A beginner’s guide to flying Southwest

Updated: April 13th, 2015

I have to admit when I started flying regularly for business years ago,  I really hadn’t considered flying Southwest.  I had taken a project in Houston and it meant I was going to start traveling there every week for the better part of a year.  Living in the small town of Tulsa, our flight options are quite limited.  Only United and Southwest had direct flights.  I booked a flight on United and thought I was good to go.  Then my coworker came over and said, “we should fly Southwest.”.  Begrudgingly I thought “why not” and I cancelled my flight and re-booked with Southwest.  When it comes to travel, this is the best decision I ever made.

This travel was last minute, so when I booked I noticed there wasn’t really any negligible difference in cost between the “Anytime” fare and the “Business Select” fare. I booked the Business Select because I heard that got me on earlier and there were free drinks involved.  I heard you needed to check in 24 hours in advance so I did and out popped out a boarding pass with a position of “A-3”.  I got to the airport and realized I qualify for the premium line which still took 15+ minutes on a Monday morning at 5 am.  This beat the 45 minute alternative in the other line though.  When I got to the gate, it clicked that I was going to be one of the first people on the plane.  “How cool was that?” I thought.  I got on the plane, sat myself down in 2-D and the next thing you know I was landing at my destination.  I then realized that my perception of the airline was all wrong.

Perception

I travel to a number of conferences a year and often the conversation with my colleagues centers around the travel experience getting there.  A lot of my colleagues have status on “other” airlines.  When discussing the journey to the conference, some are happy because they got upgraded to first class and others are pissed off because they didn’t this time.  When I tell people, I flew Southwest there, the reaction I usually get is “ewww”.   It turns out the open-seating policy of Southwest scares a lot of people.   They are terrified that they are going to get high-centered (stuck in a middle seat).  What they don’t know is there are ways to make that system work for you.

It occurred to me that your experience with these other airlines is directly related to whether or not you got the upgrade or not.  If you did, you are loving life and if you didn’t, the experience is miserable.  It takes a lot of flying to get status on those other airlines so until you have status the experience is usually terrible.  Even when you get it, you are still rolling the dice.  It’s even worse if you are traveling with a companion because if one of you does get upgraded and the other doesn’t, it makes for a difficult decision.  Take the upgrade for yourself?  Let your companion have it?  Take one for the team and sit in the back?  Either way, you lose.

Not to say that you can’t have a bad travel experience with Southwest though.  You can get high centered between two unpleasant people and you’re going to have a bad time.  However, if you are smart, you can increase your odds from that happening.  In fact, in all my travel over the last several years, I have never once sat in a center seat unless I chose to do so when traveling with a companion.  How do you avoid it?  Read on.

Improving your boarding position

There are a number of ways to increase your odds of getting a good (or at least a decent) seat.  It’s all keyed around when you get to check-in.  For most people, this is 24 hours from the time of departure.  Regardless of status, for the best boarding position, you need to check in at this time.   The exact magic behind the assignment of boarding position is considered a trade secret.  However, I can tel you the later you wait to check-in, the more people that will be in front of you.

Business Select

How do you get the best boarding position?  You pay with Business Select.  This is the most high priced fare that Southwest offers. It’s as close as you can get to the other airlines’ first or business class.  Don’t fret because paying isn’t the only way to get boarding position.  Business Select typically costs what the “Anytime” (refundable) fare costs plus $16 – $22.  For personal travel, that will seem quite expensive.  But for business travel booked with short notice, it’s often in reach.  It’s definitely more in reach than a first class fare on other carriers which is usually 5 times the cost of the economy fare.

What does Business Select get you?  You’ll be one of the first on the plane with a position of A1 – A15, you’ll get the most rapid rewards points possible for the flight, and you’ll get a free drink coupon for that flight.  Note, if you don’t use your drink coupon on that flight, you can usually get away with using it on another flight.  This is a good use for those drink coupons you get from those 6 am flights on the way to see a client.  It means you can double-up on the way home.

Do you need to worry about checking in with Business Select?  Yes and No.  If you check in at the 24 hour window, you have the opportunity to beat out the other people with your fare and be the very first on the plane.  However, even if you don’t check-in until you show up at the airport, the worst boarding position, you can possibly have is A-15.

