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Southwest Airlines Community

Talking About the Changes

gkelly1
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(Southwest Airlines CEO, Gary Kelly, has been reading your comments about our recently announced boarding and fare changes, and he wanted you to hear his thoughts directly.)
261 Comments
William_Bryan
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Dear Sirs: For some 35 years, I have flown Southwest almost exclusively out of Houston Hobby. I made the switch to Continental about a year ago, after having grown weary of the disproportionate number of leisure travelers on each flight. As a small business owner, traveling on business, I simply found myself part of a smaller and smaller segment of business passengers. Southwest definitely shifted it's focus toward leisure customers, all the while making changes and reducing business passenger benefits. Making the change to Continental was difficult at first, having been a loyal Southwest customer for so many years, but truthfully, the transition became much easier when I realized how similar Continental services and business traveler benefits were to the original Southwest Airlines business traveler, many years ago. While I hope the new business traveler program is successful, I would like to remind Southwest management that you can't have it both ways, your primary focus has to be on one segment or the other. In my opinion, current Southwest management has already succeeded in turning off a significant portion of business travelers over the last several years, I can only surmise that they'll now offend their primary leisure travelers, in their effort to regain lost business travelers. I wish Southwest success in this new program, but once again I see current Southwest Management playing with fire, convinced that they're going to satisfy everyone. As in most of their decisions over the last few years, they are simply pushing more and more of their better customers into the arms of their competitors. What made Southwest successful to begin with is the fact that they were different than the other carriers. Current Managment seems determined to become more and more like every other carrier. At the end of the day, I strongly believe that the current path, will end up being the demise of Southwest.
Margaret_Finlay
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I finally got my parents to fly on Southwest - confirmed United, Continental and Delta diehard clients - so they could see why I talk SWA up all the time. Now you have this elitist system that will make it more difficult for my Dad, who is 6'5", to be assured of an aisle seat. I am not pleased with the new arrangement and would like to see my old friend, Southwest Airlines, back to the way things were. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The early bird catches the worm and that's the way it should stay for those that check in early. With computer access and PDA's everywhere, it is not difficult to check in 24 hours in advance.
Jason7
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After using the new boarding method in Lubbock, I must say that it is a great improvement to everyone waiting in line for an hour before the flight. The problem in Lubbock is the very cheap signage in the line-up area, rather than the screens and columns that I saw getting off in Houston. I would hope that every station will eventually get the better set-up, because the numbers are so high on the signs in Lubbock, not to mention the fact that some of them were turned sideways, had everyone more confused. I applaud the new boarding, but please get us the good signage soon and get the cheap signs removed!
Hugh
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I love not standing in line for up to an hour anymore. However, with the new boarding system at the gates, all I can say is that your gate agents are the ones who can make it or break it but you know that already. You seriously need to weed out the brain dead and/or lazy ones who will break it by not making it work like it should work. We flew November 9th from FLL to BNA on the 0710 nonstop and the female agent at the ticket lift podium was just about worthless with her announcements, despite it being a new procedure only one day old. We had A's in the low 20's yet there were 7 people in the A-21 to A-25 group. One of your male agents was walking by the line and I asked him 'How can there be 7 people in a group designated for 5?' He showed no concern at all and only when pressed for an answer he came up with 'It's probably overflow from an adjacent group!' That was BS because both adjacent groups had 5 people in them. Why couldn't he at least ask the 7 people to show their boarding passes to see who didn't belong there? On the return trip November 13, both BNA's and TPA's agents maintained excellent control of how people lined up at the number poles and everything went very well, unlike FLL. The TPA female agent pulled a lady with a high 20's number over when boarding the first couple groups of A's - she tried to pull a quickie and got caught. She had to wait until the line progressed to where she should have been and was then allowed to go down the jetbridge. Fix your gate agent problem or your new boarding system will tick off a lot of customers who see anarchy in the boarding lines. Hugh J.
Bruce2
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Gary, I'm not sure if this belongs under this subject but it is related to a relatively recent change that you've made. I see in your Spirit Magazine that "digital cameras" are now no longer allowed use below 10,000 feet. I haven't flown in a year or so so this must be fairly recent. I understand why certain devices are banned, as they may interfere with aircraft electronics, but I have never heard of this before and none of the other major airlines ban their use in this way. I've never had a problem with keeping my camera handy on a Southwest flight - in fact its been quite a conversation piece with some of the Flight Attendants and Pilots as many of your employees are also aviation enthusiasts. I have taken quite a few fascinating pictures while flying and I always get positive comments from those pictures that I have posted online. In fact, some of my pictures have been used by your cargo department for their annual employee calendar in the past. The scenery when flying is truly beautiful. Southwest has a lot of employees as well as customers who are aviation enthusiasts. I was very disappointed to hear the cameras need to be shut off. I hope that you can re-consider this or perhaps make it more specific (as "digital cameras" covers a wide range) because it doesn't seem to be a problem for other carriers or the FAA.
