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To Assign or Not to Assign, That is the Question

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As many of you know, the question about whether to keep our open seating or to assign seats has been the Southwest question for the past couple of years.  Proponents of each process have been very vocal and heartfelt in support of their positions, and my post of last summer generated more than 700 comments (including those on a followup post).  To those who weighed in on this issue, thank you, and I assure you that your voices were heard. After much investigation, which included extensive "real life" testing in San Diego and San Antonio, we are ready to close the book on "the great seating experiment" and announce our decision.  (If we had drums, we could have a drum roll at this point, but we don't, so imagine one in your mind.)  Southwest has decided to keep open seating, but to adopt a new and improved boarding process.  These decisions were based on the input we got from you, our Customers, through this blog, written correspondence, and surveys taken during the tests.  While a substantial majority of our Customers prefer the ability to select their own seats onboard the aircraft, many of those folks have told us they don't like our existing boarding procedure that sometimes has Customers doing everything possible to be at the front of their boarding group.  Instead, many of you suggested, why not board the aircraft in the numerical order of the boarding pass? Well, we listened to you!  After initial tests in San Diego last fall, we conducted a full-scale evaluation in San Antonio last month, and the responses we received were very favorable.  Basically, the new boarding procedure divides the airplane into groups of five Customers, based upon the order in which a Customer checks in.  The first Customer gets an A 1 and so on, and they will line up to board in their group of five.  (To the extent possible, our gates will be modified with marked columns that reflect these new boarding groups.)  Customers will know where their boarding pass aligns in the process as soon as they check in, and this will eliminate the need to "camp out" and hold a spot in the boarding lines.  For a full description of the new process and to see the comments, click here to read Susie Boersma's August 23 post.              Our goal is to have the new boarding process up and running systemwide by early November.  I am fully aware that this news will excite many and disappoint others.  To those of you who are skeptical, I can only ask that you give the new boarding procedures a try.  After everyone gets used to it, I bet you will wonder why we didn't think of this years ago! (Click here to see a video of the new procedures.  Also, check out this helpful site.)
525 Comments
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Hey Brian, seems like you've got a PR pickle on your hands. Best of luck.
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Wed Sept 12th I flew from Las Vegas to Omaha on the 1 something flkight. As usual there was a huge pre-boarding group 75% of whom were very overwight elderly women in wheelchairs 6 or 7 total plus their extended families. No children ALL grownups each of whom took two spaces not one. The irksome thing is that the big fat women were given preferential treatment becasue of their weight and age I guess. Wheelchairs were provided for them upon arrival and were wheeled to the escalaor where they got off rode down and WALKED to the pick up their luggage. I am stunned you have eliminated pre boarding for children. I am a Grandmother and a loyal SW flier for many many years. I have never preboarded but I know how necessry it is through observation and from my childrens shared experience with travel on SW. It makes me not like Southwest . I never thought I would say that. You are making a mistake.
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The whole preboard process frustrates me. I have seen a number of people "limp" onto the plane, and run off when it has landed. Many years ago I had a flight on Frontier Airlines, which offered open seating also. When they annouced Pre-Boarding was about to start, a number of people headed to the Gate, when they continued with that Pre-Boarder's had to sit in rows 15 and higher, the number or Pre-Boarders dropped. Imagine that. I also feel that those that need to be helped on the plane, should be the last off the plane. (I realize that would be hard to police, but if they were in the back, it would help) Just a thought.
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I hope SWA starts serving cheese on their flights to go along with all of the w(h)ine that's going on. I flewover the labor day weekend I and stood in line for 45 minutes trying to get through security. Just as it was my turn to go, here come the families with kid(s), (approx. 4 of them , parents, grandparents, friends , all taking advantage of a falulty system)along with the wheelchair bunch, going in front of me. I almost wet my pants from all the coffee I had drunk. (It was 5:30AM) Most of the kids were walking, and lord knows their legs are younger than mine. I have BHP,(for those of you who know what that is, will aprreciate this) and holding my urine for that length of time is difficult. Huh, maybe I should ask for a medical exemption from standing in line? When is my next appt. with the Urologist? I'll ask for a note. No way, took like a man instead of some wimp who thinks the he is "entitled" because mommy made sure he got a trophy too because he showed up; even though he had no talent. Let's all reward everybody.
