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To Assign or Not to Assign, That is the Question

gkelly1
Not applicable
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
nsx
Not applicable
That was an excellent post, Lisa G. Southwest needs to give some serious thought to offering AND ENFORCING a "preboard to the back rows" option.
Jeannette1
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I agree partially about the families. I think they should pre-board first. But, I think they should all sit in the back of the airplane. They would all still be sitting together. Other passangers would not have to sit next to a small child and entertain it. They would have extra time when the plane lands to gather the car seats, strollers and other children necessaties. They would be closer to the restrooms. Then the "A" group could start boarding while the parents are still arranging their belongings and children in the back of the airplane. As the policy now stands, I hope passangers don't mind attending to children. I hope the other passangers don't mind being bumped by carseats and extra baby stuff when the parents are carting everything onto the airplane.
Leo
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In my opinion, the only issue SWA has with keeping and retaining business travelers is not having an "elite status". As a companion pass holder, I would prefer to not have to go through the waiting game and be put into an elite boarding group or as simply just be put into A automatically. The companion pass has very little value to me as I use it maybe once a year to go on a vacation....but if SWA would allow companion pass holders to board in A or their own group, it would make my decision to fly SWA vs. the legacy carriers much easier. The nice part, it wouldn't cost SWA a dime and can only improve ticket sales!! You could easily make it better for the business traveler!
Anonymous28
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WOW, SHOCKING TO READ ALL THESE COMMENTS ABOUT THE CHANGE IN FAMILY PREBOARDING, BUT MORE SHOCKING IS THE TONE FROM PARENTS......I READ "HATE, BITTER, I HAVE KIDS AND I SHOULD BE FIRST" ETC ETC ETC.......FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO LEAVE SOUTHWEST FOR A BETTER FLIGHT ADVENTURE, GOOD LUCK TO YOU........YOU WILL COME BACK, TRUST ME. WHEN YOU SEE HOW MUCH MORE YOU HAVE TO SPEND FOR TICKETS, AND SEE HOW IT WILL CRAMP YOUR SELFISH "ITS ALL ABOUT ME AND MY KIDS" ATTITUDE, YOU WILL COME BACK...... WE HAVE KIDS, AND WE FOLLOW THE RULES LIKE ANYONE ELSE...WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO "DEMAND BECAUSE WE HAVE KIDS, OR EXSPECT BECAUSE WE HAVE KIDS", BUT WE DO HAVE TO BE AN EXAMPLE TO OUR KIDS ON "GOOD BEHAVIOR".......SOMETHING I AM NOT READING HERE. SINGLE PEOPLE, BUSINESS FLYERS, AND JUST COUPLES WHO FLY FOR A GREAT COUPLE OF DAYS OFF HAVE RIGHTS TOO.......THEY MAY NOT WANT TO HAVE TO WAIT FOR YOU TO GET SETTLED WITH YOUR CHILDREN, BUT THEY WILL..........WHY? BECAUSE ITS RIGHT. THEY MAY NOT WANT TO HAVE TO WAIT THERE TURN IN THE BOARDING AREA WHEN THE NUMBERS ARE ASSIGNED, BUT THEY WILL.......WHY? BECAUSE ITS RIGHT. SOUTHWEST CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE, BUT I KNOW THIS...MANY PARENTS LOVE DROPPING THEIR KIDS AT SCHOOL IN HOPES OF SOMEONE ELSE TEACHING THEM "RIGHT FROM WRONG"...BUT, THESE PARENTS "LIKE IT OR NOT" HAVE EVEN A GREATER RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH THEIR OWN CHILD "RIGHT FROM WRONG"..THEY ARE THE PARENTS...........SOUTHWEST HAS A GREAT TOOL TO GET TRAVELLERS FROM POINT A TO POINT B, C OR D.......THAT IS IT........NO IF'S ANDS OR BUTTS, AND THEY ARE NOW DOING IT WITH SENSITIVITY......SOON, MANY WILL NO LONGER BE REQUIRED TO STAND FOREVER LIKE CATTLE, JUST TO GET A DECENT SEAT ON THE PLANE, AS THE NUMBER FACTOR WILL BE A PLUS........FAMILIES ARE BOARDING A LITTLE LATER THEN HAS BEEN, BUT KEEP IN MIND, IF THEY CHECK IN ONLINE, THEY WILL BE ABLE TO BOARD IN A EARLIER..NONETHELESS, BOARDING AFTER A IS NOT A CRIME, A DIS ON FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN, OR AN EVENT...ITS YOUR ATTITUDES THAT MAKE THIS FLIGHT POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE.... TODAY MANY PARENTS DON'T EVEN TEACH THEIR KIDS POLITENESS, AND HONESTLY, I NO LONGER HAVE TO WONDER WHY........I HAVE READ WHY AND ITS ASHAME......BE AN EXAMPLE, DO WHAT'S RIGHT, AND THANK GOD FOR AN AIRLINE THAT, ALTHOUGH THEIR PRICES ARE CLIMBING, HAS PRICES THAT CAN FIT INTO MOST FAMILIES BUDGET...TRY THE OTHERS, YOU HAVE MY WORD YOU WILL RETURN..........GO AHEAD AND LET ME HAVE IT, IT DOESN'T MATTER.....HAVE A WONDERFUL TRAVEL TO ALL OF YOU.....
