questionscan i get some opinions on southwest airlines?

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Spend the extra $20 and get Early Bird Check-in for one of the people in your party. Early Bird check-in will automatically check you in for your flight and you will normally be in the A group for seating. If you don't want to pay the extra $20, you are allowed to check in up to 24 hours early and if you check in right at the 24 hour mark you will usually get A group seating as well. I have used EB and normal 24hour check-in and I am always in the A group. I switched to Southwest when all the other airlines started charging for luggage. I always travel with a companion and I have never had any problems with getting two seats together.

EDIT - We have never had any problems with Southwest flights or personnel and most of our flights have been on-time.

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I've flown SW and it's fine. If it's really that important that you sit together spend the extra $ for assigned seats.

For me the savings is the bigger deal as I'll see my spouse the entire time on vacation so if we don't fly sitting next to each other it's not a big deal.

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I've had only good experiences with southwest.

I know it's nerve racking looking for a seat, but the flight attendants are some of the best in the air and will happily help in the very unlikely event that you won't be able to sit together.

I've also had successful conversations with them when I tried to change "unchangeable" tickets.

As a frequent flier with them, I'd also like to praise their regular seat cancellation policy. You can dump the seat any time 24 hours before the flight, meaning you can keep you plans open and lock in fair rates.

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I'm actually warming up to Southwest more and more. Here's why:

Lower fares
No extra charges for up to 2 bags (seriously, other airlines are getting ridiculous with bag fees lately)
Comfortable leather seats
No assigned seats.

While not having assigned seats could be a negative (if you get stuck with the last boarding group), I generally find that it makes getting on the plane so much faster when you just take any open seat and don't have to wait for the people getting on in front of you to figure out what their seat numbers are. I wouldn't bother paying the extra money for early-check in, but I strongly recommend online check in at as close to 24 hours prior to your flight as possible. Even if you don't/can't print boarding passes, you reserve your boarding group. I've been doing this for years and the worst I've even gotten is mid-B group, which is still plenty fine for getting two seats together.

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For the boarding, since you'll both be checking in together you'll board together, it shouldn't be a big deal unless you're at the very tail end, and then the flight attendants will usually try and help you find seats together.

The seats are a bit cramped and small, so for 7 hours you'll probably be thankful once you get off. But it's an airplane, you aren't going to avoid that unless you're flying first class on another airline.

Generally Southwest's arrival/departure times are solid. I never lost a bag with them when I flew with them for work every couple of months, and some was high value stuff that they took special care of.

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Ditto to all above.

Also, sign up for Rapid Rewards before you book your flight. The points never expire and are good for any flight anytime once you have enough for a free flight.

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Never had a problem with SW, and their staff tend to have (and share) a sense of humor. They like to sing their "buckle up" etc. statements, welcome you to your destination with a song, etc.

At one time they were really cheap to fly, not so much anymore. Their deals usually exceed the competion.

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Southwest is my go to airline for domestic flights, I will do almost anything to avoid other national carriers.

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love southwest. have only had 1 problem (checked bag got left behind). in return for picking the bag up at the airport (when it got there about 8 hours later) instead of them delivering it to my house, they gave me a $150 voucher. not too shabby.

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I too agree with using SWA. They are normally cheaper than the other national names, and they bought out the competition in their category of service.

I would avoid booking through their southwest vacation packages. Not that they are overpriced, but at least once I could not get the early bird check in because I used the vacation package. They may have changed it since. We had a large party and we all checked in 24 hours ahead and we all got c boarding. For a large party it was a nightmare.

The flights are fine and the staff are helpful, I don't see why you would want to pay more for another airline. They really aren't better except for some first class seating.

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The first time I flew SW, I almost did not get a seat! It is very important to check-in for the flight the night before as soon as the early check in is available. I usually check in from home the night before we leave, but this trip happened at a very busy time and I just figured I would check-in at the airport when I checked my luggage and printed my boarding pass. Well, I showed up to the airport 1-2 hours early and they had already checked-in all the seats! "WTH?", I thought. Wasn't my ticket suppose to reserve a seat for me? Not with SW! The ticket does not reserve your seat like most airlines. You don't actually have a seat until you check in. They printed me a security (not boarding) pass that allowed me to get to the gate. I had to wait to the very end of boarding and 1 nice lady agreed to go on standby so I could have the flight. All airlines overbook, but I would like SW a lot better if it reserved seats in the order the tickets were purchased not the order you checked in.