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Your elimination of the preboarding policy for families with young children is insane. As a mother of a toddler, I am wise enough to purchase a seat for my daughter - for her safety and in respect for others on the plane. Have YOU ever tried to install a carseat in an airplane? It takes time, space and patience. Now I will have none of those resources. Instead, I will be blocking the aisle and knocking people in the head with the carseat, all while getting nasty looks. What a good idea! Perhaps I should be pleased? If I'm not able to find seats together for my family, someone else can entertain my child throughout the 5 hour trip to Chicago...
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OHHHH, I was so excited about your new boarding structure and then I read the family unfriendly change in regards to pre-boarding. I can see from reading many posts that you've heard this already, but honestly - it takes us the entire pre-board time to put that car seat in, get the sippy cup out and set up everything else we have to set up to keep a 2-year-old occupied for 4 hours. I can only imagine how long it takes for people traveling with more than one child! I ask you, along with many other of your loyal clients, to reconsider. I'll HAVE to try it as I've already booked my flight for December, but this new procedure will now add to the stress of holiday traveling for our family. Your family pre-board was the reason we were such loyal customers. Along with the extra time it gave us to prepare for take off, it also assured us that we would all sit together. I can't imagine being separated from my husband and son for a 4 1/2 hour flight. I truly hope that you will reconsider this new policy. Unfortunately, we too will be seeking out a new airline for our frequent trips and that would make me very sad. I'd miss SWA. Thank you for allowing us to voice our opinions. I only hope there is someone out there listening. All the Best,
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This sounds like a great idea. I'm so glad you didn't go back to assigned seating.
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I'm fine with families and SMALL children boarding first...I think it will be faster overall but I resent people getting into that line who have older children and are just jokeying for better seats.
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To all those who say, "Give it a try": Did you read Rachel's post a few posts back? She has already gone through the trial at San Antonio with a toddler, and she said that, while the new boarding is mostly great, the lack of preboarding with a baby was terrible. They were in the A group and still did NOT get to sit together because the plane was so full with people traveling through! This is exactly what people are worried about. Southwest, are you listening? As a parent of 2 small children, who I have to buy seats for, seats that cost the same as everyone elses, I would be in favor of sitting at the rear of the plane if i pre-board. I would also be in favor of only 2 adults being able to preboard with children (no 9 family members for 1 kid type of thing, but I really don't see that sort of abuse much anyway). Honestly, why couldn't you try something like that first instead of dicthing it altogether? The more I think about it the more I am disappointed. It just seems like a monumentally stupid decision. I really hope you change it or you will be losing a lot of business.
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[...] regarding the new boarding procedures. There’s also a video of the new boarding process and lots of comments, posted on Southwest’s corporate [...]
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Flying with a baby is already a chore. Thanks to this new seating plan, it's going to become much harder. What the hell are you folks thinking? Before I had a kid I was happy that most of them were seated in the front and already on when I got on - so I could avoid them. Now that I have one, I love being able to get all my stuff on (yes you need carseats etc. - most people don't travel with them for fun) and out of the way. Moves like this will make me and may family avoid flying your airline when we can, and won't sweeten our attitude when we have to. I hope all the travels that support this end up sitting next to a fussy baby and an even fussier parent!!
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I'm not sure how anyone could think that moving the families with small children to the middle of the boarding order is going to somehow increase efficiency. On the face of it, it appears that people who line up hours in advance are upset because they don't get the front row seat. I won't go so far as to say that I will never fly Southwest again, because I can't tell my employer who to book my flight with. As for me and my family we will spend the extra money to fly on an airline that will allow people who have needs, such as parents with small children, to pre-board. It makes a huge difference in the disposition of our child. Glad to see that Southwest prefers to cater to only one type of traveler.