Leanna
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I was very disappointed with the new family boarding policy, especially when traveling with my 1 year old from Manchester to Las Vegas yesterday. I was lectured by a counter agent on previous trip to not take an "A" away from someone else when I could preboard with my child. The employee was very rude about it. While I was very disappointed with the way he talked down to me, I did want he told me and didn't check in until I got to the counter to avoid taking an A from someone else. Then yesterday, I'm a C. With the new rule, I will check in the very first possible moment and get the A for myself and my family. PLEASE do a better job of informing people of the policy. Had I known this new rule, I would have checked in the day before. Also, PLEASE train your gate agents not to lecture traveling families about which letter they have and taking a letter from someone else. This is really stupid thinking. Also, Southwest is known for being family friendly, and the new policy is going to significantly hurt the company's reputation. I tried a flight on Alaska Airlines and immediately came back to Southwest because I thought SWA was much more family oriented. In light of the recent events, I guess I'm going to have to rethink this.
CSC
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Have any of the family travelers who are complaining about the new A- boarding actually been separated from their children by the policy? I mean, I usually end up with B cards, and there are always plenty of empty rows left after the A group boards. Even on crowded continuing flights, the continuing passengers always move up to the front and leave empty rows in the back. I would assume that SWA has tested the new policy, and if it was chronically seating young children with strangers, they wouldn't have changed it. At the very least, give it a try before you give up on the entire airline. This is from someone who travels both with and without the family.
WJW
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I am interested to see the new boarding process in action however, I don't think that this "interim" boarding policy change was a good idea. The "sudden downgrading of priority for families" (gasp! you greedy corporate monsters - won't SOMEbody think of the CHILDREN?!?) was bound to piss people off (that may be hindsight). Besides, what was the point of changing the procedure in October when you're going to change it again in November? That being said, there are families who truly deserve to preboard. Just as the elderly or disabled need a little extra time, so does the family who has to collapse the stroller and buckle in the car seat. Perhaps Southwest could allow families to request preboarding at the gate. The gate attendant can see that the mother traveling by herself with 2 kids needs more time but the family of 5 adults and only 1 toddler - you don't get to preboard. A policy would need to be in place or people will cry discrimination - maybe if the kids outnumber the adults? More "items" (car seat, stroller, child) than arms wins you a hall pass?
M_K
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We are outraged at the new family boarding policy. My husband travels Southwest frequently for business. He has recently had to pay a a surcharge on rapid rewards that were expiring becasue he can't use them faster than he earns them. We arrived at the airport last Thursday to be excoriated in front of everyone by the clerk as we tried to pre-board. This is the first time we have flown as a family with our new daughter. I am a nursing mother and all I wanted to do was get on the plane and start nursing before we take off. Getting through the security at the airport is hard enough with all the extra gear required when traveling with a child and she was ready to settle down and take her nap. Since I am a modest woman I will not nurse openly in everyones presence and my daughter does not take a bottle. By the time we got on the plane I had a very stressed and screaming child. We talked to the flight attendant about the new policy and he explained it was because families hold up the boarding process. He used Orlando with the Disney area as an example. How stupid is that? That is only one place out of how many destinations Southwest flyies? That does not make sense. If that is the problem the families are going to hold up the boarding process no matter where in line they get on the plane. It is a shame that this is such an unfriendly policy towards families and I can only think that Southwest doesn't want family business. I checked with the other airlines and they still have the family pre-board policy. I am also offended that Southwest's customer service has no email address and the only way to get a letter to the CEO is via "snail" mail. I think they knew from the beginning that this was a bad policy so they would not have to respond to so many parents and non-parents complaints about the family boarding process. By the way, you don't have to show any proof of disablilty to pre-board. Perhaps we should have all of our spouses line up in the pre-board line and save us a seat.
