutes prior to their departure time.


Wouldn't you rather avoid the panic if you run into traffic congestion, crowded public transit, or long security lines? Relax and read, watch planes take off, or listen to music while you wait for your plane to depart.




Plan Ahead: Reserve Airport Parking or Book a Lyft Ride from the Southwest App

Airport parking is at a premium and often fills up around the holidays. However, some locations allow you to prebook.


Want to avoid the crowded shuttle bus altogether and spare yourself the mad dash to park your car before your flight takes off? The Southwest Mobile Team has partnered with rideshare company Lyft to integrate a new day-of-travel banner into the Southwest apps. On the day of travel, a Lyft banner will be available for all logged-in users four hours prior to their flight. It will also be available for an hour following their arrival. The banner will link the user into the Lyft app or mobile website to book a Lyft ride.




The Luggage Lowdown: Think Twice about Holiday Gifts and Fruitcake

Bags Fly Free on Southwest Airlines! Customers can check up to two bags for free (size and weight limitations apply), so don’t worry about what you’ll do with those Christmas presents you need to take home. Carryon items are limited to one bag plus one smaller, personal-type item like a purse, briefcase, camera, etc. Southwest limits carryon bag dimensions to 10 x 16 x 24 inches. 


Wait before you wrap! If you do take gifts along, make them small and packable, and don't wrap them beforehand. Even if they're in checked luggage, security personnel may need to open them for inspection. If you've got a lot to haul, consider shipping gifts and gear a week or two before you leave.


Food items such as pies and cakes are permitted, but may require further inspection. If travelers are not sure if a food item is considered a liquid or gel, it is best to pack the item in checked baggage or ship it to its final destination in advance.




In the Air: Be Entertained while you’re on Your Way

We encourage travelers to bring along their own personal device to enjoy Southwest’s Inflight Entertainment Portal.* The Portal features a flight tracker, arrival and connecting gate information, free movies1, and access to at no charge! You can also enjoy free messaging2, free on-demand TV1, Free Live TV3, free music3, and web browsing (with paid WiFi access) during your flight. Note: you must download the Southwest app before boarding if you want to view a movie or on-demand TV.


If you forget your device or want to unplug from the digital world for a few hours, check out Southwest: The Magazine onboard. You’ll have an opportunity to read about the people and places that make this country special. Who knows? You may even get inspired to visit a new place that Southwest serves!


And be sure to pack plenty of snacks for yourself or any kiddos in tow. Pretzels are always complimentary, as well as an assorted list of non-alcoholic beverages. Select snacks are available on longer flights.


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We love making flying simple and fun for both our Customers and Employees. If interested in learning more about how we do just that, take some time to further familiarize yourself with how we do things.


We can't wait to see you onboard and wish you and yours a happy holiday season!




Inflight Entertainment Disclaimers

*Available only on WiFi enabled aircraft.

1To view movies and select on-demand TV content, download the Southwest app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store before your flight.

2Messaging service only allows access to iMessage and WhatsApp (must be downloaded before the flight).

3Due to licensing restrictions, on WiFi-enabled international flights Free Live TV and iHeartRadio may not be available for the full duration of flight