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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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Good Grief, People... This has degenearted into Bad Theatre. Brian, I think you're doing an estimable job of keeping a cool head in the face of the particularly persistent people who don't seem to have anything better to do than to continue to attack. (I'm tempted to say theyÃ
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Good to see you are improving the boarding process but if families with small children are not allowed to pre-board or given a distinct section then we will look to fly other airlines.
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I have done a self survey while traveling and find that none of the parents seem to care as long as they can sit together with the kids, so relax people!
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Brian, First of all, there is a very old saying "Don't shoot the messenger". I feel that too many hold you personally responsible for this decision. It was a company decision not something that you just went, "Oh I have nothing better to do today, lets change the boarding process" As far as the changes, I love the new boarding and numbering, I do believe it will make it easier and hopefully stop the standing and lining up as soon as the plane arrives. In fact it should even make it easier for others to get off the plane as so many times our gate agents would have to remind people to step away from the door so people can get off the plane. As far as the children pre-board issue, I had the privilege of flying a different airline that does not offer the children preboard, when flying with my children. And I did not like it, with that airline, I had an assigned seat, there was just as much pushing as without. But all things aside we did survive. I would never fly this other airline with young children again because they did not preboard and with assign seats we were the last to board (zone boarding, icck). And before the trip we spent weeks trying to keep our assigned seats, they kept disappear. With Southwest, I will at least be able to choose my seats. If I plan right I should get an A boarding group. Southwest staff and passengers tend to be a more friendly and helpful group so even if I am in the in between group of A and B I believe I will be able to sit with my family. I work as a project manager, all projects have a plan, a test, a results, and an implementation. This is Southwest a business like any other. An airline that makes money and every minute costs money so if they can save on time of the ground "great". All projects take time and are good and bad. The only question that I had with this whole implementation is timing, but sometimes that cannot be helped. Timing the changes in boarding process with the holiday season, a largely unseasoned traveler season, is odd. I travel significantly for business and pleasure, on southwest and not. All I can say is, give it a try and if you do not like it or have constructive feedback after you have tried it then give it. Southwest is one of the only airlines I find that truly appreciates constructive feedback.
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EMD, Sorry - off topic, but I read that you are a project manager and have a question. How would you recommend getting the required PM hours for PMP (I need 4500!) if my job requires minimal project management (maybe 5 hours per week) and the company is not really big into the whole "cross training" thing? Translation: My department does not want to lose me because they cannot replace me under cost containment restraints, so therefore, is less than encouraging in this pursuit. Again - sorry off topic! I need advice! Still Applying at SWA......
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Tell me how this works: 1. A family with small children is now no longer allowed to board first. 2. So C comes around and someone plops their 4-year old child in the middle seat between 2 others, maybe A's or B's or whatever and then moves to find the next best seat for themselves. So the 4-year old is on one place and the parent is someone else. This is supposed to be more efficient? I suppose someone will change (maybe), but that's going to help the boarding process? That makes no sense whatsoever. Perhaps Gary Kelly will be in seat A and he'll get to sit with someone's 3-year old who is afraid of being alone. Good call Southwest.....split up the family! Way to go!
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Here's an idea for people who are nervous about finding seats together: Put a $10 bill in your pocket. If you are the first family on record not able to find seats together under the new system, just offer the $10 (or anything of similar value) to the first person willing to switch from his aisle seat to a middle to make space for you. This way you won't have to risk having to pay those nasty $100 change fees on some other airline, and you have at least a 99% chance of keeping your $10 in your pocket. Problem solved. If Southwest starts offering paid priority boarding, you can pay the money to Southwest. My method costs you nothing because you'll never need to ask anyone to switch.