Mark_R
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Another dissatisfied family I'm afraid. We have children aged 6,3 and a baby. No way am I going to fly with an airline that cannot guarantee we can sit together either by getting on first and getting out of everyone's way, or by having pre-assigned seats. Shame, as you fly where we want to go, and we've always found the service convenient. I'd much rather you focused on the fake wheelchair brigade. On a recent flight from MCO to MHT a wheelchair-bound flyer got on in front of my family, and immediately "saved" seven seats for traveling companions. Upon arrival in Manchester the diabled passenger suddenly and miraculously found that he could walk again and he and his companions left the plane first. No one from SWA batted an eyelid but hopefully my comments to the guy at the baggage carousel would have made him reconsider such selfish behaviour in the future. Make them all sit at the back of the plane and get off last. Then you'd see how many are really disabled. (I'd be happy to do that with my family in case you ask to avoid holding everyone up). From now on I'm happy to fly with another airline. This move makes you just the same as them anyway.
Sara1
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Why is it so hard to make everyone happy!?! You let families with children preboard then everyone else is mad because they have been standing in line for 5 hours and they can't get the first row with all the leg room or they don't want the first couple of rows because they don't want to sit by all the screaming kids. Southwest then goes and changes its ways by making families traveling with children board after the 'A' boarding group and yet no one is happy. What should Southwest do have certain airplanes for families only and have other airplanes where children are not allowed? Can we not go back to the time where one of the main objective is to get all of the passengers from point A to point B safely and and in one piece.
Mark_R
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Sara, This problem is caused completely by Southwest's open seating policy. If you are going to offer open seating then you need to offer courtesy or priority boarding to those that have legitimate reasons to need to sit together, or those that genuinely need extra time to get seating before the cattle drive starts. By offering families the opportunity to board after the "A" ticketed passengers but before the "B" ones, then Southwest has at least recognised this, but all they are now doing - by letting the "A's" get on first - is pandering to the whiners that believe they should be able to get on board first simply because they were first to login to their computer 23 hours and 59 minutes before the flight. There are many other posts that explain why this is impractical and in some cases (car seats needing to be in window seats by law) really unenforceable. In fact the policy will achieve for these "A" ticketed passengers the exact opposite of what they really want - which is to choose a seat that is further away from children, rather than to be forced to sit next to one which will now begin to happen as families take up available seats rather than ones out of the way of other passengers. As I see it there are three ways that Southwest can go forward. 1. Offer pre-assigned seating and clearly this is not going to happen; 2. Continue with the current policy which will mean that many families such as mine simply don't fly with the airline from now on because of the worry of not being able to travel together; or 3. Go back to the old system for pre-boarding but make changes to ensure that the policy is stricter on who may pre-board and that the pre-board seats are at the back and out of the way so the "A" list get their precious seats at the front. Yes the point is to get from A to B safely and in one piece, but also with a minimum of stress and in a manner befitting a human being rather than a cow. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. Mark
Stephanie7
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Southwest is the primary airline I use and the new boarding policy sounds great. The change in the family pre-boarding though, I have some issues with. I recently traveled across the country by myself, with a six month oldand they informed me that I wasn't allowed to preboard anymore. Well I had to pack the car seat with the baby in it, I had the stroller it was set in so I didnt have to pack the carseat around the airport, and the diaper bag. And because I had the car seat it has to be in a window seat. Well, now that I cant preboard and all the people in A group took window seats, I had to pack everything to the back of the plane just to get a window seat, not counting having to hold her up so I didnt hit anyone while people took forever to put their carry ons away. The whole reason I brought the car seat was so I didnt have to hold her the entire six hour flight. And the best part is, I wasnt offered any help by any southwest employee. If I cant pre-board, the least they can do is help me then. Then as I was sitting in the airport waiting for my connecting flight, I saw 3 people, totally capable of boarding themselves, get a preboard pass for them and one other person, how is that right? I could care less about being able to preboard if my husband or just someone else was traveling with me because I have help. And I think that if your child can walk and do things on their own (like age two) they shouldnt have to pre-board. But with infants? seriously If people can prebaord that dont truely need to, shouldnt people with infants be able to? I felt like I had a disability! anyway, those are my thoughts on the new policies. I dont think I will fly SW anymore unless I have family with me to help, or until my daughter is older!