Board earlier with status

After Business Select, the people that get better boarding position are those with status.  These people are pretty much guaranteed an A position unless they book inside the 24 hour check-in window.  When it comes to status, there are three levels A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass.  You can get these by earning 35,000, 70,000, and 110,000 points respectively.  That may seem like a lot but remember when I said I earned 6500 points on my first round-trip?  It can accrue faster than you would think.  Once you get status, you can typically expect a boarding position on every flight between A16 and A45 or so with those with A-List preferred getting better numbers.  We’ll talk more about getting status in a bit.

EarlyBird Check-in

As a new Southwest flyer, your best bet for decent boarding position while you are earning status is by paying the $12.50 for EarlyBird Check-in each way.  This checks you in automatically 36 hours in advance.  Don’t expect a spectacular boarding position, but you have a pretty good chance of getting an A boarding pass.  Typically this will put you in the A45 – A60 range.  If you do want to opt for EarlyBird Check-in, be sure and do it more than 36 hours in advance.

Regular Check-in

There’s no reason to get a C boarding pass unless you either mess up or you change your flight at the last minute.  When I say mess up, that means you didn’t check in until you got to the airport.  If you don’t have status and you’re not willing to pay, I can’t reiterate enough about checking in 24 hours in advance.  You can do it at Southwest.com, using their app, or on their mobile web site.  Wherever you are, you should be able to check-in.  If you need help remembering to check in, you can download you flights directly to your Outlook calendar and it will set a reminder 24 hours in advance for you to check-in.

Those with Rapid Rewards numbers seem to get higher priority than those who don’t.  I haven’t confirmed this but I believe this to be true after checking in some family fairly recently.  We checked in right at the 24 hour mark and they got a B-30 boarding pass.  It doesn’t matter if you have never flown a single flight, sign up for Rapid Rewards and get that number attached to you reservation.

Earning Status

For those new to Southwest, you have to do your time before you get the good boarding positions.  Luckily, I think it is a bit easier to get status on Southwest than it is on other airlines.   When it comes to tier qualifying points or TQP, you’ll find that you get them faster on Southwest than other airlines because the number of points you earn is tied directly to the price you paid for your ticket.  The price of each ticket is multiplied by a multiplier based on the fare type (Wanna Get Away, Anytime, or Business Select) to get the number of points you will earn.  The multiplier are 6, 10, and 12 respectively.  The higher the cost of the ticket, the more points you will earn.

For personal travel, book early

Like any airline, fares are lower when you book in advance.  If you know you are traveling but don’t know exactly when, go ahead and book.  With Southwest, you can always change your flight at any time without paying a change fee.  This is one of the things I love best about Southwest.  We all know it’s ridiculous to pay $150 to change a few rows in a database on some mainframe somewhere.  When you do a change, as long as you don’t wait too long, it probably won’t cost you any more.  Just know that the fares go up when you cross the two weeks out and one week out boundaries.

When it comes to personal travel though, it’s going to be hard to earn status because you are booking flights early.  If you are booking a $69 sale fare, you are more likely to hit status off the number of flights (25 to hit A-List) than with points.  The x6 multiplier and low fare simply just don’t add up.  What does work out though is when you are booking reward travel because those low fares costs you very little in points.  We’ll talk about reward travel more in a bit.

For business travel, book late (if you can)

Most of your points are going to be earned when you are traveling for business.  The reason for this is that a lot of business travel isn’t booked far in advance.  With Southwest, the Wanna Get Away fares tend to disappear once you are less than seven days from your departure date.  This means if you are booking travel for a trip next week, you’ll likely get the more costly Anytime fare.  This fare has a multiplier of 10 instead of 6.  This means not only are you going to get more points because the fare was higher, you are also going to get even more because of the multiplier.

For example, a flight one week from today going to Houston to New Orleans will cost $183 with the Wanna Get Away fare.  If you wait until tomorrow, the Wanna Get Away fare is gone because it is inside 7 days and the airplanes are a certain top secret percentage booked.  So if you wait until you book tomorrow, the flight is now $217 and only the Anytime fare is available.  Let’s do the math.

Fare Cost * Multiplier = Points
Wanna Get Away $183 * 6 = 1098
Anytime $217 * 10 = 2170
Business Select $233 * 12 = 2796

See how the Anytime fare, gets you double the points?  That’s just for one way too.  Book a similar fare on your way back and you are raking in points quickly.  Business Select gets you even more.  If you have A-List, tack on another 25% in bonus points and if you have A-List Preferred tack on another 100%.    The bonus points don’t count towards your status but they do let you fly places.

