Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Highlighted

Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

New Arrival

I purchaced Earlybird check-in for myself, A24 group, but was also traveling with a minor (non-Earlybird) who was assigned B group.  When I arrived at the counter for my A group the agent had me go back to the B group as my son, who is 9 years old, had that seating.  I was completely embarrassed and the agent made no attempt to accommodate my situation.  I advised the agent I purchased Earlybird checkin and said it doesn't matter and that I need to go with the later group.  Is this the policy Southwest has with Earlybird traveling with a minor?  I definitely voiced my opinion on the survey for the lack of customer service.

10 REPLIES 10
Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

Top Contributor

Yes. This is the policy. Regardless of whether or not you purchased EBCI, groups wishing to board together are expected to board at the highest (worst) boarding position. An exception is for families with children age 6 and under, who may board during Family Boarding (after A and before B).

 

One solution would be to buy EBCI for both you and your son.

 

 

Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

New Arrival

Interesting that Southwest's exception for Family Boarding is only 6 and under but yet what's considered unaccompanied Minor is children ages five through 11.  So my 9 year old son wouldn't qualify for Family Boarding and my Earlybird is voided if I'm traveling with my son unless I purchase another Earlybird.  Either way we're sitting together on the flight and if there are no seats available together the flight attendent will have to request passengers to accommodate us and delay the flight.  Southwest really needs to revisit boarding policy for adults traveling with minor.  Lesson learned, don't bother purchasing Earlybird unless it's for you and all your children.

Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

New Arrival

Is this true regardless of the age of the minor? My husband was just told today by a phone agent that we only needed to purchase EBCI for the adults and my 10yo son, and not for our 1yo twins who will have their own seats. They said since the 1yos will have to board with us anyway, they don't need EBCI. 

Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

Top Contributor

@shan981 wrote:

Is this true regardless of the age of the minor? My husband was just told today by a phone agent that we only needed to purchase EBCI for the adults and my 10yo son, and not for our 1yo twins who will have their own seats. They said since the 1yos will have to board with us anyway, they don't need EBCI. 


I'm not sure that is technically true. If they were lap children, which many flyers under age 2 will be lap children without a seat, then they would board with you, they don't have to check-in, etc.

 

Since they have regular tickets I'm not sure - I expect that most agents wouldn't object, but that might not be the policy. Maybe someone will weigh in that has purchased regular tickets for their < 2 year old.

 

Side note: I assume you bought the tickets so you can bring on car seats, or just want the elbow room?

 

However, you should also consider Family Boarding as an option with the two babies. The wording on family boarding mentions adults specifically, but the older son would also board with everyone else. It's vague about how many adults you get with a young child, but seems reasonable for two adults and an older sibling for two babies.

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

New Arrival

Yes, we plan to have them in their car seats for the flight. The only reason I preferred EBCI to family boarding is because we are flying to MCO, so I suspect there will be a lot of people using family boarding. It’s worth it to me to have a better shot at sitting together, and having some extra time to get car seats installed and get the little ones situated. First time flying with a toddler, let alone two of them. 

Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

Top Contributor

For MCO depending on a few other factors, it may be just as likely that EBCI gets you a B boarding position anyway, so Family Boarding may be preferable.

 

It varies - MCO is very busy for both business and tourist traffic, but there may be times of the day where it isn't as packed with regulars. 

 

Anyway - EBCI may improve your position - go ahead and get if it you are more comfortable, but Family Boarding will get you seats together. Maybe not in the front half of the plane or a specific spot that you would like, but there will definitely be five spots together at family boarding.

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

Top Contributor

@cruznr wrote:

Interesting that Southwest's exception for Family Boarding is only 6 and under but yet what's considered unaccompanied Minor is children ages five through 11.  So my 9 year old son wouldn't qualify for Family Boarding and my Earlybird is voided if I'm traveling with my son unless I purchase another Earlybird.  Either way we're sitting together on the flight and if there are no seats available together the flight attendent will have to request passengers to accommodate us and delay the flight.  Southwest really needs to revisit boarding policy for adults traveling with minor.  Lesson learned, don't bother purchasing Earlybird unless it's for you and all your children.


It's a loophole that two adults traveling together might have one person buy EBCI and hold a spot for another person - that's a very common topic on the community. That's enabled by them not boarding at the same time.

 

For you with your son, assuming you didn't/wouldn't want to leave him to board on his own without you while you held a seat, then you don't have that option to buy just one Early Bird Check in.

 

But in response to your original post, it is true that the intention of Southwest is that if you and a child > 6 years old wanted to board together, in an upgraded position, you should both purchase Early Bird Check In.

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

Active Member

Oone of the most used phrases here in the community is "Southwest has to change its position" or "Southwest has to change its rules." Southwest is not going to change its position or rules for every different situation (or variation on the same situation) that comes up. If they did that they would be changing the rules all the time. Instead, passengers need to understand what the rules are and also understand that flying Southwest means flying within certain rules and policies. Same goes for every other airline. Learn the rules and understand that the rules apply to everyone who flies Southwest and are not a personal affront to you. 

Sorry for the long rant.

Highlighted

Re: Earlybird Check-in and traveling with a minor

New Arrival
Solution

Re-evualing a policy is not uncommon for a corporation. To be specific, what needs to be evaluated or clarified is the age policy for family boarding versus the age for unaccompanied minor adults. I'm not trying to make a simple buck or rant on the overall company of Southwest but it is sheer frustration and embarrassment from an EMPLOYEE of Southwest who could have been bit more empathetic knowing this is a common mistake to the existing written policy.