The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Southwest Airlines is now piloting the Resort Airline Check-in service at Walt Disney World’s Pop Century resort.
It’s been a major source of confusion which continues to persist today as much as it has since the inception of Disney’s Magical Express in 2005: it is often thought that as a non-participating airline, that guests flying into MCO on SWA can not take advantage of amenities such as the luggage delivery service aspect of DME.
This is completely untrue however, as Disney’s Magical Express and Resort Airline Check-in are two mutually exclusive services, although they are marketed together. Every guest arriving at Orlando International Airport (which includes international flights) and staying on-site at a Disney owned and operated resort can take full advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, both the ground transportation and the in-room luggage delivery service, regardless of airline. The difference comes when departing the resort, where only those flying domestically on a participating airline are able to check-in for the flight directly at their resort so they receive their boarding pass and check their bags so they don’t have to be dealt with again until arriving at the home airport (additional restrictions apply).
The news means that those staying at Pop Century and flying on Southwest Airlines can now take advantage of the piloted Resort Airline Check-in for a limited time. The program began yesterday and does not have an ending date as of yet, although a Disney Magical Express representative told us it would only be available for a ‘short period of time.’
Also unknown is how this will affect the boarding procedures of those flying Southwest. As the airline does not offer assigned seats and boards its passengers in groups that are determined at time of check-in, checking in at the near 24-hour mark has become an almost obsession with many Southwest travelers. While the DME representative was quite certain that guests will no longer be able to check-in online (or by phone) ahead of time and continue to use the Resort Airline Check-in which only allows guests to check in 3-12 hours prior to flight, a Southwest representative was insistent that the Resort Airline Check-in desk would have no problem with guests checking in ahead of time and that boarding passes would be issued with the original boarding group retained.