Southwest EarlyBird Check-In Gets More Expensive

Mar 16, 2016

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Many families love flying on Southwest Airlines for a number of reasons such as free checked bags, the ability to change flights without a fee, free award redeposits, the super awesome Companion Pass, and the open seating policy where you don’t have to pay extra fees to get seats together since there are no assigned seats. Of course, the open seating policy can also backfire if you don’t end up with a boarding pass in one of the first groups as there often aren’t multiple seats together by the time you get to some of the B, and certainly the C boarding groups.

As I pointed out in this post on How to Seats Together as a Family on Southwest, families with children six years old and younger do get to board during family boarding between the A and B groups in the event the boarding passes numbers they secured at check-in are B or C numbers. However, everyone else must either be an elite A-List customer, on a higher BusinessSelect fare that secures an earlier boarding spot, or super diligent about checking in exactly at 24 hours before departure and hoping that is enough to get a “good” A boarding pass. Or, you can pony up some extra money and splurge on “EarlyBird Check-In” and not worry about any of the other stuff.

Southwest EarlyBird Check-In automatically checks you in 36 hours before your flight and secures you a better boarding pass number than you would have been able to get on your own since this check-in occurs 12 hours before the standard 24 hours before travel. This earlier boarding pass allows you to not only have a larger selection of empty seats to pick from, but also more overhead space for your carry-on bags.

Of course airlines are a for-profit enterprise, so this extra convenience comes at a price. Originally EarlyBird Check-In was $10, then in recent years the price was $12.50, and as of this week the EarlyBird Check-In price has increased to $15 one-way (origin to destination) per passenger.

Southwest EarlyBird CheckIn.jpg

In the grand scheme a $2.50 increase isn’t huge, but that does now represent a 50% increase of the price since the service was increased in 2009. However, since there is no cap on the number of people on a flight who can purchase EarlyBird Check-In, if the whole plane purchased the service it would essentially be useless to everyone except the ones making money off the airline. Because of that, the price does have to be just high enough where not everyone will purchase it in order for it to be of value to any passengers.

I don’t know if a $2.50 increase does much to change demand one way or another, but either way you should be aware that EarlyBird Check-In will now cost you $15 per person instead of the $12.50 it would have cost you last week. Also worth a mention that if you purchase EarlyBird Check-In at the time of booking your tickets you either have to purchase it for none or all passengers on the itinerary, but if you add it later you can add it for just select passengers if you choose.

Do you use EarlyBird Check-In? What boarding pass numbers do you typically get with the service?


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