Dave10
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Hi, I fly from Providence to Phily several times a year, always on Southwest and I've gotta say that from a customer service perspective the new Boarding procedure is just not working. The old system was quick and efficient. I wonder how much market testing was done before the new boarding system was implemented. Did any one on the SW BOD really examine the old process to see if it really needed fixing? Surely the Business Class service could have been implemented without disrupting the process for those of us in steerage. Other than this, I think that SW is great - all of the customer service staff at the airports and on the phone are great! Thank you for listening ! Dave
BJ_Suzi_Miller
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I am so sad as I write this. For 10 years I have never looked at another airline when traveling. I loved Southwest, I defended Southwest, I had all of my friends and family and extended family flying Southwest (and believe me with 9 siblings and families that is a lot of people). The problem is I have free flights from Rapid Rewards that I can not use when I need them. My husband is out of the country and all I wanted was my daughter to be able to come home to Kansas from California for Christmas. She only gets off work from Sunday through Tues. By the way she also has a free flight. When I look at booking I am told "not available" - well the flight is available is you have switched to the new business class rewards but that is not fair to those of us who have earned the standard award. I realize that you have a business to run and that times are hard. But Mr. Keller you always said that you put the regular people your customers first, I believe that this is not longer so. Seems like greed has overcome Southwest. There are seats available on these flights - this is a family time of year - what business is being conducted on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of Christmas week - open these flights to your regular everyday people. Don't be a Scrooge. I am sorry that I am being so mean in this e-mail, I am just so sad right now.
Randy9
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I just flew this week for the first time since the boarding changes. All I can say is THANK YOU. I love flying with Southwest. The crew has always been cheerful and helping. The pre-boarding process used to always anger me. I'd check in 24 hrs before to get a good seat,but you know what - so can people with children. They didn't because they could get the best seat and not have to actually put forth any effort. I have children and have flown with them. I didn't pre-board cause I didn't think it was necessary. I am SO glad you've changed that. We were boarded early and out of the gates on time. Again I want to thank you for making the changes. I will never go anywhere else for my flying needs. You've rewarded the people who make the effort to get a good seat and it works! Kudos!!! Thanks
Bob_Horvatich
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I(we)have been flying with Southwest for some time now. Many of the trips are to/from St. Louis. Prior to the "change" I thought the boarding areas, were not very well situated for waiting passengersconsequently resulting in some raised tension(s) amongst some passengers. On 11/10/07 I again had a flight from St. Louis. The day previously, I got my boarding pass(A23), and arrived thinking everything would be running smoothly. In the boarding area, I observed the separated(1-5/6-10/11-15/etc.)areas. Passengers were loosely hanging around. After the "pre-boards", the male Southwest employee made one exclamation(I'll take 1 through 30)which then caused a minor somewhat uncontrolled rush to biard. This may be an improvement over the previous procedure, but not really that much. If this is how it is to be done, then there is no need for the separated sections(1-5, etc.). Thanks.......Bob Horvatich
Phil_Christense
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I'm an American living overseas, so I've just now had the unpleasant surprise of discovering how Southwest's new "by the number" boarding system has coupled with your online checkin to sire a monster. Check in five minutes after 24 hours in advance = number 54. Check in two minutes after the starting gun = 32. So what this means is that I have to build my life around being near a computer to log on at exactly the right tiime, or accept a life consigned to C-ville. I don't even know about the "business class" priority stuff, and I don't really care. Southwest has always been about great value for money, so why would I choose to pay more for your services? But what I do know is that the boarding changes have turned Southwest's weakest feature (no assigned seat) from an inconvenience into a nightmare. For decades I have been a great booster of Southwest, using it as an example of how a business should be run - airline or other. You have been my domestic airline of choice on my frequent trips back to the States. But while I still appreciate your many strengths, I think this boarding mess has pushed me over the edge and back into the pool of your competitors. Of course I won't boycott Southwest, but I will never again do what I did this Thanksgiving weekend - choose Southwest over other more convenient and even cheaper alternatives because I expected you to treat me right. Color me very disappointed.
