What Is Early Bird Check-In Southwest: Your Complete Guide

What Is Early Bird Check-In Southwest

Have you ever found yourself standing in long airport queues, anxiously waiting to check-in for your Southwest flight? If so, you may have come across Southwest Airlines’ Early Bird Check-In service. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what Early Bird Check-In is all about and how it can enhance your travel experience with Southwest Airlines. So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s dive in!

What is Early Bird Check-In?

Southwest Airlines’ Early Bird Check-In is a service designed to provide passengers with an opportunity to secure a better boarding position. It allows you to obtain an earlier boarding group, which translates to a higher chance of securing your preferred seat and overhead bin space.

Benefits of Early Bird Check-In

Early Bird Check-In offers several advantages for travelers. Some key benefits include:

  • Priority Boarding: By participating in Early Bird Check-In, you gain access to an earlier boarding group, enabling you to select a seat of your choice and settle in comfortably before the flight takes off.
  • Improved Seat Selection: With Early Bird Check-In, you increase your chances of securing a desirable seat, such as one with extra legroom or near the front of the aircraft.
  • Convenience: By avoiding the hassle of traditional check-in lines, you can save time and reduce stress at the airport, allowing for a smoother travel experience overall.

How Does Early Bird Check-In Work?

Early Bird Check-In works on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you purchase this service, Southwest Airlines automatically checks you in and assigns you a boarding position within 36 hours of your flight’s departure time. This process occurs before general check-in opens, giving you an advantage over passengers who opt for traditional check-in.

Early Bird Check-In vs. Traditional Check-In

Early Bird Check-In differs from traditional check-in in a few key ways. While traditional check-in requires you to log in and manually check-in within a specific window, Early Bird Check-In saves you the effort by automatically securing your boarding position. Additionally, Early Bird Check-In guarantees a better boarding position compared to those who check-in traditionally.

Tips to Maximize Early Bird Check-In

To make the most of your Early Bird Check-In experience, consider the following tips:

  • Book Early: Early Bird Check-In availability is limited, so it’s advisable to purchase it as soon as you book your Southwest flight.
  • Check-In Time: Although Early Bird Check-In assigns your boarding position, it’s still recommended to check-in online at the designated time to ensure your flight information is correct.
  • Seat Selection: After Early Bird Check-In assigns your boarding position, it’s essential to promptly select your preferred seat to maximize your comfort.

Is Early Bird Check-In Worth It?

The decision to purchase Early BirdCheck-In ultimately depends on your travel preferences and priorities. If securing a favorable boarding position, choosing a desirable seat, and avoiding check-in lines are important to you, then Early Bird Check-In is definitely worth considering. However, if you are a frequent Southwest flyer and already have elite status or hold a Business Select fare, you may not find Early Bird Check-In necessary as these options already offer priority boarding.

How to Buy Early Bird Check-In

Purchasing Early Bird Check-In is a simple process. You can buy it during the flight booking process on the Southwest Airlines website or through the mobile app.

Alternatively, if you’ve already booked your flight, you can add Early Bird Check-In to your reservation via the “Manage Reservations” section on the website or app.

Southwest Early Bird Check-In

Important Considerations and Limitations

While Early Bird Check-In provides many advantages, it’s important to be aware of certain considerations and limitations:

  • Non-Transferable: Early Bird Check-In is non-transferable and applies only to the passenger who purchased it. If you are traveling as a group, each individual will need their own Early Bird Check-In.
  • No Guarantee of A1 Boarding: Although Early Bird Check-In improves your chances of securing a good boarding position, it doesn’t guarantee an A1 boarding position. Factors such as Business Select fares, A-List status, and families with young children may still board ahead of you.
  • Refund Policy: Southwest Airlines offers a refund for Early Bird Check-In if you cancel your flight before the scheduled departure time. However, if you have already checked in or flown using Early Bird Check-In, no refund will be provided.


In conclusion, Early Bird Check-In offered by Southwest Airlines is a valuable service that enhances your travel experience by providing priority boarding and improved seat selection. By securing an earlier boarding position, you can avoid the stress of long check-in lines and increase your chances of getting your preferred seat.

However, it’s important to weigh the cost of Early Bird Check-In against your specific travel needs and consider alternative options if you already have elite status or a Business Select fare. Remember, a comfortable and hassle-free journey begins with smart planning and informed decision-making.

Make your travel experience with Southwest Airlines more convenient and enjoyable with Early Bird Check-In. Book your access today and embark on a stress-free journey!


Can I purchase Early Bird Check-In after booking my flight?

Yes, you can purchase Early Bird Check-In even after booking your flight. Simply access your reservation online or through the Southwest Airlines app and add Early Bird Check-In to your itinerary.

Is Early Bird Check-In available for all Southwest flights?

Yes, Early Bird Check-In is available for all domestic and international flights operated by Southwest Airlines.

Can I change my seat after Early Bird Check-In assigns me a boarding position?

Yes, you can change your seat after Early Bird Check-In assigns you a boarding position. Simply log in to your Southwest Airlines account and select a different seat if available.

Can I get a refund for Early Bird Check-In if I cancel my flight?

Yes, Southwest Airlines provides a refund for Early Bird Check-In if you cancel your flight before the scheduled departure time. However, if you have already checked in or flown using Early Bird Check-In, no refund will be issued.

Can I use Early Bird Check-In for my return flight as well?

Yes, Early Bird Check-In applies to both outbound and return flights if purchased for the entire round trip.

Marquise Snow enjoys traveling a lot. He has traveled to several popular and stunning destinations, such as New York, Bern, Abu Dhabi, and Wellington. He also likes to write his experiences in the form of blogs so that people can find meaningful information about those journeys and places. This can assist people to plan their journeys in better ways.
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