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Automatically Check In To (get an awesome seat on) Your Next Southwest Flight (checkintomyflight.com)
66 points by nikilster on Oct 5, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 70 comments

Southwest sues people who monetize this kind of product -- see a 2012 example at http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2012/03/02/Southwest-... or a 2007 example at http://www.internetlibrary.com/cases/lib_case511.cfm.

I'm not making money off of it. I just built it for myself and thought I would share

Making money or not, this kind of service is explicitly forbidden by Southwest.com's Terms of Conditions:

"You may not use Southwest's sites for or in connection with offering any third party product or service not authorized or approved by Southwest. For example, online check-in service providers may not use Southwest web pages to check-in Customers online or attempt to obtain for them a boarding pass in any certain boarding group."


Which sucks, because your product looks really cool. (And I'd forego paying $10 to use your service... which is probably why it's banned. :P)

Your site could also compete with their 'Early Bird Checkin' service that that they charge for:


I think that those are taken out even before they release the check ins to the public.

Correct. Early bird and A-List automatic checkins occur 36 hours prior to the departure of the flight. The general boarding checkin starts 24 hours prior.

Awesome, thanks for the info - just curious how did you find this out?


Southwest Airlines automatically reserves a boarding pass for A-List Members beginning 36 hours prior to scheduled departure of the Member's confirmed Southwest Airlines flight.

I don't think we've previously seen someone publicly offer this service for free. It'll be really interesting to see what the company does in response -- thanks for going out on a limb for us all to find out!

Glad to be guinea pig (Didn't really think that anyone besides myself would actually use this when I made the site) thanks !

dude - this is a great idea. i always assume that you couldnt do this because southwest did not open their apis (aka why they are not in hipmunk, kayak, etc) how did you build it?

thanks! uh... I check everyone in manually?

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that what this discussion needs is a "Hey - thanks for making this."

Thanks!!! I was feeling pretty bummed after the comments.

Don't be bummed. Even though I personally wouldn't use this (my life is too short to fly Southwest if I don't have to) I think it's great that you made something and are sharing with a community of people who are making things.

Thanks! :) Makes me feel better:)

Don't feel bummed this is pretty nifty. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but you actually made it happen. :)

The only thing I was going to do different is then text me that the check in occurred and tell me what the boarding number is. It's just an FYI but would make me feel better.

(And since I work for Twilio, obviously I was going to use that. :) )

Brilliant idea! Mind if I do that? Also a lot of the checkins are early in the morning or late at night so maybe I should have an option for not texting if you don't want to be woken up from sleeping.

Thanks again!

Go for it!

I've signed up for alerts on my flights to/from TwilioCon next weekend. Don't let me down. ;)

I'll try!:)

I'm on the Southwest A-List right now, but that expires in December so I'm definitely going to be using this next year. I was actually thinking about doing something like this myself but knowing me I never would have actually done it, so THANK YOU.

Just don't mention how you can add the "A-List" tag to your boarding pass to get through the fly-by lane.

Whoa, didn't even know what the A-list was or that it existed! What's this business with the A-list tag?

Thanks for the appreciation :) - really cool to see people enjoy this!

Yeah, nice job on this Nikil- very cool implementation. HN has been becoming increasingly cynical as of late- don't let it get to you.

Thanks!! Really appreciate it! So this is actually my first time on the site (I've seen the homepage maybe once or twice before). A friend had told me to post it on here and so I did thinking that I could share this with some more people who could benefit from it and was pretty surprised at the negativity!

Well then you might like to know that HN used to be constantly positive when new projects were released here. And were always constructively critical with the critics writing directly to the author with an intent to help.

So when jetcom says HN has become cynical, it's really true.

I agree, this is incredibly useful. Thanks!


For sure - thank you!

Cool idea, hopefully they are cool about it.

With all the talk of you probably getting a C&D shortly, the real coup would be to release the code that does it for free. Can't imagine they can do much against that.

agreed. open source lives forever!

Yes open source this please.

or wait..why don't i spend an hour and write it myself.. ha

Betting this will be down within 72 hours. I know a guy who did this years ago. The letter he got was not so polite (but I love it!). I don't think they ban them for the money, I think it is to make sure humans are doing the work because it shows real intent to make your flight. Their overbooking algorithms don't work so well otherwise...

This is a bad idea. Not only is it against Southwest policy, it also pisses off people like myself who actually go and check-in "exactly" 24 hours before and end up with a "B-7" boarding pass!!!!!

Clearly, Southwest has their reasons for assigning boarding priority 0-24hrs before flight on a first-come-first-serve basis, or else they would just assign priority during payment (early-bird checkin $10 notwithstanding).