The other nice thing about the Anytime fare is that it is fully refundable so you can do standby travel on earlier flights.  Otherwise, if you have a reduced fare ticket, you have to pay to upgrade to an Anytime fare before you can standby.  That means you get home sooner when you get out of your last meeting early.

Now, I am not going to encourage you to cost your company or client more money by booking late.  However, just know that if you do, you are going to get your status a lot quicker.  I had to book a last minute flight from Houston to LGA once last year and it cost nearly $1000.  Since I took Business Select, the multiplier was 12 which meant 12,000 points.   Since I was A-List Preferred, those points doubled giving me 24k.  That’s enough points to fly just about anywhere in the US.

Upgrade your Anytime fares to Business Select

Most companies aren’t likely going to let you book a Business Select fare even if you do a book a last minute flight.  That’s ok though.  When you have an Anytime fare, the cost difference to upgrade is usually only $16 or $22.  I will usually pay this out of pocket because I am going to spend money on a drink anyways and it gets me on the plane faster.  It also gets you more points.  If you had to book your travel through a third party travel system, you will more than likely have to call Southwest to buy the upgrade.  Just give them a call and you’re good to go.  Don’t worry.  Changing your fare won’t mess up your travel system, your expense report, or the original payment of the fare.

What does status get you?

Starting with A-List, this gets you into the fly-by or premium lane at the security check point.  You’ll get 25% more points for every fight you take.   You’ll have a better boarding position and you get a dedicated phone number that you can call.

With A-List Preferred, the perks get even better. You’ll get a 100% bonus on all flights you take.  That means double points.  You’ll be connected on board, because WiFi is free for you.  You’ll have a great boarding position and you also get a dedicated phone number as well.

Lastly Companion Pass is the highest level you can achieve.  This means that any flight you book whether it is bought with cash or points, you can bring a companion with you for free.  Well, it’s almost free, you still have to pay the $2.50 per flight segment TSA 911 security fee.   This companion has to be designated in advance and you can only change it four times a year.  Earning companion pass actually has a separate point counter though, Companion Pass Qualifying Points (CPQP).  This is because, you can earn points for it in other ways such as the Southwest credit card.  This also means your boarding pass will still say A-List Preferred instead of Companion Pass.  In an upcoming article, I’ll have complete coverage of how to earn it and what happens when you do.

Reward Travel

If you start following my advice, your points are going to add up quickly.  This means you are going to want to go somewhere fun.  This is where Southwest really excels.  They really do have the best loyalty program in my opinion.  You’ve probably seen the commercials or maybe the signs, but their rewards travel doesn’t have blackout dates and a lot of flights can be quite cheap.  With the big stuffy airlines, it’s likely going to cost you 25k points whether you are flying from Houston to Dallas or from LAX to LGA. This tends to make people hold on to their points with those carriers because they want to save them for “some place good”.  Some of the other carriers just use a flat credit system like Southwest used to have.  You basically get one or two credits per flight and when you have 16, you can actually go somewhere.  This causes the same problem because you don’t want to waste your free travel on a short flight.

With Southwest, for Wanna Get Away fares, you typically pay around 50 points per dollar.  That means a $200 flight to Vegas will cost you about 10,000 points.  It’s not exact, but it generally falls in that range.  You can toggle between the cost in dollars and points when you are looking at the fares on the web site.

SouthwestFareToggle

Fare toggle on Southwest.com. Allows you to see prices of flights in both Dollars and Points.

When you book in advance, things get really cheap.  For example, that $69 sale fare will only cost less than 4k points.  That means when you book in advance, you can fly from San Antonio to Dallas round trip for around 8,000 points.  The beauty of it is for that 25k points from the other airline, I can now take three short trips instead of one.  On the flip side though, should you book late, you will pay dearly.  That same trip to Dallas will then cost you 20,000 points.  Not fun.  So plan in advance and you’ll be able to maximize the travel you get with your points.

The only costs you will incur is the taxes imposed on the airlines.  For domestic travel, this includes the TSA September 11th Security Fee at $5.60 per flight.  For International travel, the taxes can be quite a bit higher due to fees imposed by foreign governments.