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@ecriscit: Did you try to add the EB check-in after your purchase? My son's friend used rewards to get their tickets for a trip and I was able to use his reservation number and add the EB after the fact and had no problems what-so-ever.

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One thing about SW's pilots; I believe all were prior special ops guys. None of them taxi to the end of the runway. They are immedately on the brake and take the first turn to their concourse. Usually get to the gate before planes that arrived before you, except for other SW flights.

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@mtm2: So...they're reckless and don't follow the rules? I'd rather be 5 minutes later to the gate than get t-boned by another plane.
Edit: Maybe the SW terminal is just close to the runway at your airport so it seems like they're getting to the gate faster.

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Will agree with most of the above. As far as EB - I've never done it - just not worth the $. But, I usually have a child 4 & under, or am by myself. Best advice I can give is be at your computer 24 hrs before you fly, and get your boarding passes at exactly 24 hrs, when they open them up. I've never been further than the 1st "B" boarding group (A 1-30, A 31-60, B1-30, etc is how they board).

Alternatively, if you are a gambler, if not all the EB seats are taken, they release them shortly before take-off. My mother wound up getting A2 on a recent flight, and she was discussing it with someone who got A3. Both of them forgot to check in until they got to the airport.

Never had a problem with the service, and they are also my go-to for domestic travel. Checked bags are pretty much a given when traveling with kids, so that's at least $100 saved per trip.

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They aren't as cheap as they used to be, but they have one of the best flying experiences. Fast and friendly, and as long as you're not one of the last people to board (in the dreaded "C" boarding group) you should have no problems finding seats together.

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I agree with @djp519, you really don't need to be in the A group to get two seats together as long as you don't mind being towards the back of the plane

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SouthWest is our go-to airline for domestic flights. Friendly staff, on-time flights. No baggage fees, or ridiculousness. Worth it.

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@bsmith1: No. If they were reckless they'd be fined/lose their jobs. It seems to be an option for them to either run to the end of the runway or turn off and they choose to turn off. I suspect it also helps their "on time" rate.

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They're the only one's I fly with when I'm paying for the tickets. When I travel for work, it's always Sunday flights from California to the eastern states, I take advantage of my layover and get lunch.
Return flights same story, one layover gives me a chance to break up the time in the seat.
A lot of the flights have wifi to buy (maybe everyone does now a days), and I am ok in the seats, and I'm 6'0" and broad shouldered. Wing/exit seats are nice if I score them, but I'm ok anywhere.

As for earlybird, it's easy to be at a computer 24 hours before leaving my house, I can schedule that, but while traveling , do you want to remember to be at a computer 24 hours before your return flight? Meh, for me, free baggage and cheaper airfare, yes, I'll cough up $20 for the EB check in.

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I've flown Southwest a few times and echo what everyone else has said. I've often flown with large groups and never had any problems. The staff is always wonderful.
I would fly them more if they flew out of DFW instead of Love Field in Dallas (stupid Wright Amendment).

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I just had to fly Delta for a business trip. Reminded me why I do my best to choose either SouthWest or Frontier.

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Another vote for Southwest here. Best bang for the buck.

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I have been flying SW for 6-7 yrs now. If you are on your A game and set an alarm to check-in right at 24 hours before your flight you can ususally get in the A group boarding, but you will ALWAY check in early enough to sit with your wife. There is always a really large group of people who forget to check in ahead of time.
2 free bags!
Flight rewards!
No change flight fees!
Best on time record in the industry!
Decent seating, fair amount of leg room!
I can't fly anything else without sorely missing Southwest.

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love me some southwest. i ditto all the positives folks have said above. I've only had 1 bad experience, and it wasn't their fault, and they did their best to fix the situation:
I was flying from OH out to Idaho for my Grandma's Funeral. Like every route I've experienced with them, i couldn't get anything resembling a direct flight, was routed From Columbus->Orlando->Denver->Boise. just happened to be the one day they got really bad storms, (including tornadoes) in Orlando. sat on the runway for an hour wile the weather was booming and pouring outside, before they would let us get into the terminal. when we finally did, things had changed enough, that the plane i was on, which was supposed to go on to denver, had now been reassigned to another route, so i had to change planes, they first told me the wrong gate, so i nearly missed the actual flight. then when we got to denver, the we still had to wait another hour or so for everyone else to arrive..