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I have flown Southwest airlines over other carriers (with and without my children) for many years, participating in Rapid Rewards and using a SW Visa card. I choose Southwest for many reasons, from your corporate policies to the quality and responsiveness of your customer service. As an Army wife and parent who frequently flies alone with my children I am disappointed with the change in preboarding policy for families. Many others have already offered the litany of reasons why, but I would like to add one more point. The title of this entry is "You spoke, and we listened"--however you may not have considered who spoke. As the mother of two small children, I rarely have time to respond to surveys or fill out comment cards. Sadly, I doubt my many uttered thanks to flight crew and ramp agents translate to the corporate decisions makers. As this blog attests, parents who choose Southwest have something very different to say about your preboarding policy--please listen.
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Lets see if I have this correct. Under the old system families with small (crying) children could board first and I could board later choosing to sit away from them. Under the new system, if I'm in the "A" boarding and choose my seat those with small children can sit next to me. Thanks a lot
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I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for Brian and others at Southwest. Southwest has made it very clear that they did extensive testing. During that testing, they found that families were neither separated nor inconvenienced. If you know anything about Southwest, you should know that they do not lie to their customers. So, if the new system allows families to sit together, what is the real issue here? Is it that sitting together is not enough for some of you, and that you will only be happy if you can sit together AND have your choice of any seat on the aircraft? Or is it that you are simply uncomfortable with change and that uncomfortable feeling makes you anxious and, at times, mean? The fact is, if you have not experienced it, any opinion you have is, at best, uninformed as to whether it does, or can, work.
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It has always irked me when we get to the gate an hour and a half early and someone comes in 20 minutes before the flight and cuts in line. I think the new boarding procedure is as fair as you can get and I'm glad you did it. I won't stop flying Southwest because you changed the child boarding policy, either.
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Brian, can you tell us how many families boarded during the test with 100% success finding seats together? I'm sure it was in the thousands. Also, does Southwest intend to fine tune the number of A's per flight or set up other procedures (such as reserving rear rows or offering bribes to other passengers to switch seats) in order to ensure a virtually 100% probability that families can find 3 adjacent seats? If you can make that promise and keep it, probably half the complaints here will disappear. And how about this idea: Any family unable to sit together gets priority boarding on the next flight out. Why not promise some goodies like this for a situation that won't ever happen? Educate the reservations staff so they can tell any callers who are nervous about mid-boarding. If you're not afraid of accentuating the negative, you coud point out to callers that the chances of a flight cancellation are far higher than the chance that a mid-boarding family won't be able to sit together!
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NSX, I don't have exact numbers on the families who were surveyed, but we surveyed every flight booked to 100 or more Customers. It was summer and a heavy family travel period, and the surveying lasted for almost two months. So there were a lot of families included. At this point, I don't know if our programming will even allow an adjustment of the group allotments at the airport. The airports do have the capability to restrict boarding pass issuance to the gate only, but this is only done in rare occasions. I will share your suggestions with our Ground Operations Leaders. Brian
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If only I'd known you were looking for input on your previous "cattle call" boarding policy. It is about time you made SOME kind of change. I have witnessed passengers lining up in the A line an hour before boarding--on a recent flight, an "A" line stander thought some slackers were trying to merge at the last minute in their line. Ater many comments made to the suspcious line stalkers, they actually went over to the attendant on duty and asked to have the couple removed. This was the latest of many almost knock downs I've witnessed in your ridiculous boarding routine. One can only hope that the new procedure eliminates these situations which bring out the worst in people. Jean in KC
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My family and I are flying Southwest departing SMF on October 2nd, the first day of 'no young children preboarding'. We will be flying with an infant and a four year-old. I have flown Southwest for years and have been a fan. If I had known about this impending decision, we would not have chosen Southwest. I will reserve judgment until we see how the trip goes. However, we passed over good deals from other airlines because I like Southwest. We will probably choose an airline that allows our family to preboard in the future.