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I think the new boarding procedure at Southwest is going to be a win-win situation for everyone. Not only you are assigned into a boarding group, you are assigned a place in line in that boarding group. That way, those who arrive at the airport early enough (and are in the A boarding group especially) can go ahead and enjoy the amenities an airport has to offer. That way, you don't have to worry about getting to your gate early and having to stake out your place in line - your place in line is already reserved for you. As for preboarding policy, I agree Southwest made a change in the right direction. I believe preboarding should be restricted to those who are disabled (and, consequently, need the extra time going down the jetway to the plane) and unaccompanied children ages 5 through 11. We can't forget those who have to purchase a second seat for a valid reason as well (from what I understand those having to purchase a second seat can courtesy preboard per current Southwest policy and I am not sure if this policy will continue under the new preboard policies). All too often on my recent travels on Southwest (especially not too long ago when I recently took a trip to LAX for a few days) I have seen large groups of families in the preboard line. Why? If your family group includes a child 5 years of age or under your family group qualified for preboarding! In my opinion, these large family groups who preboard sometimes grab the good seats and those of us in general boarding, especially when you are one of the first few in Boarding group A like myself, I feel are denied the opportunity to grab a good seat. After all, traveling from TPA to FLL is just a short flight but when you are traveling from TPA to BWI or LAX and vice versa, that's a long haul and indeed finding a good seat on the plane is a must. Personally, the last time I have ever used preboarding was with my mother back in 1998 when she took me out to SFO (San Francisco) as a graduation present for completing my second associates' degree. (However, we flew on another airline which I won't mention here). My mother was disabled and she could not walk a considerable distance nor stand for a long time. I had to assist my mother down the jetway and to our seats. Sadly, two years later in 2000 I lost my mother to a heart attack. This is a good example of how preboarding should be used for, whether it's Southwest or another airline. It's been tested in San Diego and recently in San Antonio - let's give this new boarding policy and procedure a try. But I think in the end this will be a win-win situation for everyone!
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Brian and Mr. Kelly, Here is an idea...Let the families continue to preboard according to the A; B; or C grouping they have. For example if we have an A pass...let our family preboard ahead of the A group so that we can get our two strollers broken down while carrying all our carry on luggage; diaper bags; kids backpacks etc. Then we have to install the car seat next to the window while making sure my two year old doesn't run away; and then stow all items. Again, it is impossible to do all this with impatient people breathing down your neck while they are trying to get to their seats. Then allow preboard group B (those with children
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What about those with lap infants who can't check in ahead of time to get an A boarding pass with the rest of their family? We relied on preboarding because we already had to get to the airport so early just to wait in line and fill out the lap child paperwork. At least after all those other lines we got to have time to get settled with our little ones. It has been my experience that by the time you get through the lines at the ticket counters with a lap infant, you are almost always a "Group C" boarder. I'm going to have to reconsider Southwest as my preferred airline if the lap infant policy isn't addressed.
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I have flown Southwest for 31 years...mainly due to fares and on-time flights, but I have ALWAYS hated what I call the "cattle call" When I fly I would like it to be pleasant It had always brought on anxiety, and still remains so, because you have to "watch" the clock to check in early...and sometimes not being able to on the return trip...(depending on where you are and availablity of computer). If not available you are pretty much trashed It is always a pleasure to fly other airlines because I can relax... IN A CHAIR....until my seating row is called...no cattle call sittting on the floor or standing in line with all in tow for 45 min or more Unfortunately this system does nothing to alleviate the pressure to "watch the clock" to still get an "A" seating or know that I will get "C" seating because I might have other engagements and can't be at a computer, poised to strike to check in 24 hrs in advance I had hoped for a better improvement and a more relaxed way of traveling with Southwest. Since I earn approximately 6-8 free tickets a year thru Southwest Rewards, it is disappointing And really...what makes anyone think that just "shifting" the preboard a few seats will do anything...it STILL takes the same amount of time to do the preboard. You can't change that time factor. All you did was shift time and placate a few passengers, to make them believe all is well, because they got to get on board just a few ahead of families with children. Quite silly I did preboard with my children over 15-20 years ago...but the rules were simply enforced than. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry was allowed to preboard. I am positive the othere passengers appreciated that they then had a choice to sit near my family and children or not. And they did not have to wait standing while we all settled in. But then again I was always thoughtful and aware in preparing well with entertainment or other needs to not "endear" my children to others. Why not continue with that and it will eliminate the "freebies of preboarding"? Southwest I was excited with the prospect of getting assigned seats..again how disappointing
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I fly over 100,000 miles a year. Because of the few times I have had no choice but to fly southwest I have found your open seating to make me feel like I am part of a heard of cows. Your open seating is why I do not fly Southwest and why I do not book any of my people on Southwest. It is awful and I have found it to be a degrading process so we just do not fly Southwest.
