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Getting Down to Business

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As you can tell from our announcement today, we have a lot of exciting news for our business travelers and our frequent Rapid Rewards Members, and these enhancements go into effect tomorrow, hand-in-hand with the systemwide rollout of our new streamlined boarding procedures.  Much of my time and focus (and that of the entire Marketing Team) over the past year or so has been devoted to these changes, and I see them as reconfirming the vision of our Founders, Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, who envisioned an airline that would allow business travelers to park the car and travel by air.  Herb and Rollin intuitively knew that business travelers want safe, affordable, frequent, and friendly flights that provide outstanding value for their money, and today's announcement is dedicated to that goal. Road Warriors have special travel needs; their plans usually change at the last minute; and because their time is so important, they often arrive at the airport just before boarding begins.  If ever there was an airline that recognized the benefits of productivity, it is Southwest, and while great fares are extremely important for business travelers--and their companies--making the most of their time is critical.  The exciting changes that we have announced today will help these Customers meet both their productivity and budget goals.  We have a great interactive page at southwest.com, and it will provide you specific details. However, I do want to touch on the more significant aspects of these changes.  Our new Business Select Fare category ensures that, for a few bucks over our Business Fare, our Business Select Customers will be among the first to board and will also receive extra Rapid Rewards credit for their travels and a free cocktail (or beer or wine).   Along with this new fare category, our current unrestricted walkup fare is being renamed our Business Fare, and it gives business travelers total flexibility in their travel plans.  And, we haven't forgotten our leisure travelers with our Wanna Get Away Fares that offer our world famous discounted leisure fares.  (DING! fares remain generally our lowest fares and can only be accessed through the DING! "widget," which is downloaded directly to your desktop.  To sign up for DING!, click here.) Along with the changes in our fare platform, you will see enhancements at southwest.com as we have simplified our initial fare displays to help you find the fare that best suits your travel needs.  The Wanna Get Away fare section will always show the lowest available fare (again, except for DING! fares) for your selected travel date.  Searching for lower fares on other travel dates is also easier now with the newly improved "Southwest Shortcut." Aside from new fare product and web display, we have another exciting enhancement for our most frequent travelers, the Customers we call our A-Listers.  To be a part of this A-List, you don't have to walk a red carpet, hire a publicist, or hide from the paparazzi; you just need to complete 32 one-way flights (16 roundtrips) in a 12-month period.  Once you reach this milestone, you move to the A-List, and we will check you in automatically for your flights and hold your boarding pass(es) for you.  All you (or your publicist) have to do is print out your preassigned boarding pass and be at the gate at least 20 minutes before departure.  We'll do the work for you. Another exciting change is the availability to redeem two Standard Awards in our Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program for an unrestricted Freedom Award. We listened to our frequent travelers who wanted "last seat availability" on our flights, and we're introducing this new program today. With the exception of a few select blackout dates, Southwest is making it possible again to redeem frequent flyer Awards for unrestricted travel. Today is exciting because these new enhancements give us the ability to differentiate our product to meet the differing needs of our Customers without having to change our decades-long dedication to low fares and great Customer Service. I am hoping that you will be just as excited as we are about these enhancements to our product because we really want to be your airline of choice for both your business and personal travel needs.
293 Comments
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I bought 4 tickets for Dec 27 on a flight to Tampla, FL. We get on the flight at a mid-point, so it arrives half or more full with continuing-on passengers. Now Southwest has brought a newly privileged class in on top of us, even though we have the most expensive ticket spreviously sold. Will we be sitting in the center seats in the back? If so, these will be our last flights on Southwest. As the person who bought the tickets, I am worried. We are passengers looking for good service and are willing to pay a high price for it. However, we are individuals, not a corporation, and we are not inclined to sit randomly in between collections of druken salesmen on corporate accounts. So I guess the new Southwest is not for us. Thank you for an outstanding airline. It lasted a remarkably long time. Now we all move on.
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I flew Southwest for the first time two years ago. I have not not flown anyone else since. Yea I only fly 9 times a year. I loved the idea of the new boarding pass system. Except the fact now the entire A line if for higher paying and the a list. So tell me as a person who books in advance why would I not choose another airline with assigned seating and pick my seat. I feel sad I loved Southwest airlines. i talked it up to everybody.. I am canceling my rapid reward visa and moving on. Good-bye Southwest John Zimmerman
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Here is an idea...lets give everyone "A" boarding passes. Lets omit the middle seat. How about no kids allowed. Look people...SWA can not please everyone. Someone has to sit in the middle seat, otherwise there would not be one. SWA provides 60 "A" boarding passes, before these changes it was about 40. SWA has the biggest seats for coach class. If you dont like SWA fly someone else who supports outsourcing to other countries!!! Charges to book over the phone, charges for baggage u check in..or maybe the ones that u lose all your money when u cant make your flight...to those pax...we dont want u on SWA anyway...
