Does Early Bird Check-In Apply To Connecting Flights?

Checking in online for your flight as early as possible is a smart move to score the best seat assignments. Airlines often open check-in 24-48 hours before departure time.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Early bird check-in typically applies to each individual flight leg. You’ll need to check in separately for every flight segment on your itinerary.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at how online check-in works for connecting flights. We’ll cover early bird check-in rules for major US airlines, how seat assignments are handled for multi-segment itineraries, and tips for checking in seamlessly when you’re hopping between flights.

Check-In Policies for Major US Airlines

American Airlines EarlyBird Check-In

American Airlines offers an EarlyBird Check-In service that allows passengers to secure a better boarding position. With this service, passengers can check-in 24 hours before their flight and receive an assigned boarding group. This applies to both domestic and international flights.

However, it’s important to note that EarlyBird Check-In does not guarantee a specific seat assignment.


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Delta Air Lines Early Check-In

Delta Air Lines allows passengers to check-in online up to 24 hours before departure. Also, Delta offers Sky Priority, a service available to Diamond Medallion members, Platinum Medallion members, and Gold Medallion members,and customers who have purchased certain fare types.

Sky Priority allows passengers to enjoy expedited check-in and boarding, as well as priority baggage handling.

United Airlines Early Check-In

United Airlines provides Premier Access, which gives priority check-in and boarding privileges to Premier members, United Polaris customers, and premium cabin passengers.

Premier Access enables passengers to enjoy a smoother airport experience, including expedited security screening.


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Southwest Airlines No Reserved Seating

Unlike other major US airlines, Southwest Airlines does not offer reserved seating. Instead, Southwest utilizes an open seating policy, where passengers can choose their seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

To increase their chances of getting a preferred seat, Southwest passengers can take advantage of EarlyBird Check-In for an additional fee.

Getting Your Preferred Seats on Connections

Check In As Early As Possible

When it comes to connecting flights, it is important to check in as early as possible to increase your chances of getting your preferred seats. Many airlines offer the option of early bird check-in, which allows passengers to secure their seats before the general check-in begins.

This can be particularly useful if you have specific seating preferences or if you are traveling with a group and want to ensure that you are all seated together.

Checking in early not only gives you a better chance of getting the seats you want, but it also helps you avoid the stress of last-minute check-in and the possibility of being assigned undesirable seats.

By taking advantage of early bird check-in, you can relax knowing that your seat is secured and that you are ready for your connecting flight.

How Seat Assignments Work for Connections

Seat assignments for connecting flights are typically based on a variety of factors, including your airline’s policies, availability of seats, and the order in which passengers check in. In most cases, if you have already selected a seat for your first flight, your seat assignment for the connecting flight will be automatically assigned based on your preferences or the closest available seat.

However, it’s important to note that seat assignments for connecting flights are not always guaranteed, especially if you have booked your flights separately or with different airlines. In these cases, it is recommended to contact the airlines involved and inquire about seat assignment options or any additional fees that may apply.

Paying Extra for Seat Selection

In some cases, airlines may offer the option to pay extra for seat selection on connecting flights. This allows passengers to have more control over their seating arrangements and ensures that they get the seats they want.

However, it’s important to carefully consider whether paying extra for seat selection is worth it for your specific situation.

Before making a decision, it’s a good idea to compare the cost of seat selection with the benefits it offers. Consider factors such as the duration of the flight, your seating preferences, and the overall value you place on having a specific seat.

Additionally, it’s worth checking if your airline offers any loyalty programs or frequent flyer perks that may include complimentary seat selection.

Remember, the availability of seat selection options can vary depending on the airline and the specific flight. It’s always a good idea to check the airline’s website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information regarding seat selection for connecting flights.

Tips for Checking In for Connecting Flights

Check In for Each Segment Separately

When you have a connecting flight, it’s important to check in for each segment separately. This means that if you have two flights to reach your final destination, you will need to check in for both flights individually.

Some airlines may have a through-check-in option, where they can check you in for all segments of your journey at once. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check and ensure that each flight has been properly checked in for.


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Print or Screenshot Your Boarding Passes

To make your journey smoother, it’s recommended to print or take a screenshot of your boarding passes for all segments of your connecting flights. This will help you have easy access to your boarding passes in case you encounter any issues with the airline’s mobile app or internet connectivity.

Having a physical or digital copy of your boarding passes will also come in handy if you need to show them at security checkpoints or during the boarding process.

