During a Southwest layover where there is no plane change, I believe you're able to change seats after all the deplaning of all the people that are not continuing on to the second destination. (Please correct me if I'm mistaken.)

My question is: Are there any restrictions on which seats I can switch to? (first row, emergency exit, etc.)

  • Southwest has wider seats in front? Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 21:02
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    The Big Seat Upfront is on Spirit. I've never seen any different seats on Southwest.
    – DTRT
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 21:11
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    In my experience (haven't flown Southwest in a couple years), they often make an announcement to the effect that continuing passengers should stay in their seats, wait until everyone departing gets off and those on board are counted, and then move wherever they wish (including exit rows if you meet the requirements to sit there). If such an announcement is made, moving to an exit row seat before the appropriate time might well be considered unethical, or at least unsporting, but that's another question. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 22:27
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    Just don't walk out accidentially in the wrong airport. I once had a lady from the first row walk out in Phoenix, just to came running back after fifteen minutes, getting the very last middle seat. She wanted to go to Vegas, and didn't pay attention...
    – Aganju
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 0:07
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    Based on information and belief ;) "I will not fly southwest again for this reason." is never true. People fume a bit and then continue flying with whoever gives them the cheapest or most convenient ticket. Peace.
    – user4188
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 5:57

1 Answer 1


Although not directly addressed in the Boarding FAQ, not only are you allowed to change seats, but it's the norm on a stop, after the disembarking passengers are deboarded. In fact, sometimes the flight attendant needs to ask people to remain seated for a minute so that they can get a headcount.

Southwest Airlines has no assigned seating anywhere; not only can you not reserve or purchase a specific seat assignment, but there is no way for anyone to guarantee they will get a seat in any particular part of the cabin— front, emergency exit row, aisle, or otherwise. According to SeatGuru, Southwest does not have bassinets, so you won't be kicked out of a bulkhead for that reason, either. Once you're aboard, any unoccupied seat is yours for the taking.

Programs like Business Select, A-List, or EarlyBird can only get you an earlier boarding position; once you board, you're still subject to availability. Even if you're A1, then, it's always possible that you board to find someone else sitting in your favorite seat. It's part of the Southwest culture.

It goes without saying that you must be qualified to sit in an emergency exit row to sit there, of course. Furthermore, the flight attendant can always reseat you for other reasons, for instance if a certain seat is the only one that can accommodate another passenger's medical equipment.

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    So, basically, if I'm reading this correctly, those who arrive on a previous flight and are continuing on the same airplane without disembarking will always have first dibs at all the seats on the plane?
    – nukeguy
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 22:03
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    @nukeguy Yes, exactly.
    – choster
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 22:04

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