Southwest Airlines Check-in Policy

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About Southwest Airlines

You can secure the best seat for your journey if you just check-in earlier than usual. Southwest Airlines exhibits a unique cheek-in and seat selection process compared to other airlines. Southwest check-in policy allows its customers to choose their desired seat anywhere in the flight only if they have checked-in early to secure the best seat. Consider this as a “First Come First Serve” basis check-in facility where customers can secure their choice of seat by choosing early bird check-in. 

Southwest Airlines, founded in 1967,  is known as the largest low-cost airline in the world in terms of passengers carried. It is also the third largest airline in North America based on passengers flown. Southwest serves as a one-of-a-kind airline which has a rolling hub and point-to-point network. Currently Southwest airline is operating on 121 destinations within the United States, and offers 11 additional countries. 

About Southwest Check-in Service 

Southwest Airline Check-in policy ensures to provide customers the flexibility to check-in as per their convenience. That’s why this helpful guide strives to offer convenience to every customer who seeks to know the nitty gritties of check-in policy. The Check-in procedure usually begins 24 hours prior to scheduled flight departure. The check-in also closes 1 hour before the scheduled flight takes off. 

Passengers can check-in before the actual check-in begins through the early-bird check-in that is available at certain charges. 

What is an Early Bird Check-in? 

The Early Bird Check-in is a facility that allows passengers who wish to complete check-in and select their desired seat in advance. This Southwest Check-in facility will enable the passengers to complete Southwest flight check-in at least 36 hours before the actual check-in begins. Usually, there are certain charges applicable on this service ranging from 15 USD to 25 USD. 

Early bird customers can get boarding group A which ultimately means they can board the flight right after business class. 

Business Class passengers are exempted from the early bird option as their business class ticket already includes priority boarding. 

Southwest Check-in Timing 

The airline has strict check-in timing that should be adhered to by the customers for a smooth experience. The airlines advise you to complete check-in within the given time to avoid any hassle at the last minute at the airport. 

  • It is mandatory to complete the Southwest Airlines check-in process at least 1 hour before flight departure. 
  • Boarding pass will only be given at the check-in counter after cross-checking the details provided by the customer. 
  • In case of late check-in, airlines do not allow passengers to cancel the reservation. Rather the passenger will be considered as a no-show case. 
  • In case of early-bird check-in, passengers can check-in 36 hours before the flight. 
  • The flight boarding commences at least 30 minutes before the take-off. 
  • As per Southwest Airlines check-in policy, passengers who fail to show-up at the boarding gate at least 10 minutes before the flight cut off timing, will be marked as no-show. 
  • The minimum time to Southwest check-in for domestic and international flights is 1 hour before the scheduled departure of the flight. 

Southwest Check-in Methods 

The airline offers multiple options to check-in through the online web check-in method to self-service kiosk check-in method. Passengers who seek assistance or have a query, can directly check-in at the airport. 

Southwest Online Web Check-in 

Passengers can check-in online through the Southwest website starting from 24 hours before the scheduled departure. During online check-in passengers can choose their preferred seat, purchase baggage allowance. Passengers with early bird facility can check-in 36 hours before the scheduled flight departure to choose the desired seat. 

  • Visit the Southwest official website. 
  • Navigate through the menu and click on the Manage Bookings to complete Southwest flight check-in. 
  • Select the flight and passenger for which you want to check-in. 
  • Check your flight details and click on baggage. 
  • Select your baggage requirement and proceed further. 
  • Proceed to seat selection.
  • Select suitable seats and submit them. 
  • Confirm the passenger details and proceed to pay if needed. 
  • Lastly, you will receive confirmation from the airline regarding check-in details. 
  • Once the check-in is confirmed, you can download the boarding pass. 

Southwest Mobile Check-in 

Alternatively, passengers can use the mobile check-in method to check-in for the flight. The user-friendly interface enables customers to check-in conveniently to save more time. 

  • Download the official Southwest application from the IOS play store and Apple store. 
  • Login to the Southwest account with the credentials to check-in Southwest.   
  • Select the flight for which you want to check-in. 
  • Navigate through the options and complete the process and receive your boarding pass. 
  • Save the boarding pass as PDF to show at the airport security checkpoint. You can also get that print later. 

Southwest Self-Service Kiosk Check-in

Check-in at the self-service Kiosk usually takes a few minutes and saves you from the hassle of waiting in long queues. Self-services kiosks are located inside airport premises.  