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We switched to WN from DL over two years ago and enjoyed the simple rewards program and efficiency of the flights. I liked the idea that we all had a shot at getting an A pass if we took the time to check in 24 hours in advance and didn't have the whole "elite" thing going on to put up with. Now, we'll be lucky to get a #59 or 60 since we fly less than 32 paid segments a year. We have a flight coming up soon on WN and we'll see how it goes, but I've already applied for a new Amex Skymiles card and rejoined Delta's Crown Room Club. I'm figuring Delta has more non-stops (saves time), assigned seats so I don't have to play the get on the computer first game, real first class seats, comfortable lounges and we'll be able to use their FF system to fly international. The changes to WN help the business traveller, but no one else. What happened to your egalitarian mantra? Oh well. Changes happen and it looks like we're going back to flying Delta. Take care. It was fun while it lasted. Tom Salt Lake City
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Why on earth should a free companion ticket ever merit an A pass? You want to fly free, you fly in steerage. As I read the horror stories of those who board with all manner of baby/kid apparatus, I was struck by something - where are the vaunted bestest FA crews as these people struggle and smack their fellow pax? Why aren't the FAs assisting these folks by carrying some of the bulky items? Don't you dare cite safety - the plane ain't going nowhere, nohow, until the door is closed. Question for whomever - was guaranteed overhead space considered as a perk? I can live with some indignities, but if I can't place my regulation carry-on in the overhead compartment near my seat, the airline cannot carry me on a future flight.
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Southwest marketing seems to have lost sight of the fact that there have been passengers on Southwest, with children of various ages, who were and who remain willing to buy seats at higher prices, and who purchased tickets on the old Southwest because they liked the spirit of LUV better than the corporate bland of legacy. With the new Southwest changes, LUV is just the same as legacy. At the higher fare leves legacy is pretty good, and their seating plan is predictable. Maybe it would have been better, if LUV needed more money, just to raise fares, but to have kept the same LUV as before.
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Hello, I want to resend what I said earlier. I love SWA and will still fly them. I like everything the did except the a-listers. Business select should get first boarding. I fly 3 times in decemeber. I guess I will hold off judgement until then. john Zimmerman
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I thnk it would eb nice to know the number of changes. How many business select. How many alisters on a flight. Does the averge joe start at a40 or b1? balparking?
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I travel frequently for work and have been using Southwest so much this year that I'm already on the A List. Last week I flew out of Tampa on Thursday (the first day of the new change). The boarding process in Tampa was very smooth because there were extra people on hand to explain things. Things went less smoothly in Houston (Friday) and Lubbock (Saturday) ... mainly because there was no one explaining the new process to the casual travelers. It appears that Southwest is reserving the first 15 A's for the new business fare so when you get your boarding pass 24 hours in advance, you can expect to get no higher than an A-16. So you stand in the 16-20 group while the 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15 are totally empty. This caused confusion at all three airports I traveled through last week. In Tampa and Houston, people trying (innocently or not) to "jump the line" were sent to the group to which they belonged. In Lubbock, they were allowed to board ahead of those of us following the rules, which of course irked us a little. If I had paid more for a business fare and received a boarding pass in the 1-5 range only to be pushed back by people following the old boarding method, I would have been very angry. Southwest needs to ensure their gate agents help the casual travelers adhere to the new process rather than giving them a pass or they will lose my business.
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Let me start by saying that I am both a business and personal traveler. I have been loyal to Southwest since graduating from college ten years ago, and have flown Southwest since the mid-70's. All of that being said... I have noticed, over the past couple of months, Southwest becoming less family friendly. As a business traveler, I appreciate being in the "A5" boarding group, but feel guilty about shoving families with toddlers to after A and before B. Having a four year old, I understand the importance of (1) being able to sit together as a family, and (2) being relatively close to the front of the plane (particularly for carry on and to catch connecting flights). This was not a problem on our last family trip because I had checked in 24 hours before the flight and had a low A number. Now I see there is another obstacle for the family traveler...BUSINESS SELECT (BS). BS means, amoung other things, if I pay more I can board first. Given that I purchased family Thanksgiving travel well in advance (before BS), am I to expect that when I check in 24 hours in advance that I might have a high A or a B group awaiting my effort? BS! If you want to become American, please continue on the path you are heading down. Assign seats; provide classes of service per boarding group. At least if you assign seats, I'll know exactly were my family and I will sit. I am mostly a business traveler, but I am not heartless about how families have to fly. Thank you for the low fares and freedom to fly the country, now bring back the family friendly Southwest Spirit! Chris
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Hooray, Southwest. I am really EXCITED about your new boarding! As a mom who flies with 2 small children, one who is 3 and another who is 9 months, I simply can't wait to have angry passengers behind me as I bottleneck up the boarding process with my stroller and diaper bag since we no longer get to preboard. I can't wait to have to get rude with people who ask, "can we go past you while you fold up the stroller and lug your children to the back of the plane?" I can't wait to have to seat my 3-year old between two total strangers because they got there first and refuse to move so she can sit iwth her parents. I can't wait to have my 3-year old screaming because she can't sit next to Daddy AND Mommy on the plane. I can't wait to have your flight attendants have to move someone away from their window seat so that I can cram my carseat in there. And NO, it's not OK to ask FAMILIES to pay an extra $10-$30 PER TICKET to sit together. FAMILIES SITTING TOGETHER IS NOT A LUXURY, IT'S A NECESSITY. Congratulations, Southwest, this single act of kissing the business traveller's backside has probably lost you a pretty regular customer-- and probably more than just my family. You've now totally lost your appeal. Continental Airlines, here we come. At least we don't have to PAY EXTRA to sit together.
