Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Early bird waste for families

ecanem
New Arrival

I just checked in for a flight tomorrow with earlybird and I got B6-B9. So basically my $$ spent on early bird would have been better as a fire starter. 

 

I know this would would never happen but I wish southwest would refund early bird for families if they don’t get A. 

 

For everyone else, it guarantees you the best seat based on when you bought early bird. 

 

For families, it’s essentialky gambling. You have 0 idea if it will help and there’s a chance that it is completely worthless. 

6 REPLIES 6

Re: Early bird waste for families

CareforNOLA
Active Member

Hi @ecanem, and welcome to the discussion boards.  People buy early bird for different reasons, and depending upon the route and the day, B6 to B9 can be very good boarding passes.  If you were thinking that early bird status would get 4 seats in the first few rows (which is where first class would be on another airline), then no, the $15 per ticket won't buy that for a passenger.  (After all, first class costs thousands on other airlines.) The Southwest website says "While EarlyBird Check-In doesn't guarantee an A boarding position, it improves your seat selection options to help you get your favorite seat." Southwest never guarantees a specific seat, but they don't overbook, so that means you will always have a seat (except maybe in the few instances where they have to swap an aircraft).

 

I believe that the boarding process assignments go in this order -

Business Select (highest price, fully refundable)

A List & A List Preferred (fly more than 25 times per year)

Early Birds (who paid the extra $15)

Companions (guests of the A listers)

 

If there are many "through" passengers, seats might already be taken by people on a previous leg of the flight or if there are many pre-boards with disabilities, one may receive an A boarding pass, but they might not be among the first 60 people on board.

 

I often buy early bird for my college age traveling child, so she doesn't have to remember checking in at 24 hours.  That give here at least 44 chances at a window.  (She flew today and I did not buy it, so her seating position was C7.  Oops on my part.)

 

With no change fees and two free checked bags, I would not expect the airline to change its policy on early bird.  Some people find the boarding process so stressful, they prefer other carriers or to buy the Business Select tickets.  I admit that until I earned A-List, I did not realize how much I liked to get a window seat.  Now that I fly all the time, the airplane is my long cylindrical nap mat with the wall acting as my pillow (jostle me please if I am snoring).

Re: Early bird waste for families

ecanem
New Arrival

I understand the value of early bird. I use it all the time. That’s not my point. 

 

I am flying with my family.  We have a 7,5 and 3 year old. i buy early bird to try to ensure we are together. 

 

Regardless of early bird, I can board after the A groups board.  

 

So if I get a B group when uyibf early bird. I literally just wasted $75 since the early bird did not help me at all. It’s literally money I could have thrown in the trash and had the same effect. 

 

It’s gambling. You are betting that you will get a better position using early bird than family. It’s only like this for families. 

Re: Early bird waste for families

CareforNOLA
Active Member

Ok, now I see your issue.  It is similar to my gamble of buying my tickets far in advance, ending up with changes and losing travel funds because I could not figure out a way to use the funds within a year.  It doesn't happen often but it happens occasionally. 

 

You could try drafting a nice request to customer service.  I did that once when I purchased better seats on a European flight/airline for $100 each as part of an overall itinerary for 6 of us. The U.S. airline moved the flight time by a few minutes and changed the flight number.  While boarding in Europe, I realized we had back row seats on the biggest aircraft in the world.  I wrote the European airline, and asked nicely why we did not get the purchased seat upgrades.  They said the U.S. change had kicked us out of their system.  They apologized and refunded the money.  I was surprised because I thought the U.S. change wasn't really their fault, but I did accept the check.

Re: Early bird waste for families

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

In that regard in the same position when traveling with my wife and young child, we don't gamble, boarding at "A61" has always worked fine for us.

 

I only get EB if traveling only with my wife since I'm A-list and she can be closer in position to me.

 

When traveling with baby and we'll be using family boarding, no EB for us, the potential to be moved up 10 or 15 spots isn't worth it, and as you said you might not move up any spots.

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

Re: Early bird waste for families

ecanem
New Arrival

@DancingDavidEwrote:

In that regard in the same position when traveling with my wife and young child, we don't gamble, boarding at "A61" has always worked fine for us.

 

I only get EB if traveling only with my wife since I'm A-list and she can be closer in position to me.

 

When traveling with baby and we'll be using family boarding, no EB for us, the potential to be moved up 10 or 15 spots isn't worth it, and as you said you might not move up any spots.


 

 

I think that’s going to be my new strategy moving forward. 

 

I just wasted $150 this trip on EB since my return flight, our EB positions were B22-26 but we will board after A. 

Re: Early bird waste for families

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@CareforNOLAwrote:

 

I believe that the boarding process assignments go in this order -

Business Select (highest price, fully refundable)

A List & A List Preferred (fly more than 25 times per year)

Early Birds (who paid the extra $15)

Companions (guests of the A listers)


 

To be clear: Companions currently get no specific boarding treatment, they board at their assigned position. Southwest experimented with allowing companions to board with the CP holder last year, but that was never (yet) officially adopted as policy.

 

Here's an overview of the boarding order:

 

Preboards (those with disabilities that need a specific seat or assistance boarding*)

Business Select fare (always A1-15)

Upgraded Boarding ($30/$40 at gate for open A1-15 positions)

A-List Preferred (ranked using a secret formula known only to Southwest)

A-List (ranked using a secret formula known only to Southwest)

EarlyBird Check-In (in order of EBCI purchase, Anytime before WGA)

A posiitons (if EBCI is completed)

 

-- end of A group --

A-Listers who didn't receive an A boarding position

Family Boarding (families with children under 6)

Those with disability needing "extra time" to board

-- beginning of B group --

 

Balance of EarlyBird Check-In (if necessary)

Balance of B positions

C positions

 

*Preboards can also include (among others): Military in uniform (at discretion of Ops Agent), members of the media with large travel cases, those flying with instruments for which a seat has been purchased, Customers of Size who have been given a 2nd seat.