Your Guide to Southwest Airlines Check-In

southwest airline airplane wing
Jim Sugar/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines makes it really easy to book your travel and check in online. Use these tips to make the process go smoothly. 

Start by going to the Flights section of the website. There, you can choose city pairs, departure and arrival dates, the number of passengers, any promotional codes, and the options of paying in dollars or Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points. On the next page, you can filter your results with nonstop or direct flights.

Fare Levels

The carrier offers three fare levels: Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select. The first is the lowest fare offered and is nonrefundable. The second is refundable and changeable. The third fare is also refundable and changeable and gives travelers early boarding, extra Rapid Rewards points and a coupon for a free drink. Depending on the airport, you may also have access to Southwest's Fly By Check-in and security lanes.

If you're flexible on your travel dates, Southwest offers its Low-Fare Calendar. After putting in departure and arrival cities and choosing a month, travelers can see the lowest fares on each day of the month for the departing and arriving city. You also have the option of choosing from Southwest's three fare levels.


Once you've chosen your fare, you have the option of paying for EarlyBird Check-In, which offers automatic check-in before the airline's current 24-hour check-in, which allows you to board your flight earlier.

Once you check in and have a confirmation number, you can either print out a boarding pass or download it to your smartphone via its iOS or Android app 24 hours before your flight. The app also allows travelers to view an upcoming flight’s status, boarding position and gate information, and see travel and weather alerts. 

You can also use self-check-in kiosks at the airport to print out a boarding pass, upgrade to a Business Select Fare, check luggage, change a flight, or add yourself to a standby list. If you need to change or cancel your flight, Southwest allows changes on its website, a smartphone or tablet, or by calling the carrier directly.

At the airport, if you have your boarding pass and aren't checking bags, you can go right to your gate. If you have bags, you can check them outside with a skycap (if your airport has that service), or you can go in and use Southwest's bag drop. Travelers may also have access to Express Bag Drop in select cities served by the carrier, a separate line for those with a boarding pass that allows them to check their bag with less of a wait. The carrier allows travelers to check two bags for free. 

Edited by Benet Wilson