  • Access the Kiosk machine. 
  • Enter your PNR, last name and flight number to find your reservation. 
  • Select baggage requirements and proceed to seat selection. 
  • Follow the prompts given on the device to continue the process. 
  • Lastly, proceed to confirm Southwest check-in and print your boarding pass. 

Southwest Check-in at the Airport 

Passengers can also check-in at the airport. The airline advises the passengers to reach the airport at least 3 hours before the departure to complete the check in process. 

  • Once arrived at the airport, reach the airport counter of Southwest. 
  • Provide the airline representative with accurate details such as flight number, reservation number and last name. 
  • Lastly, the staff will check you in and will hand over your boarding pass. 

How to Get Southwest Check-in Boarding Pass? 

Procuring a boarding pass is essential to validate your travel with any airlines. Passengers will only receive boarding passes after completing Southwest Airlines check-in.

Without a valid boarding pass, passengers will be denied boarding and thus will have to face a no-show situation. 

  • Always complete the check-in process timely either through online method or offline method. 
  • Retrieve booking by adding your reservation number. 
  • Click on the “Boarding pass” option and download the boarding pass. 
  • In case of check-in at the airport, request the staff to print your boarding pass. 

Southwest Airlines Check-in Policy for International Flights 

Southwest has certain rules for International flights which should be adhered by the customers. 

  • Southwest airlines advises passengers to carry a physical boarding pass for international flights as many airports may not accept mobile boarding passes. 
  • It is mandatory for passengers travelling Internationally to complete Southwest check-in directly at the airport. 
  • Southwest Airlines does not allow unaccompanied minors on international flights thus check-in is not applicable. 
  • Passengers should reach the airport at least 3 hours prior to the scheduled departure of flight.  

What is the Boarding Procedure in Southwest Airlines?

Southwest Airlines has a unique boarding procedure which depends on the timing of check-in by the passenger. The boarding begins 45 minutes before departure with A1- A15 which includes business class passengers. Customers can check their boarding group mentioned on their boarding pass. The boarding starts from the Business Select passengers who by default have priority boarding access.  Southwest has a boarding order that depends on First Come, First Serve Southwest Airlines check-in. 

  • Upgraded Boarding Passenger
  • Rapid Rewards A-list preferred members
  • Rapid Reward A-list members 
  • Early Bird Check-in customers (A group)
  • Passenger with disabilities 
  • Family Boarding 
  • Group B 
  • Group C


  • What is Early Bird Check-in in Southwest Airlines?

    The Early Bird Check-in is a facility that allows passengers who wish to complete check-in and select their desired seat in advance. This Southwest Check-in facility will enable the passengers to complete check-in at least 36 hours before their actual check-in begins.

  • How do I check-in with Southwest Airlines?

    You can check-in for your Southwest Flight through online check-in on the website, you can also use Southwest mobile app to check-in. Customers can also check-in through an offline medium at the airport curbside check-in, self-help kiosk or at the ticket counter.

  • How early can I do Southwest Check-in?

    Southwest Airlines check-in starts 24 hours before departure. However, if you have purchased the early bird check-in facility then you can check-in at least 36 hours before the scheduled flight.

  • Can I upgrade my boarding position on Southwest after check-in ?

    You can upgrade your boarding position to A1- A15 up to 24 hours before the departure only if there is availability. However, passengers cannot upgrade their seats after check-in because then the boarding position is fixed and unchangeable.

  • How do I get my boarding pass?

    You can get your boarding pass from online Southwest check-in or can be downloaded from Southwest mobile app. Then you can either get it printed or you can show the digital version at the security checkpoint.

  • How long do I need to check-in before my flight?

    Southwest Flight check-in policy advises every passenger to check-in at least 60 minutes before the scheduled departure.

  • What is the last time to board a Southwest flight?

    The boarding gate closes 30 minutes before the flight’s departure. Passengers are required to present at the boarding gate at least 30 minutes prior. You will be marked a no-show if you fail to reach the gate.

  • Is Check-in free with Southwest?

    Southwest allows you to carry one personal item and one carry-on baggage free of cost. Also, you can carry two checked-in baggage without any additional cost.

  • What happens if I don't check-in for Southwest Airlines?

    If you don’t check-in, you will miss the chance of getting a boarding pass and will likely have the remaining left out seats on board.

  • What is the time to check-in for Southwest Airlines?

    Southwest Airlines check-in begins 24 hours before the scheduled departure and closes 20 minutes before the departure. Customers who want good seats should check-in as soon as the check-in starts.

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