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SHAME ON YOU SWA for eliminating preboard for families with small children. Anyone who has flown with small children knows that this privilige is as much about getting down the jetway and getting your children seated before your plane-mates PLOW YOU DOWN on their way to claiming their own seats and ensuring that we are not holding up the line while we're collapsing strollers, collecting gear, and trying to keep our kids corralled and out from underfoot of those who also want to get on deck and pick their favorite seat ASAP. As far as "unfair" goes to have families arrive last minute and still board first, it is much more unfair to have to subject our planemates to children who have been toted in early by their parents and made to sit around a less than kid friendly airport terminal and sugarloaded on the ever present cinnabons in the parents' hopes of at least landing a halfway decent seat selection in the A grouping so that all travelers in the party can sit together. Oh wait, for the families to do that we must log on swa.com at midnight sharp and check in or risk being shut out like a baby boomer trying to score Paul McCartney tickets at 10AM on tickets.com You clearly are no longer a family friendly airline and I am taking my business elsewhere.
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I don't understand the "open seating" to begin with. Isn't it safer to know where everybody is sitting? One of the fortunate things about the 9-11 hijackings was that the flight attendants could identify the seats where the hijackers came from -- so we knew who they were, or at least how they registered for their tickets. How does TSA let Southwest continue its seating practice?? Or suppose somebody dies on the flight and her identificatgion is in a bag up in the overhead with a kazillion other bags -- how long will it take to figure out who that person is, rooting through bags etc to find identification? If her seat were assigned, you'd probably have all her information right away. I generally like flying SWA but I always thought their seating policy was kind of nutty for this day and age -- and it looks like it will continue to be so.
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You've got be kidding -- Southwest is doing away with preboarding for families with small children? Having recently traveled with my first child -- a 7-month-old -- I've discovered it is absolutely necessary to board first. It makes no sense to have families lug their baby and all of his/her stuff halfway down the plane bumping into other passengers along the way. It takes less time and makes everyone much happier to get the kids situated first. Plus, this way passengers who don't want to sit near the kids can easily choose a seat a few aisles down. I do my part -- I buy my child a seat (even though he's a lap baby) and check-in online to ensure we're in the A-group. I bring as many toys as possible to keep him quiet. Really, how much of an inconvenience is it to allow families to board early? We're already on edge and worried about our kids bothering the other passengers. A little special treatment is appropriate!
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If your plan was to make your business travelers happy then congrats you did it.... If you thought families wouldn't mind being told that the "A" people should board first just because they were "A" people - well you were wrong... I understand you think that boarding between A and B there will be seats left for families to sit together but what about those flights that have many people "staying on the plane"? Why is it quicker between A and B ? But NOT quicker before A??? Where did that reasoning come in??? Truly you just don't want to p-off your "A" people off.... but its OK to p-off the families? Those of you that posted that you don't understand why families should board first obviously don't have small children... I didn't understand either until I had them... Boarding first is a blessing and a gift and SWA just took that gift away from its families... I think you will loose a lot of families to their cars or other discount fliers... we are flying SWA this weekend and need tickets for Christmas.... My husband asked "Why are you even looking at Southwest? We aren't flying them any more...."
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I fail to see what the big change is? Southwest has narrowed the letters into smaller groups; big deal? I always check in online about 23 hours, 59 minutes prior to the departure time -- and always get "A". I'll continue to do that....and, as long as you had an "A", regardless if you were number 30 in the line, you always had a choice of a good seat! Customers may complain about the unfairness applied to family pre-boarding, but how about the miracles that are performed on flights heading from the cold northeast to Florida -- all of the "disabled" who are miraculously able to sprint out of the plane after having to be wheeled onto the plane?
