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You are watching: How many rows on southwest plane


Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, on regular basis updated with brand-new information.

Few airline command the customer devotion that Southwest inspires. America’s most family-friendly aviation brand, follow to ours survey, go things best in plenty of ways that other airlines perform not, from giving two free checked bags per human being to do it easy for parental to sit with young children without payment premium fees, having actually elite status, a certain credit card or booking way in advance.

But Southwest’s distinctive boarding procedure does no assign certain seats come travelers — a process that can be baffling because that first-time travelers, infrequent flyers or merely those brand-new to Southwest — especially throughout a full-blown pandemic. Fear not. Our an extensive guide will answer every your questions on getting the finest seat top top your following Southwest airlines flight.

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Related: These room the best Southwest Airlines credit cards

How Southwest boarding works


Like countless other airlines, Southwest starts boarding around 30 minutes before a flight is booked to depart. Yet the similarity largely finish there since Southwest’s boarding process is truly unlike that of any type of other airline. The airline has actually an “open boarding” policy, which method that you deserve to sit just around anywhere friend want: increase front, means in the earlier or appropriate in the middle. There room no assigned seats, not even at the very front the the plane. It’s first come, first seated.

There are a few exceptions, the course: If you want to sit in an exit row, friend still have to accomplish the commonwealth Aviation Administration’s age and also physical requirements. And also this need to go there is no saying, yet you can’t sit in someone else’s lap uneven you’re under the age of 2. If there’s currently someone rather in the seat you want, you’ll have to pick a new spot.

Related: What to expect once flying Southwest during COVID-19

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(Photo through Andrea Bacle Photography for The points Guy)

If you can pick any obtainable seat girlfriend want, then who gets to board the airplane first? The boarding bespeak goes as follows:

PreboardingGroup A 1–60Family boarding, active military and A-List/A-List PreferredGroup B 1–60Group C 1–60(Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

Southwest assigns each passenger a boarding team letter — A, B or C — and also a position from 1–60 when that traveler check in for their flight. The unique boarding code, such together A45 or B52, is printed straight on the boarding pass and also represents your location in line at the gate.

In normal years, you’d line up in ~ the door in single file based on her boarding position. Boarding was dubbed in teams of 30 (A1–A30, adhered to by A31–A60 and also so on). Now, as result of COVID-19, Southwest is just boarding in teams of 10 civilization at a time. This allows an ext distance in between passengers and way you don’t must camp out beside the gray metal columns designating your number in ~ the A, B or C group. Instead, you’ll must listen very closely for her boarding group and also start boarding as soon as your position range is called.

However, three categories of passengers supersede the standard group A–C boarding process: preboarding travelers, families and also A-List members.

Passengers authorized to preboard go before everyone else, including group A. These room travelers who have actually a specific seating must accommodate a special needs or who require assistance acquiring to your seats or stowing one assistive device.

Preboarding is based upon need and is determined by the gate agent before boarding begins. Passengers who are offered preboarding priority are permitted to board with one travel companion for assistance and cannot sit in an leave row.

(Image courtesy that Southwest Airlines)

Young households are also given distinct boarding privileges, yet not till a tiny later in the process. Family members boarding take away place automatically after group A boarding is complete and qualifying family members groups include up to two adults per child period 6 and under. Older children with the family members are also able to board at this time, yet other family members members, such together grandparents or aunts and also uncles, room asked to board according come the assignment on their boarding passes.

Active military personnel are also permitted to board at this time.

A-List and A-List desired members are stated to get the “best accessible boarding happen number,” yet occasionally finish up v a group B or C boarding designation, yet as a nod to your elite status, they are enabled to “cut the line” at any time after group A boarding is complete.

Once girlfriend board, what next?

(Photo by Summer Hull/The clues Guy)

Since there space no assigned seat on Southwest flights, whoever walks top top the plane very first gets his or her choose of seats. Together a basic rule, nobody an especially enjoys sitting in the center seat, therefore those have tendency to it is in left end to the end of the boarding process, because that stragglers in group C.

As quickly as girlfriend walk ~ above the plane, you’re cost-free to select any type of seat friend want. But because it’s a the majority of pressure to decision on the fly whereby you’ll spend your entire flight, you’ll desire to read on so you know what seat to setup for ahead of time.

It yes, really helps to recognize a little something around Southwest’s aircraft configurations as soon as deciding which seat is best. Together you’ll watch in the diagrams below, Southwest right now has three different versions that the Boeing 737.

Boeing 737-700

Southwest has actually 476 Boeing 737-700 aircraft, audit for more than two-thirds the its currently operating fleet. Each Southwest 737-700 has actually 143 seat in the construction below:

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(Image courtesy of seat Guru)

Boeing 737-800

Southwest has actually 207 Boeing 737-800 plane in the fleet. Every Southwest 737-800 has actually 175 seats in the configuration below:

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(Image courtesy the SeatGuru)

Boeing 737 MAX 8

Southwest has 48 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, although as of right currently they are all grounded. Additional requirements and pilot training will need to be conducted prior to these planes are ago in the air, and also as of ideal now, Southwest estimates that this won’t occur until at the very least the 2nd quarter the 2021.