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I am amazed, disappointed and a bit disgusted by the parents whining about not being able to board early with their unruly children and extra baggage. When I was a child my sibling and I traveled with our parents and never needed special treatment. There was this thing called discipline. They told us to behave and be quiet and that was exactly what we did. I was even flying by myself, from Chicago to Florida and back, in early grade school and also didn't need special treatment. Parents really need to learn how to discipline their children, set boundaries and teach them that certain behavior is not acceptable in public. Just because they are kids does not mean they can do what ever they want and just because you have kids does not entitle you to special treatment. Your seat cost the same as mine, therefore you wait in line just like me.
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AMEN to everything Amazed just posted.
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As a frequent business and family traveler I have mixed emotions here. On the business side I love it. Seeing the "line campers" an hour or more before the flight has always driven me nuts. I am anxious to see how it works out As the father of a 2-year old I am a little disappointed to see the change in pre-boarding. I like the ease if having a few extra moments to get my daughter situated. However I'm optimistic and I think the new board-by-numbers plan offsets the change. My wife and I stay on top of checking in and should have no issue with getting an A card. Since the cattle line is being eliminated there is no need to try and camp out with a wiggly toddler. Overall I think it's a good idea and an improvement. Finally, I'd like to address a previous poster who admonished us parents and feels that children simply need more discipline. To this person I say Traveling AS a child is a far cry traveling WITH a child. My daughter is very well behaved, does not jump on people, run away or have tantrums. We travel often with her and she has already earned several free flights through her Rapid Rewards account. She is however only 2 years old. Even under the best circumstances that can be a challenge when traveling. As I mentioned I think the new process provides a good solution, but to those without children who think we parents are getting over on everyone else by pre-boarding I say try and have a little sympathy.
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Hi Amazed, Now I'm not defending anyone who lets their children run wild, and I am in FAVOR of the new boarding system. That being said, my children are pretty good and we've never had a tantrum on a plane. BUT, Don't forget a lot of us are parents to very small children at an age they cannot be reasoned with. An 18 month old just doesn't understand "Behave and be quiet." And it should also be said that some parents choose not to terrify their children into submission out of fear they will become bitter adults.
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I'm almost 6'-8", so I've got exactly 10 seats on an SWA flight that are somewhat comfortable to choose from (6 in front, 3 over the left wing, and 1 over the right wing). If I don't check in 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds before my flight, I'm skee-rooed. This oughta be real fun (and easy) to do from the car. At 6:20 in the morning. In the middle of nowhere. So I'm not exactly looking forward to the change. But I'll give it a shot. The pre-board thing is a different story. I LIKE getting them out of the way, even if they do always end up taking 6 of those 10 seats. I can't wait until I'm behind a 3 year old pulling her Dora roller bag down 20 aisles, getting the wheels stuck on every seat, stopping to pick up paper clips, and getting yelled at by mom to keep up with them (and take the paper clips out of their mouth). And then wait for mom to put in a child seat, put the infant in it, then get the 3 year old settled, then put the bags in the overhead, and THEN I can move on to my seat...not gonna be fun. How exactly does this speed the boarding process? I don't care if Cousin Ernesto gets a good seat because there is a toddler in his family, let's get them in and settled before the masses stampede in. I suspect this policy will change the day after someone drops a roller bag on some kid's head and gets $20 million out of SWA.
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As a very TALL man (6'6" w/size-17 shoes) I echo Bob Abooey's comment about being able to fit in only a very very very few seats (i.e. exit row seats only!) In the past, courteous flight attendants (of which Southwest has more than any other U.S.A. airline,) would 'hold' exit row seats by standing in the exit row and politely offer them to tall folks like myself. So that if I was not in the very front of group A, I could have a seat that I could PHYSICALLY fit in without having severely bruised knees and shins. I can only hope this polite and thoughtful practice continues as the new boarding procedures commence in November. Regardless, I like many others of tall stature will still have to be somewhere (with internet access,) to check-in online exactly 24 hrs before flight time. It would be a terrific if standard procedure RESERVED EXIT ROW SEATS FOR TALL (6'4" & up) PEOPLE!!! My body would greatly appreciate it! It's quite irritating and frustrating to see someone who does not physically need the extra room sit in an exit row, especially someone obviously incapable (whether lacking strength or due to age,) of lifting the 40 pound emergency exit door.