Todd_M
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I have been meaning to write to Southwest Air for many months. Your recent changes have prompted me to take the time to finally write. Before I start, please note that I have flown a Southwest round trip flight almost every week for the past 2 years. I am approaching approximately 100 round trip flights in 2 years; 95%+ on Southwest. I really feel like you all are part of my family. I mainly fly for business but several flights a year are pleasure as well. My wife and 2 sons, travel on Southwest as well. First off, CONGRATULATIONS on the changes to the boarding process. Thursday November 8th was my first chance to experience the new process at PBI. I have flown about 6 flights under the new procedures. These changes have been a long time coming. For 2 years, I have been defending my turf in the A line, observing shouting matches, shoving matches, fights, ignorance, rudeness, etc. Thank God for this boarding process change. It worked very well on Thursday. I now have time to relax after the fun security process and before boarding. However I do agree that your boarding agents need to provide much better direction on the boarding process. Saying "A 1 through 30 can now board" causes much confusion, anger and angst. I suggest that they call out for A 1-5, then A1-10, A1-15, A1-20, etc. I have unfortunately already seen many fliers try to cut in front of others. e.g. those with A30 or higher going to the front of the line and not being stopped/questioned by your agents. I think that your new boarding process has been well thought out including the family boarding. The prior system has been abused for way too long. And may I say "shame on you" to the many pre-boarders that blatently abuse the pre-board/wheelchair process. I have been shoved out of the way many times exiting the plane by those (now quite mobile walkers/runners) that came on via wheelchair. Miracles in flight, yes there are......every flight?!? I am very pleased to hear about the new Boarding Pass priority A selection process as well. I guess this is as close as we will get (on Southwest) to priority boarding for frequent fliers like me. Thank you!! It would be great if we Priority fliers could get the boarding pass greater than 24 hours but I understand if you can't make that happen. I am very close on the Companion Fare opportunity as well. I am somewhere in the 90 to 95 flight range. Guess I need to get a SW VISA to get a few extra credits. May I thank you for your on-time, non-stop or direct flights, and affordable fares. Your flight attendants, pilots and gate attendants are very professional and helpful. I even appreciate their humor. Now if you could only invent Southwest airplane toilet seats that stay up while "us guys" are going to the bathroomÃ
Lexi1
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As a SWA 4x/year traveling family from ALB/MHT/BDL to MCO, we have MANY times witnessed the "miracle healing" on board. Simply amazing. Funny to see others commenting on the same. We flew last in Oct., before the big changeover, but there was the family preboard, post A. Our son is six, so we've graduated from that procedure. Families seemed surprised to not be boarding first. All three of us have RR cards - and we have always bought our son a seat - since his first flight at 6 mos.. We all have had several reward tickets in recent years. A SWA VISA is in our wallets too. The biggest shock for me with the new system is the fare structure. Yikes! I understand that fuel costs have gone up, but the SWA fabulous fare structure is gone. I'm going to spend the least amount possible (for pleasure or business), so I guess we're now out of the A boarding. I didn't mind rushing to get the 24 hr. in advance "to the second" boarding pass printed for A group and then parking myself at the gate to get the best choice of seat selection - except on those mega-preboard FL flights! Not sure what the future holds for us and our preferred carrier. We LUV ya, but.......
Matt7
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I have flown SWA since the new boarding procedure, and it worked fairly well. However, the poles with the groups of 5 on them seem to be too close, as all 5 of us could not fit between them. Maybe there were people not lining in the right sport and this was the problem? Like others have said, enforcement will be the key, ensuring people board in their "group of 5" and not out of turn. My flight was half full, so that definitely helped make the process smooth. The only other thing is that there seems to be less seats in the waiting area to make room for the poles, thus not everyone will be able to sit until boarding as the new system is supposed to allow.
Jean111
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I found your website and decided to add my comments to them. I also fly many round trips on Southwest every year (my daughter lives in Southern California and we travel back and forth, some of the time she travels with her two little boys ages 2 and one half and two months. Her husband travels alot so she comes into Chicago.. She has traveled other airlines and really preferred your old pre-boarding system. However, now since there are not assigned seats, she has really been stressed out over the porcess of trying to gate check a double stroller and get the older two year old settled with his car seat, since she is now paying for his seat which is fine. There will be no way she will be able to handle these trips alone and more than likely I will be traveling back and forth just to help her. I read some of the comments from other travelers about some people who abuse the old pre-board system with older children, but really I have traveled alone and as an adult , can't some of those people give these young families a break and let them sit together and get settled, so they don't have other people behind them up their back. Also just today I was unable to board her with the internet, but her husband got an A pass #22 and her two year old son got an A pass #42, Absolutely insane. It would not let me pull up a boarding pass for her since she was told to put she would have a carry on two month old child, so it kicked her automatically to between the A and B passengers. In all the years I have travelled I rarely saw families abuse the pre-boarding status which made Southwest so popular with young families. I just wish those people who have written in complaining about family travel had to deal with the stress themselves.
Tracy5
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Southwest is catoring to the business class of flyers and I will have to agree with a previous blogger that Mr. Kelly's video was very political. It seems to me that Southwest has now created a "first class" for their airline and that is Business Plus. Those of us who fly for work or for pleasure are forced to pay the "first class" fare or risk getting a B or C unless we meet their number of flights rule. I like the boarding changes but I think Southwest pushed it a little too far. Keep the boarding changes but change the special treatment Business Plus people get and/or the REALLY frequent travelers receive. If we are sitting at our computer and push check in 24 hours in advance Southwest should be fair and allow us to get the number we deserve. I have been flying Southwest for work while my fellow employees have been flying another airline because I liked Southwest. I will have to say, I will now be flying the other airline with my co-workers because sitting in a middle seat from Baltimore to San Diego is not worth it - especially if I check in at exactly 24 hours in advance. I just checked in for my flight from Baltimore to San Diego - paid refundable fare price - and got an A30. I don't like it and this will be my last roundtrip on Southwest. I am very disappointed with Southwest. Southwest allowed the average person to fly with no consequence of how much you paid, how often you flew and whether you were flying for work or pleasure. The average person, flying for pleasure, paying a fare they can afford can now enjoy a boarding group of C and a center seat. Of course all the bloggers who fly for business like the new set up - they meet the flight criteria and they get the A-list treatment or they get their "A" boarding group reserved because they pay Business Plus fares. Southwest is now a business friendly airline and they seem to careless about the average flyer. Lessoned learned: If you want a good seat, a low number in the A boarding group, you must now pay the Business Plus fare. Just raise the fares across the board and make it fair for all.