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Lots of comments about families at the BACK of the plane. Are you KIDDING ME? I am supposed to pay extra to sit together, then sit at the back of the plane just because I have kids? I am supposed to wait in line with people pushing to get past me with my carseat and stroller and stuff, then lug the carseat AND my diaper bag AND my BABY to the NOISIEST part of the plane? No thanks. I'll go elsewhere.
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Kevin, Please make some sort of statement to let these folks know that A-list is for originating aircraft and that it is not on the through flight so that people could better understand the system, I think that the little toutorial that Brian Lusk put out on the blog and web site clarified things. I think on on this A-List 15 would help. Looking forward to my trip coming up out of MCO and will let you know how it goes... Thanks B P
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I see all these postings suggesting having a special section at the back of the plane for families. Are you kidding? I can just see me with my toddler and infant, lugging my stroller (I can't use a tiny little umbrella stroller), carseat, diaper bag, etc., all the way to the back of the plane. I don't feel sorry for anyone who doesn't like to sit near a kid on a plane. No one likes screaming babies. But you can't segregate them in the back of the plane. Not a good solution. But, then again, you could put the kids section in the back. Then, make a special section for the handicapped, another for tall people, another for overweight people, another for smelly people, another for people who don't speak English, another for people who like to talk to their seat neighbors, another for people who prefer to sleep or read quietly. That's a bad precident to set. You'd be much better off just going back to the numbered boarding passes you used to have and let people check in in the order they arrive. See you when you fix this. I'll be waving from the Continental waiting area.
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Hello Southwest Customer Service: Still waiting for your response re: my earlier 11/7 posting: Will the system revert back to allowing position A1 to be printed if there has not been an A-lister (or Business Select) customer confirmed on the flight? To continue our travel saga, last night I waited patiently to the 24 hour mark to check my husband and son in (they weren't near a computer and will reprint their boarding passes at the airport), and ended up with A22 & 23. I can't wait to hear how many empty spots there were in the A-line ahead of them, on this return flight. So was the programming design savvy enough to bump up the line for getting A passes, or is it just an automatic hold on a specific number of A's before the 'unwashed masses' can get their numbers, even if no A-list or Business Select customers are on a given flight?
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Oops, meant 11/11 posting.
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I haven't seen one post yet on anything to do with the simple fact that SWA is the safest airline operating in the industry. It is also one of the top in on-time performance of any legacy carrier. If they get me and my family there safely and on-time I don't know what else there is to complain about. In addition, although the boarding arrangements have changed I believe what usually keeps Customers coming back is the Customer Service. If I have someone from an airline spit in my face every time I fly them I will pay the additional 5 or 10 bucks to fly someone who treats me good.
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I'm very dissappointed in the new way of printing boarding passes and the treatment you're giving your frequent flyers vs. non-frequent flyers. Ity would be nice if you went back to the old way of boarding, including the children to board first. This way you can dodge them by seeing where they're sitting. Your new way is really, really bad. Please change it back to the previous way. Thanks, Kathy
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SWA; You did the right thing. Good process and let the new system work instead of trying to find fault.
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Well I to will join the many, many customer's to leave Southwest. I suppose to pay for these new programs is the reason you have raised your fairs by 20 to 40%. You must be using a different type of fuel than the other airlines because they are saying they may need to raise by 5%. So far none have. Buffalo to Chicago a couple of weeks ago was $54 but most often $78. Now the cheapest internet only fair if you're lucky enough to get it is $96. United by the way is now $35 cheaper and the Tampa to Chicago, United beats it by $70. Well I did save for the last two months trying out Southwest but sorry, I don't want to pay more for less.
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I just set down too book my biweek flight to SNA from SDF on SWA. I can not belive what SWA had done to a good thing. The prices even booking two weeks out is twice the price of the majors, (three time the price if I want a free drink.) I own a small business with office in Louisville Ky and Orange co Calf. I have to keep our travel expense down that why two years ago I switch from Northwest and Delta ( Platinumon both) because of the cost. Well I see its time to go back to the majors Sorry SWA but its just business. Bye.
