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How does the Early Bird Check In work with Southwest Airlines?

From what I understand, with Southwest in general you need to be at your computer 24 hours before boarding to check in, refreshing the page fervently so that you don't get a horrible seat.

I paid $12 for the Early Bird Check In and am unsure if this means I am automatically placed in the A section or if there are more steps I need to take to ensure that I get a good seat.

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Your understanding is correct. People who have paid extra will be in the A cohort. Anecdotally, they seemed to be sorted in order of ticket purchase, i.e., the first person to buy Early Bird checkin or the higher "Select" fare that includes it automatically is A1, etc. The people refreshing their pages will start from where the Early Bird seats leave off. Although it has also been my experience that anything better than about B30 will be a perfectly good non-middle seat.

  • There's some more info here: southwest.com/html/customer-service/… As I read it, the order is: all Select fares (probably in order of purchase), all Anytime fares with Early Bird in order of purchase, all other fares with Early Bird in order of purchase, everyone else in order of check-in. By the way, they do not guarantee that everyone who purchases Early Bird gets into the A group; for instance, I think it may be possible for more than 60 people to purchase Early Bird. – Nate Eldredge Feb 9 '16 at 6:03
  • I think that's true for 60 buying Early Bird, but I've never personally experienced it. I've even still gotten A group a few minutes after the 24-hour opening. (Good Internet connection I guess.) – Andrew Lazarus Feb 9 '16 at 7:08

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