Nick2
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I am quite surprised by the comments here. As a very frequent flyer for the last seventeen years, I have only flown Southwest on certain routes. Why? Because other airlines reward my repeated business with the ability to book the exit row aisle at ticketing. I believe that these changes will get Southwest more of my business. My biggest concern in the past has been getting a decent seat on my return flight home. This is often at a time when I am not near a computer, but would be flying back on an unrestricted ticket. Southwest has lost a LOT of my business on 200-700 mile nonstop flights due to this approach. You've already picked up one trip in December where I would have normally flown American, because I could lock in my outbound on a Ding! fare and buy Business Select on the return (which is likely to not be known until 3-4 days in advance). The resulting fare is lower than what will be available on American by the time the trip is completely locked in. I get 17D on the return, Southwest gets more revenue, and there are still a whole bunch of seats up front for families and other leisure fliers. I guess I don't see what the big problem is going to be? The reality is that if you're boarding pass is B10 or better, you're going to get a non-middle seat. For leisure travelers, if you care that much, be at the computer in advance. One thing I HAVE noticed so far, however, is that you need more signage at the gate. Specifically, a sign that says in big easy to understand wording which groups should stay seated and which groups should be standing. At both MDW and BNA, it's not been clear to a lot of people what is going on, and a lot of B customers were trying to stand in the A1-30 line at the wrong time.
Michael_Fuller
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Gosh! I have a real easy comment. ENFORCE YOUR OWN POLICY! I really don't care how or why you change any aspect of your policy. You make those decisions based on research that I'm not aware of. Besides, once I learn any system I will be aware of what I need to do to get what I want out of it. However, if you don't enforce your own boarding policies, then why even bother asking our opinions. I have no desire to pay extra for Business Select when the A1 thru A15 area is crowded with A50's. I'm an A-Lister and will be one for many more years but lining up as an A16 just allows the A50's to jump in front of me by breaking the rules. So, even though I don't care how you change the policies I hate the new system because it is not enforced.
c_anderson
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Love your airline but implementation of your new boarding is rocky. At MSY-NOLA , despite the Bingo seating on our boarding passes, the gate agents largely ignored it and it was the usual A,B,C which MOST of us mastered in kindergarten. Returning out of TPA, the gate agent tried to rigorously enforce it and had his intelligence and paternity questioned. There was no clear delineation of subgroups ie. groups of 5. The gate agents kept spinning the signage and sending people to the back of the line for being hapless. You're going to hemorrhage customers. The business upgrade is not an issue. Liberte,Egalite is a French thing. CB
J_Arndt
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To everyone who is SOOOOO happy that families with small children do not get to board 1st, I will be looking to sit right next to you with my 1 1/2 year old and I will not have a problem inconviencing you while I put everything away. Also, sorry if he talks to you or makes a noise, he does not understand the difference between the Business Select Passenger and the rest of the passengers. At his age he sees everyone the same not separate classes!!! Something else that needs to be corrected and keeps coming up from the Business people who are spending someone elses money. IF YOU HAVE A LAP CHILD, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES WILL NOT LET YOU CHECK IN ONLINE, SO YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE A CHANCE TO GET AN A. Also, if there is 137 seats on a plane how can there be 60A's?????? I am not a business flier but I was the Loyal SWA customer who went to SWA for all of my flights. Maybe I am wrong but from what I see above I am not alone when I ask the question, Why change one of the only successful airlines in the US?? You company was built by people like me who loyaly flew 4-6 round trips a year. The last time I looked it was very successful, it will be interesting to see where you and your business travelers go when you stop seeing the families travel on SWA. I wish you the best, I really like what you use to be.