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by the way... families don't sit up front because the are the "coveted seats!!" If you flew with children you would know we sit up front because it is the closest available seat and it beats taking ANYONE UNDER 10 down the aisle past 20 other rows!!! and Teresa... getting an A ticket still doesn't give people with small children the time or ROOM to get on the plane and get the car seat strapped in along with diaper bag etc... if you have ever tried it you have about 50 irritated people behind you pushing you and your kid to hurry up and move it....
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I find it unfortunate that SWA has decided to accomodate families with young children. We will no longer fly SWA with or without children and will encourage our friends to do likewise. Courtesy seems to be a long lost value and practice in the business world. Pity.
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Eliminating pre-boarding for families eliminates my need to ever fly Southwest again, and Southwest is the only airline we've flown since my son was born. We have a four-year-old and a one-year-old, and between the bags of toys and snacks (since there's no food on any airline anymore) and the fact that someone has to fold up the stroller at the bottom of the gate, etc. boarding is already a nightmare that generally leaves me sweating and nearly in tears. If I now have to do this without even knowing if we'll have seats together and that maybe I'm going to have to beg a perfect stranger to get up - well, what's the point? To those people who say, let the families board first but make them sit at the back of the plane - the back of the plane gets the worst turbulence. You've clearly never been covered with vomited milk when your 15-month-old, who can't tell you he's feeling airsick, pukes all over you and your entire row. The front of the plane is MUCH better for airsickness. By the way, we NEVER take the bulkhead row, it's miserable with kids. The extra legroom is worthless when you do not have tray tables or cup holders, and kids' legs are short to begin with and they don't need it. I always leave that row for kids travelling alone and disabled people. The biggest problem with preboarding is those people who clearly have no reason to be standing in the preboard line. I've stood in that line before with families with one two-year-old and - no joke - 12 adults. That's abuse and it shouldn't be allowed by the gate agents. The parents or one parent and one other traveling companion are all that should be allowed to preboard with a small child. And I've stood there with perfectly able-bodied, single adult travelers, usually with briefcases, carrying that blue plastic boarding sleeve. Who knows what they did to get it, but it certainly wasn't because they required extra time. My guess is we'll still see those people, while the families sweat and try not to bash anybody else in the head with their carseats as they lug them down the aisles.
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And one more thing - it's easy to check in online before I leave home, but it's nearly impossible to check in online for your return flight while on vacation. When you're already lugging 900 pounds of kids' stuff, you don't want to throw in a laptop too, especially when you're trying to leave work behind. We were in a rustic cabin without internet or even air conditioning on Cape Cod this summer, and why on earth should I have to cut half a day from my already short vacation to go drive around in hopes of finding a public library with internet access so I can check in so I can sit WITH MY CHILDREN? That's just abusive.
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I am really disappointed in SWA regarding the announcement to drop family pre-boarding. As a traveling family, with grandmas and grandpas in Portland and Houston, we have frequently commented on our love for SWA and its preboard policy. We were always ensured seating together, and we were out of the way prior to general boarding. I simply cannot begin to relate my level of displeasure at the idea that our family could be separated (or have to beg people to change seats to sit together). Does some other adult actually think that this new procedure is so much better that they would prefer having someone's small child sitting next to them without a parent? Does that really save any time or aggravation? I think not. Funny thing is that I bet all who complain about kids and families had courtesies (such as or akin to preboarding) extended to them when they were small.
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I'm a regular business and leisure traveler. Far from resenting children boarding first, I like it. That way, the kids are all together up front. If they board during and after the A group, they will be more scattered around the cabin, putting me at risk of being near a kicking or screaming child. It seems a win-win to let the kids board first.
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Its all over the blog, but A boarding for families is not good enough!!! It does not give you the time that is needed to get situated. I understand the policy and have flown with and without kids. When I don't have my kids I don't want to sit next to kids at all if I can control it. When I have my kids I don't want to be inconvienced and I don't want to go through the stress of incoviencing others. Stop the abuse of seniors and children pre-boarding, but honestly this is a joke!!!! The question is were do I book for Christmas the time is ticking will the rules change in time?