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As a VERY proud SWA Flight Attendant and having worked FOUR flights just today, I have to put my two cents in here. If you haven't flown SWA since the changes took effect, please, please, please withhold judgment until you do. We took the time on our flights over the last three days (NINE flights in all) to speak to our passengers about the new procedures. We had approximately 800+ passengers that we dealt with over the course of this trip (both business and leisure travelers) and I can honestly say that approximately 95% LUV the new procedures. The most often heard comment was the joy not having to line up for an hour or so before boarding knowing their place in the boarding line was assured. Our business travelers, just this morning on a full flight from San Francisco to San Diego, were SO grateful to be able to get on the plane, get to work on their laptops once we took off and exit the aircraft quickly to get to their meetings. Also, I specifically "targeted" our passengers traveling with small children to ask their views. They like the family boarding. The most often heard comment from them was that they did not feel "pressured" to get everything situated with other passengers waiting behind them. They prefer this system as it ensured they had seats together even if those seats were in the middle or towards the rear of the aircraft. They didn't care one bit where they sat as long as they had seats together. One mother, traveling alone with three small children had the quote of the day..."What's the big deal? Every seat on this plane is going to Phoenix and they all get there at the same time." Now, I know that most of you will automatically side with the 5% of those passengers on our flights that didn't like the new changes. To you I say, there will always be naysayers no matter what we do. I've had flights with only THREE passengers onboard and two of them still found something to gripe about. Since the changes were implemented, ALL but one of our flights left the gate five minutes early. That rarely happened with the old system. So, take it from one on the front lines! It's easy to automatically dismiss change when you feel it will negatively affect you, BUT please, save your comments until you have actually set foot on a SWA plane and have experienced the changes for yourself. This blog has been primarily negative since the changes were announced, but trust me, on the plane, the passengers are LUVing it...and that's what counts!
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Quit whinning guys and gals, Southwest is still by far the best airline out there! Elaine
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I have talked to a friend who has flown since this happened. I dont think it will be All that diffrent. I dont see the fares have risen. If you rememeber the old system the was the refundable anytime fare that is the new Business fare. The business select fare is a new tier about 15 to 20 dollars higher. If you remeber below those were restricted fares, advance purchase, fun fares and if avialble internet one way. There was NO DIFFRENCE between what those fares offered except price. The wanna get away fare is the lowest. now if tyou are tring to book a flight and the wanna get away fare is high. Remeber that is is the lowest of those fares. Remember the dreaded red unavailble? You just dont see it now. I went to look at pricing. I have a trip to Chicago and a trip to Columbus , and plaling a trip to vegas in april. Guess what? Chicago total would have been 18.79 cheaper After taxes. Columbus ohio was 353. MCI TO CMH. Last year i went to vegas after takes for about 230 now it is 194. Guy and gals these fares have not risen. We just dont see all the unavailbe. The only thing that has changed it how we see the fares. Wanna get away shows all of them. Internet one way gione then it shows fun fare those gone it show restrcted thats gone it then show advance purchase. I dont think the boarding is going to be that big of deal. The people who Are "A-lister are the ones who checked 24 hours in advance and camped out in lines 1 hour to 2 hour before flights. My friend checked in 24 hr in advance and got A37. Remember unless you get C you wont get stuck in the middle. The people who already get c in the old system will contiunes to get c . B is not the end of the world. so i am going to give them a try. Southwest has one of the safest records. They allow people to change without penelty. I am loyal and will still be loyal. Think of the a-lister. They fly so much and always camped in line or paid someone else to check them in right at 24 hours. I would get tired of that if I flew that much. By the way I dont. I fly about 9 round trips a year. I will check in 24 hours in advance and enjoy my high A or low B seating. As far as the freedom rapid award. They added something and did not take it away anything. The program works the same as before except they can trade 2 for 1 pass that book them if 1 seat is empty. Now if you were flying to vegas and needed to book within seven days of the flight I would have to pay the refundable anytime fare or now the Business fare of about 600 dollars (MCI to LAS) The lowest advance far about 210. If I use two roundtrip awards I the value of that is 600 or 300 for each one. That new system would have saved me 200 dollars. Under the old system the max value of the ward would have been 210. On another note I belive this is a way of rasing pricing but not rasing them for the common folk. The higher cost of fuel is being paid for by those people who pay the little extra over the business fare. The rich folks are paying are ticket prices while keeping our prices down. Sorry for the long post but I put alot of time trying to figure out the motivation at the people in dallas to do this. I think I did I good job of reading between the lines.