Anonymous880
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Being a Southwest Operations Agent, Please Hear Me Out! Change is inevitable, but listen to this reasoning first-then fly us once before making a judgement! We fly only Boeing 737 aircraft. We seat 137 passengers, with 6 seats across ( 3 on each side) and approximately 22-24 rows. For the comparison, I will use the least amount available to make this point. With 22 rows per aircraft, that means that 44 aisle seats and 44 window seats ( two of each in each row) are available on each flight. That's a minimum of 88 "treasured" seats. This leaves approximately 49 middle seats per aircraft. This doesn't sound good to you if you are at the end of the B line or in the C boarding group. I counter complaints by telling passengers that "at least now you get to choose who you sit by and by not who sits next to you".-Other airlines don't give you this option! As far as family boarding goes, please don't sell SWA short! Families already in possession of an A Boarding pass may board with the first group, ensuring seats together. Once the A group has boarded-possibly 60 people but most likely a lot less, we call for family boarding-parents traveling with children 4 yrs. or younger to board who are in the B and C boarding group which ensures seats together. Does this mean that if your child is 6 years old that you should be worried about them sitting next to a total and complete stranger? NO WAY!!!!! We will do everything to ensure you get to sit next to your small child. It may not be we can accomodate both parents in the same row, but there's too much liability to force a family with a small child who may need extra attention during the flight to split apart from both parents! Nobody wants to babysit anothers' child during a flight, so we will make sure that doesn't happen! Just try asking for someone onboard to give up their seat to accomodate a mother and small child and see if offers are taken. If that doesn't happen, then I just simply make an announcement that "we are now looking for a babysitter for the flight", and hands start to shoot up to volunteer! I, personally don't agree with the Business Select seats, but I will try to explain it the best I can. I agree with trying to increase our revenue to off-set fuel prices, but I hate the fact that other people are now viewed as "more" important than others. With this said: There are 15 seats (Boarding passes A1-A15) reserved for each flight for passengers wanting to board first, notice I say First, not Business. These fares are available to everyone, just with a $10-$30 tacked on due to fuel soaring fuel costs. In the first 2 1/2 weeks of our new boarding, I have had some flights with No Business Select passengers, and have just had my first flight today with my personal all-time high record of 4 Business Select passengers. Going with my "minimum" standard that I stated earlier, this means that with no Business Select passengers checked in the for the flight, that the person holding Boarding Pass A16 will be the first to board after our Pre-board passengers. To explain it in more detail for our passenger who is holding a B-1 Boarding pass: if only 3 people preboard and there are no Business Select passengers checked in, then they would be the 49th person to board the aircraft---leaving A LOT OF CHOICES ON SEATS. Yet, in the worst case scenario, let's say there are 10 preboarding passengers and 15 Business Select Passengers checked in, as well as the other 45 people who would be in the A group (60 total): There would be 70 seats already occupied, but still leaving 18 window or aisle seats and 49 middle seats (on a full flight) to choose from. It's not as bad of an experience from the customer comments that I have received, but most people conjure up an opinion before trying it! Ya, most companies have a "BAD APPLE" among them that can cost them a customer, but I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE THE BEST EMPLOYEES OF ANY AIRLINE WHO ARE WILLING TO GO ABOVE THE "LEGACY STANDARD" to show how much we really do love Southwest Airlines!--Even in the amidst of change. Has Southwest ever laid off an employee since 9/11 or filed or bankruptcy---NO! And although no company is perfect, "most" of us will pass along our gratitude to YOU! I bet I can make you smile!
Kory_Tedrick
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I've got to say I'm a bit dissapointed. I've been a loyal Southwest customer for years, flying several times a year. I've enjoyed the fact that everyone is treated the same. You show up. You get on the plane. And you might sit next to a business person. You might sit next to a family on vacation. You might sit next to a kid going home from college. It was alwasy different, and you never knew who you were going to meet. Anyway, it set you apart. It was fun. Now you're starting Business Select and the Business rates where certain people if they're willing to pay a little more are guaranteed to get on the plane a little bit earlier than everyone else and get the seat they want. Sounds like you're going the way of everyone else. Why not just have a business class section of the plane and while you're at it just assign everyone a seat. That's what the other guys would do. Best of luck with you're new way of doing things. A dissapointed fan who will probably fly you a little bit less because the differences are getting less and less. Kory Tedrick St. Louis, MO
Sarah_Bowers
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This past week I made my first flight since you have changed your boarding procedure. I have ALWAYS LOVED flying Southwest and comparable to other airlines, have felt you ranked the highest in meeting family needs. I have always preboarded the plane with my infant, allowing for an easy in, easy out. Being in the front of the plane, also gave me quick access to the restroom for diaper changes and the flight attendents were always so helpful in helping to warm bottles. While I applaude your new boarding procedures numbering the A, B, and C lines, I found that your new boarding of families between A and B makes things much more difficult. Have you ever attempted to board with a stroller, baby carrier, diaper bag, and infant? Now I not only have all of these items, but must avoid hitting all of the A boarders along the process. I think you should reconcider your new policy and instead place emphasis on the families you are allowing to preboard. As has been stated in earlier comments, many of these families have children well over the preboard age. I will continue to fly Southwest for individual travel but will consider other options when flying with my children.
Van_Morris
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Since 9/11, any smart traveler will arrive at the airport 2 hours early. Now instead of sitting on the floor enjoying the company of our fellow travelers, we must mill around the greedy food vendors. I have been a loyal SWA traveler for many years and have had a companion pass for the pass 4 years. But alas, since I have not traveled as much this year, I do not qualify for preferred boarding. You have made a joke out of Rapid Rewards, since you have started restricting the available seats. I guess the new fee structure will replace what you lose from the fleeing client base that made you successful. You have moved from something special to just another airline. Maybe one of your competitors will adopt your business plan that has made you and capture your former customers as they flee. I always felt special on SWA and I m sad to see so many good memories fade!
Joann_Waski
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Just flew for the 2nd round trip time in a month, this time with my family of 5. We checked in on-line within minutes of the 24 hr starting time and got A56. Since we needed seats together we ended up in the 20th row. People flying solo took up the rows in the front of the plane, it was horrible. This process is just ridiculous!!!! What about the people that do not have a computer? My older family members do not (they are in there 70's) So now what, it becomes my problem to check them in online or else they will be group "c", unless they pay an extra $200 for the flight? That's a bunch of BS! Just give us a seat number when we book our flight! You have no idea what it is like to travel with children. Shame on you Southwest!
