I am new to this college touring process and recently made an $80 mistake. I booked flights using Southwest Rapid Rewards on Southwest to St. Louis with another mom who enticed me to do the Early Bird Check In. The Early Bird Check In is something you can pay extra for that gets you automatic check-in, better boarding position and earlier access to overhead bins. The price ranges from $15-$25 each way per passenger, depending on the route.
I booked mine and Daniel’s flights to St. Louis using points and paid for the early bird privileges. For us, it was $20 each way per person for a total of $80.
Low and behold, the weekend ended up not working out and I took advantage of Southwest liberal cancellation policy. The points were returned to my account and the taxes/fees refunded to me. However, I forgot about the fee that I paid for the early bird at the time and didn’t realize it till I saw the $80 charge on my credit card bill. Ugh!
I called Southwest and learned that the fee for Early Bird Check In is non-refundable. I also learned that I didn’t need to add this when I booked the flights, but could have waited till the flight was closer. (Although I would have run the risk of it being unavailable).
Next time I will take the risk. No more early bird check in till a few days prior to the flight when I know that the flight is a definite.