Connecting on Southwest – No small planes!

Southwest offers a lot of direct flights.  However, if you are going far enough or going to a small market, then you may have to make a connection.  What’s different about Southwest is that it doesn’t operate off the horrible hub and spoke system.  They use the Point to Point system.  This means you’ll never be on a tiny plane connecting to your hub.  Instead Southwest offers a continuing flight system.  That means each airplane has a series of stops it goes each day.  The flight crew may change throughout the day but it gives you the opportunity to get somewhere without having to change planes.  This doesn’t mean you never have to change planes but sometimes it reduces your odds of needing to.

Boarding Procedure

You probably know a little about the boarding procedure, but I want to cover it briefly and add in a few points.  The first people on the plane are the pre-boarders.  This group includes those who have a medical necessity to board first as well as unaccompanied minors.  Those who pre-board cannot sit in exit rows.  Southwest uses three boarding groups A, B, and C each with up to 60 people in it.  Your boarding pass will look something like this.  Your boarding group and position is clearly identified there on the right.

Example of a boarding pass on Southwest Airlines.  Boarding Group and Position are indicated on the right.

Example of a boarding pass on Southwest Airlines. Boarding Group and Position are indicated on the right.

After chatting with various passengers over the years, I have determined these letters stand for something:

  • A for Awesome because you will get a decent seat.
  • B for Back as in you are going to be sitting in the back of the plane.
  • C is for Center because you are going to make two friends on this flight instead of one.

Business Select (A1 – A15) comes after that with the first of these getting the distinct honor of handing their boarding pass to the flight attendant.  This indicates to them that general boarding  has now started and that people may sit in the exit rows.  After Business Select, the rest of the A  group boards.

After the A group, anyone with A-List or A-List Preferred status can board.  This is key for those last minute flight changes.  If you have status, this is your guarantee that you will never be left high-centered.  After that it’s family boarding.  Look for a special post on traveling with children but for now, know that if you are traveling with the kids, you can board at this time if you don’t have an A boarding pass.

After that the B and C groups board.  Now if you are planning to travel with a carry-on, your chances of finding overhead bin space greatly diminish the farther back you are.  If you have a high B or a C, do everyone a favor and just check your bag now.  Your bag is not likely to get on and you are just holding everyone else up as the flight attendants help you look for a bin.  If they can’t find a spot, your bag will get gate checked and chances are your flight has taken off late now.

Southwest also has a cute video to walk you through the process.  If you don’t understand the process at all, I recommend you watch it.

In-flight services

Other airlines nickel and dime you in-flight on high priced drinks and satellite television.  Southwest has the most reasonable drink prices around.  While the stuffy airlines charge $6 and $7 for a drink, Southwest still charges just $5 for beer, wine, and cocktails.   They even started offering New Belgium’s Fat Tire on flights (finally a good beer on a plane!).   You can get drinks free sometimes too, but more on that in a future article.  The flight attendants have carrying drinks on a tray down to a science since they don’t push a drink cart like other airlines.  They scribble what each person has ordered onto a sheet of paper using some secret code that only they understand.  This allows for prompt drink service even on the shortest of flights.

On flights less than 2 hours, Southwest offers peanuts and usually pretzels.  Most of the year, you get honey roasted peanuts, the rest of the time you get salted.  On longer flights, Southwest will offer you a variety of snacks from Nabisco including 100-calorie snack packs.  If you are hungry, you best eat something before you board, because Southwest doesn’t offer any kind of meals on the flight, even for purchase.  I am curious if Southwest will have to adapt this any as they offer more service to Caribbean destinations.

The newer Southwest planes (737-700 and 737-800) offer in-flight WiFi.  The older 737-300 and 737-500 don’t have WiFI so I try to avoid those flights whenever possible.  In general if you can look out the window and see winglets (the part that curves upwards) on the wings, it probably has WiFi, but this is not always the case.  WiFi is available for $8 (half the price of GoGo on Delta) and free for A-List Preferred members.  Like most satellite Internet on planes, it is ok for checking E-mail but streaming videos isn’t going to happen with one exception.  Through the wireless portal, you can also access the live TV, games, movie, and a flight tracker.  You can identify flights with WiFi before you go by clicking on the flight information link when you are looking at fares on Southwest.com

Southwest Aircraft Flight Details

Flight information on Southwest airlines. Look here to see if your flight has WiFi.

