Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday travel notice: Know before you go. With holiday travel ramping up this week, our airports will be very busy with travelers getting home. Please pay close attention and adhere to suggested airport arrival times as lines could be lengthy.

A special time of year is here! The temperature outside has dropped, but our homes have been warmed with good company and family. As you know, this time of year is a hectic one at the airport. So to help you, the holiday traveler, we’ve put together a list of travel tips to fill your Southwest experience with cheer and joy.

Before your trip:

1. Pack smart and pack light, that’s holiday traveling done right!

Before you hit the slopes or nestle up to a loved one’s fireplace, remember to pack light and limit yourself to one carry-on bag (plus one small, personal item). If you really need to bring an extra winter coat have no fear, as your first two checked Bags Fly Free® (baggage weight and size limits apply). Make sure to pack your liquids and other items not permitted in carry-on luggage in your checked bags. If you are unsure whether or not an item may be transported in your carry-on bag consult the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s list of prohibited items before heading to the airport.

The TSA requires Customers carry a government-issued photo I.D. or other form of acceptable identification. In addition to your identification, all Customers will be required to present a security document or boarding pass at the security checkpoint in order to proceed to the gate.

2. Make travel changes and keep tabs on your trip using your mobile device.

If you’re extending your vacation with the in-laws by a few days (don’t laugh) you can quickly make travel changes on the fly with Southwest’s mobile site or our easy-to-use mobile app. The mobile app is available for Apple iOS devices via the App Store and for Android Devices on Google Play. You can view your upcoming flight’s status, boarding position and gate information, and view travel and weather alerts. You can even book or cancel rental car reservations – all from your web-enabled mobile device. View more information about our mobile app and site.

3. Too busy planning all the fun to check in? We have alternative options.

Sometimes the last thing on your mind is checking in for your flight. By purchasing a Business Select® Fare, you’re guaranteed an A1-15 boarding position, along with other time-saving benefits such as access to our Fly By® Check-in and Security Lanes (where available). Or if you’ve already bought an Anytime or Wanna Get Away Fare, you can add EarlyBird Check-In® to your reservation. For only $12.50 each way, we’ll automatically check you in and assign your boarding position within 36 hours of your flight's departure.

You can always check in online at® and print your boarding pass from your warm, comfy bed up to 24 hours prior to your flight time or at one of the convenient self-service kiosks located at the airport. You can also utilize our new mobile boarding pass feature and go paperless.

4. Get information about flying with children.

Traveling with young children or have a child flying alone? Parents must provide proof of age for children under the age of two traveling as a lap child. Consult our Children/Unaccompanied Minors policy as well as our Baby on Board page to help make your trip as seamless as possible.

5. Shovel that driveway and leave the house early.

It’s crucial that you give yourself plenty of extra time to travel to the airport to avoid heightened Customer traffic during the holiday season. Snow or shine, we always recommend checking the status of your flight before you head to the airport, as well as our suggested airport arrival times and ticket counter hours listed by airport location.

6. Bringing a furry friend? Cool! Just make sure you let us know in advance.

Southwest Airlines allows small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to travel with you in-cabin under the seat in front of you as long as they are in an appropriate travel carrier. Each pet carrier is subject to a $95 Pet Fare each way. Please note, pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on international flights or any itinerary that includes an international flight. Learn more about our Pet Policies and make your reservation in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).

Arriving at the airport:

7. If you’re checking bags, check out Express Bag Drop.

To speed up your baggage check in, try Express Bag Drop (available in select cities), a separate line that lets Customers who already have a boarding pass check their bag with less of a wait.

Traveling with an essential item? A gift for your second Uncle twice removed perhaps? Prior to boarding, see a Customer Service Agent at the gate to check any extra or oversized carry-on items, baby items such as strollers and car seats, or assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters.

As always, please observe limits on one carry-on item and one small, personal item. Review our baggage policies for more information.

8. First on, first off the plane.

You can be one of the first on the plane by upgrading on the day of travel! When available, Upgraded Boarding allows you to secure a position in the A1 – A15 boarding group for just $30 or $40 per flight, depending on your itinerary. See a gate agent for details.

Once onboard:

9. Your wheels facing out, so our wheels can go up.

We know you’re ready to get a taste of Grandma’s sweet potato casserole, or hit the slopes with your best friends, but remember to follow all boarding procedures to make sure boarding goes smoothly. During peak travel times like this, the overhead bins can get a little crowded. Remember to store large items (roller bags, suitcases, duffel bags etc.) in the overhead bins. Place roller bags with wheels facing out. Stow smaller personal items under the seat in front of you (purses, laptop cases, and backpacks). If you are traveling with lap children (under age 2) who are non-ticketed, be sure they are seated in your lap before takeoff.

10. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.

Consult our WiFi finder before your flight to see if you will be traveling on a WiFi-enabled aircraft. For just $8 all day per device, you can access the internet to catch up on your email and social networks. Plus, you can enjoy free live TV* movies on your own device or watch the latest box office hit for $5. Learn more about in-flight entertainment and our device requirements.

11. Plan your pick up spot ahead of time. Your holiday trip is about to begin!

Navigating a crowded airport can be tricky. Coordinate with your companions and decide on a central meeting location at the airport ahead of time. If you are picking someone up from the airport, be sure to review our travel policies online. If you are picking up an unaccompanied minor or someone needing extra assistance, you must obtain a non-passenger escort pass from the ticket counter to be allowed through the security checkpoint.

Holiday gift giving:

12. We have your holiday shopping done for you!

Buy a Southwest® gift card and give them the gift of a destination. It’s easy to buy online or have mailed to you or the recipient.

We hope your holiday travel is filled with joy, laughter, and fun. Don’t let the cold get you down! Create lifelong memories with the people you love the most. Lie in the snow and make a snow angel, just be sure to look for a heart flying across the sky on the belly of our plane. Happy holidays!

*Compliments of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Credit Card and Avis Budget Group. Limited time. Where available.

Rapid Rewards Last Activity Date

Rapid Rewards accounts will remain active and points won’t expire as long as you earn Rapid Rewards Points from flights or Partners every 24 months.

Learn More