Carla3
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LUV the new policy. I have a flight scheduled in a couple of weeks and look forward to the new experience. I can't believe that so many people are upset about the positive change. The field tests came back very positive and yet, people who haven't even tried it yet are complaining. Change is difficult even when it is positive because people are about to experience the unknown. Seriously though, I have NEVER been on a flight where family members with small children have not been able to sit together. It has always been my experience that SW employees go above and beyond in asking for volunteers to exchange seats with people who can't find ajoining seats to accomodate their children even during times when a parent arrives just as the door is getting ready to close. Be real people, give them a chance. After all, where are you going to find an airline with a better safety record, more attentive flight attendants, more informative pilots, less costly airfares and last but not least, they are all funny and entertaining....not to mention the free snack packs and peanuts. Try it out, and if you don't like it or it doesn't work out for you - complain at that time. Until then, take a moment to reflect and appreciate that you are flying the safest airline in the air.
Bridget1
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I have been traveling for over 30 years and I am so angry over the new families can't pre-board policy I could just SCREAM! I grew up a military dependent traveling all over the world. As a child, I thought getting to pre-board was cool and made me feel special. As an adult, I have spent the last 4 years traveling multiple times a year with my two children and I know how valuable and precious pre-board status is. On a recent trip to visit my family in Maryland, I flew out there before the pre-board policy change but on my return flight I got a very NASTY surprise. Here I was trying to deal with two children who did NOT want to leave Grandma and Grandpa, assorted carry-ons, and a powerful need all round for naps. Six normal looking and very mobile people all under the age of 60 slipped in front of me in the pre-board area with large carry-ons that would have to go into the overhead. When the plane started boarding the 6 people in front of me had the special magic blue pass and got on, I got stopped cold. I was flabbergasted, embarrassed and outraged. As I watched the entire group A passenger line file past me, all I could think is "that's another 30+ people on the plane I have to worry about hitting in the head with a bag." Once I was finally allowed to start boarding, things were even worse. Since the flight had originated elsewhere and had through passengers on board, the so called 'medical assistance' pre-boarders, and all the warm bodies from group A, I was forced to work my way back 2/3 of the plane herding my toddler while carrying a baby and three carry-on bags to find two seats together. And despite my best efforts I did in fact nail several people in the head. I understand that Southwest is trying to make the boarding process more efficient and I am interested to see how the new system works with regards to adding numbers. When traveling I try to make the experience as easy on myself and my children as possible and have worked hard to pare down carry-ons and accessories (car seat, strollers, etc.) so that we DON'T hold up the boarding process. However, being able to pre-board allows me to get my family on the plane, in seats, and settled with snacks so that they are ready when the plane pushes off from the gate. I may not be one of Southwest most prolific fliers, but I have been flying with them for over 10 years and have had good and bad experiences. Logistically getting to pre-board is not only helpful and convenient but it is FASTER. It took me twice as long getting myself and my children seated this new way. And had I been traveling with a stroller or additional baggage I would have gummed up the works even more. I am fairly certain I had far more just reasons for needing to pre-board than the 6 people I saw board with blue passes. I'm all for making the boarding process faster and ending the campouts in the boarding lines. Placing families with young children (especially a parent traveling alone) after the A group is just plain stupid. If Southwest is going to maintain their current family pre-board policy, I WON'T travel with them anymore.