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Most of these parents complaining about the change in the preboard policy for families are hypocrites. If you need extra time getting ON the plane then it only makes sense that you will need extra time getting OFF the plane. These parents always hold everyone up when they insist on getting off the plane first. In addition, many families abused the old policy by bringingon 10 family members with one child. Since it is only possible for 3 people to sit together anyway, only 2 people should have been allowed to board with a child. A compromise solution would be to let the families board first but require them to sit at the back.
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I like the sound of your new boarding process, but with this:
Q: Do families still get to pre-board? A: Beginning October 2, 2007, an adult traveling with a child four years old or younger will board between the "A" and "B" boarding groups, unless you have an "A" boarding pass. Those Customers holding an "A" boarding pass should board with the "A" boarding group. With an all-jet fleet outfitted with comfortable, leather seats, our families traveling with small children are easily accommodated together.
I think you're making a big mistake, one you'll recognize the size of come holiday time. Believe me, you want families with small children to get on and get out of everyone's way, and the first time you have to ask people to move because a family of 3 can't find seats together, you'll see the error of your ways. Bravo on the new process, raspberries to this policy.
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Right on, Lori! I think LUV is smart enough to know that complainers are loud but few - especially on this forum. Not to say they don't have a right to speak up, but I'm thinking at least some have been riding the early boarding gravy train with low fares and now that ride is over. However, some people who disagree with the new family boarding process do make some good points, especially as it pertains to car seats. I think it's a no brainer that if you paid to put a baby in a car seat, then I think it may be a good idea to let them board first - in the back of the plane. This allows them take all the time they need to set everything up, and when the plane lands, to undo everything. How many families would qualify for that anyway? I don't think that would impact much of anything. I'm a business traveler AND a family man. I've traveled with my babies (now a little older), and can attest that it is difficult. However, sometimes you have work a little harder on your own, or give something up, rather than expecting everyone else do that extra work. If you can board first, then you should expect to have to sit in the back. For families with older - but still young (like me)- children, under the new plan, you should still be able to get your seats together. If not, have a plan for yourself, like getting your boarding documents, checking in online, and if all else fails, decide early on the 2+3 split or other scenario. It may be your 13 year old has to sit by himself one row ahead of you. It doesn't always work the way you want it. You can always ask your neighbors once they are settled in if they would move. 90% on LUV that is the case. I think many of these "family posters", travel with a chip on their shoulder, and the tone of their posts seem to bear it out. Honey attracts the bees. One thing about LUV is that over the many, many years, they made way more good decisions than bad. I think everyone needs to give this a chance. I think the big picture boarding process is here to stay, there's still room to tweak everything, like board car seat families first. This month, I will be traveling on business, and will certainly appreciate being able to grab a bite to eat and showing up at my appropriate time, rather than camping out in order to avoid the mid row seat. I just hope that LUV has trained the FA's to expect those chip-on shoulder disgruntled 11 member "families" who now have to board after A, that now they will be trying to rearrange the A's when they board. They tried to take advantage of the system before, and I don't expect them to stop. That could be the real holdup in this new system. In the end, I think this will be a problem, and LUV will have to deal with it. I think eventually, LUV will have to let the families and invalids before first again - IN THE BACK. I'm not against that - but make them PROVE they are a family and have to sit together. Assign each a "unit pass" that they would use to board.together. If they don't have a unit pass, they don't board. Most true families or persons accompanying an invalid would have absolutely no problem getting one. You just have to write the rules strict, and have all the grief occur at a service desk in the concourse rather than on the plane. Like Lori said, it's the people who want to take advantage of the system that are the issue, not true families or accompanying adults. If the family posters on here have an issue, take it up with the cheaters who are trying to get on with you, not LUV!
