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Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

New Arrival

Hello,

I am not a frequent flyer, but my new job has recently required me to start traveling a several times a year. One caveat, however, is that experience has taught me that I need a window seat, otherwise I get extremely motion sick. If I have a window, and I can see where we're going, I'm absolutely fine.  I don't feel comfortable asking for preboarding priveledges for motion sickness. I feel like this is a moral gray area-- even if a window is an honest and legitimate need for me, I am not disabled. I am intrigued by the possibility of using Early Bird Check In, or possibly upgrading to preboard on the same day if my  boarding position is still particularly bleak. I have never used these features before.

My employer uses an interactive system that allows us to book travel. This is great because it gives us relative freedom in terms of the available airlines for specific routes (within a restricted dollar amount, which I assume is determined by taking the cheapest flight and allowing a certain percentage deviation). The tickets are booked using a corporate credit card-- not my credit card. Policy is that we are not allowed to upgrade our seats-- so I'd need to pay for any upgrades or add-ons myself. Here is my question:

 

If my employer uses THEIR credit card to buy my tickets, can I use a separate credit card (my personal card) to buy Early-Bird Check In or purchase the same-day priority boarding upgrade? Or are these fees autonatically tacked onto the same exact card that the flight was booked on? I don't want to cause a big stink at work if my upgrade/add-on fees hit their card.

I understand that Southwest's seating policy is a always gamble, and the EBCI does not guarantee me a window seat. But it might increase my odds enough to make me comfortable booking the flights.

For some destinations, at the same general price, I could also fly United or American economy. This would reserve/guarantee me a window seat, but I have heard some horror stories about the newly updated 737 and A319 economy cabins on these two previously "premium" airlines-- cramming people into 16.3"/30" pitch economy seats like sardines. SeatGuru reviews suggest that the seats are so close that some window seats don't even align with windows anymore. I know it's not perfect, and has its drawbacks, but at least Southwest still provides a bit more room and seems to treat "economy-level" passengers better in that respect.


Aside from the bolded question above, I'd also appreciate any advice from some of you seasoned flyers on whether you'd choose Southwest if you were in my position, or one of the other two I mentioned.

Thanks in advance, I look forward to your responses!

Mike

10 REPLIES 10
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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Rising Star

Southwest is my airline of choice for so many reasons -- for both work and for personal travel. I could talk about this forever, but I will keep it short and say that unless you will be flying frequently with a strong preference for first class upgrades, SW is a phenomenal choice. There is so much to be said for SW's customer-friendly policies!

 

Specifically answering your question, you can always add EBCI after the fact, and you can pay for it using any credit card. You can add EBCI from your SW RR profile's list of trips online or by calling SW. Just remember to do it OUTSIDE your work booking tool.

 

And I would feel confident that EBCI will get you a window seat pretty much all the time unless there are some weird circumstances like a ton of thru passengers from the previous flight.

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.
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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Top Contributor

adding to what elijah said ...

 

EBCI boarding positions are assigned in order -- from the earliest one purchased to the latest one purchased. Thus, the sooner you buy it after the ticket is bought the better your boarding position.

 

As far as qualifying for early boarding, I'd say you qualify becasue you seem to have a need for a specific seat -- a window seat. If I were you, I'd go for it.

 

Be careful on connecting flights. If your inbound is late or the connecting time is too short, you may arrive at the gate for the outbound flight after boarding has started, which might affect your ability to get a window seat.  

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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Top Contributor

One more detail... As was mentioned, EarlyBird Check-In positioning is based on purchase date so purchasing at the last minute may result in EBCI not providing much of a benefit. If you find yourself booking last minute trips remember that upgrading your boarding position at the gate may also be an option if those spots (A1-A15) are not sold out. The price varies depending on the route from $30-$50.

 

IMO you qualify for preboarding as the primary requirement for preboarding is the passenger has a need for specific seating. You require a window seat, that's pretty clear.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Top Contributor

To be clear: Preboarding is made available, as required by law, for customers with disabilities.

 

If the OP believes they have a disability that requires a specific seat to accommodate their disability then they should by all means utilize preboarding. Preboarding is not meant, however, to be utilized by the non-disabled to accommodate a seat preference. I'm absolutely not suggesting that would be the case here -- just making it clear for anyone reading this.

 

The federal definition of "disability" is typically a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." I've seen suggested elsewhere that an especially tall person should preboard so that they can get a bulkhead row seat. In my opinion, that would be a misuse of the preboarding policy.

