Last month, Taylor Swift received an honorary degree from NYU as she delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2022 at Yankees Stadium. My nephew was one of the graduates, so I read the transcript of her speech via GMA.

One thing that stood out was when she spoke about people thinking she had such a glamorous life when in reality, it wasn’t as she ended up homeschooling and spending a lot of time on the road.

In her words: “I never got to have a normal college experience per se. I went to public high school until 10th grade and then finished my education doing homeschool work on the floors of airport terminals. Then I went out on the road for radio tour, which sounds incredibly glamorous, but in reality, it consisted of a rental car, motels and my mom and I pretending to have loud mother/daughter fights with each other during boarding so no one would want the empty seat between us on Southwest.”

Ha! Now that’s funny and effective but there’s another way that works even better. First of all, Southwest Airlines (SWA) is one of the few airlines that doesn’t assign seats, which is why this tip works. The reason Southwest doesn’t assign seats is because it speeds up the boarding process as it eliminates passengers trying to figure out where their seat is located. As easy as it sounds, it’s difficult for many first-time flyers and sometimes even seasoned fliers. Believe it or not, I’ve sat in the wrong seat (row) multiple times so I understand SWA’s rationale.

Tips for flying Southwest Airlines:

1. Check-In ASAP
Check-in as soon as you’re allowed, which is 24 hours before your flight. I mean, set your alarm for 24 hours and five minutes before and then check-in when the clock strikes 24 hours prior. Boarding assignments are first come, first serve. You can also pay extra for a Business Select fare to guarantee Group A1-A15 (meaning they will be one of the first 15 people to board and they usually choose the first few rows or the exit row).

2. Be on Time
Show up to the gate on time so you don’t miss your spot in line.

3. Split Up
If there are two of you in your party or four adults and you know the flight isn’t sold out (ask the gate agent), then pick a row at the back of the plane and have one person sit in the window and the other in the aisle, leaving the middle seat open. Southwest only flies 737 aircrafts, which all have six seats across (three on each side of the aisle). Here are Seatguru’s pick for the best seats.

4. Taylor’s Tip or Tissues or ?
If the plane isn’t full, then you can try Taylor’s tip of fighting with your partner so no one wants to sit in between you. But you can also put a box of Kleenex on the middle seat with some crumpled up tissues next to the box. That might be more effective but with COVID still going around, it also might get you kicked off the plane!

What’s your best tip for keeping the middle seat open on a Southwest flight?

 

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78 Comments On "Taylor Swift’s Clever Tip for Flying Southwest Airlines"
  1. TD Hill|

    That’s a great tip! I just flew SWA with my daughter and wish our arguments were staged- ha! One more way to get an early boarding position, I paid $15 each for our “Early-Bird” checkin which they describe as: “EarlyBird Check-In Customers will have their boarding positions reserved beginning 36 hours prior to their flight’s scheduled local departure time. Boarding passes can be accessed beginning 24 hours prior to the flight’s scheduled local departure time.” Now, they did not send me any notification that this 36-hour checkin was done, and it allowed us to do the on-the-minute, 24 hours in advance, checkin ourselves, and we did get A31 and A32, but I don’t know who gets the credit for the A positions, Southwest or moi. https://www.southwest.com/help/booking/earlybird-checkin

  2. patrick|

    A few things that might also work.
    1. Cough a LOT and Loud!
    2. get a spray bottle, spray yourself to make it look like your are sweating profusely… and cough a lot.
    3. Mess up your hair, untuck your shirt half way, and sitting there mumbling really loud.
    They all have worked for me! :-)

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Now that’s funny

  3. Larry|

    A tip for those flying SWA into Hollywood/Burbank: upon arrival at BUR, SWA uses the front and rear doors of the plane to disembark (there are no jetways at BUR.) If you want to make a quick exit when you touch down, sit towards the back of the plane. (I can’t remember for sure, but I think they also use both doors for boarding, too.)