Cygnus
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Bridget, One question: How do you know what condition the pre-boarders did or did not have? I'm sorry their needs weren't more obvious to you; maybe they should limp next time?
meg_abraham
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I had been under the impression that the South West boarding system was designed to maximize efficiency and on time take off. Actually it seems it is to cater to people with abused secretaries willing to get them an A boarding card. I am a business traveler who regularly travels with an 18 month old. Last trip I was expected to carry my child, car seat, carry on bag, computer and diaper bag half way down the plane. On the trip out I was literally sweating trying to get it done. Further, my child was slipping and falling all over the walkway (amazing he was not hurt) when my request for some help from the ground staff resulted in them taking my stroller and then never returning to help with the rest. When I suggested to the "gentleman" boarding us on the way back that I was not willing to work that hard and that I would simply take my time in future (carry one thing at a time if necessary), I was informed that SW did not believe that they should have to be disadvantaged by my "choice" to have a child. Well I will not be disadvantaged by their "choice" to have a stupid boarding policy. If it takes me 10 minutes to load on then all the "selfish me first" business men will just have to wait and be disadvantaged by a late takeoff as well. Bottom line is I am not showing up to meetings looking like I came out of a sweat shop so lazy businessmen are spared having to take seats in row 10. I believe that this policy is not only an indication of the bad management at SW, but also a comment on what these selfish bums are learning in Business School. They continue to think they should get to ride in the front of the bus in exchange for leaching on society. In my opinion, those who can't do have their daddies buy them a Harvard NBA. I did call Virgin America and they do preboard families. In future I will fly with airlines that preboard when possible and if not I will take all the time I need to get on safely and with dignity with or without the support of the illustrious managers at SW and the selfish business class they seem to value so much. Meg
Linda_D_
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THANKS SO MUCH FOR KEEPING THE OPEN SEATING. I appreciate thay you are looking at ways to improve your business and KUDOS to you for that, but the open seating it GREAT. And I'm willing to try the new improved version. To the camper-outers, complainers, and assigned seaters...Ease Up! It's a comute, a ride, relax and don't get all "hung up", the world is not gonna end just because you didn't get your prefered seat this trip. Relax, smile and thank your lucky stars that you're not on one of those cramped up Continental flights where the person in front of you thinks you WANT his head in your lap.......!!!!
Len_E_
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I'm taking my first ever SW trip (likely my last) on 11/10, Islip NY to LV. I've read every thing here and elsewhere on the web about the new seating policy. I have long legs and always try to get an exit row seat when possible. Given the new rules, what's my best shot to do this? Also, I did not like reading about "A" listers saving seats for their "B" and "C" list buddies. Apparently, SW personnel allow this routinely. This is unfair but, if it's accepted strategy, I guess you have to use it. IMO, the whole policy is ludicrous but it has certainly worked well for SW. However, it's not for me which is why this will be my first and only SW trip.
DON_KENDRICK
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WHY CANT YOU ISSUE A SEAT IN A - B OR C WHEN U BOOK YOUR FLIGHT ?? PEOPLE WHO BOOK EARLY SHOULD GET FIRST CHOICE AND NOT HAVE TO FIND A PC TO GET A SEAT .OR ASSIGN SEATS SO PEOPLE WILL KNOW IF THEY A SITTING TOGETHER . A LEAST U ARE MOVING IN A BETTER DIRECTION WITH A AND A NUMBER BUT I CAN STILL SEE PEOPLE GETTING MAD WHEN A PERSON MOVES IN FRONT OF THEM WITH A LOWER NUMBER GOOD LUCK
T__Bair
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When my family flew last year, SWA was trying out this new boarding system on our flight from San Diego to Seattle. It was complete chaos. My husband & I had our three children under 5 combined with their gear and carry-ons and had to not only trudge down the extremely narrow aisle even farther than usual, but also dodge the heads & shoulders of all of the A-group people that had chosen aisle seats. I bonked five of them just trying find two empty rows that we could all fit on. It was the most stressful boarding procedure I have ever been involved in. The flight crew passed out questionaires to all the adults on the flight after boarding...it looks like the ones that were ignored were the parents.
