A Lifehack For Those Who Fly On Southwest Airlines


As I was getting ready to take the El to the airport today, I realized that I had a problem. Since I was flying on Southwest, the earlier the check-in the better, as a result of their “Group A-B-C” boarding policy. Yet, I was in my hotel room and did not have a printer…although I could check-in online, I wouldn’t be able to print my boarding pass, effectively putting me in a Catch-22.

If I didn’t check-in before I left the hotel, I’d be destined for a “Group C” boarding experience. But if I did check-in online, I wouldn’t have a boarding pass to get through security. What to do?

Then I remembered “the magic option” on the Southwest Airlines kiosks that I had seen when I had checked in for my outbound flight. That magic option? “Reprint Boarding Pass.” (I had actually needed to use this option when checking in for my outbound flight, as the first boarding pass had jammed coming out of the printer and had been ripped to ribbons in the process.)

Here’s how this little trick works:

1) Before leaving the hotel (or even the night before), go online and check-in for the flight. The southwest.com site checks you in. Then your browser shows your boarding pass, and puts you in the “group” you’re qualified for by virtue of checking in early. After you’re checked in, close your browser window. (In normal circumstances, such as at home or at the office, you’d actually print this out.)

2) Go to the airport

3) Find the nearest Southwest kiosk

4) Put in your ID, and up comes your reservation.

5) Press “reprint boarding pass” (in the lower right-hand corner) and retrieve your reward for being just a little more wily than the average bear.

6) Voila! “Group A” check-ins, nearly every time!

11 Replies to “A Lifehack For Those Who Fly On Southwest Airlines”

  1. I hope they fixed all kiosks by now. I do remember trips a little over a year ago, when I attempted to do exactly this. The kiosk, however, did not allow me to “reprint” the boaring pass, and of course it did not allow me to check in either – since I was already checked in. A real catch 22! I ended up having to go to the counter:-(

  2. I actually had a similar experience and have a nice moneysaving hack for Delta. I posted it a while ago and have the URL listed above.

  3. What’s so secret about this? Southwest even tells you on their website (as does Continental) that you can check in without printing your boarding pass, and then reprint it at the Kiosk. Southwest now even allows you to check in from your web enabled phone at mobile.southwest.com

  4. @ Mark: yes they do and that was my first thought also, since I fly SOuthWest often. However, the post was focussed on that process getting you the ‘Group-A’ seating, I believe.

  5. If I’m flying back the next day, I usually check in using the kiosks on my arrival, for the return flight the next day. As long as your return flight is within 24 hours, the kiosks will check you in and also print out a boarding pass for you. Now if only, I did’nt misplace it everytime 🙂

  6. If you like the idea of using mobile to make travel on SWA easier, check out http://www.GoSkip.com We have developed a free app that lets you deliver your itinerary directly to your mobile – we’re also working on a SWA check-in tool that runs directly from the Skip app that will eliminate the need to do painful un/itinery data entry on your mobile keyboard. Everything you need to get going with Skip is on our site – check it out and let us know what you think.

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