  4. Mary Pat Flanagan|

    As a frequent Southwest flier I have seen some really nasty situations. You CANNOT save seats on SW period. Seems folks think one passenger can buy early boarding and save a seat. Come ON!! Placing something in the middle seat is not going to work so get over it!!!!.

  5. Bob|

    Eat a lot of chicken wings the night before and once you find your seat let the bombs rip!

  6. Anonymous|

    I paid $20 r/t for early check in. They did it automatically. On return I was with 2 other people, who were unable to pay online. They each paid $40 at the airport for early boarding. I thought that was a lot, however, to sit together, find space overhead for bags, totally worth it

  7. Stephanie|

    I pretend to sleep

  8. Joe|

    Oh Mary Pat, you must not fly SWA much. While you cannot save seats in the exit rows, there is no prohibition against saving other seats. And no matter the stink you might raise, the flight attendants are not going to help you out.

  9. CEC|

    I Love All the comments and suggestions from the previous individuals before me. First let me tell ALL of you Including Taylor, Thank you for flying Southwest and contributing to my Profit Sharing!!! Second, I Am a Flight Attendant for SWA and All your little so called tips and suggestions are Nothing original or new and you’re not putting anything over on us…to be quite frank and honest…those middle seats that you thought you were being sly and piling food, bags, babies or anything else to keep someone from sitting there are the FIRST choices we flight attendants pick to seat the last minute runners who are late for the flight (hoping that they too are coughing, sneezing 🤧, need the extra armrest space, etc) for your enjoyment…as the ‘ol saying goes, if you don’t want someone sitting next to you, buy a second seat!

  10. Luther|

    I place a bible and it has stopped many a sinner from sitting near me

  11. Gary|

    As a SWA flyer that has earned the companion pass 8 straight years, Ive got a lot of tips that I’ll keep to myself!

  12. Nan|

    Love this..lol
    We fly Southwest Pennsylvania to California a lot! All great tips.
    Stephanie I, I don’t pretend to sleep, I actually sleep the whole flight no drugs needed…😃
    Definitely arrive at airpirt early and grab a bite…those snack mixes and cookies just don’t get it!!
    PS I prefer the window seat so I can lean into it while passed out….

  13. Joanne|

    My go to move, I take the vomit bag provided and hold it to my mouth, making sure I look as sick as possible. Over the years, I’m surprised I haven’t received a People’s Choice Award! It works like a charm.

  14. Mr. Fly for Free|

    Bring a bag of paperwork (old fashion way) folders, magazines, etc. & open the middle tray table as UR work area, until the plan takes off, that will keep them “STRANGERS” away!:<)

  15. Anonymous|

    If the plane is just half full, I still get into one of those middle seats….with my cat! I’m not kidding. I just love making new friends.

  16. Robert Ramsay|

    I never check in early. I am usually one of the last ones on. So I likely will get a middle seat, BUT, I get to choose who I sit next to and skinny people are my choice. If you get on early, a fat person may end up sitting next to you and you have no choice about the matter

  17. Corliss King|

    Too funny Johnny! This list is spot on and thanks for all you do.

  18. Pam|

    Paying extra does NOT get you into A1-15! We did and they boarded us AFTER all 12 wheelchairs with their families and friend!!!

  19. Ellen Barta|

    Ask for assistance ( if you need it, they can’t ask why). You will be seated first, but you are only allowed one assistant/ companionto board with you…..

  20. Wheelchair|

    Being disabled myself, I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to navigate the isle of a plane. Especially after the exhausting task of getting to (a long journey from home) the airport and then making my way to the gate. So yes, we wheelchair people get preboarded and our family gets to sit with us. Imagine yourself being in a wheelchair and having to go to the back of the plane or being told you cannot sit with your family. I promise, we didn’t choose this life for the early boarding of planes.

  21. Buzz Fledderjohn|

    About ten of my last dozen SWA flights have been full, so all of this is just airport bar talk to me.