Aaron4
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If the primary goal of Southwest's boarding procedure is to board the plane faster (I think both the old and new system share this goal), there needs to be a way to align the goals of passengers and the airline together. There really isn't a lot of motivation now for passengers to board quickly. Perhaps a way to 'reward' passengers for boarding the plane quickly could be implemented. For example, let's say SWA expects to board a plane in 15 minutes (this would vary based on the number of ticketed passengers). Perhaps a reward system where the passengers receive something if they board faster (maybe a .25 RR credit bonus, free drink coupon, or a $5 credit on their account). I think the prospect of a reward for boarding the plane more quickly may motivate passengers to load their bags quicker, clear the aisle faster, etc. The only negative I can think of is passengers getting mad at another passenger for taking too long to clear the aisle, but I think if the reward is small enough, people will be motivated without being too upset when they don't get it. Thoughts?
Jim_Pfeifer
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As a long-legged frequent flyer who hasn't flown another than SWA in a few years but whose 24-hour in advance check-in nets only #A22 and whose flights may decrease in the future due to a work change, I say "farewell to my favorite exit-row seats with leg room...I have enjoyed and will miss ye. I hope the business elite whose bottom will rest there, is as in-shape as I am to preserve your springs, and that they will enjoy it as much as I have!" I'll still fly SW but my allegiance is likely swayed.
Michael_Tate
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I've always enjoyed flying Southwest, but did not look forward to the check-in. People playing cards in the floor, waiting an hour or more in advance, luggage holding places in line, it all seemed a little ridiculous to me. I think the new changes have reduced the stress of the check-in, and I thought it was well organized. Oh, and I love business select. When I am traveling on business and have to book flights last minute, I'll pay the extra. And I like moving of the boarding of children to between A & B. The mark of a good airline: alway striving to be the best including trying different things to make things better. Great Job!
JMH1
Not applicable
I don't know why all these people are such whiners!! If you check in online as a family, don't you get all your boarding passes together?? You can still sit together, you just don't get to use your kids to get you ahead, allowing us singles relief from your choice to have kids, I mean, please, a family of five getting to board first because ONE of them is under five years old?? Please tell me your kids serve a higher purpose than to get you a better seat on a plane-isn't sitting together as a "family" good enough? For those that "liked" to sit on the dirty, disgusting floor with strangers who could care less about you as a "fellow passenger", you don't HAVE to sit on the floor-you can relax in one of the many restaurants, bookstores, or lounges!! Whomever would CHOOSE to sit on the floor as opposed to any one of the other options shouldn't be paid much attention to anyway-neither should anyone who can't spell/write better than their five-year-old!! As for those that don't have computers, GET WITH THE TIMES!! THANK YOU SWA!!! It is GREAT that you recognize the importance of time in all of our busy lives, now we can truly spend more time doing what we CHOOSE, instead of being FORCED to wait in line to board two or more hours before a flight just because of these vultures!!
Sam_Meers
Not applicable
I love SWA. I love the new boarding procedure. And I love the fact that Southwest continues to innovate and arrive at a completely different solution to the boarding issue while not sacrificing the open seating that we've come to love. Keep doing it right and keep making money. I love flying a profitable airline!
Joann_Waski
Not applicable
Does it really what age your child is JMH? I have 3 children ranging in age from 8 to 5. Last month my 8 year old had to sit a few rows behind me with strangers. That is a very scary thing for a child of any age. The point is that parents should not be forced to be separated from there children because of others insensativity!
Melissa_Fairrel
Not applicable
I have flown SWA several times since the new boarding was implemented. I love it. No more watching people act like cattle standing in line for hours when the plane has not even arrived. I have not had a problem getting an A thus far except once and I still got an aisle seat even with that B. Keep up the good work SWA. Looking forward to my next flight in a couple of weeks. I don't know what people are complaining about with this new system. It works for me.
Vala
Not applicable
My round trip flights to Tuscon and back on Thanksgiving were the first I have taken on Southwest and I was delighted with your on time departures and arrivals, good ticket pricing, people friendly savvy and professionalism throughout. From start to finish it was a pleasure to fly on Southwest and I will certainly check you out first next time. Thanks!
scottnearsmf
New Arrival
Heads up to those that are flying either MCI-DAL or DAL-SAT this week. There will be a even greater need to check in as close to 24 hours before as possible due to the Missouri football fans going to San Antonio. Also since Kansas and Missouri have the same home airport (MCI), there is a possiblity that these flights have been/will be overbooked because of the Kansas cancellation possibilities. Make sure you check-in early to get your seats. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Jennifer_Clayto
Not applicable
Please, please, please bring back pre-boarding for families with infants and toddlers....it is difficult enough flying with little ones as it is, and this is one thing that just seemed to make things easier. Waiting in line with a toddler while the people behind you get annoyed that it's taking so long (to fold up your stroller, get the car seat installed, etc.) is just no fun for anyone. I know a lot of people have issues with children flying, but the reality is that families are spread out these days and 12+ hours in a car seat in the car is just not feasible. On another note, is there any possibility to retrofit the cabin bathroom with a baby changing table? It seems like most of the major airlines have them these days with the exception of Southwest. This is just a small customer amenity that would really have a big impact on a family's flying experience. We've had such great customer service experiences on Southwest, but feel like they're just not very "family-friendly" when it comes to flying with infants and toddlers these days.
