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Holiday Travel Tips

The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, and as a result you’ll find airports a bit busier than usual. We’re determined not let holiday travel turn you into a Grinch this year. We’ve put together a list of helpful tips to help make your travels as jolly as possible.

Before your trip:

  1. Make a list and check it twice – pack smart for your holiday trip.
    Nobody wants to haul bulky luggage or wrapped presents through a crowded airport. It’s important to pack light and try to limit yourself to one carry-on bag (plus one small, personal item). Luckily, if you need to pack a little more, your first two checked Bags Fly Free®*, though 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. Parents must also provide proof of age for children under the age of two traveling as a lap child. Visit our Baby On Board page for more information on traveling with little ones.

    If you are bringing gifts onboard, remember that all wrapped packages must be opened and inspected during the security screening process. Consider shipping your presents ahead of time or wrapping up your gifts after you arrive at your destination. Refer to our baggage policies for additional information.

  2. Traveling just got a little easier.
    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. ‘Twas the night before travel.
    Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with our travel policies before your trip, especially if you will be traveling with young children or if your child will be traveling alone. Consult our Children/unaccompanied minors policy as well as our Baby on Board page to help make your trip as seamless as possible.

    No need to leave your furry friend at home. Southwest Airlines allows small vaccinated domestic cats or dogs to travel with you in-cabin under the seat in front of you, as long as they are in an appropriate travel carrier. View more information on our Pet Policies.

    Most importantly, give yourself plenty of extra travel time to travel to the airport to avoid unexpected holiday traffic. Though winter can be beautiful, snow and ice can also cause pesky weather delays. Be sure to check the status of your flight before you head to the airport, as well as our suggested airport arrival times listed by airport location.

Arriving at the airport:

  1. Checking your luggage.
    Beat the holiday rush with 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.

    Make sure that your precious presents and your belongings reach your final destination. 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.

  2. Bah, humbug! Don’t get stuck waiting in those long lines.
    Between shopping for gifts and making holiday arrangements, 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 Southwest.com® and print your boarding pass from your home 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.

  3. Nothing like a little last-minute holiday shopping.
    Need to buy a gift last minute for one of your relatives? Don’t stress – you can purchase a Southwest® gift card and avoid having to haul a bulky present across the country. Simply choose the amount you want to give, customize your message, and click send. No need for fancy packaging either. You can simply email the Southwest gift card for free up to 12 hours after the order is placed. With Southwest Airlines expanding internationally in Mexico and the Caribbean, you can give your loved ones the gift of white sand beaches and tropical vacations. Best of all, the Southwest gift card has no expiration date and is easy to redeem online.

Once onboard:

  1. Ensure a smooth boarding process.
    Everyone is anxious to get home for the holidays, so be sure to follow all boarding procedures to make sure your boarding process goes smoothly. During peak travel times, 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. To allow room for everyone’s bags in the overhead bins please hold you’re your winter coats and jackets. Stow smaller personal items under the seat in front of you (purses, laptop cases, and backpacks). If you are traveling with non-ticketed lap children (under age 2) be sure they are seated in your lap before take off.

  2. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.
    You’ve earned it. 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, email, social networks and more. Plus, you can enjoy free live TV on your own device. And, with Beats Music now being offered onboard, it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit by listening to a festive playlist. You can access inflight entertainment using your own personal electronic device.

  3. Plan your pick up spot ahead of time.
    On peak travel days, 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 traveling doesn’t have to take away your holiday cheer! We hope these tips can assist you and your family members and have you well on your merry way to your holiday destination.


*1st & 2nd checked bags. Weight & size limits apply.

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