  22. Lisa A|

    Honestly people after being a flight attendant for 32 years I have seen allot of bad personal behaviors but then again I have seen many kind ones too so haven’t lost complete hope in humanity! Really though people?! Cough & throw crumpled tissues on the plane seats & do some of these nasty tips just to be THAT GUY/GAL? I’d want bad behaviors to be banned from flying all together because frankly that behavior just shows me how’d you’d act in an emergency & it’s not very promising. You’re not getting special anything but perhaps try kindness as that always wins.

  23. Jamie K|

    Really? Low-class flyers who employ these types of juvenile and nasty behaviors just confirms why I don’t fly Southwest.

  24. JC|

    Pretending to be disabled so you can board first and bring a companion with you is really not something to brag about.

  25. John S Vanhoose|

    My son actually gave me this tip. Just head for the rear seats. Always open usually. Talk it up with the rear attendant especially if female. They kinda get bored back there. Drank free to vegas and back. Works every time. Yes you will be last to get off but by then you don’t mind!

  26. Kay Mobley|

    Robert Ramsay….fat shaming is not cool! I am 5’ 7” and weigh 140. Pretty skinny for an old 60 year old gal. Seven years ago I weighed 289 lbs. Fat people are usually aware that they are on the bigger side. I flew SWA a few weeks ago. A last minute guy sat in the middle seat. When he sat down he said ”Thank God there are 2 skinny people here.” Normally that would be a compliment. I know first hand what fat shaming does to the overweight individual. 😢

  27. Alicia|

    You can’t buy and extra seat unless you are a customer of size.

  28. Duke|

    As a big fella, I am always amused at the front row sitters trying to make the middle seat unappealing. I usually wait and board with the last 20 passengers or so, and there is almost always a front row (more legroom) middle seat available. Last On, First Off, saves me almost an hour of sitting in a cramped airplane seat. I miss the good old days of Midwest Express which used 4 leather seats per row for the entire plane, and poured free champagne & drinks to everybody. It was about 20% more costly, but so worth it. Random thoughts.

  29. Susan|

    Well, CEC, as a supervisor for SWA, I wish you would have used your full name! Lol 😂 seriously, you can’t buy a second seat to keep someone from sitting next to you, we won’t won’t sell it to you. You can buy a seat for your cello, that will definitely let you have the arm rest!

  30. Ed|

    I avoid SW airlines for these very reasons. Everytime I flew SW I’d see 20+ wheel chairs just to get early boarding. Upon arrival these same people knock you down getting off the plane, no wheelchairs needed. People feel so proud screwing other passengers it makes me sick. Give me assigned seating anyday.

  31. Lynn Knisley|

    I look for rude travelers’ signs that they don’t want you to sit with them. It’s the only time I wish I was bigger so I could make them more uncomfortable.

  32. Spike|

    Alicia, You can’t buy AND extra seat…… WHAT?

  33. Cindy Rhodes|

    I love flying SW. I really dont have any tips but I do tend to sit st the back of the plane because most folks dont want it. Its close to the restroom. The flight attendents are friendly and fun. My favorite way to travel!

  34. Mark Staite|

    Why play games? Just buy the second seat and book it normally EXECEPT one change when you are filling out the ‘passenger name’ portion: For the middle name, on that 2nd seat, put in capital letters, “XL” as the middle name. You will need to check in at them counter on flight day. They will print out 2 boarding passes. One is for you, the other gets placed on your 2nd middle seat. Flight crew and other passengers see this and know that the seat is taken. SWA spells this out on thier website for “Persons Of Size”. When your trip is completed, round trip or one way, call the airline and request a refund for that 2nd seat you paid for. Its why you put ‘XL’ as the middle name on the first place. It tells the airline you are using thier “Persons Of Size” policy and are due a refund after the travel. Viola!! No one in the middle seat. No games. No shenanigans. Enjoy!

  35. Sheri|

    This is on the SWA Community of SWA website
    In normal circumstances, while the flight attendants will not stop people from trying to save seats, they will also not make you move if you sit in a seat someone has “saved”. So here is what you can do:

    Ignore the person trying to save the seat, and just sit in the seat.