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I'd like to add for the tall people, maybe they could get a "unit pass" to preboard as well at this concourse service desk. Just have the passenger line up with their back to a measuring height (6'2"??) and if taller, they get the pass to preboard. Pretty simple. Actually it would be easier if they could get a permanent pass, but if you begin to make it too easy, then what about wide people, or ones that are faking an injury, etc, etc. Just so tall guy doesn't drag everyone else with him, it's one adult per pass, and kids can't sit in exit rows. As you can see, my comments are predicated on setting up a service desk, however ofter the LUV person at the gate desk is not doing much of anything other than to take care of issues. It just kills me to see all these negative comments. I just wonder how often these families and tall people - especially those who travel on short notice - get their "ideal" seat on other airlines who have reserved seating??? I bet NEVER. So as much as they are threatening to leave, I say they will be right back on the Peanut Plane. I'm certainly not a LUV apologist, they've let me down every once in a while, but I certainly am smart enough to know that they don't make any process decisions without excessive amounts of process design. If there are any doubters, look at the bottom line.
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Are you people serious? Do you really think that the Southwest cattle call procedure is faster than assigned seating? Unless you are in the front of the A group you end up waiting in the jetway since the first group that enters jams the aisle getting a forward seat. The main reason to fly Southwest is if the price is right , you are flying alone and the sechedule works If I fly alone i'm fine with the stupidity of the cattle call, but if I'm with family I want to know I can travel next to my wife and/or children. How many times have you seen families come on board in the C group and only to be scattered about the plane? If alone I try to get up my seat if it helps them set together. That family may have made a reservation well in advance but if they don't beat the new on-line check in lottery they're out of luck. I personally will pay an additional $50/$100 per seat on a different airline to be able to set with my family. This new procedure may eliminate the early line up, but those travelling with a group you still won't have a clue if you can set with your loved ones until 24 hours before departure. I still don't like Southwest's procedures for boarding.
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I've read many of the blogs, and am happy to see many loyal SW customers questioning the decision to eliminate pre-boarding for families. I have 3 young boys, all under the age of 7, and the most stressful part of our vacation is the airport. Now I not only have to stress about the security process, but whether 5 of us can sit together as a family on our flight. As a business traveler, i have no problem allowing families board first, and am not looking forward to the possibilty of many people moving around once seated to accomodate families. I actually think this will hinder the boarding process. That's just my two cents, and I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt based the track record at Southwest. But I hope you'll be willing to change if this becomes an issue.
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I find the hostility toward children in this discussion rather troubling. I flew near two kids last December, and they were just fine. However, if you have a child under four, allow only one adult or teenager to preboard with them. That's a simple solution to preboard abuse.
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The reason for pre-boarding with children under 4 is to prevent us from holding up the rest of the passengers. And it is not true that those of us who need extra time to pre-board our infants/toddlers "ALWAYS hold everyone up when they insist on getting off the plane first". My husband and I wait until the end of the line of passengers before we get up to exit the plane with our baby, car seat and bags. It's much easier on us (because we have so many items to carry) and we do not block the aisles. Your "compromise solution" is great. Just please do not place those parents who are being considerate and following the rules with those who take advantage of a situation and abuse the rules. For those of you who say that parents should discipline their child, well that doesn't work with an infant. A parent who yells at their infant just makes the infant cry even louder, which I doubt is what you desire.
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I live in San Antonio, TX and tried the new boarding procedure. I really like it and think it is great. HOWEVER, if Southwest does not win the lawsuit against the web company that is printing all those "A" boarding passes for $5.00 each way then I think you should go to assigned seating. I don't think I should have to pay some company to get an A pass. That's just not fair. And, the fact that I got my boarding pass 2 minutes after the time and was number 15 makes me think this company is going to be able to get all the "A" passes for those willing to pay. I'd rather pay Southwest the extra $10.00 for the A pass if I have to pay someone.
