Quick Travel Tip: Check In Early!!

Sunday night, my best friend was flying home from Chicago. She and her boyfriend were on the last flight home, as they wanted to enjoy every minute of their weekend getaway. Everything was going great until they got to the airport. They were so busy with a wedding, seeing friends, and visiting favorite places that they did not check in for their Southwest flight ahead of time. Of course, the flight was overbooked. Because they hadn’t checked in, there was a very real possibility of them not getting on the flight. And my friend had an critical meeting with her boss at 8am Monday morning. Talk about stressful!!

The best advice I have to avoid this in the future is to check in early, as soon as you can. With Southwest, checking in early also gives you a better spot in line, so you can get a better seat. With other airlines, you can at least make sure you have a seat, as sometimes when flights are full  you are not assigned a seat. And if you’re not assigned a seat, you have a better chance of being bumped.

Luckily, my friend was able to get on her original flight. But some people are not so lucky, and do in fact get bumped. Readers, do you have any advice for them?


  1. I would love to know a tip for checking in early without a smart phone.

    Not all of us have smart phones nor access to the internet when we travel. Sometimes checking in early is not an option.

    It seems lame that those with less than top of the time of line phones are penalized by the airlines. Some of us can’t afford to spend more for smart phones plans.

  2. @Jen, that is indeed a tough one without internet access while traveling and no smartphone. Luckily, many hotels are now adding self-service check-in kiosks in their lobbies that will allow you to check-in. If not, finding an internet cafe or asking politely to use the front desk’s computer might be an option.

    I often don’t check in for the return until arriving at the airport due to being busy, forgetting, etc. Fortunately, I haven’t ever been denied boarding.

  3. I’m not sure about your access to the internet when you travel but if I were without my smartphone I would use the hotel’s computer in their business center to check in for my flight. I recommend doing so before you turn in for the evening or at least by morning before checking out of the hotel. In very small towns without a business center, another option is to find a local library (most have computers) or even an electronics store (such as Best Buy) that may have a computer that will allow you to get online. Just clear the cookies and cache after logging off to protect your information. ; )

  4. one way to check-in is to call a friend. Anyone with an internet connection can check in for you if you give them the confirmation number. So when you are unable to check-in yourself, call a friend.

  5. On Southwest, if you realize you may be busy or without computer access, you can utilize their Early Bird check in service. Of course there is a fee associated with it, $10 per person, but you will be automatically checked in with a relatively good boarding position. In the situation mentioned here, they could have checked in for the original flight from home, then only used the Early Bird option for the return flight. I would rather check myself in, but have utilized it in a few situations where I knew I wouldn’t have that check in option at 24 hours out. It did work as advertised and took the uncertainty out of the return trip check in.

  6. “But some people are not so lucky, and do in fact get bumped.” Isnt it the other way around? You arelucky if you get bumped 🙂

  7. I was thinking the same as milpie. Most people should know someone they can call and ask them to check in online for them.

  8. With continental, you can be automatically checked in for your return when you check in for the outbound leg. You can still change seats once checked in, so really no reason not to.

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