    If something is on the seat, just pick it up and sit in the seat. Then give the item that was on the seat to the person who is trying to save the seat.

    If the person saving the seat objects, simply tell them Southwest has an open seating policy during boarding, first come first serve.

    If the person saving the seat calls over a flight attendant, don’t worry about it. Under normal circumstance, the flight attendant is not going to ask you to move, because they are not supposed to be taking a position on the saving of seats. Video record the situation if you can.

    Clearly, open seating during boarding means any seat not actually being occupied is available to be sit in. Clearly, the people in line first get the choice of available seats before those in line behind them. By having an open seating policy but not taking a position on saving seats, Southwest has setup a situation where passengers must confront fellow passengers to get the seat they deserve for the position in line they paid for, increasing the likelihood of problems in the cabin, and giving all involved a negative feeling about the experience of flying on Southwest.

  36. Kelli|

    Jamie K : “..Low-class flyers who employ these types of juvenile and nasty behaviors just confirms why I don’t fly Southwest.” Guess you didn’t read the article above talking about Taylor Swift flying Southwest. Other notable SW fliers: Matthew McConaughey, James Franco, Snoop Dogg, Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Bush..just to name a few. And guess you haven’t flown Southwest in a while. Some of the planes are exactly like what United flies. And it’s not low-class people who fly Southwest, just smart people.

  37. Norma H.|

    Thanks everyone for sharing their experience, strength,and hope. I am a first time flyer and I needed to hear the messages. God Bless – Namaste

  38. Tom Wilson|

    When was the last time Taylor Swift flew South West or any domestic airline? If she flies in a commercial airline domestic or international I doubt if she’s in coach. My guess is she flys a private jet for domestic travel and is in first class for international.

  39. joe|

    No one wants to sit in the middle unless they have to or if Taylor Swift was on the plane. If you have to, I find the one closest to the front.
    I purposely look for the most passive aggressive passenger doing all the crap the above comments elicit….and sit there w/ an F-U attitude. The only people I won’t sit between are heavy people….that just punishes me. Sorry for my honesty and insensitivity.

  40. Nancy|

    We have had a companion pass for probably 28 or more years! We have been thru all the phases: the plastic color coded boarding pass you got at the gate check in desk – no number just the ABCD line; then preboards and numbered cards; then preboards, group A, families with children and then everyone else. They later added the pay for A1-A15 pass. It has all seemed to work. And now I am truly disabled enough to need help in the airport and the boarding process. From the airplane door I can walk to my seat so I don’t need a front row seat. There are some things that all airlines need to work on but I think SWA has almost mastered their no assigned seats policy. I’m old so maybe all airlines should have a family section so the children can play together! Love ❤️ SWA.

  41. LA|

    Vomit bag. Nobody wants to sit next to the girl who vomits with motion sickness.

  42. David R. Miller|

    I always ask how full the flight is, then I determine whether to buy an upgrade. Going straight to the back of the aircraft seems to always have good seats available – and often times there will be rows without anyone sitting in the middle seat upon takeoff. For those persons “of size”, quit with your “fat shaming”, woe is me comments. You know that you are too large for one seat and you always spill over into the seat(s) on the row you sit. The people who irritate me the most are the fakers who lie about a “physical ailment” and receive pre boarding passes and then they get pissy when the other 3-4-5-6- members in their group don’t get to pre board. Many times I have paid for an upgrade and then have to stand there in the A 1-15 group and watch the pre board liars get to board first.

  43. JB|

    In this race sensitive world, it helps to be an African-American couple, board in A’s in the aisle & window. If flight isn’t full, almost guaranteed to have empty middle seat. Thanks America!

  44. Anonymous|

    I’m offended

  45. Dr.joe|

    I fly Southwest almost weekly. If the plane is full, Or almost full, as a frequent flyer I always seek out a “very large” person already seated in a row.Taking the second seat in the same 3seat row Almost guarantees you The likelihood that no one will claim the middle seat unless absolutely necessary.

