I love Southwest Airlines. But sometimes the systems are not easy to figure out. So this week I was flying from Seattle to Phoenix and was out on the walking trail during the magic check in hour. I decided to pay the $10 Early Bird check-in fee and see if I could get my coveted A boarding pass. So here's what I had to figure out:
When do you check in? Well, you can't pay the $10 and check in any time it seems. I recall seeing a 36 hour mark and easily met that by checking in a half day early. I received no receipt so wasn't sure what to do next.
What will it get you? I then checked in fairly late for my flight and received A-24 for my boarding assignment. Wow! That was surely better than the C group I normally would have received when checking in so late. So my $10 did buy me something.
Here's the dilemma. When talking with a gate agent, I found out that an Early Bird Check-in doesn't guarantee you an A spot. What it does guarantee you is an assigned spot AFTER the Business Select customers and AFTER the A-list customers. For me, this time, it worked well. But there is no guarantee. Consider this. What if there were 15 Business Select customers and 20 A-list customers and the rest of the plane paid the Early Bird Check-in fee? You could, feasibly, receive a C-spot even after paying the $10.
The key to success is to check in as soon as you can no matter if you pay the $10 or not. Timing is key.
It's all a gamble, but well worth it for now!
Besides the cinnamon graham cracker plane-shaped cookies taste great in the front of the plane or the back of the plane!