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... then finally got into boise around 1 am MST, (Flight was supposed to be in around 11), by which time everything IN the airport had long since closed. Luckily i was meeting my folks there, their flight(Delta) had gotten in on time, and they had picked up the Rental before the counter closed.
Fast Forward to the Luggage Carousel- Mine never arrived. (1 am, Funeral @ Noon)
Southwest took my report, Gave me a toiletry kit, and said they would reimburse me for Clothes Purchase up to $50. (with receipts of course). So we head down the road to the hotel. first thing in the AM, head to the local Walmart. Shirt, Pants, Tie, Polish for My Boots, $47. then en route down to the Funeral, get a call that they had located my bags (some how had gone to Chicago) and they were en route to Boise. After Funeral, Check Voice Mail, Bags made it to Boise, and their Driver was en route. When we Flew back, gave them the receipts, they Cut me a check. week later get a $70 voucher for my troubles.

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One more Southwest fan here. I can't even remember the last time I flew a different airline. My daughter and I fly 1-2 times a year to visit grandma and have NEVER had a bad experience with SW. Free check in bags is a HUGE plus. Also something to keep in mind is that they DO NOT charge a change fee if you have to change your reservation or flight time. All you have to do is pay the difference in airfare, which can be substantial but MUCH less than paying the difference plus a $50 fee (which my Mom had to do on Alaska Air). I booked a flight on our last trip, then a week later found out I needed to chage it by a week. I called and ended up getting a $20 CREDIT for switching because they had a Wanna Get Away fare for that day. I mean what other airline would give you a credit for changing your plans?
If you fly on anything like a regular basis I would consider a Southwest Rewards credit card. i signed up with a special and got 2 free roundtrip tickets worth of points.

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SW is well worth the money saved IMHO. I flew them last in August, with my family of 2 kids and wife. One the flight out we were split up but the flight back we were all seated next to each other.

Their fares are low, plus they don't charge for checked baggage, which makes them extremely cheap.

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one more thing to keep in mind. Depending on your departure/destination point, they don't have as many direct flights as you might find elsewhere. I've Flown them to Dallas twice,(My Brother lives in Dallas)
First time, Went Columbus->Tampa->Houston->Dallas.(had bought a car from Brother, drove it back)
Next was Columbus->Chicago(midway)->Kansas city->Dallas.(Return Dallas->St.Louis->Columbus)

now when my parents fly down there, or he flies home, they take American or Delta, They have direct flights between Dayton & Dallas, about 2 hrs.(Dayton is closer to our house than Columbus, but southwest only started going there in the last 6 months or so, Still no direct flights to Dallas.)

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Another SWA fan here, for all of the reasons listed above (no baggage charges, great flight staff, better prices, etc.). I drive 30 minutes further to the New Orleans airport, just so I can fly SWA. I occasionally have to use other airlines, but I much prefer SouthWest. I have to confess that part of this is based on the fact that I attended an HR conference many years ago where one of the speakers was from SWA. Their head of HR held the title of "Vice President for People," or something like that. The employment policies SWA had at that time were impressive enough to stir my interest in SWA (strange, I know, but it made sense to me).

Another thing you might want to investigate if you like SWA is getting one of the SWA Visa cards. DH and I each got one last year and received, I think, 50,000 "miles" travel points each. With these we got free tickets for our San Francisco trip in November and still have points leftover.

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Speaking of checking in 24hr before your flight departs. If you have a smartphone, they have an app, so you can use the phones web browser to check in at the actual website or you can simply use the app, which has some other nice features as well. I "check in" anywhere I can get a signal.

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Thanks everybody for your feedback! We definitely decided to go with SWA thanks to your comments; and saved at least $250 vs other carriers. As an added bonus both of our flights are nonstop, our arriving flight arrives in the morning and our departing flight leaves in the evening; something no other carrier seemed to be able to do!

I used @hessem's reasoning to get my companion to get over the fact that we may not sit next to each other. I took your advice @theoneill555 and spent the extra $20 ($40 for both tix) to get early check-in. I figured it would be worth the peace-of-mind, and I'm still saving $250.

Thanks again!