  46. Rita Franco|

    These are dick moves.

  47. Shirley|

    We fly SW all the time. We board first as my husband uses a scooter. We sit in the first 6 rows. We only loose the middle seat if the plane is truly full. I always sit with my head down and hand over my mouth. Looking like I will sick any minute!

  48. Scott|

    A group: sit Anywhere
    B group: back of the plane (my preference, and I usually get an aisle seat)
    C group: center seat

    Yes the nice thing about being in C is getting to chose who to sit next to!

  49. Monique|

    After reading these comments I will never again feel bad for slowing down boarding because I am disabled. Scandalous!!!

  50. Brent J|

    Good luck trying, everyone.

    Anyone attempting to save a seat will get my ass plunked down there. Even if there are open seats elsewhere. Why? Because f*** you, that’s why! And I’ll be ripping farts the entire flight, while pretending to be asleep.

    Don’t be a douche and “save a seat”. Kids on the school-bus do that

  51. PH|

    I recently found out about an auto check-in bot, you just send your confirmation and first/last name to (949) 329-2899 in a message like “A1B2C3 First Last” and it checks you in 24 hours before your flight. So easy!

  52. Beth|

    Have a baby. Absolutely no one wants to be stuck by the baby 🤣🤣

  53. JENNIFER D HEPP|

    When traveling with companion we leave the middle seat empty. I use the airsick bag and put it up to my face like I am ill. That works good unless plane is full

  54. Karen G|

    I fly Southwest about twice a year. I agree that usually people would rather not sit in the back. I can usually always get an aisle to myself if the flight isn’t sold out and it is close to the bathroom.

  55. Brian|

    I stare at the floor while holding the vomit bag open near my mouth.

  56. HRH|

    MOOOOOO! Time for grazing at the OK corral.

  57. Bette Munley|

    Wholeheartedly agree with CEC!
    What a lot of phoney baloney!
    Very disappointed in Taylor Swift!

  58. Ron|

    Kudos to all those SWA flight attendants. Been flying SWA for many, many years to Vegas multiple times a year to golf, gamble, Aruba, Seattle. I have seen a shift in passenger attitude, courtesy and just plain common sense in recent years from these people. I don’t know how these attendants keep it together but they do and with a smile, thank you.

  59. Vickie Noyes|

    Yep, Dick moves. Kindness for the win!

  60. Bill Alford|

    Invite Amber Heard to travel with you and have her take a dump on the middle seat.

  61. Rosiebudd|

    I always fly Southwest and choose the aisle seat. I don’t care who seats in the middle, as long as they don’t talk a lot. I like to do my puzzle books or read. I just want to get to my destination safely.

  62. Dale|

    What I do is to board as early as possible, seat myself in the last row window seat. I will make eye contact and smile at single travelers in an effort to seduce them into the aisle seat. With the middle seat now empty, I will make myself look as large as possible (not difficult for me) and I will unwrap the Subway tuna sandwich I bought in the airport and eat it noisily, being careful to not make eye contact with last minute arrivals. If there is an unsold seat on that plane, it is always next to me!

  63. Katy|

    What about a fat / super overweight person next to me who is “leaking” into my seat? I paid for a full seat, right? Between the arm holders it should be my space, right? What’s the story there?

  64. Piper|

    Faking an illness and / or a fight (or actually having one / both) is a great way to be forcibly removed from the flight by the crew / medics / police and cause a delay for everyone else. And let’s not forget the potential for lawsuits…

  65. Lorraine Buchanan|

    I agree with JC. For persons like me who have to use wheelchair services, how sickening to lie about your need for a wheelchair! You are probably the reason I had to wait so long for assistance. There are so many frauds……

  66. Ann|

    Get this…. On a flight that was NOT filled. Son and I were sitting aisle/window with no one in the middle (lots of seats open). Halfway thru the flight, a women four rows up asks if anyone was sitting in the middle and being an honest person, I said no. She then muscles in to sit there. Mind you, LOTS of available single seats (and she already had one). Reason why she wanted the seat? We were on the “larger size” and she was cold!!!!