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Where is the Luv? No more preboarding for families? My husband and I became loyal customers after a hellish flight on another airline with my 18 month old when we all had to sit seperately. We have perfected the art of getting in and getting settled in ten minutes flat. Now with two children under the age of 5, we may have have to look elsewhere. Please reconsider this decision. We Luv Southwest, but we have to make sure that our four year old knocks his drink into our laps instead of a strangers.
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I really like the change to letter-plus-number seating. In addition to reverting to letting children board first, here are a couple of other suggestions for faster and happier boarding: 1) Put a short section of "practice" overhead bin (with door) in the waiting area at each gate with a sign explaining "good bag etiquette and technique". Encourage waiting passengers to practice putting their bags in the quickest most space-efficient way and to check that the door can close. I know your bins vary somewhat between planes but hopefully not that much that it wouldn't still work. It would also allow people with extra large bags to check if they will fit know they have to check it. If people would just put their bags in end-wise if they fit and push them up against the wall or next bag, and therefore take up minimum space, we could reduce the all-too-frequent occurrence of late-B and C groupers holding up the process while they search for a bag space or someone having to rearrange previously-placed bags to make space. You also need to train your flight attendants better in looking for opportunities to rearrange bags slighly (usually turn and slide together) and make new spaces rather than closing the bin door when it appears at first glance to be full. 2) Work with bag manufacturers to affix a "LUVly Bag" tag to bags that will fit end-wise in the bins on all SWA planes. In addiiton to knowing this bag will have a better chance of squeezing into the last space in a bin, the bag purchaser can show the bag, and surrender the tag, to a SWA service counter agent at any airport for one Rapid Rewards credit (maximum one per RR account to prevent pilfering or trading of tags). You may be able to get some bag manufacturers to also affix a semi-permanent discreet LUVly Bag badge that the owner can leave there.
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I have enjoyed flying southwest in the past. It has always seemed relaxed and hip. Suddenly, Southwest has become the fashion police and not family friendly. What is going on over there??? I recently flew with my 5 month old daughter and the preboarding was a lifesaver. I am really disappointed to hear that this is going away. I have never priced another airline if Southwest had a flight, but loyalty can't be a one way street. shaun
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OK -- by eliminating preboarding for children under age 4, I have now eliminated SWA from any future flying considerations. On to airlines with some heart and legroom.
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I'm not in favor of change in the ability of families with young children to pre-board, but I'm confused about some of the comments. We've been flying with our 2 1/2 year old on SW since she was just 7 months old. We've always bought her a seat and until recently carried a car seat on with us. We've never had to prove her age because we use full fare internet prices for her seats. They are always cheeper than the infant fare. Therefore she can be checked in online 24 hours in advance. I am concerned that the new procedure may have her in a different group from my husband and I but I find it hard to believe that the gate agents would enforce that and separate her from us. I also find it hard to believe that we wouldn't be able to find seats together at the end of the A group. My concern is for the families with car seats. Airline seats and car seats are different. It's incredibly difficult to secure a car seat in an airline seat. That's going to delay the people behind the family installing a car seat. Also, if the family is traveling with an infant who should sit rear facing, the seat in front of the child won't be able to recline. WIth the new boarding system there's a good chance someone will select a seat planning to recline and relax on their flight only to have someone board AFTER them and ruin that. Car seats also must be, by airline regulations, installed in the window seat. Depending on the number of families traveling with car seats it could be difficult to get a window seat at the end of the A group and a previously boarded passenger will have to move. Again, this will delaying boarding. I am, however, in complete support of the new groups within the A, B, C. I hated sitting on the floor in the queue and look forward to being part of the group.
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I understand the need for the new boarding procedures, however, as a mother of a toddler and a new baby, as well as an avid Southwest flyer (our only airline), I am extremely disappointed and upset about the new boarding rules regarding families with young children. I have seen that the flexibility with families pre-boarding with children has been taken to some extremes, but why punish all families and parents? It takes close to an act of God just to get young children gathered for a flight anywhere...pre-boarding was one of the highlights we had in our numerous flights to see extended family. I think Southwest is doing a great disservice to all families with this new rule - perhaps this "friendly" airline should rethink this policy. Perhaps set up better ground rules so the "pre-boarding" privilege is not taken advantage of. Limit the number of family members relevant to children. Set an age limit on children who can preboard. There has to be a better way then shutting us all out of pre-boarding - especially those with very young children. This is making me rethink my airline of choice. Seriously, for the last 5 years, all my family has flown has been southwest airlines. Now, not so sure...
