Travelling with family or friends on Southwest Airlines? You may be wondering whether choosing seats in the airline’s Group B boarding group is a good idea. With so many travelers eager to get the best seats and overhead bin space, boarding position can make all the difference.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: boarding in Southwest’s Group B offers a good balance of getting decent seat selection without having to pay extra fees like you would for the airline’s EarlyBird Check-In or upgraded boarding groups.
You’ll still beat a majority of passengers boarding in later groups.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a close look at Southwest’s unique open seating policy, the pros and cons of Group B boarding, tips for scoring the best seats, and strategies for families and large groups to board together.
Understanding Southwest Airlines’ Boarding Process
When it comes to flying with Southwest Airlines, understanding their unique boarding process is essential for a smooth and stress-free travel experience. Unlike traditional airlines that assign specific seats, Southwest utilizes an open seating policy, allowing passengers to choose their own seats once onboard.
This system has its advantages, but it can also be confusing for those unfamiliar with it. In this guide, we’ll dive into the details of Southwest’s boarding process to help you navigate it with ease.
How Southwest’s Open Seating Works
At Southwest Airlines, there are no assigned seats during the boarding process. Instead, passengers are divided into groups and assigned a boarding position within their respective group. The boarding positions are determined based on the order in which passengers check in for their flight.
This means that the earlier you check in, the better your chances of securing a desirable seat. Southwest allows passengers to check in online, through their mobile app, or at the airport kiosk.
Once onboard, passengers are free to choose any available seat in the aircraft. This open seating policy encourages a first-come, first-serve approach, allowing passengers to select their preferred seating arrangement.
It can be a great opportunity to snag an exit row seat, sit next to a travel companion, or choose a location that suits your personal preferences.
Southwest’s Boarding Groups Explained
Southwest Airlines has a total of six boarding groups, labeled A, B, and C, along with three numbered groups within each letter group. The boarding order starts with Group A, followed by Group B, and finally Group C. Each numbered group within a letter group represents 60 passengers.
Passengers in Group A have the highest boarding priority and are typically frequent flyers, those with Business Select tickets, or passengers who have purchased EarlyBird Check-In. Group A is further divided into three numbered groups, with A1 being the first to board.
Group B, the focus of this article, is the second boarding group and generally consists of passengers who checked in after Group A. While not as high a priority as Group A, Group B still provides a good chance of securing a decent seat.
Passengers in Group B are usually those who checked in within the first 24 hours of their flight, but after Group A.
Where Does Group B Fit In?
As a member of Group B, you’ll typically board after all the passengers in Group A but before those in Group C. This means you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a wider selection of seats compared to those in Group C. While you may not have the absolute first choice of seats, you can still find many desirable options available.
It’s worth noting that Southwest Airlines allows passengers in Group B to secure their preferred spots by purchasing an upgrade to EarlyBird Check-In. This service automatically checks you in 36 hours before your flight, giving you a higher boarding priority within Group B.
It can be a great option for those who want to secure a better seat without worrying about checking in at the earliest possible moment.
Understanding Southwest Airlines’ boarding process, including the role of Group B, is crucial for a successful and enjoyable flight. By familiarizing yourself with the open seating policy and knowing where Group B fits in, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your Southwest Airlines experience.
So, next time you fly with Southwest, embrace the open seating and enjoy the freedom to choose your own seat!
The Pros and Cons of Boarding in Group B
Pros of Group B Boarding
Boarding in Group B on Southwest Airlines has its advantages. Here are some of the pros:
- More seating options: Being in Group B allows passengers to choose from a wider range of available seats compared to later boarding groups. This means you have a better chance of finding a seat that suits your preferences, whether it’s a window seat, aisle seat, or a seat closer to the front of the plane.
- Less crowded boarding process: Since Group B is one of the earlier boarding groups, you’ll likely experience a less crowded boarding process. This means you’ll have more space to stow your luggage and settle into your seat comfortably without feeling rushed.
- Possible opportunities for upgrades: While not guaranteed, passengers in Group B may have a better chance of being offered an upgrade to Business Select or EarlyBird Check-In seats if they are available. This can provide additional perks such as priority boarding and extra legroom.
Cons of Group B Boarding
While there are advantages to boarding in Group B, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:
- Limited seat availability: Although Group B offers more seating options compared to later boarding groups, it still means that some of the prime seats may already be taken by passengers in the earlier boarding groups.