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Rob, to answer your Q: I just wonder how often these families and tall people - especially those who travel on short notice - get their Ã
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Seems like a good compromise has been mentioned here and elsewhere but there is no response from SWA here. Specifically, allow child preboard with a limit of one or two parents per child only, and require them to sit at the back of the plane. The benefits would be: 1. No one with A section cards (or probably B) would be impacted because whether its under the old or new boarding number scheme, they would still get their desired aisle/window/exit aisle seats. 2. Due to laws of physics, it would be impossible to say family preboard slowed up anyone. 3. Families would get the extra time needed. 4. The people who dislike sitting near children would be able to avoid them. 5. The boarding process will not have to be stressful with SWA personnel filtering out families and trying to move them ahead of the B line passengers. The SWA personnel would only have to say that you may now preboard, but you need to sit in the back rows so the cost to them is zero. 6. SWA could avoid the negative publicity and look like they care about children and listen to their customers. Actually, just announcing this would lead to all sorts of news articles and lots of free positive publicity.
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Can someone answer this - if five are traveling, will the boarding numbers be assigned sequentially/together or is it necessary to call up each of the five traveling (in which case there would be gaps in the numbers for those traveling together)? Has Southwest done anything to accomodate a larger volume of calls for boarding passes 24 hrs prior to flight time? Maybe these have already been addressed and I missed them - if so, my appology for the repeat.
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If your five travelers are on one reservation, you will get all 5 boarding passes with one check-in. The BP numbers will be sequential. If the travelers are on separate reservations, as they will be if you are using Rapid Rewards tickets, you need to check in 5 times. Probably someone else will check in at the same time, and your 5 boarding pass numbers may be spread across a range of 10 or more. Probably you will need to board according your pass numbers and meet up again on the aircraft. Or you could board together according to the higher numbers you hold and nobody would be upset.
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We fly Southwest just for the pre-boarding aspect. We have a 9 month old son and appreciate the extra time to get settled. We take him to see his grandparents in the Los Angeles area once a month. We will fly with a different carrier from now on. You have lost a loyal SWA customer.
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I have enjoyed reading all of the comments for the past week or so. Wow, there are so many mad people out there. After my initial rants and seeing everyone else's, I have thought of some suggestions on how Southwest might be able to redeem itself. Brian - get out your pencil. 1. Rapid Rewards should be a tier system that allows for preboard. It sounds like those who fly 100,000 miles with you would probably enjoy this perk, plus it would free up lots of A passes for others. 2. Clearly abuse at preboard was an issue that Southwest thought would best be solved with the "everyone gets punished" rule. That's fine, though it would help if flight attendants would take just a couple of minutes and direct traffic on the plane, making sure that people find seats. This is especially true on connector flights where even the A group has trouble finding seats. I think it would ease everyone's mind to know that even if they were in the C group, there was a possibility that they can get seats in the quickest time possible. 3. Southwest really needs to take a look at its policies. I hope the "Airport" show was a really eye-opener on how same policies are defined at different airports. For example, we flew in April with our then 11-month-old to Nashville. We were not asked for his birth certificate in Houston, even though it was a policy. We were asked in Nashville, so congrats to them for following the rules. See what I mean? Rules cannot be inconsistent between cities, that is how people get mad. Remember the woman who was told her bag was too big for the overhead, and she was followed all over the airport, though she kept insisting she flew every week and no one ever told her that before? Something tells me that by the way she was so angry, she probably had been told her bag was too big at every airport she was at, but she learned that by getting mad and hysterical, Southwest would let her have her way in the end. Or at least that's what I am hoping because it disproves the "everyone follows the same rules" notion. 