BWI_Dave
Not applicable
How about, Families will be able to board first, if they would like sit in the last 10 rows. They would then be close to the rear galley and bathroom. Boarding first,it gives them time to get situated as the front of the plane starts to fill. (without clogging the isle). At the destination, ground crews have time to have strollers and car seats on the jet way when the get off last.
RB2
Not applicable
WSJ article today, Nov 27, about SWA's shift to business instead of leisure travelers.
kelli-bartlett-
Not applicable
Jennifer, Parents traveling with small children deserve and need extra assistance! Many of us have been there (as passengers traveling with children) and we remember how tough it was. I remember the days of trying to fold up the stroller with a diaper bag over one shoulder, totebag and baby in the other...wondering if I had too many carry-ons! Changing tables in the restrooms are about to become a reality. I'm not sure of the date but they should be rolling out soon if not already. Hooray! We do like to think we are a family-friendly airline and we love seeing travel made a little easier for all of our families. Always know the flight attendants are most happy to help you. Many of us are mothers too! Families are LUVed at SWA!
Andrea_Bach
Not applicable
The new boarding process is ridiculous. You took something that was already horrible and made it worse. 1. The signs are not clear 2. Apparantly in the A1-30 line we are all supposed to order ourselves? You've got to be kidding me. So we should be checking with each other to see what number we are? Could you make it more difficult? Your gate agent denied me because I was A29, he said I should be at the end of the A1-30 line, and then he let on someone with a A20 boarding pass. So he was obviously just being a jerk. Thanks. 3. Why not just go back to the numbers - no numbers and letters - and call 1-20, 11-20, 21-30, etc. That seemed to work fine for years and years. I refuse to fly your airline again. I would rather take Amtrak AND pay more! My last business trip to Reno was pure torture - no matter how cheap, it's no bargain.
David_Gholston
Not applicable
I am a businessman and travel frequently. I recently used Southwest to fly to Phoenix. My experience with the boarding process was not a good one. The efficiencies gained by Southwest may be great but the inefficienties of the process on customers is also great. To start with, to get a "choice" you have to go to the Southwest website and click on the button 24 hours ahead to get a good "choice" seat. If you don't click within a millisecond of the time, your chance of getting a good seat is not happening. In addition, I had to leave a meeting to go a web computer to perform this function both on the trip out and back. Talk about unintended consequences. I also do not like standing like cattle in the lines prior to boarding. I don't have to do this on other airlines. I don't feel the anxiety of not knowing. This may be fantastic for Southwest but the mumbling in the cattle lines is not positive. I don't have the time or the will to go through this process just for a flight again. Sorry.
Arthur
Not applicable
My wife and I fly Southwest every about every three weeks and have loved your airline and have converted several friends from Jetblue to SW. Now we absolutetly despise your new boarding system. We liked sitting in the only 2 seater by the exit door and not having anyone sit next to us. For about 28 consecutive flights we were able to obtain these seats because, under the old system and the precise moment we were able to obtain our online pass, I usually got between 1 and 15, not that at this point it mattered because we got to the airport early and were willing to stand in line so we could get those seats. NOW...the precise moment we are able to get those online tickets, the best we can do is 37 and 48. And during our last couple of flights, guess what? Those two seaters were gone. To make matters worse, on both occasions after we got our seats, young kids ended up in back of us, only to kick our backs the entire trip from Orlando to Manchester, despite asking them to stop. Under the old way, preboarding the kids, we could be sure we were not next to screaming, crying and kicking kids. Several other flyers in line also said they prefered the old method as well. We did notice it was also a lot more effort for your employees trying to get everyone in place. You should also try and change you online pass system to obtain two separate confirmation numbers at the same time. Duing the past trip we used two separate RR tickets. And while I was in the 30's my wife 's number was in the 40's. I cannot believe we are actually considering flying another line once we use up our combined 8 RR tickets plus flights we have already paid for. Arthur, Wells, Maine
nsx
Not applicable
Andrea, thanks for the great news that Southwest's Ops Agents are enforcing the sequence. The poles with the numbers mark your correct position, so you don't need to ask others what numbers they have in order to find your correct place. If after knowing that you still prefer to try boarding out of sequence then you really do belong on another airline. What many people here don't yet realize is that slots A1-A15 are normally almost empty. Those are the Business Select slots that mostly go unsold. So the A20 you saw was actually in the first 5 mini-group of non-Business Select passengers. The Ops Agent did it exactly right. It's a good system. Learn it and you'll love it. One recommendation to Southwest from this customer: Go ahead and ratchet down the count of Business Select slots sooner rather than later. You can let it grow later. The reason is to eliminate the large gap (nearly empty A1-A15 positions) that confuses newbies and tempts line jumpers. Operational considerations outweigh potential but unlikely revenue, at least for now.
Joann_Waski
Not applicable
David.....What an excellant idea "pre-board families in the last 10 rows". I have children and that works for me, and does cut down on the boarding process. They should from back to front anyway, just makes sense doesn't it. As a parent, my main concern is that I sit with my children, not that I get the front seat. David, you deserve a job on the SWA planning board!
scottnearsmf
New Arrival
Can some one put on the main website the deal with the A1-A15 Business Select spots and also A-1 treatment exist only 36 hours and up for the A-1 people. Thanks.
