How to Get the Best Seats When Flying Southwest Airlines

August 24 2006 – 09:48pm

Many people hate Southwest’s format for seating. For those of you who aren’t familiar, when you check in, you are assigned a group, “A,” “B,” or “C,” depending on how early you have checked in. Then the plane is boarded in group “A,” then “B,” then “C.” This results in people standing in line for as long as an hour so they can be sure to get the best spot. All of that effort is uneccesary though if you just follow these tips, which work best when you are flying alone.

Check in online

With Southwest, you can check in online as early as 24 hours before your flight. Don’t concern yourself with whether or not you have access to a printer to print out your boarding pass. If you don’t, simply check in online, and then re-check in at the airport using one of Southwest’s electronic kiosks.

Do pre-flight investigation

Look around the gate area a bit and identify people you may or may not want to sit next to. This will depend on your mood that day. Maybe you don’t feel like talking that day so you want to sit next to the bookworm, maybe you want to chat up that pale-faced brunette, hey maybe today you _want_ to sit next to the baby or the nervous flyer.

Board at the right time

If you checked in online early, chances are you got an “A” boarding pass. Unless you’re flying with friends that you want to sit next to, you certainly don’t want to wait in the “A” line before boarding. Just remain seated and board at the end of that group. Probably the best time to board is at the end of the “B” group, and you can certainly just hold on to your “A” pass and wait to board at the end of the “B” group. More on this strategy later.

Check with flight attendant

When you first step onto the plane, ask the flight attendant how full the flight is. Generally, they will give you some percentage, or tell you that it’s totally full.

Make your selection

Now you’ve reached the moment of truth. When all of that preparation and planning finally comes together, yeilding you a seat that will facilitate an enjoyable flight. Why didn’t you rush to be one of the first people on the plane? Because you could have gotten your “A” pass and waited in line and been that first person and gotten the seat you wanted, but how would you control who decides to sit next to you? You could try making strange facial expressions, but that’s just a gamble.

You let all of those people get on the plane before you, because now _you_ get to pick whom you sit next to. For example:

So now you can see some of the strategies one can employ to find that perfect seat. Check out this article if location in the plane and room is more important to you than whom you sit next to. If you learn to use these strategies, you may even start to prefer Southwest’s seating arrangements, but don’t go telling too many people as this obviously wouldn’t work if everyone used these strategies.

This post is filed under How To, Humor, Life Hacks.