Southwest Upgraded Boarding - How likely?

Has anyone used their SW credit card perk recently to get upgraded boarding at the gate? I now have this perk and usually purchase EB Check-in, but I am thinking of waiting to try for the free upgraded boarding. Flights are expensive and seem crowded though…

I have never had an issue getting a paid upgraded boarding at the gate even on completely full flights. Everytime I have tried they had some A boarding groups available. Sometimes even A1. We always ask. We have the card and they charge it but and it is reimbursed if we have free upgrades remaining for the year. We dont mind paying for it though either.


I also have never not been able to get it at the gate. I have always wondered how the heck that works if the flight is full :thinking:


Thank you both, that is very helpful!

1 Like

It has been a full a few times for me but I don’t think I ever had an issue with it Orlando. Only during spring break flying out of Ft. Myers. I recently used it in Nov 2021 to & from MCO.

You can also buy the upgraded boarding at the bag check counter so that could help you get ahead of people who think you can only do it at the gate.

Also, you can only do it at the airport you are in. I tried to buy it for my brother who was flying out of Indianapolis the same morning I was flying from Columbus to Orlando. I had 1 upgrade left and didn’t need it but they couldn’t do it for a different airport.

1 Like

Can someone explain this perk? I have two Southwest cards, but haven’t seen anything about a boarding perk.

1 Like

It depends on the card you have. Some cards come with 4 upgraded boardings per year as part of the annual fee. You’d have to research which card you hold to see if yours is one of them.


You can compare the SW cards here:

1 Like

We were able to get it on our flight out of MCO last month. The flight was full (with lots of families) and we had ended up with a B group so I wanted to be in early A, plus ahead of family boarding so I bought it at the gate and got A14 & 15.

1 Like

I guess they must just bump guests back and how the heck would you really know anyway, right?

So say I have B1

Then some jerk comes along and buys upgraded boarding

Now I’m B2 for all intents and purposes even though I still think I’m B1


Great tip! Thanks!!

True I guess but if we got A15 (only A1-15 are available for purchase) then everyone else would stay the same. It couldn’t bump anyone back if A1-15 are empty anyway? Like, I’m filling an empty spot. The people behind me get to get on 1 slot earlier (kinda?) Hope I’m explaining that correctly.

If the flight is full, theoretically those spots are taken though. And yes, then if nobody buys A1-15 everyone gets effectively “bumped forward” without knowing it too

Not exactly, if all of the business select seats (that fare gets a1-a15) do not get sold, then that is what is available to pay for the upgrade.

Most of the time part of the a1-a15 is available so you are actually boarding earlier. Southwest won’t sell more upgrades past a15.

Those do not always get sold yet (especially recently) the flight is always full.

This is the condition in which I am trying to understand how it works.

I have bought upgraded boarding on a full flight more than once

From what I can see when buying flights, just as an example, there will be 3 seats left and you can choose either business select or anytime. If the last 3 seats are bought with anytime, then there will be at least 3 spots left in the a1-a15 group.

It doesn’t appear southwest sells a certain amount of business fares for each flight.


Ah that makes sense


I’ve literally been trying to figure this out for years LOL I forgot that you can buy different classes of seats

1 Like

Glad I could help! :grin:

1 Like

I knew I should have paid attention to those emails better :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

My understanding is that the only people that traditionally get the A1-15 boarding assignment are people who’ve paid for Business Select fare. Not many pay that much more for Business Select, so Southwest saw an opportunity to monetize.

edit: to correct information