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(Image courtesy of SeatGuru)

What’s the best seat on Southwest?

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(Photo by Andrea Bacle Photography because that The clues Guy)

Now that you know exactly how the planes are configured, what’s the best seat ~ above Southwest? The answer, the course, is incredibly subjective. TPG’s loyalty and also engagement editor, Richard Kerr, is a big fan that the last row on Southwest planes, particularly with tiny children in tow. But many other world think the back row is the worst possible seat.

But now that Southwest is no longer blocking the center seat, over there is a chance that a stranger will sit next to you — i beg your pardon is miscellaneous you might want to shot to avoid these days. If you room on a flight that isn’t full, you’ll many likely find fewer human being in the earlier of the aircraft — potentially keeping that seat beside you empty.

So let’s speak you’re in team A, and the aircraft is her oyster. Where have to you go? below are some options.

If you desire a socially distanced seat

In these days, staying far away from other passengers is ideal. If you space a party of 3 (or any kind of multiple the three), climate you’ll want to take the entire row — since all Southwest planes are three-and-three. This will certainly ensure no one is sitting alongside you.

But if girlfriend don’t loss into that numbers category, pick a window seat. This will offer you the most privacy and also ensure that no one is climbing end you to get in or out of your seat. You also won’t have actually cabin crew and also other passenger walking up and down the aisle right beside you.

And then it is increase in the air as to whether you need to sit increase front or in the back. Lock both have their pros and also cons. Sit up front method that anyone boarding the plane after girlfriend is walking ideal by friend while picking your seat. However it also method that as soon as you walk to deplane, you are among the first to walk turn off the aircraft.

The earlier of the plane, on the various other hand, could have under passengers. On Southwest planes, civilization tend to pick the an initial open seat(s) castle see, i m sorry usually means there are an ext passengers in the an initial half of the plane versus the 2nd half. Over there is also a far better chance the the seat beside you will certainly be left open up — ~ above a flight that is no full.

With that being said, ~ above the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, there are two commodes in the back of the airplane and just one bathroom in the front. So there is a higher probability that more passengers will head to the earlier of the airplane if they have to use the restroom.

Personally, if the flight isn’t full, I constantly pick the back of the aircraft in Southwest during normal times and it’s still my recommended spot during COVID.

Related: how I arrangement to socially distance when flying

If you want legroom

Aim for Seat 12A, the window seat on the ideal side of row 12 as soon as you’re facing the back of the plane. Row 11 is one “edit” heat with just two seats on the ideal side, which method that chair 11A is “missing.” Thus, the lucky passenger in 12A has two seats’ precious of space to stretch the end his or she legs — a godsend because that tall travelers.

If you’re top top a Boeing 737-800, you have a 2nd opportunity to score the legroom jackpot, as this plane configuration features a second seat with double the foot room in seat 12F. However 737-800s just account for around a 4 minutes 1 of Southwest’s fleet, for this reason your finest bet is still come gun because that 12A.

If you desire to acquire off the airplane quickly

Choose row 1. Girlfriend won’t have any storage accessible under the seat in prior of you, yet you’ll be among the very first people to walk turn off the plane. So if you desire extra legroom together your reward for packing light, do a beeline to your left or your right as shortly as girlfriend board.

If you’re thirsty

Choose heat 1, 9 or 17. Southwest trip attendants separation up cabin service into 3 sections, and also these are the commonly the rows whereby drink and snack business begins.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The points Guy)

If you only want one seatmate

Aim for heat 11, seat B and also C. ~ above Southwest’s Boeing 737-700s, this is a two-seat row so girlfriend won’t need to worry about sharing space with a 3rd person.

If you are OK sitting up straight

Choose the last row, and the heat in former of the exit row. If the best to recline is a hotly contested privilege among economy travelers, there space travelers who don’t treatment to lean back during the flight.

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(Photo through Jessica Puckett/The points Guy)

How to obtain the finest seat ~ above Southwest

If you’re brand-new to Southwest, you may be wondering exactly how to gain the absolute ideal seat (aka the earliest boarding position). Right here are part tactics:

Check in exactly 24 hours before departureHold A-List elite statusPurchase EarlyBird Check-In, Upgraded Boarding or a company Select ticketBook the an initial flight of the day

The best means to obtain the seat you want is simply to board as at an early stage as possible. Yet holding a team A boarding pass doesn’t constantly mean the you’ll gain the chair you want.