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I fly with my children. What a terrible change you have made. Please reconsider this change. People do not want to sit with my kids and we want to be assured we can sit together. I love Southwest, but this change leaves us with no family friendly airline.
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Terrible thing to put kids all over the place. Give the kiddies the preboard.
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I remember the old 1-30, 30-60, etc. plastic boarding cards. I loved that, and I like that Southwest is moving back in that direction. But I'm really, really disappointed in the decision not to let families pre-board. Families pre-board not just because it is convenient for them, but because it is convenient for everyone. When families pre-board, they are sitting and out of the way by the time the rest of the passengers are boarding. One of Southwest's primary competitive advantages is fast airport turnaround time. I think this change is going to slow things down, and if that happens, we're sure to see a change of policy.
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Thank you for considering this new procedure. After my last Southwest flight a couple of weeks ago, there was only one thought in my mind..."unacceptable." I made up my mind to fly Southwest only if I am forced to do so, despite any cost difference. This new system may change my mind.
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PS: Having read the comments about family boarding it occurs to me that there is no reason to give families priority boarding. All passengers are compteting in a fair market for the best seats. Why give families an excuse to ignore the 24 hour sign in? All they have to do is be diligent, just like every other Southwest group who wants to sit together.
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Again, thanks for everyone's comments. One thing I found out yesterday--in the month or so that we have been testing the new procedures in San Antonio, I was told that families boarding after A were able to fly together on every flight. Obviously, that 100 percent record won't always hold true, but it doesn't hold true on airlines that assign seats either. Also keep in mind that just because an airline assigns seats, you won't always get your choice of seats. On full flights, someone is going to have to sit in a center seat, no matter the boarding process. Someone (Cindy in Houston?) asked me why our designated rows for preboarders wasn't practical. The biggest reason was that many preboarders refused to sit in the rows beyond row 18, and it was very hard to enforce. And to everyone with doubts, please read Gary's last paragraph above. Many folks in the San Antonio tests were sceptical until they actually experienced the new procedures. Brian
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I stopped traveling on Southwest several years ago and the reason was the cattle call. When you have a family of four with young children and you are scattered from one end of the plane to the other that is not good. I do still us Southwest traveling alone.
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IM GLAD YOU FINALLY DID DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS I FLY SOUTHWEST ALL THE TIME I HAVE WITNESS ALOT OF PREBOARD PEOPLE IN LINE THAT DO NOT NEED TO BE THERE FAMILY WITH KIDS YES BUT NOT WHEN THE WHOLE FAMILY OF 10 TRY TO GET ON THAT IS JUST RUDE I WILL BE LOOKING FOWARD TO THE NEW SYSTEM IM FLYING IN NOVEMBER . SOUTHWEST KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK I LOVE YOU GUYS
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I would never fly on Southwest. I did once and found the lack of a seat assignment a barbaric process with people hoarding at the gate and once onboard scrambling like ants to get seats. As a weekly flyer I refuse to subject myself to this and will stick with the carriers that still treat poeple like people, not cattle boarding a truck to the slaughter house. Certainly Southwest could function as a discount airline (BTW my ticket was not such a great deal) with pre-assigned seating. It always amazes me watching people sitting on the floor in some stupid line just in the hopes of getting a decent seat. This is a moronic practice!
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I am very excited about these changes. I am one of those line campers. I am heavier than most and like an isle seat so I can lean away from the middle person and not take thier space. Also I hate the family pre boarding. I was there first, I got an A ticket, they come in whenever they want. I have seen a family with one child get prioity seating. Two adults can handle one child. Also I think you were probably right in kicking off that girl in the short skirt. Why didn't Matt ask her if she had on thong underware. She had that skirt pulled way down on tv, but you know anywhere else, when she sat down and crossed her legs, or if she bent over to pick up her purse, everyone got a flash.