Possible Reasons: 1) Loyal customers can get a "one-up" on new fliers or people who don't really care when they board and where they sit. 2) People who don't change flights within 24 hrs of takeoff can also take advantage of this --the rest might be "penalized" in this model.

Sites like "checkintomyflight.com" break apart the aformentioned model.

But, this is hacker news. So, congrats on building this service.

A-List folks get auto-assigned a boarding order 36 hours before a flight starting with A-16. A1-15 are the "Business Select" seats for which a premium is charged. So, on flights with many frequent fliers, many of the "A" slots may be not be available even to those who check in early.

Very cool! Can you somehow make sure, I don't have to put in all this information? For eg. if I forward the confirmation email to an "automatic checkin email id", can you pick up the relevant information and automatically check me in.

Thanks!! Awesome idea - totally - do you think people would be okay forwarding their itinerary?

They're giving you enough information to get the itinerary through the website no? If so then I see no reason why I wouldn't just forward the email for the sake of convenience.

That's true - okay good idea - I'll see if I can whip this up. Any ideas on the best way to receive and have a system to grab and parse email?

One method would be to setup a normal email address (even something like gmail) and on the server setup a cron job that connects to it via imap and downloads the messages. Probably not the nicest solution, but it might be easiest.

Cool - I'll try this

SendGrid has a fantastic Parse API for this (available on the free plan): http://docs.sendgrid.com/documentation/api/parse-api-2/

Normally you want to create an application that becomes more valuable as more people use it. This would be the opposite.

There are hundreds to thousands of Southwest flights every day. Chances of collisions are small and even if they happen each person is still better off than if he/she had not used the site.

This isn't meant to be a "take over the world business", it's just a little app I built that I thought I should share with my friends and anyone who wants to benefit from it :)

Very nice! I wrote a simple python script with urllib2 and beautifulsoup to do the same thing a while back. When I was making it I noticed that the southwest servers would sometimes report slightly different times in the response headers (I'm assuming because of load balancing or something). To deal with this, I had the script start polling the check in page 5 minutes before and steadily increase the rate as time went on. I doubt it actually made much of a difference but it was pretty fun to make.

tterrace - email me, something funny to tell you. Also Thanks!

I assume this is for those of you too cheap to spend the $10 to have this done by Southwest. Pay for service that's worth it.

I assume this is for those of you too cheap to spend the $0.25 on a phone call. Pay for a service that's worth it.

Simple yet brilliant. I love the simple design and clean user experience. Emailing me when I've checked in with my boarding pass is extra nice as well. Well done, Nikil!

I was just buying a Southwest ticket and was complaining about having to remember to check in when I found this site. It made my day.

Now I wonder what happens if everyone on a flight signs up for this service. Who gets priority?

hey everyone..i wrote a program that automated posting to this service so you will be the first one in the sites queue.


Hasn't even come close to happening yet. By default it's the first person who put their flight info on site (just like if you were checking in yourself).

Will this check in both people travelling under the same confirmation number?

This is awesome - I've often thought about building something like this myself. Have you considered writing a little about your implementation? Background jobs and web scraping? An API?

Good idea! I literally just built this for myself so I didn't think about anything like that.

Would it be interesting?


Thanks for making this. I live in Dallas and fly out of Love Field frequently and use SW every chance I get.

Hope this stays around.

Why only Southwest? Do other airlines not allow this?

Also, are you using some API or a more "primitive" method?

Southwest is one of the few (American) airlines that assigns boarding groups based on checkin time rather than some other factor (usually seat assignment). Also, since Southwest is the only major American airline that doesn't offer pre-assigned seating, it's the only one where getting in an earlier boarding group gets you a tangible advantage beyond having an easier time finding overhead luggage space.

Yup, completely true!

And the real reason is that I fly Southwest.

Some other factor is usually $.

Having been a frequent flyer, I have noticed that Southwest's rates are no longer as low and competitive as they were in the past. Frontier Airlines here in Denver usually has lower rates and better amenities, like Direct TV and stretch seating. Too bad I have all my airline points with Southwest.

I used to fly SWA pretty frequently too, and now I never even bother to check their site unless I'm planning very far in advance. They are usually 30-50% more expensive than even traditional carriers on most routes originating in St. Louis.

Oh my god I love you


I just signed up.. I fly Southwest all the time and this is a MAJOR pain point.. BRILLANT!!

If you do get shutdown.. will you honor the existing reservations made?

haha thanks!!! Um... I'll try, wanna help?

even if you get shutdon you've inspired me to write a script to do it myself. any chance you would publish your code if you were shutdown?

What kind of help would you need?

Yeeah Nikil! Nice work!

Thanks ZG! :)

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