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I just have a question. I try and fly southwest every time I have to take a flight. I fly southwest so much i even have my children a Rapid Rewards number. My concern is the military discount. I was wondering why the one day miltary price went up and why is it if your a senior citizen your ticket price is so much cheaper then the miltary price. Most of the time miltary people don't have 21 days in advance to purchase a ticket some times not even 14 days so we have to use that one day in advance but it has went up and not just a couple of bucks.Thank you for your time
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I fly Southwest at least once a month for business and I take my small child with me. I have flown for nearly two years with the opportunity to pre-board and get myself and my daughter and her car seat on board ahead of and out of the way of everyone else. And I have done so now twice since the new "We-hate-families" policy was instated. Chad (above) says 95% "luv" the new policy? Not a chance. You all aren't hearing from enough families. Why? The families are too damn busy to write to you. By not allowing families on first, we hold everything up. By letting us on first we can get down the jetway and get our kids situated and out of the aisles. Not to mention the fact that if someone wants to sit far away from me and my child they used to have that choice. No longer. I may just sit down next to that person now because I have very little choice where to sit since I A) Have to sit next to my child and B) have to have my child in a window seat. I have to walk a gauntlet now with a kid and a diaper bag and a laptop bag in tow, on a recent flight I bumped fifteen aisle-seaters as I went. And since I had to go so much further down the plane for two seats together I can't manage it all with my car seat and so the flight attendant had to assist me, holding up the B group. Lame. Now instead of getting on the plane with little fuss, I have to apologize to 20 people, and then ask someone to get up from his aisle seat -- car seats can only go against a window by Southwest law. Plus, I need the assistance of the flight attendant, which I never needed before when I could simply dash on the plane. Southwest says, "You are still invited to get an A boarding pass and wait in line." I am thinking, however, that my fellow passengers would prefer that I let my daughter run off some energy before she gets strapped into a seat for 2+ hours. Thank heavens that the gate attendant at my last flight out of Tucson looked at my A pass and let me slip into the line with my daughter acknowledging that the new policy was unfair to single parents flying with a small child. I could go on, but I assure you, the only people who are LUVing this aren't families, or people who have ever flown with families, or people who dislike kids in general. Southwest used to be family friendly. Now they simply hate families. I thought that this was a country where women and children and elderly came first. So much for true values (and I don't mean that political lip service nonsense). Shame on Southwest. Seriously, where is the luv? Alaska Air, here I come.
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i don't understand why people have complained about these new procedures and changes when they haven't even flown on a southwest flight yet. i agree with the flight attendant, chad (and others)... wait until you've flown, then gripe. i have yet to fly next month, so you'll hear from me then. until now, just remember that this airline is working its hardest to provide the best service in the air and on the ground. and they have...all my flight experiences in the past have far exceeded my expectations and i do not doubt that that will change...only for the better. as other comments above, just wait 5 years from now...if the culture has really changed for the worse because of the new leadership in place today...then by all means, gripe. you don't know how things will be until you've flown. lastly, if you still hate the changes after you've flown, well, think about the big picture. southwest airlines is a business. they have to compete. and with all the other carriers out there, southwest is in a tough position to provide awesome service at the prices they do. if they kept everything the same, then they would not be able to compete well with the other airlines. and then (knock on wood!) southwest would have to go into bankruptcy or even fold! then we would lose the best service and airfares! who would want that?!!?! so, hats off to ya'll at southwest for working your tails off to make all sides come to a almost-happy medium...us the flying public, your company, and the airline industry.
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Emily, while I appreciate your frustrations, the reality is that I spoke PERSONALLY to these families traveling with small children and they like the new family boarding. All you have to do is take the time to actually check in 24 hrs in advance and get that "A" boarding pass, you can still board with the "A" group. I'm sorry, but your argument doesn't hold water if you don't take some responsibility for yourself and make sure you get the "A" boarding pass. Also, it is not "Southwest Law" that carseats go against the window...that's the FAA...I'll let you take that up with them. And again, while I understand your frustration, I'm glad that you weren't "too damn busy" (as you say) to comment on this blog.
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I would like to say that I DO NOT like the new boarding system at all. I have been a loyal customer for about 9 1/2 years and did not see anything wrong with the way things were. I am saying this for three reasons: 1. If you do not check in exactly the minute, 24 hours ahead of time your just out of luck getting a good seat. I have always been the type of person that gets to the airport on time (1 1/2 to 2 hours ahead) and feel that this should be more important to you as an airline because the people showing up late cost you money and delays and should be seated last anyways! 2. I have been flying your airline for a long time and a frequent flier, we should get select seating either way. 3. After experiencing this type of boarding I found it to be worse than any other airline because now everyone (A, B, and C group) are fighting over who stands by what post! BIG MESS Who ever came up with this idea needs to go back to the drawing board. Please don't tell me it was Herb!