4. How could we all not understand the frustration of having to stay up until 2 a.m. to log on at exactly 24 hours before a flight to get the A group, go to the airport 3 hours early, stake out a place in the lane and sit there for 2 and a half hours to save your place. Then 10 minutes before boarding, have two parents and their infant get on before you when they didn't do the same thing. The nerve of those people. I think one person commented that why do parents think they are entitled to board first? It's for the same reason as the person I mentioned above. We also got to the airport 3 hours ahead, but between standing at the counter for our plus infant pass, getting through security, making our way to the gate, etc., we started to get a sense that we worked hard to get that preboard. Those of you not taking strollers, car seats, diaper bags, having all of your lotions, potions, etc. evaluated for their ounce, just got to the gate a little faster than the rest of us. 5. Yes, it stinks to have a boatload of people show up 2 minutes before boarding and get in preboard, but did you stop and consider that maybe they were also there 3 hours ago, but it's not always possible to sit still for 3 hours at a gate with children? It's easier to get up and move around. Would you rather they checked in with the first person in A group to let them know they had been there? 6. I'm sure that everyone has had a bad experience with not getting to the plane on time. I literally ran through the Detroit airport with my then 4-month-old in my arms, from one side of the airport to another, to get on my connection. If you have been to Detroit, you know my pain. My husband had run ahead with the stroller to try and keep the flight attendants from closing the doors. We barely made it. Just having that experience makes you forever weary of your next travel experience with your child. 7. After mentioning the scenario in my fourth point, the worry on the minds of parents is that the person who fought so intently to get to the head of the A group to board first, is now the person who will be expected to give up their seat in the event that should happen. Why is it then so insane a concept, given those circumstances, that we think it will be hard for us to get a seat together? I'm very happy that Nicole said she liked sitting apart from her husband, but I would like to sit by mine, so why should my request for a decent seat be any different than the person who logged on at 2 a.m.?
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It is amazing we call the Fort Myers flight the healing flight people board the plane in a wheel chair and when they arrive in Florida they are able to walk independently. I do not mind the current seating arrangement, I meet new people and before you know it you have arrived at your destination.I have enjoyed my new found friends. Thank you
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Christine- You are able to log in on Southwest.com 24 hrs prior to your flight departure to receive your boarding pass. You do not have to wait until 12am or 2am to do that. This has been in effect since 11/7/06. Joe-Boarding passes cannot be called in. This must be done only on southwest.com or on your cell phone if you have internet capability. (Mobile.southwest.com) & print your boarding pass from the kiosk at the airport the next day. Everybody calm down now. You haven't even tried this, yet. I am very sure you will like this. We have received nothing but positive feedback from our SAT customers.
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Theresa, there are at least two other website that are beta-testing system that do would what "Boardfirst" did. Southwest, you may want to update how to defend your system from these "check in for you automatically 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds before your flight" sites.
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Am I confused or have I missed the response???? What is SWA solution for a parent that is unable to check in online with a lap child? I am not clear why you cannot check in online anyway - I have not been asked once for the actual birth certificate to verify his age.
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I was searching for a blog to complete a project for my New Media class for graduate course work. The project was to find a blog that has to do with a product/service and post to it. I have been a Southwest customer for a long time and is always the first place I look for airfare when traveling. I have to say that I can't believe that so many people would just say that they are never going to fly SW again because of the new boarding program. From my research SW has changed over the years and is always met with resistance from someone. You can't please everyone; but it seems as if you still try! But the best advice I have read on this site is, just try it! If you have been loyal to SW for years and are happy with their services, why switch it up? Businesses change things all the time and sometimes by changing something like this, they are able to get that "ah ha!" moment that has been missing and sometimes it screws everything up; but it doesn't mean that it can't be fixed if it did screw up. I know it is new, and new is scary to some, but just try it!!!!!!!!!
