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You are watching: How to tell if southwest flight is full


When you’re paris high over the soil in a metal tube because that hours, there’s nothing better than having actually an north seat alongside you.

In irradiate of the coronavirus pandemic, that’s become even much more important. Now much more than ever travelers want — and also need — to know how crowded their trip may be. V social distancing policies varying by carrier, it’s as much as you to know what come expect.

Though airlines favor Delta and also JetBlue space capping the volume of their flights, rather aren’t. That’s why this guide will walk through 4 tried-and-true techniques for understanding how full your flight is prior to you purchase your next ticket.

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Call the airline

The simplest way to figure out how full the trip will be is to choose up the phone and also call the airline. Explain that you’re concerned around being top top a overfilled flight and ask the certified dealer to provide you one estimate as to how complete the flight at this time is.

You most likely won’t be offered a precise number of people booked ~ above the flight, yet the phone agents should have the ability to guide you through your options. (If friend can’t find an agent willing to help, I’d recommend hanging up and also calling again.)

Of course, you should note that things can — and also do — readjust up to the critical minute before your flight. If another flight is canceled or significantly delayed, numerous passengers will likely be accommodated on your flight.

American and also United aren’t capping the volume of their flights. They are, however, proactively getting to out to customers booked on flights above a particular capacity threshold to market them to move to an additional flight because that free. So also if girlfriend can’t with the airline front of time, friend should have a better understanding of capacity at check-in.

Related: exactly how to conveniently reach an airline customer company agent

Use the seat map — v caution

Speaking that check-in, that’s a an excellent time to use the chair map come estimate exactly how crowded a flight is.

On many carriers, chair assignments aren’t free. And also even if seat assignments space free, there are some passenger who just don’t choose one during the booking process.

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United Boeing 787 (Photo by Zach Griff/The point out Guy)

This means that the seat map deserve to be very misleading, particularly in the days and also weeks leading as much as your flight. ~ above Frontier or Spirit, numerous passengers don’t purchase seat assignments in advancement (instead, they’re assigned a cost-free seat at check-in). So, the seat map isn’t reliable — until after the check-in home window opens.

Across the board, as much more and much more passengers examine in (including those who’ve purchased an easy economy tickets), the chair map will certainly fill up. That’s why looking at the seat map as an indicator that how complete your flight is really only works in ~ a few hours of departure, but it is still worth doing. Looking in ~ the seat map as soon as booking your trip is only beneficial for those make the efforts to select their desired seat type.

Related: just how to review an aircraft seat map

Stalk the upgrade and standby lists

Some airline make it less complicated than rather to tell how complete your flight will be.

In my mind, 2 of the best free tools space the upgrade and standby lists. ~ above Delta and United, the upgrade list clearly states how plenty of seats are left in the premium cabin. (Delta likewise shows how numerous Comfort+ seats room left.)

United’s lists, unfortunately, simply say whether or no there room seats remaining.

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Screenshot that a unified upgrade list

The actual downside to these tools is that the airlines just activate castle shortly prior to your flight, therefore they don’t aid a couple of weeks before departure.

Related: how to to buy a second seat ~ above your following flight

Check ExpertFlyer trip availability

Now we’re obtaining into few of the more advanced — and more predictive — tools. ExpertFlyer, own by TPG’s parent company, is just one of the absolute finest ways to identify how full your flight is.

Though this web-based organization offers a seat map feature, the Flight access Search is the best way to gain a sense of how crowded your flight is. As soon as you entry your flight (one leg at a time), you’ll be shown an alphabet soup of letters and also numbers.

Being able come parse these combinations will unlock the treasure. Come start, friend should check out our guide to fare classes, and what they can tell you around your ticket.

But as a primer, every ticket the you purchase with an airline is assigned among these fare classes. The fare classes on ExpertFlyer are generally arranged from most to least expensive, by cabin.

Screenshot courtesy the ExpertFlyer

In the instance above, J indicates a completely flexible business-class ticket, Y indicates a fully flexible coach ticket and G suggests the cheapest coach ticket. Together you walk from G come Y, the tickets frequently get much more expensive. And also the numbers next to each the the letters show how numerous seats room left because that sale in each class.

The higher the number of seats in every bucket, the much more availability over there is top top the flight. (Each bucket is commonly capped at ripe seats in ~ a time.) Additionally, the more fare buckets obtainable generally show that there are an ext seats left because that sale.

Armed with this knowledge, we have the right to tell that United flight 2385 from Denver come Chicago is offered out in first class. “J0” method there space no business-class seats for sale left in the forward cabin. But, if you should choose between United flights 317 and also 2385 in coach, I’d certainly recommend 2385. Why? united is selling many an ext fares in coach on the later on flight, indicating that it’s much less crowded 보다 the previously one.

Related: exactly how to boost your chances of gaining a far better seat by 91% or more

Bottom line

Sadly, there’s no foolproof method to know exactly how complete your flight will be. Airline don’t desire to weaken that confidential information.

But there space plenty of techniques — analysis the chair map, reviewing the upgrade and standby lists and also the Flight ease of access Search attribute on ExpertFlyer — that’ll assist you know if your trip is close come full.

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And if all else fails, customer organization agents can assist you out, too. Simply be certain to asking nicely.