My family prefers to fly Southwest over any other airline. We have been flying Southwest for years. There are three important and significant reasons why we think Southwest is a great choice for families. There are plenty of others, but these three are what I consider to be the most important.
1. Two free checked bags per person.
If you often fly as a family, then you know that checking just one bag per family member each way can drastically increase the price of your airline tickets. With Southwest, we save a considerable amount as a family of five not having to pay the baggage check fees. We are also able to each pack our own bag as we can check them all at no additional cost.
We seldom ever need to check more than one bag per person, but if you do, the second bag is also free. This can add up to huge savings for families.
2. Open seating.
While I understand that some people may consider this a drawback rather than a benefit, I am going to make the case that this is a benefit for families.
Southwest does not assign you a seat. When you are flying Southwest, you will board the plane in either an A, B or C boarding group. When you check-in you are assigned a boarding group and a number. You will line up at posts according to your boarding group and number and board the plane accordingly. Once you board the plane you will then be able to select any available seat.
A good boarding position will generally determine whether your family will get to sit together because there will still be available seats that are together when you board the plane. It is relatively inexpensive to pay for an early-bird check-in which will ensure a good boarding position, but in my experience, it is not necessary to pay for this, as long as you check-in for your flight exactly 24 hours ahead of time.
We have traveled as a party of 11 many times and have always been able to sit together without paying extra for early-bird check-in or having any A-list status.
Although it sounds like a pain, it really is simple. Just make sure you check in exactly 24 hours before your flight (I mean to the second) and you will most likely get a good enough boarding spot to be able to pick seats once on the plane that allow you to sit with your family and it won’t cost you any additional money.
Further, if you are traveling as a family with small children under 6, Southwest will let you board after the A group, so you will be able to sit together.
3. No change fees.
Let’s face it sometimes plans change and you have to change a flight you have booked. With Southwest, there is no fee to change your flight or to fly at a later time. This peace of mind is very comforting to me when I am purchasing tickets for 5 people.
I have actually had to change our flights before so instead of having to pay any additional money, I was able to do so free of charge. It is one thing when you only have to pay change fees for one ticket, but times that by 5 and you are now incurring a significant expense with other airlines. I think this is the biggest benefit of flying Southwest.
Because of our business, sometimes we will unexpectantly have to change our travel plans. I don’t have to worry and I can go ahead and book when I see a good fare not having to worry that I may have to change it later.
We have never had a bad experience with Southwest. The staff has always been super friendly and we have for the most part always been on time. When traveling as a family of five and having to multiply all extra expenses by 5, flying Southwest just makes sense.