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My husband and I were very loyal SWA customers for years.. This past year is the first in a while that we didn't get a free flight because of a family member that was ill and eventually passed away.. The one thing that we always loved about SWA was that everyone was always equal..We were the only ones that knew that we were flying free or that we had earned drink coupons..We had the same chance as everyone else to get that coveted "A" boarding pass..No one was any better than anyone else... We are not business travelers, we fly much more often for leisure..It took us most of our lives to get to this point that we have this luxury of travel as often as we do.. We were always like walking billboards for SWA because of the way they treated each and every passenger.. I have booked so many people on your airline, family, friends and even friends of friends.. The changes that you have made, whether intended or not have made me as a customer feel unimportant to you... We like to travel with our family, particularly our grandchildren...As leisure travelers you have left us to make a choice of paying twice the price to get to where we want to go or risking that our grandchildren could be left to sit alone and scared.. I realize that there would be a chance that we could possibly get those "A" or "B" boarding passes but given that we would travel more than likely when the kids are off school and everyone else is traveling there is a chance that planes would be full and it is just a risk that we would not be willing to take.. In our minds you have taken the "family" out of the "SWA family culture".. I know that this corporate decision was made for revenue but with no assigned seating and giving adult business travelers the perks the kids are left behind.. So while your business travelers sit comfortably where ever they want the leisure traveler is left with possibly leaving their family member alone.. Money is something that we all work for but at what cost to the customer? This new structure you are so proud of has given adults more advantages to get to their place of work while leaving families behind.. Whether a child is 3, 6 or 12 they are not adults and this plan of yours with boarding these adults first if they pay the price, no assigned seating and the families to hope for the best, is sure to cause undo stress, more upset mothers, fathers, grandparents and scared kids... Everyone talks a lot about family values but when it comes down to it, its the bottom line and the money that seems to come first... My family will always come before my work and its just too much of a risk to pay for a flight without knowing if when you board, the trip will be stressful before it even begins... So where is that SWA "family "culture now?? It seems like SWA business culture to us... In my mind someone didn't think this through..Its not the end of the world as one blogger put it... Its great for those adult business travelers, just a bit too risky for those people that have that coveted "family" trip... What has happened to all of you?? You have left us behind on this one... I never thought I'd see the day when you would forget about families to line your pocketbooks.. I am heartbroken and so disappointed...
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This is a good way to help keep fares low while attracting new business. For everyone who says Southwest is turning into one of the other airlines with their elite systems, they are not. Elites on other airlines get better availability when redeeming miles, and sometimes are the only ones who can talk to a customer service agent on the phone who is not in India. As long as Southwest does not do this and does not implement change fees, I will still be here. Good customers should be rewarded, as long as they do not sacrifice their customer service standards for other customers. I commend Southwest for being able to do this effectively, and I look forward to trying the new boarding next week!
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As to those of you complaining about the fares. There are going to be differences if the cheaper fares are already gone. If there is an increase compared to when you traveled last year, well, oil prices were not $98 a barrel either. Southwest hedged its fuel in order to help the Company and the consumer! It helped them not have to raise fares until they absolutely had to. It was hedged at $28 a barrel one year and then hedged at $32 a barrel the next a couple of years ago. The difference in that $4 raise meant the Company had to come up with over $300 million in additional revenue somewhere else. In the next five years it is hedged at probably close to $50-$60 a barrel. If you really dive down into it the only people who get penalized with the oil prices is the Customer. The airlines have to do whatever necessary to stay in business. Southwest always had the Customer in mind first. If their intent was to raise fares everytime the oil went up each one of us would be paying $1000 roundtrip no matter where we traveled. Lets give them a chance before we judge.
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I have been a loyal Southwest customer traveling only Southwest to visit family and friends an average of every 3 weeks. That said, there is no way I will make it into your new premier frequent flier group, the benchmark is just too high. Southwest is looking like every other airline, I guess its time to use search engines to find the best fares, rather then going to my former old reliable:( I'm hoping not many business passengers buy into your "Improvements" because otherwise there isn't really an A group worth talking about. I understand the family arguments both ways, so maybe a new benefit of boarding in the B group is we can keep away from the little hellions. The whole thing looks simpler online, but I get the sense it will be more complex at the airport, where the simplicity is needed.
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Hey Southwest. Looks like you have taken up the same campaign as the neo-cons. Disinformation agents (employee-spin) abounds! Get real, hear what the families and non-business travelers are saying! Are you so arrogant that you don't care about what those people are saying? Is corporate money the most important thing to you? Maybe your system works for DAL-HOU or PHX-OAK "commuter" flights, but I guarantee it's not working on other flights. I just took a flight from OKC-PHX and we were delayed 10 minutes to get some families together. I bet your hold system will crash and burn this holiday season. Just wait until Nov 25th! Formerly a LUV fan, now a Xjet fan. Tom (OKC)
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Oh Chad, please explain how to handle when the families try to board the A group and get different numbers, (i.e I got A 24, my wife got A 31 and my kids got A 34 and 36?) Do we all go with the A 24 or have to board separately (including my 2 year old)? If it's the latter, then I hope you're ready for a slew of complaints! casey
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Casey, Before we made these changes, some in a party might have gotten the last A boarding pass, while the rest of their party got Bs. If this happens, like it did before, the first on the aircraft can save a seat. . In your case, your wife and one child were in the same boarding group, and the other child in the one behind. You could have boarded and saved a seat. Since they were all so close together, they could have met up inside the jetbridge and boarded the aircraft together, or your wife could have let two people board ahead of her to be closer to the chidren. Brian
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Gigi, sorry no one has answered your question yet about someone else being able to get an A-1 through A-15 pass if there aren't any Business Select passengers on the flight. The answer to that is "no". Any unsold Business Select passesbecome part of the "C" group at some time between an hour and 10 minutes before departure, depending on the flight's needs. If there are no Business Select passengers for a flight at boarding time, and you had A-16, you would be first in the "A" group to board.
