Date registered: Sep 2005
Vehicle: 1985 300 SD
Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
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First of all, you will want to use their online check-in. You can do this 24 hours before your flight and you need to do this as early as possible to ensure that you are in the "A" boarding group (they have "A, B, & C" groups and they board the plane in that order). At the gate, you will line up with everyone else according to your boarding letter. Once you board the plane, it is first come, first served seating.
They preboard folks with children, the elderly, and those needing special attention. These folks usually take up the first couple of rows. I always HOPE that the ones travelling with kids sit up front.
The first professional traveller in the "A" line will most likely grab the window seat behind the exit row on the starboard side. This position does not have a seat in front of it, so it offers a tremendous amount of leg room. You can get this spot, but it will mean that you will have to be one of the first ones in the "A" line - meaning that you will have to stand in that boarding line for 30 or 45 minutes (and that is assuming that there is not going to be anyone already on the plane when you board). I never try for this seat - it's just not worth it to me since I don't have long legs.
The seat you want - and can realistically expect to get - is 17-A. Trust me on this one. I have sat in every seat on a Southwest jet and this one is the best. It seems like just a random seat, so nobody looks for it. The way that the windows are scalloped can be a total pain in the ass, or shoulder to be more accurate. On 17-A, the window is positioned perfectly so that your shoulder fits right into the opening which gives you several extra inches of space. Plus, your head can rest on the side wall if you plan on sleeping during the flight. Also, this seat is behind the engines so you are far enough back to be away from the screaming kids in the front and the white noise helps to drown the rest of them out.