Security Procedures

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Note:

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has thorough screenings at the main security checkpoints of all airports. Anyone passing through a security checkpoint will be required to have a government-issued photo ID and either a Boarding Pass or a TSA approved Security Document. As a result, a Customer's security experience may vary by airport.
  • Southwest Airlines advises its Customers to have a government issued photo ID, his/her Itinerary/Receipt alone will no longer get a Customer through the security checkpoint.

Security Procedures

Who Does This Affect?

If you are checking luggage, there will be no change. Customers checking luggage may do so up to four hours before scheduled departure at a Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter or curbside Skycap Podium. At that time, a Boarding Pass will be issued that will also get you through the Security Checkpoint. The only other thing you need is your government-issued ID.

When and where can I check in and receive my boarding pass?

If you have an eligible reservation you may check in for your flight online at southwest.com beginning 24 hours prior to your flight's scheduled departure time. You may also check in and/or get a boarding pass at a self-service kiosk (where available), the Skycap Podium (in select locations), Ticket Counter, departure gate, or on your mobile device.

When checking in 20 minutes or less before your flight's scheduled departure, you must get your boarding pass at the gate. You will be issued a security document to get through the TSA checkpoint; however, you must request your boarding pass from the Customer Service Agent at the departure gate.

If you purchased a Business Select Fare, EarlyBird Check-in, or are a Rapid Rewards A-List Member, we'll automatically reserve your boarding position, freeing you to print your boarding pass at your leisure.

Note: Customer must retrieve boarding pass and be present in the gate area ten minutes prior to departure. For Rapid Rewards A-List Member to receive reserved boarding privileges, the Member must include his/her Member number in the reservation at least 36 hours prior to flight time.

What if I am traveling on an international itinerary?

Documentation required to travel to foreign countries and/or re-enter the United States varies by country. Visit our portal and enter your origin/destination for documentation requirements specific to your itinerary. A valid passport is always required for international travel, in addition to other documentation based on your destination.

If any portion of your itinerary contains an international flight, you will be required to check your luggage at the Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter upon arrival at the airport as well as after clearing Customs at a gateway city upon your return to the United States prior to your connecting flight to your final destination. Connecting passengers must claim all luggage, regardless of final destination, upon arrival in the U.S. After clearing Customs, passengers with connecting flights will then be required to re-check all checked luggage with a Southwest Airlines Customer Service Agent before proceeding to connecting flight(s).

Also, please note that you cannot check luggage at the curbside with a SkyCap if any portion of your itinerary includes an international flight. You must visit the Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter.

Lastly, our no-show policy does not apply to itineraries that include international flights. If you do not make your flight, the amount of your original purchase will be held for future use in the form of reusable travel funds. Unused, fully refundable tickets, that do not carry restrictions may be applied toward future travel or refunded within one year from the date of issue. In the event that a Customer fails to fly their segments in the order ticketed, their reservation will be subject to cancellation or require payment for their onward journey using current fares.

How To Get a Security Document

  • Customers not checking luggage may request and print out a Security Document at southwest.com 24 hours prior to your flight. If all flight segments fall within this timeframe, a Security Document will print for each flight segment. If a flight segment does not fall within this timeframe, you will need to print your Security Document beginning 24 hours prior to your return flight segment.
  • At the airport, Security Documents will be issued at the Skycap Podium, Ticket Counter, or Self-Service Kiosks (where available; only Ticketless Customers will be able to obtain a security document at the self-service kiosk).
  • Customers receiving a Security Document rather than a Boarding Pass at the airport include:
    • Standby Customers
    • Nonrevenue, Space Available Customers
    • Customers who arrive 20 minutes or less prior to scheduled departure
    • Customers traveling on a flight that has been gate restricted

Additional Information

  • Customers will be required to surrender the Security Document to the Customer Service Agent at the Departure Gate to receive a Boarding Pass. Customers are advised to keep the Security Document with them until they checkin and get a Boarding Pass.
  • Southwest continues to roll out Self-Service Kiosks for Ticketless Customers who are not checking luggage.

For frequently asked questions, see our Security Document FAQ.

What is Secure Flight?

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) procedures require all airlines to correctly identify all Customers. As part of this ongoing effort, the TSA has implemented the Secure Flight program, which requires airlines to ask Customers for their full name (as it appears on their government issued ID), date of birth, and gender at the time of reservation.

The Secure Flight program was developed by the government to meet 9/11 Commission recommendations that the TSA take over watch list name matching functions from airlines. The benefit is that Secure Flight offers a standardized method for the TSA to compare passenger name information to the TSA watch lists. Please visit the Secure Flight Program section of the TSA's web site for additional information.

Secure Flight is being phased in across the industry, so different airlines will begin requesting additional passenger data at different times. Southwest Airlines has incorporated the new Secure Flight data requirements into our systems.

In order to help minimize instances of passenger misidentification, we recommend including your Rapid Rewards frequent flyer number in every Southwest Airlines reservation.  This number is unique to each Customer, and it is helpful in our efforts to identify our Customers electronically and enable online and/or kiosk check in. We suggest using your first, middle, and last name in your reservation. The name entered in your reservation must match the government-issued identification carried by the Customer during their travel.

Please note that including your Rapid Rewards number may not always prevent cases of mistaken identity. Cusotmers who encounter repeated difficulty with check in relating to TSA security procedures may contact the TSA for relief via their web site www.dhs.gov/trip.

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