Vikki1
Not applicable
The new boarding system is stupid and more trouble than it's worth. Leaving Salt Lake City, the gate worker didn't even bother to check that people were in the right number order, so I ended up at the end of the line when I shouldn't have been. Returning from St. Louis at least the numbers were respected, but then I had to ask myself -- what exactly is the point of this? What makes this better than the old way? Answer: NOTHING; it's not better. In fact, it's worse! If there are no official assigned seats, you're still lining up to choose whatever is available. You still get an A, B, or C boarding group, so you're still going to be further ahead or further behind in line to choose based on that. The only difference is that if I arrive at the airport in time to queue up in the B line, and be the 4th person, under the old system, I was rewarded for being on-time or early. With this new system I can get there an hour early and it won't matter because as a B60, someone who just barely makes it before boarding with an B7 gets to board way ahead of me. The genius behind SWA was it's "first-come-first-served" process, and the cheaper prices that came with that. But with your fare increases and your crazy boarding rules I may as well fly another carrier where I can go online and choose the seat I want, show up whenever I want, and not have to get in a line with my number like a 4th grader. SWA needs to seriously rethink these changes; you're destined to lose a LOT of customers. Have you forgotten that what made SWA so great was how DIFFERENT you were from all of the other airlines?????
Ms__Drew_Fry
Not applicable
As a business traveler, often flying 3 or more times a week, I LUV the new boarding process. I am now able to arrive a little later and get more work done at the same time. The revamped gate areas are LUV-ly and so customer oriented!!! The A+Priority is awesome too. The only change I would make would be in the alcoholic beverage area...I have all these free drink tickets and you really don't serve alcohol that I drink. ....if you only served White Zinfindal, Amaretto or Michelobe Ultra ! SW still has the best flight attendents and flight crews around!!!!!! Thanks for all you do.
JM
Not applicable
I am very disappointed in the new Southwest boarding procedure. I think the concept in theory is an improvement but in reality it seems to show favortism to select groups of people and disorganization to a system that used to work well. My family has been flying across country using Southwest exclusively for several years now, I flew under the new system yesterday and was very discouraged with Southwest. The B and C rows were boarding and there never were annoucements made for the A boarding. The gate personnel were changing the A: sign to the B: sign before announcing the A: boarding, causing confusion. The pushy customers were even more pushy than before and were just allowed to do what they wanted. It really appeared to be a deterioration from the previous method. Go back to the old ways, that was what made your airlines the BEST in the business and my family's exclusive airlines by offering reasonable rates and the freedom to select your seating neighbors upon seeing the circumstances at hand. I am all for trying to attract more business travelers but please do not forget about the recreational travelers that have made your airlines what it is today.
Steve6
Not applicable
I am writing this message with the hope it actually reaches someone in the Southwest decision making process who will read it. I am sure there are good reasons for many of the changes Southwest has made recently. Some I agree with, some I donÃ
john_holtz
Not applicable
SWA Gate Agents need to announce and enforce the numerical order of the Boarding Passes. You've added these numbers, now use them. Just this week I purchased and flew with a Business Select ticket. At boarding time a passenger with A 27 walked on ahead of me. I paid twice as much as her and she got the same benefit. On the return flight the Agent announced "A 1 through 30" and everyone just scrambled regardless of their number. Here's what I learned: why bother paying $367 when I can get at the head of the line even with a $109 ticket. Here's a simple suggestion: when the Agent announces it's boarding time he/she should be scripted to instruct the passengers to line up in numerical order according to their Boarding Pass. The Agent will need to say this over a few times to reinforce it. Then the Agent should call up the groups seperately, as in 1-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, and so on. Secondly, the Agent should make any "high numbered" passengers who attempt to board in the first groupings step aside and wait until their group is called. Do this a few times and others will get the idea. Your promos for the new boarding procedure talk about spending less time waiting in line. Well the opposite is happening: people are camping out early in line to get a better boarding position in their Letter group, just like the old days. In sum, the number system . . . use it or lose it!
Artie
Not applicable
I've posted a few times before on this topic. Quick synapse: LUVin' it. BUT, it just occurred to me after reading another post above that your new Business Select fare will be short-handed as "BS". I found this to be fairly amusing. Personally, I feel as though your marketing people could have come up with a WILDLY more exciting name that is more fun than "Business" and "Business Select", which is so dry and boring and not the typical SWA style. I expected more creativity from the airline that turned a mini-skirt incident into a hilarious and successful national advertising campaign :) Just some thoughts. Regardless, see y'all at LAX in a couple weeks when I travel with friends to LAS for a fun filled day! Happy flying! cheers, artie
Another_Mark
Not applicable
We want to give the new procedures a chance like Gary, Brian and Kevin has asked us to do. Reading all the above sounds like many gate agents don't understand it and thus aggravating us customers. Upper management, I hope you are reading these comments and take appropriate steps to "retrain" some of the CSA's. Just like shopping at a new store or eating in a new restaurant, if you have a bad experience the first time, you really don't want to go back. This could happen to many of the SWA customers. I fly for the first time next week from MCO to BNA and back. I'm anxious to see how things are working.