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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Top Contributor

@chgoflyer wrote:

To be clear: Preboarding is made available, as required by law, for customers with disabilities.

 

If the OP believes they have a disability that requires a specific seat to accommodate their disability then they should by all means utilize preboarding. Preboarding is not meant, however, to be utilized by the non-disabled to accommodate a seat preference. I'm absolutely not suggesting that would be the case here -- just making it clear for anyone reading this.

 

The federal definition of "disability" is typically a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." I've seen suggested elsewhere that an especially tall person should preboard so that they can get a bulkhead row seat. In my opinion, that would be a misuse of the preboarding policy.


Maybe discuss with your doctor if you have a checkup coming anytime soon. In the medical do-it-yourself department, from this link:

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/motion+sickness

...if you've been doing these self-help things and still have the issue, then it may be necessary to exercise the preboard option.

 

As others have said, if it's more of a comfort situation, then >99% of the time you should be able to find a window seat with EBCI, day-of upgrades, business select if your fare structure at work supports it, or in the worst case bring your friend Andrew Jackson (or a stack of drink tickets) and offer someone to swap. You can also ask the flight attendant to assist you finding a spot in the rare case that you can't walk right up to a window space.

 

If you will be flying enough to earn A-list that would help you in future years with automatic check-in, you'll also get access to a window under almost every conceivable boarding scenario as an a-lister, should you make it. Towards that strategy, if you think it would be close and if you were allowed to buy a BS ticket on any of your routes, go for it to get the 12x qualifying points. 

Prevention
Because motion sickness is easier to prevent than treat once it has begun, the best treatment is prevention. The following steps may help deter the unpleasant symptoms of motion sickness before they occur:
  • Avoid reading while traveling, and do not sit in a backward facing seat.
  • Always ride where the eyes may see the same motion that the body and inner ears feel. Safe positions include the front seat of the car while looking at distant scenery; the deck of a ship where the horizon can be seen; and sitting by the window of an airplane. The least motion on an airplane is in a seat over the wings. (no exit row if you preboard!)
  • Maintain a fairly straight-ahead view.
  • Eat a light meal before traveling, or if already nauseated, avoid food altogether.
  • Avoid watching or talking to another traveler who is having motion sickness.
  • Take motion sickness medicine at least 30-60 minutes before travel begins, or as recommended by a physician.
  • Learn to live with the condition. Even those who frequently endure motion sickness can learn to travel by anticipating the conditions of their next trip. Research also suggests that increased exposure to the stimulation that causes motion sickness may help decrease its symptoms on future trips.

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Top Contributor

There are also a couple of "window seats" with no window portals, be sure you are on the lookout for those!

 

https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Southwest_Airlines/Southwest_Airlines_Boeing_737-800_new.php

 

https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Southwest_Airlines/Southwest_Airlines_Boeing_737-700_new.php

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

New Arrival

Thank you all for the quick information and advice!
I booked the ticket and purchased my EBCI yesterday for my first trip (separate transactions, but only about 10 minutes apart).  My flight is about a month away. If for some reason I get a late B or C boarding group, despite the EBCI, I can explore some of the other options you all mentioned.

Regarding carryover/continuing passengers from previous routes on direct flights... What is the most crowded situation you've ever seen? Are we talking like, half the plane is already full when you board?

This is a great discussion board, I appreciate everybody's knowledge and enthusiasm!
I imagine I'll probably be back again some time. Happy I was able to book with Southwest!

 

Mike

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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Rising Star

Normally, 0-20. The most I have seen was like 45, but that is VERY abnormal, and I would never expect to see that. 

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.
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Re: Paying For Early-Bird Check-In / Priority Upgrade on a SEPARATE Credit Card?

Top Contributor

@MG718 wrote:



Regarding carryover/continuing passengers from previous routes on direct flights... What is the most crowded situation you've ever seen? Are we talking like, half the plane is already full when you board?

This is a great discussion board, I appreciate everybody's knowledge and enthusiasm!
I imagine I'll probably be back again some time. Happy I was able to book with Southwest!

 

Mike


 

Mike,  there is no rule of thumb answer to that question. It is dependent on departure city, destnation city, time of year, time of day etc, etc, etc. Given your situation, I think the answer is "not normally enough to impact you." given that there are 40 plus or minus windows seats on a plane and window seats fill up later than aisles and earlier than middle seats.

 

Your greater risk is getting a high B or C boarding position. Again, given your situation, I think you should go for pre boarding, but it's your choice.