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Southwest follows JetBlue's move in return to pre-pandemic boarding system

March 23, 2021
2 min read
Southwest follows JetBlue's move in return to pre-pandemic boarding system
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For much of the pandemic, Southwest Airlines had shifted to smaller boarding groups, making it easier for travelers to work in some social distancing as they made their way onto the plane.

Under the previous process, Southwest customers moved from the gate to the plane in groups of 10, rather than clusters of 30. Now, for better or worse, Southwest is once again boarding groups of 30 customers at a time — following a similar move by JetBlue to return to its pre-pandemic process.

A Southwest spokesperson shared the following statement with TPG:

Many Customers are familiar with Southwest’s standard boarding style, and the expectation for the normal boarding process was becoming increasingly important as additional Customers travel with us. Southwest Airlines still maintains distancing reminders in airport areas and encourages social distancing. Additionally, Customers and Employees are required to wear face masks at all times, per the federal mask mandate.

Since Southwest doesn't offer assigned seating, boarding groups are especially important — the sooner you get on the plane, the more seats you'll have to choose from.

Related: Everything you need to know about the best seats on Southwest Airlines

Generally, customers can expect to board in the following order:

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  • Preboarding
  • Group A 1–60
  • Family boarding, active military and A-List/A-List Preferred
  • Group B 1–60
  • Group C 1–60

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The letter groups above are spilt into two sections — A1-A30 boards together, for example, followed by A31-A60. Generally, the first groups are reserved for customers paying for early boarding, either by purchasing a Business Select fare or Upgraded Boarding, though elite status can get you closer to the front of the line, too.

With enforced mask mandates and growing immunity thanks to a more aggressive vaccine rollout, social distancing will become less critical as time goes on. Still, to some, this move may feel a bit premature. At this point, there are definitely travelers who'd much rather be standing near nine other people at a time instead of 30.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023