Check in 24 hours in advance

If every dollar really counts and you to buy Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna obtain Away” fares, the easiest way to obtain the earliest boarding assignment available is to check in for your Southwest flight specifically 24 hours ahead that time. This is important: set an alarm to go off one minute ahead of check-in time or questioning your mother to speak to you at the time — every little thing it takes. Even waiting a minute or two after that check-in duration could put you significantly down on the boarding list.

Tip:If you space using the Southwest Companion happen for one more passenger in your party, you’ll have to examine them in separately, due to the fact that they have a various confirmation number.

Related: 13 lessons from 13 years’ precious of Southwest Companion Passes

Purchase EarlyBird Check-In

For $15-$25 per human being each way, Southwest’s computer systems can automatically check girlfriend in 36 hours prior to departure rather of just 24 hours. This means you will certainly generally gain a far better boarding position than if you confirm yourself in 24 hours in advance. Here are think on whether EarlyBird Check-In is worth the investment.

(Photo through Summer Hull/The point out Guy)

Business choose fares automatically get A1-A15 boarding priority

Even through the finest of reminders, checking in top top the period doesn’t guarantee that you’ll gain a team A designation — or in extreme cases, even a group B assignment. Travelers that pay for pricier company Select fares pay a premium to acquire priority boarding spots marked A1–A15, no issue what time they check in.

Earn Southwest upstream status

After that, Southwest regular flyers who have earned A-List or A-List preferred elite status gain priority including the “best obtainable boarding pass number.”

Purchase an A1-A15 boarding at the gate

If you simply don’t choose the number you to be assigned, Upgraded Boarding is sometimes accessible at the airport on the job of exit for $30 come $50 one-way, per person when A1–A15 slots room still available. Even if you don’t desire to invest that cash, know that both the Southwest fast Rewards Priority credit transaction Card and also Southwest rapid Rewards Performance organization Credit card come with four of these consisted of A1–A15 slots every year (which is why these are some of our favorite Southwest cards because that families).

Getting the right seat this year can be much more important than ever, for this reason this is a huge benefit the the cards. Additionally, the current sign-up sell on the Southwest quick Rewards Priority credit Card is 40,000 bonus points after ~ spending $1,000 on purchase in the an initial three month of account opening.

Related: It’s back! knife a Companion Pass with the new sign-up bonus on these Southwest cards

Why you might see some passengers already on board

Sometimes you’ll board a Southwest flight and also see passengers currently on the plane, also when you hold the desire A1 boarding spot. That’s since several Southwest flights make multiple stop at urban in between a final-point origin and destination. Travelers who are headed for the final destination stay on plank while rather deplane in ~ the midway point. This becomes an ext and much more common later in the day, as delays and cancellations periodically happen and travelers finish up rerouted onto various other flights, which way less available space for passenger boarding the trip later on.

Related: This is the difference between a nonstop and a straight flight

There isn’t much you can do if someone’s already sitting in the seat you want; if you’re one of the last civilization on the plane, we imply you simply smile, be thankful that girlfriend made it on board and also make the finest of the instance for the next few hours.

But there room a pair of tricks you can employ if you really, really desire to sit in addition to someone else. Keep in mind the the just scenario where your desire constitutes a demand is if you’re the single caregiver because that a tiny child or because that a human who otherwise requires your care. Southwest will certainly ask other travelers to offer up their seats and shift around so a parent can sit v toddler or young child, however this isn’t a fair inquiry to do of other passengers if you simply want to snuggle up with your far-reaching other.

Can you conserve seats on Southwest?

There isn’t any type of definitive Southwest plan for or versus seat-saving. Kerr, TPG’s loyalty and also engagement editor, phone call this the “Southwest Shuffle,” whereby one passenger boards early on to conserve seats because that the other traveler(s) in the group, just as you would at the movies.

If you decision to conserve seats because that your take trip companion(s), be thoughtful — don’t hop top top board, spread out out your belongings over six seats in two different rows and expect various other travelers to simply walk previous without offering you the stink eye. (You additionally have no right to keep those seat if someone else yes, really insists on sit there, and your companions haven’t yet made it onto the plane.)

Print this Southwest cheat sheet

If you’re new to Southwest, conserve this “Things to Know” graphics on her phone therefore you’ll be able to board favor a agree on your following flight.

See more: How Many People Are At The March For Life Draws Enormous Crowd In Washington, Dc

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Note: While most of the procedure is the same during COVID-19, the only difference from the sheet over is that teams are now called 10 boarding location at a time. (Image through TPG)

Final call

Southwest’s boarding procedure might be intimidating or potentially even frustrating for some that aren’t used to it, yet there is a lot come appreciate once you gain the cave of it. Together a basic rule, Southwest travelers have less carry-on luggage because that the overhead bins since of its generous complimentary checked bag policy, and also open seating enables people to shuffle themselves into order together they plank the plane. So next time you paris Southwest, pull up this overview so you know what seats to target, and also how to acquire there as successfully as possible.