Using multicast technology, Southwest is able to offer live TV service through a partnership with Dish Network on your mobile device.  This gives you access to stream 15 channels such as NBC, FOX, Food Network, and Bravo.  However, you will notice quickly that a lot of channels are missing such as CBS and ESPN.  I hope the multicast technology continues to improve so that more channels can be added to the lineup.  The streaming works pretty well for the most part and even works on my Surface RT.  They also have a selection of a few shows available on-demand. Movies are also available for $5.

Coming up

I hope this article has helped answer some of your questions about flying Southwest.  If you have had a bad perception of them, I encourage you to give them a try again armed with the information from this blog.  In my upcoming articles, I’ll cover why I chose Southwest, advice on renting cars, and survival guides for all of my favorite (and not-so-favorite) airports.  I’ll also cover things that I think they can do to improve the customer experience even more.  If you are new to Southwest, be sure and follow this blog to make the best of your experience.

Want to know more about making the most of Southwest Airlines, see my series for more articles.

Also see, Twelve reasons why I fly Southwest.

About Corey Roth

Corey Roth is an IT consultant (specializing in Microsoft SharePoint) and frequent Southwest traveler based in Texas.  Before consulting, he worked in the travel industry for five years at Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group where he led the implementation of the online reservation system.  Corey has Companion Pass status and travels on Southwest several times a month.

You can find his IT related blog at DotNetMafia.com, where he blogs about Microsoft SharePoint.

Corey is not affiliated with Southwest Airlines or any other travel partner.

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22 thoughts on “A beginner’s guide to flying Southwest

  1. Pingback: 12 reasons why I fly Southwest | Corey Luvs Travel

  2. “If you had to book your travel through a third party travel system, you will more than likely have to call Southwest to buy the upgrade. Just give them a call and you’re good to go. Don’t worry. Changing your fare won’t mess up your travel system, your expense report, or the original payment of the fare.”

    How exactly does this get done, is there anything specific that you have to request the agent to do?. Don’t they have to change the PNR to reflect the change which I am assuming would flow back to the third party travel system.
    I have the exact same situation where the difference is 24 dollars between anytime and BS, which I would like to pay from my pocket.

  3. Is it worth it for me to pay the upgraded fare from a “Wanna Get Away” fare to an “Anytime” or “Business Select” fare? As an A-List Preferred member traveling on business, I also have to buy the cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare. But I wonder if it’s worth it to pay the difference out of pocket to upgrade? I already get a good seat as an A-List Pref. member, and I don’t need the drink coupon, I just want as many points as possible if it’s a good deal.

    • That’s tough. The Anytime fare can be significantly more expensive. It does get you a ton of points though. It changes your multiplier (points per dollar) from 6 to 10 (or 12) for business select. You can quickly do the math and figure out how many more points you’ll get. Sometimes, I’ll opt to do this on my return flight because I want the flexibility of when I am coming home. The biggest benefit is that you can standby on earlier flights on the Anytime fare.

    • Never pay to upgrade to anytime. It always exceeds the $/point ratio you would receive even with the A-preferred. I’m an A-plus member. Best strategy is to treat the company’s money as your own and try to earn A-preferred with wanna-getaways. Not easy but it’s just points. You get paid a salary or wage. I’m surprised how many people consider points part of their compensation. You sir obviously don’t given you are considering paying out of your own pocket. Good on you.

  4. Hi Corey I was wondering when checking in 24 hours in advance and I have luggage should I check my luggage as well? By the way great blog!

    • It doesn’t really matter if you check your luggage during check in or at the airport. Since checked bags fly free there is really no benefit to doing it in advance.

  5. My question is about Wanna Get Away flights. It seems they are the best option for last minute flights. Am I understanding this correctly? Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah,

      They are always the cheapest option. However on busier routes, the Wanna Get Away flights well sell out and then you will have pay the Anytime fare. I find that the Wanna Get Away fare will remain available even up until the day of the flight for longer flights. However, on shorter regional flights, they won’t be available last minute.

  6. Pingback: Does Southwest have business class or first class? | Corey's Wine and Travel

  7. Corey, when you updated this article you failed to fix the status error about check in. With a list or a list preferred you never need to check in at all. I never do, I logon and get my boarding pass enroute to the airport. All a list and a list preferred who have purchased a ticket are checked in 36 hours before the flight before the early bird buyers. I am typically A16 or 17 on most flights and never checkin 24 hours out. Just wanted to make sure people know this other perk that status gives you.