Just_trying_to_1
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I commented earlier about some challenges I thought I would face while traveling with my family, and said I would reserve judgement about the new lack of preboard for families until after my flight was done. Well, we traveled from MCO - PVD and back again last week, and I can say the new policy didn't work too well for us. On our first leg 3 of the 4 of us had A boarding cards, (because we had a lap child so one of us had to get that entered at the airport when they could verify the birth certificate). There was really no point in having an A card though. There was no way I was going to keep my 3.5 & 1.5 year old at the front of the line, despite being at the gate virtually first. I watched people start lining up, and it made me cringe, knowing that I should be waiting, but figuring it was better to let the kids burn energy while waiting instead of on the plane. So, we boarded at the end of A...technically before the "family preboard" but essentially between A & B. It was a challenge to find a full row, and then one additional seat across the row. I know we annoyed a few people with all the stuff we carted down. The flight attendant ended up asking people to move to accomodate adjacent seating for our family. I felt badly about that, but what other choice did we have? At least the gentleman who moved got a free cocktail! It was pretty much the same story on the way back....only difference is that we couldn't get boarding passes online because we didn't have a printer where we were staying. I was told when we got to the airport, however, that I could have checked in, and "reprinted" a boarding pass. Will I fly SW again...probably. Was the experience horrible...not totally...but it certainly inconvenienced another passenger who had gotten on and selected an aisle seat before we got on. In the future, I will certainly consider other carriers iwhen booking, nstead of just keeping my eye out for the typically cheaper SW fares. Guaranteed seating with my husband and kids in a good location is just too important.
Colleen1
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I flew SWA this weekend for the first time since the new family "pre-boarding" policy took effect. Alone. With my 2 year old. It was the single most miserable flying experience I've ever had. The flight attendants were rude to me and seemed appalled that I'd even ask to board first. (How dare I, didn't I know their new policy?) I had to carry my daughter's car seat down the asile after the A group boarded. Big car seat. Tiny asile. Toddler in tow. On the way to my seat, I must have hit 3 or 4 people in the head with that dang car seat. It was really embarrassing, not to mention dangerous for everyone involved. We finally found a seat, in the middle of the plane, where the woman in front of us did nothing but give us dirty looks the whole flight. As people were getting off, we waited until the end, when the flight attendant scolded us to hurry up because of their precious turn-around time (not my fault they were running behind that day). To add to the mess, I had gate-claim checked my daughter's stroller which never made it up to the gate - it headed clear over to baggage claim. And no one at Southwest would help me get my 20lb car seat, toddler, backpack, etc. clear across the airport. The flight home was pretty much the same story, different day. I was totally and completely blown away that ANY service company (especially one that prides themselves on customer service) would treat a customer this way. Disappointing. Sad. And an awful direction for a great company to take. If I have my choice, I won't be back.
nsx
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SMF Jeff wrote on September 24: >REGARDING THE NEW PRE-BOARD POLICY, 1. What is the rationale for the change? Business Select was announced today. Does that answer your question? Naturally Brian was not able to explain Business Select to you and the rest of the world six weeks before its roll-out. But everybody paying attention knew some type of paid priority boarding was in the works. It was unfair to berate Brian for failing to provide an answer that, for sound business reasons, nobody in his position would be permitted to provide.
Dr__Steve_Otto
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All the ruckus about "family" preboard is much ado about nothing. Why should one be awarded in any way in a system that otherwise revolves around a "queue" for boarding? By the same token, the current preboarding individuals who take "more time" should logically be boarded last, not first; at least if the goal is the least time to completely board the aircraft in a timely manner. I also don't buy the assertion that families with small children don't have the time to go online early as does any other individual and obtain an early boarding group.
Mark_R
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The complaint that most parents have had - particularly the ones with small children - is not that they need favorable treatment but that they need to be able to sit together. Even the most blinkered, selfish single traveller should understand that parents will not fly SWA if they cannot be sure that they will be able to sit with their small kids. Southwest has never offered assigned seats, but did at least let families pre-board. This was the only way a parent with a child could guarantee that they could sit together, and in the case of a child with a car seat, guarantee the window seat that the law insists that they have. The Business Select announcement yesterday finally confirmed what many posters here have suspected. That Southwest is putting the additional money from its business travellers before the interests of, and courtesy for, its family fliers. I'm sure it will be a commercial success and one day we'll all look back and laugh at the naive old days when South West portrayed itself as different from the rest, a family friendly airline with a focus on simple, good ol' fashioned service. As a frequent business traveller I would never fly anyway with an airline that didn't allow me to assign a seat ahead of time, and now I won't be travelling with my family for vacations on that airline either. But I guess I must be in a minority as I'm sure SWA has done its homework.