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Brian, Thanks for the response. In the past, we all got A seats, even though we could and did pre-board. We did this so that for whatever reason in case we were late, we could at least board together in the A group and make sure we had 3 seats together. Now you are telling me that we can't do that with this new policy. I could go ahead and reserve 2 seats, but not all 3 seats (since we have a part of 4) without holding two rows of seats (and that won't make many friends!). So even though I keep hearing "you can get an A ticket if you want to make sure you are together" that's not really the case with these assigned numbers. That's too bad that SWA didn't think of these issues before you implemented them. I hope that you will see the problems with this system for these occasions. Thanks, Casey
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Casey, I think I failed to convey what I was trying to do, and I am sorry. First off, given the spread in your numbers, your family would have followed no more than 30 seconds behind you, at the most. There would have been just seven or eight people between you, so you wouldn't really have been saving a seat, just arriving at the row a little ahead of your family. It might have been a touch longer because you were in the A1-30 group, and they lead off the next group. From your post, it sounds as though you have tried the new procedures, or were you writing hypothetically. If you haven't tried it, please do before passing final judgment. It's a lot more complicated on paper than it is in real life. Brian
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Brian, No we haven't tried it, my example was hypothetical. However, how would you try to explain to your kids "Daddy/Mommy's got to board the plane first in order to save you a seat and make sure we sit together"? and then at the same time agree with the SWA slogan "A Symbol of Freedom". Do you see the disconnect? Thanks, Casey
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Just imagine what travel experiences would have been had there been no Southwest Airlines. This is a change to keep up with changing times and changing needs, if you want to board early check in on line. When you go to the theatre do you fall apart when you do not get the seats you wanted? Do you pull the early serve card for seating at a crowded restaurant? We are in the service business and we try to serve everybody, some folks will always feel underserved and overlooked. I honestly feel like Southwest is trying to figure out how to keep, lure and serve all Customers in the best way. Before Southwest more than half of the US had never flown before, I am thankful for Southwest.
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Chad, clearly you haven't been given all the info. I am NOT ALLOWED to get a boarding pass online if my child is a lap child. When we fly long flights I buy her a seat. A short flight I take my chances and hope for a seat. She is still under two and so that is my prerogative. When she is a lap child the online system will not allow me to get a boarding pass since I have to show proof of her age at the gate. Therefore my boarding pass is never an A, and often not even a B, and this is NOT because I am too lazy to get my boarding pass ahead of time or as you say, not responsible. Please. On my last flight I actually called ahead and lied to say that my daughter wasn't flying with me so I could get a boarding pass, then checked her in at the airport. That was the only way I could get an A pass. And, incidentally, this was the suggestion of a gate worker on my outbound flight. And if you had read my posting carefully, or ever been in line with toddlers, you would know that the last thing you want to be next to is a squirming kid in line. Do you really want me annoying passengers that much as to have my child in close confines while waiting in line? So even if I get an A pass, I still have to wait until the end of the As to board so I am not annoying people in line, or dashing off for a last minute diaper change (since not all Southwest planes have changing tables in the bathrooms yet). I respect that you are trying to be cheerful about this, but I assure you, no family is happy about this. If they are telling you that they are simply telling you what you want to hear, or you are not phrasing the question well. Emily
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correction, I have to show proof of her age at checkin, not at the gate. Sorry about that.
