Like other major American air carriers, Southwest Airlines is bound by the safety requirements imposed by the Transportation Security Administration, which polices airports in the United States. You will have to show your photo identification when you check in and are limited in the types of materials you can carry in your luggage.

Check-In Times and Procedures

Southwest lets you check in online for your flight 24 hours in advance of departure, which will allow you to get better seating. You can also check in at the airport at the self-service kiosks, where you may also print your boarding pass. If checking in 20 minutes or less before your flight leaves, you will receive a security document to get past the TSA checkpoint and then must request the boarding pass from a customer service agent at the gate of departure. You must arrive at the gate 10 minutes before departure to get on the plane.

Standby Customers and Gate-Restricted Flights

If you are a standby customer on a flight, or traveling on a flight that has been gate restricted, you will get a security document instead of a boarding pass. As with those arriving close to their flight's time, you'll show this document to TSA agents to make it to the terminal, where you'll get a boarding pass from a Southwest employee. You can print the security document on the Southwest website or get it from a kiosk or ticket counter in the airport.

Identification Requirements

All passengers 18 years of age and older must show a state or federally-issued photo identification to pass through security checkpoints. Acceptable forms of ID include a passport, driver's license, military ID or permanent resident card. View a complete list at It's still possible to board a plane if you forget your ID. When you provide additional information to the TSA, agents may be able to substantiate your identity using publicly available databases. If you're cleared through this process, you will often be subject to additional security screening measures before boarding.


Southwest allows two checked pieces of luggage per customer for free, with additional charges for additional bags. When you check your luggage you will be asked to show your photo ID and will receive a claim check. Inspect this to ensure the city listed matches your destination. Southwest will place a tag on your luggage with your name on it, and the airline also recommends you place identification inside your bag. You may also carry a bag inside the plane, along with a small personal item such as a purse or backpack. You'll have to take these through the TSA security checkpoint. A list of prohibited items is available at