K_Recore
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When I traveled last month and fell victim to your new no-preboard-families policy (AKA the Southwest hates children policy) I didnÃ
Joe_M
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I spent about an hour reading a lot of the comments and came away thinking you just can't please all. Charging more to get an A pass is good for the company but bad for your customers. How many full flights would you have if none of the casual or family travelers did not fly with you due to the CATTLE CALL rules. I have used your airline 4 times in the past 10 months and every time it was a full flight. I do have a problem with the way you seem to treat your customers by the cattle call and even though you may have eliminated the camping system that was humiliating at best you just moved it into camping on the computer to push the button at the exact millisecond or the 24 hour mark. Dont you see that? I know I am wasting my time here but here goes,,, when YOUR CUSTOMER DECIDES TO USE AND PAY YOUR COMPANY TO FLY
Joe_M
Not applicable
why not assign the number based on when they buy the ticket then there is no line at all and no complaints. Sorry I hit a wrobg buton on previous transmission
Tim10
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Everyone here who is as incensed as I am please be sure and mail a copy of your comments to Southwest. I haven't found a customer service email address yet, so we'll have to settle for posting here. But don't forget snail mail. If they get enough feedback, it's still possible they will make some concessions. Southwest Airlines P.O. Box 36647 - 1CR Dallas, Texas 75235-1647 Don't let up!
April2
Not applicable
It is shameful that you no longer allow families with small children to pre-board. They really do need more time to get their children and themselves situated. I have also found that pre-boarding families with small children created a "family section" on the airplane, which was nice because you didn't have to worry about your child disturbing those around you since they had kids, too. I know anyone can print out their boarding pass early and get in Group A, but that means that other Group A passengers will get held up while people try to strap in car seats and get their kids settled. I hope that every family out there who continues to fly Southwest makes sure they get into Group A boarding. And I hope they take their time getting seated and settled, even it means holding up the line. Then we'll see how the other passengers feel about families not being able to pre-board. I have always been a loyal Southwest customer because I considered it to be a very family friendly airline. Apparently, you have now chosen to cater to the vocal child-hating minority. You have now lost my business. I have let all of my friends and family know about the change in your policy and they have also said they will no longer fly Southwest. This was a terrible move. And I hope you will realize it and rectify the situation soon.
Darrell_Small
Not applicable
IT IS ABOUT TIME SW LET THE "A" GROUP BOARD BEFORE ANYONE ELSE. IF PARENTS WITH TOTS WANT TO BOARD IN THE "A" GROUP... GET UP OFF YOUR ASS, JUST LIKE THE REST OF US HAVE TO, AND CHECK IN!!! I FINALY FEEL LIKE SW HAS STARTED TO SEE THAT IT IS US BUSINESS TRAVELERS, NOT SOME ONCE A YEAR TRAVELER, THAT PAYS THE BILLS FOR SW.
Susan9
Not applicable
If the first person to check in get "A1" and so forth per the article, why is it that at 8pm last night I printed off my boarding pass, and 12 hours later, my travelling companion printed off hers, and got a sequence 14 lower than mine? And, I am the one with the rewards account, not her!
jmd
Not applicable
so, if you have an early morning flight, you get to wake up early two days in a row to get a decent set. just checked in at 7 am this morning to find that i'm 40th in line for a seat. now that i know your procedure, i'll be sure to wake up at 5 am next time or fly another airline...
Jennifer5
Not applicable
Wow - obviously SW is stating their priority since their "Business Select" in on the home page of the website. Why don't you put " New Policies" on the home page as well if they are such a "positive" change??? Darrell SMALL - educate your SMALL brain - you cannot check in online if you have a lap child!!!!!! Sorry - but business travelers don't pay the bills especially when I am a family person AND a business traveler. Southwest should be ashamed of themselves and I hope the next family of screaming children sit right next to someone like Darrell Small - maybe he will even get smacked in the head by a carseat. Travel with a child and then make a comment.