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Well I have always been a very loyal Southwest Business Traveler and never once was upset with families preboarding with small children. They had time to get their seats together and get their fussy and restless children settled before the rest of us got on the plane. Now that I am a father of two small children I appreciated the preboard even more so because trying to deal with kids in the lobby area is a nightmare, not to mention getting them from the car, through security, and lugging all of our multiple bags and strollers at the same time. It is exhausting to say the least. Gary Kelley failed to mention that they were changing the family boarding policy in his blog and yesterday we arrived as did many other families to the San Antonio International Airport to find that we had to sit with the kids even longer because they would no longer preboard families with small children. Even if we had an A boarding pass we would have to stand in line at the designated post and corresponding number. Try doing that with two small antsy kids. Southwests poor solution to preboarding is to allow families with small children under four is to allow them to board between the A and B groups unless you had an A boarding pass. At first I thought this would be ok. I happened to be interviewed by KSAT 12 ABC news who was there filming and asked me what I thought about the new policy and my answer was "We will see". Well we did see as did many other frustrated families. Not only did we have to deal with trying to keep our kids under control for extended times in the lobby, but we had to board the plane after the A group boarded. As we boarding the plane I watched as my wife who was in front of me continued to smack customers already seated on the plane with the bags over her shoulder and who knows how many I accidentally hit, and because so many people had boarded already we had to make our way to the back of the plane. By the time we were seated we were frustrated, the kids irritable, other customers had been constantly been bombarded by our bags and in general we were not very happy as were all the other parents who boarded with us and having to make their way towards the back of the plane. As a loyal customer of Southwest, I have always considered them to be very fair and reasonable to all their customers whether they are business travelers, or family travelers. Now I feel that this new boarding system is not family or business friendly for all the reasons I listed above. Even with my companion pass, and my reward tickets, I will and many other families expressed the same intention that we will think twice about flying Southwest with our families because of the significant inconvenience it places on the families and the customers already on the plane. I live in San Antonio and have had to deal with the Southwest experiment and at no time did it ever appear to be more efficient to board the plane. With the numbering system on each of the poles people are bumping into each other, looking for their place to stand, and then the late arrival customers disrupt this group again as they try to find their space. It is very disruptive. With the old system if you were a late arrival you took your place at the end of your prospective line and there was little or no disruption of the line. Well that is my two cents on this issue and I hope many other loyal customers will send in their comments. A fair evaluation of these new policies and their impact on both business travelers, families, and our loyalty to your airline needs to be looked at further before making permanent changes. I am not opposed to change when it makes the system operate more efficiently and more cost effective. So far I have failed to experience either of those requirements. Sincerely, Jeff Centers
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If you are traveling with small children, and check in early....you will still be able to get on sooner. This is aimed at the families that show up late and still get to preboard. Some of us follow the rules, get to the airport 1-2 hours early, wait in line, but still have to wait longer while the family with 4 small children run up and get to go on first. Remember The Early Bird gets the worm, or in this case seat. If you don't like SWA new policy, please take your family elsewhere-More peanuts for me!
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Thanks for plowing through all this Brian. I chuckled at one thing. "Rear facing seats??" Haven't those been gone for a few years now? Are their ANY planes in the fleet that still have that configuration? I sure haven't seen one since...... Simply put. Pre-board has gotten way out of hand. I'll count the pre-boards at my gate today and get back to ya'll!
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Until they have assigned seating, I will never fly Southwest. I did once years ago and did not like the experience.
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ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I brag on Southwest all the time to family and friends that you are the one airline that has it together. I choose SWA over any other airline hands down. Why mess with a good thing you have going for you that no one else does? Not to mention your flights are always 100% sold out. What does that tell you? People like you for what you are and how you do things. The A,B,C with pre board system works! The only problem I have is when some try and jump the line that don't have the exception (i.e. wheel chair or families with small children) but that is not SWA's fault, it is just inconsiderate people. SWA just needs to be firm with those passengers and make them go to their appropriate line. Keep up the good work and people will continue to fly your airline. If people don't like the way you do things then let them fly with someone else and pay the exorbitant fees only to get so so service. They will be back - trust me!