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Casey, I don't want to seem insensitive, but again you are talking about 30 seconds difference in boarding times and only a few people. In all but the most extreme cases with those boarding pass numbers, you will have your choice of any seat on the aircraft. So, no, I don't see the disconnect. To use Carroll's example above, have you never sent one adult ahead into a restaurant or a theater to hold seats? Keep in mind that on airlines that offer assigned seats, families can't always sit together either. Assigned seating advocates also fail to mention that those airlines have middle seats, and someone is going to be assigned those seats. There is no perfect boarding or seating system. That's just a fact. We are trying to accommodate folks with different seating requirements by offering choices. All we ask is that folks give it a try, and then decide. Brian
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Brian, stop the corporate line already. let me tell you about my flights this weekend. I have A list, so I was A 17. My two sons were A34 and 35 on the flight out. It didn't matter since all A's were called together anyway. So much for your first class attempts at boarding. On the way back, I was again A 17 but the boys were a 59 and a 60. I guess I should have just let two boys less then 10 years old hang out in the waiting area until the numbers were called and about 40 people passed before them. Of course, I could have already been on the plane waiting for them. If I would have checked in myself, all the numbers would have been together. BTW, they boarded with me. But, the problem is, your new system does not take into account the other flyers on the same reservation as a A list. Oh, I fogot, kids, wait outside until your number is called. Brian, are you going to ensure their safety--Can I get Southwest's corporate promise on that--if not, your A list is worthless when traveling with others on the same reservation. Brian--You don't have kids do you, or if you do, you don't buy tickets for them so you haven't had this dilema yet.
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Emily, Good news. You can now get an online boarding pass when traveling with your lap child. You will still have to obtain a Boarding Verification Document before going through security, but your boarding priority will be established. Brian
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Okay, great about getting an A boarding pass. Thanks for the info. This is good news for my flight to Seattle on Friday. But it doesn't change the fact that I can't wait in line with my not-yet-two-year-old at 9-something in the morning when she is wanting to PLAY. You say you want to make flying enjoyable for everyone, but by not letting families get out of the way ahead of time you are forcing families to get in the way... of everyone. I now need to wait in the A line with my kid, constantly leaving my bags (against FAA rules) to chase after her in order to get a seat near the front so I don't need to inconvenience everyone and their brother during actual boarding. And of course, by making my kid stay put for the half hour or so while we wait in line means that she is really antsy and so that is a bummer for whomever has to sit next to us for the two hours to Seattle. Lose-lose for everyone, except for that able-bodied 30-yr old business traveler with his bluetooth and video ipod who is stoked he can get on the plane ahead of that devious and pesky mother... what is she thinking wanting preferential treatment? I just don't see how allowing a half dozen of so (or fewer) people with kids and extra gear to board ahead of everyone else isn't the most prudent option. You have elderly who move slow get on first. Why not me with my toddler and my diaper bag and car seat and stroller? Don't you want me out of the way? Except, right... Southwest now hates families, so I suppose that even with your cheerful blogging (which I do appreciate, despite my bitter tone), you don't care if I am out of the way, just so your money passengers can board first. Kiss the money, screw the kids. Isn't that the way politicians deal with budgets and education money in favor of returning campaign finance favors for corporations? Look, I do understand capitalism. I am a business owner myself. But sociopathic capitalism, that is money before any empathy of any kind is apperntly the corporate way. It was lovely that for so long Southwest managed to have/show a human element with your humor and "luv" and elderly- and family-friendly policies. A group passengers still got their aisle and window seats. It was simply that two or four or six people got on ahead of them. I mean really, was it such a big deal? What's next? Making my 87-yr-old aunt wait in line and walk the jetway herself? Shame on Southwest. There is no more luv for families.
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Emily, Never ever fly on any distance without a car seat and purchasing a ticket. At any point and time on any distance you can hit turblence and you are not strong enough to hold any child and guess what, that precious child can be killed, Saw it my self on United flight and know a few FA's from other airlines that have seen kids severly hurt. How would you like to have to live the rest of your life knowing that you were to cheep to secure your chils. The AFA and SW FA's and a few other Airline FA's all support efforts bye the NTSB and Congress to not allow lap kids. No child is worth less than the cost of a plane seat and unbeknown to most travelers that choose to fly with them as a lap Kid and something happens the airlines are not responsible. So please I beg you to buy that ticket. I think Brian and Herb and the whole gang at SWA would agree.
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Oh, and Chad made a comment about the car seat having to be in the window by FAA rules, not Southwest's. EVEN MORE REASON that families will now hold up boarding. I can assure you that by making me walk even further down the plane looking for a window and middle seat it is not speeding up the boarding process. And I will need to hold up the ENTIRE B GROUP AGAIN while the flight attendant carries my car seat behind me since I can't carry everything further than a few rows. And what happens when my sister travels with her two kids age 3 (still in a car seat) and just barely seven. These are TICKETED passengers. And if she is not a preferred A1-10 passenger she might have to put her seven year old off by herself possibly rows away, just so your corporate travelers can get on ahead of us families? We have to have window seats with the little ones. We are not just wanting them to placate "I want a window, Mommy." Or has Southwest forgotten FAA rules? This is the lamest, meanest policy I have heard of. Splitting up families. Making little little girls sit by themselves aisles away from their mothers (can you imagine the CHAOS in the even of an emergency landing when you have forced families to split up? The lawsuit potential alone should make you shudder). Making single parents work A LOT harder. Making families feel they have to apologize because they have kids in tow... Again, shame on Southwest.
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SWA flight attendant Chad says, to an angry mom, "IÃ