    • That’s true but you are still competing with everyone else on the flight that has A-List. Do that on a 6:00 am flight on a Monday and you’ll be further back in the plane because everyone has status.

  8. Great article, but I think you need to make some clarifications. The Companion Pass is not the highest level you can achieve! A-List Preferred is the highest level. This confused me too because of the amount of points needed. I have a Southwest Companion Pass (obtained using SW credit card + flights), but I still don’t have A-List or A-List preferred status even though I lapped the needed points several times. Southwest told me that these points don’t exactly equal “status” and they don’t count towards A-List of any kind. You can only get true status from flying. This means I still end up in boarding group B sometimes even though I have amassed over 200K points this year.

    However, I this does lead to a big question I have. If I purchase a business class ticket, get A status, or get A boarding group, SW told me that my companion cannot get the same status for that flight. This means my companion on my companion pass may be in a deeper boarding position. Of course, it’s horrible to think I got all these points for a companion pass only to be “rewarded” by not being able to sit next to my companion. Is there a way around this? Or is there any tricks to sit next to my companion? Thanks.

  9. Great article, but I think you need to make some clarifications. The Companion Pass is not the highest level you can achieve! A-List Preferred is the highest level. This confused me too because of the amount of points needed. I have a Southwest Companion Pass (obtained using SW credit card + flights), but I still don’t have A-List or A-List preferred status even though I lapped the needed points several times. Southwest told me that these points don’t exactly equal “status” and they don’t count towards A-List of any kind. You can only get true status from flying. This means I still end up in boarding group B sometimes even though I have amassed over 200K points this year.

    However, I this does lead to a big question I have. If I purchase a business class ticket, get A status, or get A boarding group, SW told me that my companion cannot get the same status for that flight. This means my companion on my companion pass may be in a deeper boarding position. Of course, it’s horrible to think I got all these points for a companion pass only to be “rewarded” by not being able to sit next to my companion. Is there a way around this? Or is there any tricks to sit next to my companion? Thanks.

    • It’s true A-List Preferred and Companion Pass track points differently. Companion Pass takes the most points but it’s easier to get sometimes because of the credit card which counts for points there (where only some points apply to A-List Preferred status). With Companion Pass, your companion is on his or her own for getting on the plane. That means if they don’t have status, they will get on the plane much later than you.

  10. Hello,

    Just booked a flight for April from LAX to IAD via Denver. There’s two of us on the Wanna Get Away fare and we also purchased Early Bird Check-In. We are coming from overseas and will most likely want loads of leg room if possible.

    What is the typical likelihood of getting the low A’s or should I be expecting high A’s? Also, I’m not sure if you know about the pay $40 and get A1-15 on the day?

    First time flying with Southwest so would appreciate the reply.

    Thanks

    • Hi Sam,

      With early bird check-in, I would expect to get in the high As (but nothing is guaranteed). A-45 or so is fairly typical. If you are looking for an exit row or bulkhead seat, you’d have to be pretty lucky. You can pay the $40 the day of to get a good position but you can do that if it’s available. There are only 15 seats and once they are purchased, they are gone. On a longer flight like LAX->DEN->IAD though you might have a decent chance that a few seats could be available though.

  11. What a great article!

    I live in Cincinnati so I don’t get a chance to fly Southwest very often (about once per year). I am a million-miler on Delta. I am taking a vacation so we saved a few bucks by flying out of Columbus where they have Southwest. I don’t like to sit in the center-back so I wanted to figure out if there was a system to get me decent seats. Your article was great as it makes me much more confident that I can navigate the system.

    Southwest should advertise your article. It really makes Southwest seem like a great airline. I have never been tempted to write a positive article about Delta!!

  12. Thank you so much for this article. It was so helpful as I rarely fly. Am I understanding that if I pay for early bird check in that I don’t have to get my boarding pass 24 hours ahead?

    • You will automatically be assigned a spot at 36 hours before check-in. However, you won’t know what that position is until 24 hours before check-in. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, I believe you are still competing with other people that purchased early bird check-in, so checking in at 24 hours can still help a little bit.

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