If you have specific seat preferences, there is a chance that they may not be available.
- Competition for overhead bin space: As one of the earlier boarding groups, Group B passengers may face competition for overhead bin space. If you have a larger carry-on bag, there is a possibility that you may need to stow it further back in the plane if the bins closer to your seat are already full.
- Longer wait times: While Group B boards earlier than some of the later groups, it still means that you’ll need to wait for the A group to board before it’s your turn. If time is of the essence for you, this may be a slight inconvenience.
Tips for Getting the Best Seats in Group B
Check In Exactly 24 Hours Before Your Flight
One of the most important tips for securing a good seat in Group B on Southwest Airlines is to check in exactly 24 hours before your flight. This is when the check-in window opens, and it’s crucial to be among the first to check in. Set a reminder on your phone or computer so you don’t forget!
Pro tip: To save time, consider using the Southwest mobile app or signing up for EarlyBird Check-In, which automatically checks you in 36 hours before your flight for a fee.
Aim for the First Half of Group B
When you check in, you’ll receive a boarding position within Group B. It’s important to aim for a boarding position in the first half of Group B to have a better chance of securing your preferred seat. The earlier you board, the more seat options you’ll have.
Did you know? Southwest Airlines assigns boarding positions based on the time of check-in and the type of ticket you purchased. So, the earlier you check in, the better your boarding position will be.
Head for the Back of the Plane First
Once you’ve boarded the plane, make your way towards the back. Most passengers tend to head towards the front, so the back of the plane often has more available seats. This increases your chances of finding an open seat or being able to sit with your travel companions.
Fun fact: According to a study conducted by Southwest Airlines, the back of the plane tends to have a higher percentage of unoccupied seats compared to the front.
Grab a Window or Aisle Seat
When choosing your seat in Group B, try to grab a window or aisle seat. These seats offer more legroom and allow for easier access to the aisle. Middle seats are typically the least desirable, so avoid them if possible.
Statistical data: According to a survey conducted by FlightStats, 78% of travelers prefer either a window or aisle seat over the middle seat.
By following these tips, you’ll increase your chances of getting the best seats in Group B on Southwest Airlines. Remember to check in early, aim for a boarding position in the first half of Group B, head towards the back of the plane, and grab a window or aisle seat. Happy travels!
Strategies for Families and Large Groups
Purchase EarlyBird Check-In for Everyone
When it comes to traveling with your family or a large group on Southwest Airlines, it’s important to secure your seats together. One strategy to ensure this is by purchasing EarlyBird Check-In for everyone in your group.
EarlyBird Check-In allows you to secure a better boarding position, giving you a higher chance of finding seats together. With EarlyBird Check-In, Southwest Airlines automatically checks you in 36 hours before your flight, so you don’t have to worry about manually checking in at the exact time.
Reserve Consecutive A Boarding Passes
If you prefer not to purchase EarlyBird Check-In, another strategy is to reserve consecutive A boarding passes for your group. Southwest Airlines assigns boarding positions based on the time of check-in, so if you check in together, you have a better chance of getting boarding positions close to each other.
This increases the likelihood of finding seats together on the plane. Remember to check in as soon as the check-in window opens to maximize your chances of getting consecutive boarding positions.
Split Up and Board from the Back
If finding seats together is not a priority for your group, you can also consider splitting up and boarding from the back of the plane. Southwest Airlines has open seating, which means you can choose any available seat once you board the plane.
By boarding from the back, you increase your chances of finding empty rows or seats next to each other further down the aisle. This strategy is especially useful if your group is flexible and doesn’t mind sitting in different rows.
Use Family Boarding After Group A
For families with young children, Southwest Airlines offers Family Boarding after Group A. This allows families to board after the A group and before the B group, giving you a better chance of finding seats together.
Family Boarding is available to parents or guardians traveling with children aged six years or younger. Make sure to listen to the gate agent’s announcement for Family Boarding instructions and take advantage of this service to ensure a stress-free boarding experience for your family.
Boarding in Southwest’s Group B offers a solid middle-ground – you’ll still have a good seat selection without paying extra or checking in right at the 24-hour mark. Just be ready to move fast once your group is called.
With smart check-in timing, aisle navigation, and a few group strategies, you can score the optimal seats for your family or group. We’ll see you on B6 and 7 – aisle and window seats open!