For more travel deals and tips, follow me on my travel page on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube or Twitter
I recently wrote an entry on how to get access to early boarding group with Southwest Airlines. And if you want more legroom, by having one of the earlier boarding groups, you also have a chance to get more legroom by sitting in certain sections of the exit row. Here’s that entry:
What happens when you don’t practice what you preach
My wife and I had a flight from Maui back to Los Angeles. Our flight was scheduled for Tuesday at 12:55pm. This means that to score an early boarding, I needed to check in on Monday at 12:55pm (exactly 24 hours before the flight time). Here’s what happened.
I set my iPhone alarm at 12:50pm (5 minutes before the check-in time). I was determined to check in early. Well, did I forget the to paint the picture? We were sitting on our beach chairs, under an umbrella right in front of our resort. The ocean was just a few steps away. I was reading my book, and I fell asleep. So yes, I was a little distracted.
I did not hear the phone’s alarm. Fast forward 20 minutes later, it was now 1:10pm. Way past the check in time. I rushed to get us both checked in. We ended up in Group B, 54 and 55. Ugggghhhhh not good. But whatever. I think I was meant to miss the earlier check in so I could write about this. I said, “Jason, grow up, and just deal with whatever seats are remaining during your flight. It’s not the end of the world.”
Light bulb: Southwest Airlines Upgraded Boarding
Of all the years I’ve flown with Southwest, I’ve always followed my own advise or checking in early, and join an early boarding group. I’ve never had to pay extra with my SW flights. However, I just recently got a new Southwest credit card:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
- 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- Annual fee $199
- 4 upgraded boardings per year – you can grab the seat you want up front once you board the aircraft
Upgraded boardings are obviously not free. It costs $40. I had 4 upgraded boardings to use by October 2022. I figured, I might as well put this to use. To do this:
- I had to go to the Southwest Airlines ticket counter at the airport (this cannot be purchased ahead of time)
- I informed the SW tickets agent about my request
- I was advised of the fee of $40 per person
- I used my Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card to pay for the $40 fee
- My wife and I each got an upgraded boarding at $40 each ($80 total)
- We were given Group A1 and A2. It could not get any better than that.
We were issued two boarding passes. Boarding time was scheduled at 12:35pm for our 12:55pm flight.
I had work to do
We had time to kill at Hawaiian Airlines Lounge at Kahului Airport on Maui. I knew I had to be at the gate before 12;35pm. My work was quite busy, I sent quite a few emails, and reviewed a few documents. By 12:10pm, I shut down my PC, and we began heading our way to the gate.
What I learned about Southwest Airlines Upgraded Boarding
I was confident and was looking forward to getting to our gate in time for the 12:35pm boarding. We made it to the gate before 12:20pm, and had noticed a crowd build up, and lines were moving. I had asked around, and was told they were now boarding all of Group A. The airline started the boarding process ahead of schedule. I normally would not have been disturbed by this, but I felt like a fool for now making it to the gate much earlier than planned. My reasoning and my defense that I kept telling myself, “Jason, you had work to take care of!”
My plan with our Upgraded Boarding, since we were assigned A1 and A2, that we’d get the first row, have all the legroom we needed and fly back to Los Angeles somewhat comfortably. Well that all fizzled. By the time we entered the aircraft, most of first few rows were taken. We ended sitting in the exit row, and landed on a seat with lots of legroom. Although my option was to sit up front, I settled for the next best thing – exit row with legroom.
If you don’t tell Southwest, they will never know
I sent Southwest Airlines a message via Twitter and explained what took place:
I flew from OGG to LAX last Tuesday. I bought an upgraded seat for me and my wife. Boarding Group A1 and A2. The boarding passes stated boarding time was 12:32pm. We spent some time in the lounge and made it to the gate by 12:20pm. Boarding had already begun. Group A was almost done. We lost the opportunity to be the first ones to board, and try to sit in the 1st row. It’s my first time paying for this upgrade.
We hate to hear you’re disappointed with your recent travel experience. Mind sending your confirmation number, so we can take a closer look?
[So I took a screenshot of my boarding pass which included my confirmation number]
That was the printed boarding pass after my wife and I each paid $40 (total of $80) for our upgraded boarding. It stated boarding was 12:32pm.
Thanks for sending this over. Please know that Upgraded Boarding does not guarantee a specific seat, as we have open seating. That said, I have made an exception and will issue a $100 Southwest LUV Voucher. I hope you will accept the voucher in the spirit it’s intended. The voucher can be used on future flights and is fully transferable and can be used by anyone. The voucher will be emailed to you within 10 days.
Lessons-learned about Southwest Airlines Upgraded Boarding
This conversation with Southwest Airline all happened within an hour over Twitter. It was not a struggle to communicate with them at all. I was glad that they listened to my issue, and provided a solution. So there you have it….ask and you shall receive. It all worked out in my favor in the end, and I learned a thing or two about SW and their upgraded boarding program. Should I use this perk again in the future, I will make sure to be at the gate much earlier than the printed boarding time.
Oh and please, I am not advising you to reach out to Southwest Airlines and expect a travel fund or voucher credit. This example was for me, and what happened to me could be very well different from what happens to you.
Thank you, Southwest Airlines, for listening.