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Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

12 posts
Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

My boyfriend and i are flying from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale.

Southwest is much less expensive and doesnt charge for checked luggage (around $400), however the flight is longer (5hrs) due to a stop and a plane change. What i worry about with that is our luggage getting lost during the plane change. I'm not sure how it works. Do we have to check our luggage in Detroit and during our stop in St Louis?

I like the idea of flying Delta, which is a nonstop flight (3hrs) but they charge baggage fees and will cost almost double of what southwest will charge. I do like being able to pick seats with delta too. However id rather spend that money on doing things during our vacation.

Looking for peoples opinions here that have flown southwest because i have no clue! Cheaper/longer flight with possibly confusing plane change? Will my luggage get lost?

14 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
10,528 posts
39 reviews
1. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

Once you give your luggage to Southwest at Detroit you will not see it again until you arrive in FLL.

STL is small and easy to navigate. Your arrival and departure gates will be very near each other.

You seem to know the differences. Southwest does not offer assigned seats but checked luggage is included. I've never had an issue with seating. Do your online checkin at exactly the 24 hour mark and you will get a decent boarding position.

If the cost difference is really $400- the answer is obvious. Southwest.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
68,141 posts
72 reviews
2. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

There is no confusion about changing planes.

Since you are flying all the way on Southwest they will move your checked luggage from one plane to another. You will not see it until you land in Florida.

It is up to you if the price difference is worth the extra time.

On Southwest you can pick seats when you board the plane. When you check in on line you are given a boarding group and a number. The boarding groups A, B, or C are then lined up in number order one at a time to board the plane. As you can see folks in Group A will have more of a pick of seats than the other groups although Group B usually has OK seats from which to choose as well. Sometimes I pay the extra price to have Southwest check me in on line early in order to try to be in the earlier groups.

On Delta you will pick your seat when you book your flight. You will have only one plane and sometimes those 2 things are worth the extra money. It is really up to you although you are talking about very short flights so it probably doesn't matter.

Edited: 22 January 2018, 04:18
St. Lucia
Destination Expert
for St. Lucia
Level Contributor
14,123 posts
10 reviews
3. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

Fly Southwest if the savings is really that significant. You're over-thinking, and making things more difficult than they are.

Your luggage, unfortunately, can go missing on any flight, even a non-stop flight like the Delta one - it may not be loaded, etc. You can't do anything about lost luggage except make sure it's tagged properly at the start. A d lost luggage statistics are incredibly small, given the amount of bags that fly every day. Seriously, really remarkably small. Don't make an issue until there actually is one.

As far as having a stopover with Southwest flights, it's really very easy. You'll exit your first flight, walk to the gate for your next flight and board that one when it's time. You will not have to collect luggage or re-check in or any of that stuff as its a normal domestic flights transfer. Your luggage is checked all the way through, you'll next see it at Ft Lauderdale airport. Hopefully the layover is longer, ie around 1.5-2 hours - this gives plenty of time for both you and your luggage to get from plane to plane.

No, Southwest doesn't ha e assigned seating. In reality, it's not a big deal. Check-in for your flight online as soon as check-in opens, generally 24 hours before first flight and you'll likely get an A boarding pass, and you'll have plenty if seats to choose from. Neither flight is going very long, so if you sit by a stranger for 2 hours, you should be OK! Lol.. But it's very likely you'll find two seats for your and your travel companion.

Sure, Delta is a more "traditional" flight experience, but is it worth twice as much money? Not in my book. However, to me, getting to my destination earlier and easier is worth it - although I don't know if it's worth twice as much as a short layover, without knowing dollar costs here.

Take a deep breath, relax, and have a great trip!!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,221 posts
149 reviews
4. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

you don't have to recheck luggage but no one here has a crystal ball to know if a passenger on a certain flight from x to y via z on a certain date will lose their luggage. Sorry, we don't know. You could also lose your luggage on a nonstop flight as well. Will that happen? again we don't know

But Riff brings up a good point. With a short layover in STL, your luggage may not make the transfer - does not mean it is lost just means it could be late.

Happened to us this year already. Late luggage delivered 10 hours later

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
6,737 posts
17 reviews
5. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

Be sure you are comparing apples with apples - Delta's cheapest fare class (Basic Economy) does not allow seat selection. To get that you must go up one class to Main Cabin.

If it is important to you to sit in a particular spot, then please make sure you choose an airline (and a fare class) that will allow that.


Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
53,297 posts
1,798 reviews
6. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

Quite a few folk, who fly Aouthwest, like the Early Bird add-on, That Riff mentions. It’s about $18/ticket, and *usually* gets one an earlier Group + Slot, so more empty seats to choose from.

Best of luck,


Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
13,060 posts
68 reviews
7. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

We flew SW yesterday, checked in exactly 24 hours in advance, got C 16 & 17, the 1st time we weren't in group B.

We were still able to get our preferred seats, window for me (I like to sleep), aisle for DH (always needs the restroom). We lucked out and no one sat between us.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
17,834 posts
118 reviews
8. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

Your luggage won't get lost. That's a minor concern. And changing planes on Southwest is usually not hard. Typically all their gates are nearby so it should be very easy. If the flight from Detroit to St.Louis is late you do run the risk of missing the connection. That is always a risk with connecting flights.

Otherwise you laid out the options well. With Southwest you'll have the connection which means it will take longer and you won't be able to select seats. But the flip side is it will cost a lot less.

Personally I try to stay away from connections wherever I can but if Southwest was really that much cheaper I'd probably go with them.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
1,224 posts
9. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

You don't have to transfer or recheck the luggage yourself at the connection. 5 hours might be worth $200 per person. Depends on all the factors affecting you personally.

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
3,129 posts
353 reviews
10. Re: Southwest VS Delta, first time flying...plane change?!?

Our last experience with Southwest was so bad, we are likely to think long and hard about using them again. One route we fly occasionally has a similar senario....Delta flys it non stop, while Southwest requures a stop. Southwest has become the airline of delays, so one thing to look at is if your flight is cancelled, what alternatives are there. We found the hard way in our case that there were few. We rebooked a day later, missing a full day of our trip. That flight was then four hours delayed due to having to bring in another plane due to a mechanical problem. No problem with our connecting flight (which ended up in a very inconvinient city), as it was hours late too. Our bags were delayed over 24 hours when we finally got there...it was a pain. SW handled it poorly. One thing we discovered is that SW contracts out its baggage delay service....no one really knew what was going on...or cared. Contrast a delayed bag a year ago on Delta...they were all over it.

Sure we got travel vouchers which we will likely not use. Ground service was mostly incompetent, although at least one agent was great. Stuff happens on all airlines, but some have the schedule and willingness to fix things...SW does not.

Lets all say it together: there is a reason its so much cheaper...you get what you pay for. Its too bad...we used to enjoy SW but this trip was not the only bad one we've had with them.

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