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In looking over everyone's comments about families boarding first, there's something missing from those that are pushing to keep that privilege. As a frequent business traveler, I don't mind families boarding first at all, because it does give me a chance to avoid sitting near small children if I want to. Lately, however, it seems families are trying to avoid sitting by other families as well! They are spread all over the plane, and I usually end up going all the way to the back, which is annoying when having to wait for all of these families to exit, and then have to wait for car seats, etc in the jetway. Why not just have families board first & sit behind the exit rows, in the back 1/2 of the plane?
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My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter just left LAX today to go home. My daughter called and said she was told that families with small children will no longer preboard. The reason given to her was that "A" passengers complained about having to wait for the preboarding. That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. Before my granddaughter was born, I thought how nice for them to get to get onboard first and get settled instead of having fussy babies waiting in line. If the "A" passengers are that bitchy, maybe they should try traveling with small children and learn a little tolerance. I am especially upset because my daughter plans to travel to California alone with my granddaughter and you just made her job easier, or made her find another airline.
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I have now read enough of the posts above to realize I am not the only one upset with Southwest for ending the preboarding for children 4 and under and the adults with them. I have seen 4 - 5 adults get on with one pre-4 child and that is their abuse. Not everyone should be punished for their ignorance and selfishness. Let 2 adults board with pre-4 kids. Limit the abuse and don't punish the families or lose their patronage. I have never been on a flight where families with small children do not go near the rear of the plane. They are quite considerate and if adults can't take a crying child for a few moments, they need to stay home. I am seriously contemplating ending my frequent flights with Southwest over this. Between my daughter and her family and my husband and I traveling that would be about 10 - 12 flights a year.
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I can't believe that you wouldn't somehow guarantee that a family would be able to sit together. I do understand that some people abuse the system, but I think that allowing the parents to pre-board (or "group A" board) with young children should be acceptable. I don't necessarily think that families need to board FIRST, but there should be some way that you can GUARANTEE that a family can sit together. If you can't do that, then I personally will choose another carrier.
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Very disappointing! The new policy regarding not letting famlies with small children is very disappointing news for me. I believe that this is one of the worst changes Southwest could make. This time not only allows time for us with children to get settled and out of the way but guarantees that our seats our together. I do not see how this will speed up the process when families will now be blocking the aisles trying to get everyone settled or having everyone move around in order to get seats together. Assigning seats is the only way to balance out this new policy change. Unfortunately I will now be checking other airlines first that are more family friendly instead of coming directly to Southwest. The fares alone will not bring me back. Boo to you Southwest!
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I think not allowing families to board first is a terrible mistake and I would check with anyone in your company who has children. Travelling with children is incredibly stressful, and when a child gets upset and other passengers then get upset with a parent who has an upset child -- as if the parent would say, "Oh, now that other passengers are mad I'll do something about it" is a horrible feeling for parents. Making sure families can sit together and taking care of family dynamics in travel is critical. If a family boards and cannot get the ideal seating arrangement for that family it will create incredible stress for that family, possibly upset children, crying children and other irritated passengers. When I fly alone I never mind waiting a few extra minutes for a family to board. I have sympathy for those families and anything you can do to help travelling families is a good thing.
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Does assigned seating guarantee that families get to sit together? NO If you wait 'til the last minute (by design or because of an unexpected event), a large family will likely not sit together. With open seating on Southwest, you are much more likely to be accommodated because their system is, by design, more flexible. Would it be okay if families were guaranteed A boarding passes, but only at the end of the A group? If YES, then guess what ... that is what the new policy GUARANTEES, right? And, families who have B or C board passes get to MOVE UP in front of other Bs and Cs. There is more up side than down to this policy, and if everyone would stop freaking out for just a minute, I think they would see it.
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I just read that Southwest will no longer pre-board families traveling with small children. My kids are old enough that this won't affect me directly. But my experiences traveling with them and seeing other families travel with small children convinces me that this change is not a good one--unles you are trying to make Southwest a child-less or family-unfriendly airline.