  67. Linda|

    I try hard to smile and read. I do not make people feel weird about taking a seat. We are all just trying to get somewhere. If you really want the middle seat then buy 2 tickets. This is really anti-human speak. How about be welcoming and kind. I like Taylor Swift a bit less today. Come on, really how many times had it been horrible. I have flown a few hundred times. I find kindness works and when your welcoming nice people tend to sit with you.

  68. Linda|

    Katy, WOW, leaking. I used to be obese for many reasons and none of them had to do with you. Many people are in pain and unconsciously are heavy due to trauma or events. Don’t be so crass. Try kindness.

  69. Mel|

    Wow so many judgmental haters on here! I always get to pre-board for a reason that is none of your business but it’s legitimate and is allowed by Southwest. Paying for A 1-15 is not the same as preboard.

  70. Ashley|

    Well, I imagine that anyone who has been flying Southwest Airlines for awhile have picked up their own tips and tricks for what ever they need at the moment. Most of the time it depends on the flight. If you choose a destination that everyone else decided to go to as well, I imagine that some people on the flight will have their own tricks. At that point it’s whoever trick works best. But then there are flights and time flights for Wanna Get Away flights. Some of them during those times really don’t have many people on it. So you can window, middle, egde seats or you can just decide to pick a row for yourself. So if you take nothing else from my comment, take this timming plays a major factor in seat selection. It actually controls the whole time. Going at a time where less people want to be there as well. Thank you

  71. Stacy|

    Be fat. That is literally the best way to have no one sit in the middle seat.

  72. Warner|

    Scammers love to scam!

  73. ERK|

    As a SW flier who uses s wheelchair I find Ed’s stereotyped remark offensive. Most of us using wheelchairs would prefer not to use them.

  74. Robert Dziezynski|

    I flew the Phoenix to LAX,last minute but had not flown since 2016ish, so I’m unfamiliar with flights baggage etc. The male flight attendant requested I stow my small duffle in the overhead where it was gone through and things (headphones and keys over to a different compartment. I’m tired of the passive AGGRESSIVE “It’s him, Bob ” when asked what they meant because my name is Robert, I get the “indisntbsay anything ” lying. A judge I knew lied hoursbagonatbabhotelnwhonfollowed me in Mesa AZ. Am I the dumbest person in America; or, is the internet the only thing in people’s mind. Shocked to see if and a person is true to hidden haters, suicide enducers, self loathing jealous impolite idiots, so i stick to my headphones andvyes, Taylor’s music makes me smile,
    only thing lately. Ifvshes single I’d marry her, and treat her like gold, to help her shine and just make her happy….all i could do. In a few words, mean people wtf is this coming to? Esch person gets seperate internet, that others don’t see. Then twit it and Factbook it. Ibhate phones and social media…biggest suicide self-harm cause to date. Should be delay govt regulated. Good to be home on 4th and crocker though. Lonely, confused andnandmpatientnthoigh due to stalker..IM BACK so morning yelling can STOP..GET A LIFE U DONT KNOW M 6feet 7 inches 215 lbs lovebdrugsbcuz ofnibidiots not sober
    and thats why i came home. Thats all i have to say about that. Yes im functionalnsmart and Amanda survivor sets up people then cries college on lincoln drive. Loyola film. Dated her 58 days in 07 and she was hiredvtonruin my life. I still do the right thing, she wouldn’t though.
    .(.next chapter)Taylor Swiftism….yes I’m straight but licker likenlesbian 10*31*07 first date sober me her thigh scar isn’t track marks…rigggght. halo on her.thanks m a better man not paranoid likevu.

  75. Lynne|

    What a bunch of selfish people.

  76. EVELINE|

    @JAMIE…IF WE ARE LOW CLASS AND YOU DON’T FLY SOUTHWEST WHY ARE YOU ON OUR
    BLOG???

  77. EVELINE|

    Susan CEC obviously has not familiarized herself with the contract of carriage

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