If you’ve flown Southwest Airlines (SWA) before, then you know they’re a unique airline in many ways: They give customers two free checked bags (up to 50 pounds each), they’ve never charged change fees, you have to book tickets using their website, they have fun flight attendants, they don’t fly red-eyes (yet), they only use Boeing 737 aircraft and most of all, they don’t assign seats. RELATED: The easiest way to save $50 on Southwest Airlines flights

Southwest Airlines boarding.Not assigning seats is always interesting and can bring out both the best and the worst in people. Boarding is basically a social experiment and can be confusing for first-timers. It pretty much forces you to get to know your seat mates and it also all allows passengers to play tricks to try and keep that dreaded middle seat open. In fact, Taylor Swift and her mom used to play a funny trick back when she flew commercial.

Here’s how SWA currently boards: Passengers are assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and position (1-60+) upon check-in (24 hours or less in advance).

Per Southwest.com: “Your unique group and position combination (for example: A35) will be displayed on your boarding pass and represents a reserved spot in the boarding group at the gate.

Numbered posts in each of our gate areas indicate where to line up.

When your boarding group is called, find your designated place in line and board the aircraft in numerical order with your boarding group.

Southwest-operated flights have open seating. Once onboard, simply choose any available seat and stow your carry-on items in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.”

Since almost all the seats are the same except for the exit row and bulkhead (more legroom), they usually go to customers in boarding group A15 or lower.

These days, some passengers claim they have an injury or a medical condition that requires them to be in a wheelchair so they can get a seat towards the front of the aircraft and not have to pay extra or worry about their bags not making it in the overhead bins. Flight attendants sometimes say they must work miracle flights because passengers board with a wheelchair but walk off when they land.

One way the airline can put a stop to that nonsense and make more money is to either start assigning seats or create a premium section in the front with more legroom and charge more.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Dawn Gilbertson it sounds like Southwest might be contemplating the latter. Dawn just shared on X: “The biggest news for @SouthwestAir travelers: it sounds like the airline might start carving up the cabin like rivals have done for years w/multiple seat choices. “We are evaluating options to enhance our customer experience…including onboard seating and our cabin.”

Dawn also wrote, “The airline famously doesn’t assign seats but it does already charge for “better” seats with its Upgraded Boarding and EarlyBird options. And they bring in a boatload of money. Just not enough for Wall Street’s liking given the seat fees rivals are collecting.”

As someone who really wants extra legroom so I can work on my laptop and be more comfortable, I’m all for it. I think other business travelers will be too but not everyone will love the change, especially those who fake medical issues for priority treatment.

How about you? Do you want to see Southwest create a premium section in the front of the plane?


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6 Comments On "Big news for Southwest Airlines travelers as airline considers premium seating options"
  1. Joseph Vecellio|

    Charge for the second luggage

  2. C. Eckert|

    I will fly Southwest if I can get a seat for my long legs and wide shoulders. I never fly it now, especially not knowing where I will be sitting.

  3. Michael R.|

    All Southwest needs to do is provide us longer seat belts. Nothing else needs to be changed other than quit destroying our luggage and put IAH back on the schedule this fall.

  4. Stefani Brancato|

    I like things the way they are. Most of my firm’s biz travelers don’t fly SWA.

    I think they should focus on the excessive amount & size of carry-ons. It’s ridiculous that an airline that gives you free luggage has so many people stuffing HUGE bags into the carry-on area. I’ve state this before in your comments section, I have been flying actively my entire life (I’m 67 & my Mom worked for TWA), and only once, in Greece, did my bag not arrive with me. And SWA now also provides bag tracking in the app, so that should alleviate some of the worry about the elusive lost bags.

  5. Frank k|

    I’m such a big fan is Southwest, a company that has proved they can give more and charge less. certainly there are challenges for the few who need special seating. As a tall flyer myself, I think it’s ok to charge $25 for the premium leg room seats. But don’t change a bit more. Remember, low prices means full flights which means low prices. As of now, equation working good, majority is happy, the people who LIKE it are drawn to it, the rest are free to fly a different airline.

  6. Carolyn R.|

    I am a frequent flyer with Southwest. I never have a problem with the open seating policy. I love the 2 bags free policy. please don’t change that. I am 80 and a rule follower. The people who get on board with giant backpacks and oversize carryons are the problem. They are the ones holding up the seating on boarding and deplaneing. Holy cow people if you need that much stuff, check the bag, it is free.

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