Great comment from Jon:
My wife and I just flew Southwest on Labor Day Weekend. Getting there early won’t get you the best seat. They have a couple of ways you can check in early, either at the kiosks in the airport, or online up to 24 hours prior to your flight. Either option lets you print a boarding pass, with a boarding number on it. The boarding group you are assigned to determines the order in which you board the plane, and thus the “quality” of your seating. I’d guess that they hold open some slots in the “A 1-30? group for people who are willing to pay the extra $10. We were in the B 1-30 and B 31-60 groups (last to board), and still didn’t have much problem finding decent seats together on flights that were full, so unless it was extremely important to me to be first off of the plane on landing, it’s not worth the extra cost. If you’re first to board, you also spend quite a bit of time just sitting in your seat waiting for everyone else to board and settle in before departure.
So, it looks like the extra $10 might not be worth it, and that could add up if you are traveling with your entire family, round-trip. However, if you’re a single business traveler and you want time is of the essence, it’s probably worth springing for the extra $10. Anyone else else traveled on Southwest lately? How hard is it to get a decent seat?