Build in Buffer Time Between Flights

When planning your itinerary, it’s wise to build in some buffer time between your connecting flights. Factors like delays, long security lines, or even a gate change can eat up valuable time, potentially causing you to miss your connecting flight.

By allowing for extra time between flights, you can reduce the stress and increase the likelihood of making your connection. It’s always better to have a little extra time to relax or explore the airport than to rush from one gate to another.

Remember, when it comes to checking in for connecting flights, it’s important to follow the guidelines set by the airline you are flying with. Some airlines may have specific instructions or requirements for checking in for connecting flights, so be sure to check their website or contact their customer service for accurate and up-to-date information.

What If I Miss My Connection?

Missing a connecting flight can be a stressful experience, but there are several steps you can take to minimize the impact and get back on track with your travel plans. Here are some options to consider if you find yourself in this situation:

Get Rebooked by Gate Agent

One of the first things you should do if you miss your connection is to approach the gate agent of your airline. They are trained to handle situations like this and can help you get rebooked on the next available flight.

Be sure to explain your situation calmly and provide any relevant information, such as your ticket number or reservation details.

The gate agent may be able to find a new connection for you or put you on standby for a later flight. Keep in mind that availability can be limited, especially during peak travel times, so it’s important to act quickly and be flexible with your options.

Head to Customer Service

If the gate agent is unable to assist you or if there is a long line of passengers waiting for help, consider heading to the customer service desk of your airline. The customer service representatives may have more resources and options available to help you rebook your flight.

While waiting in line, you can also use your smartphone or other devices to check for alternate flights or routes. Some airlines have mobile apps that allow you to easily rebook your flight or make changes to your itinerary.

Consider Alternate Connecting Airports

If rebooking on the same airline seems unlikely or if you’re looking for other options, consider exploring alternate connecting airports. Sometimes, flying into a different city and then taking a short domestic flight to your final destination can be a viable option.

Online flight search engines like Google Flights or Kayak can help you compare different routes and find the best options for your situation. Keep in mind that this may involve additional travel time and potentially extra costs, so weigh your options carefully.

Remember, missing a connection is not an ideal situation, but with some proactive steps and a positive mindset, you can navigate through it and continue your journey smoothly. Stay calm, stay informed, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance from airline staff or online resources.

Early Bird Check-In Maximizes Flexibility

Early Bird Check-In is a popular service offered by many airlines that allows passengers to secure a better boarding position. While it is primarily associated with nonstop flights, you might be wondering if it applies to connecting flights as well.

The good news is that Early Bird Check-In can indeed be used for connecting flights, offering passengers several advantages.

Allows Preferred Seat Selection

One of the main benefits of Early Bird Check-In for connecting flights is that it allows passengers to have a better chance of securing their preferred seats. By checking in early, you increase your chances of getting a seat closer to the front of the plane, which can be essential if you have a tight connection.

This can save you valuable time and reduce the stress of rushing to your next flight.

Gives More Options if Irregular Ops

Another advantage of Early Bird Check-In for connecting flights is that it gives you more options in case of irregular operations. When flights get delayed or canceled, having an earlier boarding position can increase your chances of being rebooked on an alternate flight, especially if it’s a popular route with limited availability.

This flexibility can be a lifesaver in unpredictable situations and help you reach your destination as quickly as possible.

Reduces Stress If Tight Connections

If you have a tight connection between flights, Early Bird Check-In can significantly reduce stress. By securing an early boarding position, you can board the aircraft quickly and find your seat without delay.

This can be especially beneficial if you need to switch terminals or navigate a large airport. With Early Bird Check-In, you have a higher chance of making your connection smoothly, ensuring a stress-free travel experience.

It’s important to note that while Early Bird Check-In can provide these advantages for connecting flights, it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t encounter any challenges. Factors like delays, gate changes, and other unforeseen circumstances can still impact your travel plans.

However, by utilizing Early Bird Check-In, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of a smooth and flexible journey.


Early bird check-in is critical for connecting flights to get your preferred seats and avoid getting stuck in middle seats. Be sure to check in as soon as available for each individual flight segment in your itinerary.

Understanding airline policies for seat assignments with connections ensures your check-in goes smoothly. Build in plenty of connection time, and have backup plans ready in case you misconnect.

With early check-ins for all legs completed, you can fly through tight transfers with less stress knowing your boarding passes and ideal seats are secured.

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