Flying somewhere on Southwest Airlines soon? Here’s what you need to know to ensure a smooth flight.

Southwest Airlines Seating

Southwest Boarding Position

Southwest Airlines planes offer open seating, which means first-come first-served; there are no assigned seats. Southwest boards in zones, which include A, B and C with positions 1-60 in each zone. The earlier your zone and position, the better your chance at scoring your choice of seats with A1 being the best and C60 the worst.

There are several ways to ensure you get the best possible zone — and thus, seat — on your next Southwest flight. First, you can shell out an extra $15 per way for Southwest Early Bird seating, which means Southwest automatically checks you in before everyone else aside for Southwest’s elite members and business passengers. Additionally, you can wait until you get to the gate and see if there are any remaining business class seats unsold. If there are, you can upgrade your Southwest boarding position to A 1-15 for $40 one-way. Just ask a gate agent or look for a sign indicating these positions are available.

Checking In Online

If you aren’t ready to open your wallet any further for a better seat, then you’ll need to check in online exactly 24 hours ahead of your flight departure time when Southwest opens check-in to everyone else. It’s a good idea to schedule multiple alarms so you don’t forget to check in, as well as have your flight confirmation number ready to go. You can check in on Southwest by computer or mobile device, so you can even do it on the go when traveling.

Southwest designates your boarding position in the order you check in, so if you forget and check in at the gate, consider yourself at the back of the plane. Southwest does allow families with children 6 and younger to board between the A and B zones to help ensure children and parents are not separated, and Southwest flight attendants are usually helpful in placing families together should it be a problem.

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Airport Check-in

Southwest Airport Check in

If you’ve checked in online and have no bags to check, you’re all set. Download the Southwest app to pull up your boarding pass or ask Southwest to text or email it to you when you check in online.

Southwest does allow two free checked bags per person up to 50 pounds, so if you have bags to check, head to the gate. Many airports now allow you to check your bags at a Southwest kiosk and self-tag your luggage, briefly checking in with the gate agent to verify IDs and weigh your bags.

How to Check for Wifi

Southwest Inflight Entertainment

While Southwest is working to upgrade its fleet to WiFi by the end of 2017, not all planes are currently WiFi-enabled. To check if your Southwest plane has WiFi, within 24 hours of your flight (though often it is posted earlier), visit Southwest.com/Wifi. Type in your first and last name and confirmation number to find your flight. If your plane has Wifi, you will see a green check mark next to your flight.

While it is free to watch multiple channels of live TV on Southwest, including Fox News Channel, using your own device, to surf the web you will need to pony up $15 per day. The good news is if you have multiple flights the same day, you only have to pay the WiFi fee once. You can also “rent” a movie from Southwest to watch on your device for $5.

To connect to Southwest WiFi once on board, go to SouthwestWifi.com after you’ve reached 10,000 feet and follow the instructions.

Scoring Free Drinks

Doesn’t it sound nice to sip a cold one while sky high or perhaps cheers your loved one with a glass of champagne? While you’re welcome to pay $5 per drink, it’s also possible to get free drinks on Southwest with a little know-how.

First, you’ll need to be sure you are a member of Southwest’s frequent flyer program called Rapid Rewards. They sometimes send members free drink coupons in the mail. Plus, you’ll earn points toward a future free flight.

Another way to earn free drink coupons from Southwest is to hold a Southwest credit card. If you purchase a Business Select fare, which costs more but earns you additional Southwest points, you also get a complimentary alcoholic drink each flight. Finally, be sure you’ve signed up for all Southwest email communications where every now and then, they toss out a free drink coupon.

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