adriana1
Not applicable
Flying Southwest on Saturday and this help alot to explain the new boarding procedures. Now we know what to expect. Very imformative. THX
blusk
Not applicable
Jennifer, As I have mentioned earlier, it is now possible for parents with lap children to check in online. They only have to stop by the ticket counter before going to the gate and pick up a Boarding Verification Document. This is a recent change, so you may not be aware of it. Brian
Jeff4
Not applicable
Just wanted to respond to the new seating process. I have flown Southwest exclusively for the past 8 years even though there are other choices. I would call myself an average flyer such that I fly 8-10 times per year for business/ pleasure. My company requires us to book cheapest flights available. My wife has a very simular flight history. We use the Southwest credit card in order to give us a little help in reaching the award tickets. I hate the middle seat like most travelers so I play Southwest Airlines game so I don't end up in one. I have set my alarm at 1 AM to log in to get my preboarding A Pass. We are planning a trip in the spring and though it would be nice to use our flight awards. We went on line 30 minutes after the flights became available and all of the awards seats were gone. We were able to leave a day earlier and still had to pay cash for one leg of the flight to get to our destination. We have other family members flying out of another city who had the same problem. Now the awards program is not very good and I will end up with a middle seat and not be able to set with my 7 year old daughter. Unless Southwest Airlines does something soon about its new seat assignment program, it looks like they are getting ready to lose another family. At least with the other airlines I can decide at the time of purchase what seat choices are available and if I do note like the choices I can choose another day or airline.
Not applicable
[...] The way to stop people being afraid is, of course, to prove to them the business valueÂ
scottnearsmf
New Arrival
The problem isn't the use of open seating. Southwest did a good job sampling and testing this. The problem had to do with the introduction of Business Select and the changes to the Rapid Rewards program that gives those who completed their purchase prior to 36 hours of scheduled departure and have flown 32 one-way flights in 365 days, the ability to jump ahead of the very first person to check-in at the 24 hour mark. That's where the biggest negative response is coming from.
Chris8
Not applicable
I am so happy about this policy change to stop giving families priority boarding! I always travle with my little kids and in the past it has pretty much meant that I had to sit next to them and try to make them behave. Now it seems that burden has been lifted since I can no longer sit with them! They are someone else's problem now!
Diane
Not applicable
Let's do the math. I fly at least twice a year with a family of five. That is TEN tickets a year. This is probably more than your average business class person. I think that the person who buys the most tickets on a flight should board first. Let the single ticket buyers fill in the empty seats. Anytime the flight is delayed by families trying to manuever sitting together, manage car seats, diaper bags, etc it will slow down the seating process. SO FAMILIES UNITE!! GET UP 20 TIMES DURING THE FLIGHT, TO GET ITEMS THAT YOUR HUSBAND HAS IN THE DIAPER BAG, WHO IS SEATED 10 ROWS IN FRONT OF YOU. CALL SOCIAL SERVICES WHEN YOUR 5 YEAR OLD IS SEATED 6 ROWS BEHIND YOU. HOLD UP THE PLANE UNTIL SOUTHWEST CAN FIGURE IT OUT.
Jenny__cusomer_
Not applicable
I applaud the step to change the seating option. I do not have the luxury of time or a staff person to check in when it becomes available. Usually I am working or transferring from somewhere else or just trying to catch the plane. And yes, I do end up paying a premium because many times I do not know that I need to be somewhere and have to juggle my schedule. Finally I can board and not have to worry about getting off from the back of the plane. If I was retired or on vacation, getting off the plane is not as pressing as getting to the downtown area to a meeting or appointment. When I do get off the rat race treadmill, I will smell the flowers, not drag around a laptop, live in airports, and gladly sit in the back of the plane and look out the window.
Bob_King
Not applicable
As a frequent flyer (year to date-22 round trips-39,000 miles) I am keeping an eye on how this pans out. Three years ago I purchased a ticket on your airline and afterward learned of your boarding policy and never used the ticket. I've been in LAX and have seen people camped hours before their flight...crazy. I wouldn't take the threats of those folks who claim, "see ya SWA, I'll never fly you again because I have kids. Bully, bully, I'm sure SWA will sorely miss your one or two annual flights. Let them fly one of the other gems of the air, "sorry, three houir delay, sorry about your bags, and sorry about the horrible way some of us treat you". They'll come running back! Oh by the way, I raised two children and somehow managed to survive without getting any preferential treatment. Dang that stinks.
Julio
Not applicable
I used to like SW because if you really wanted or, in my case, needed to be one of the first to board you could. Even though the "camp out" system can be described as humiliating and other not so nice adjectives, I liked it because I knew that it was in my hands to get to the gate early and board first. See, I am 6 feet 10 inches tall and about the only way I can physically survive a flight is to sit on an exit row seat. Since I am not a millionaire and cannot afford first class, I have to travel coach and the regular seats in coach nowadays are not fit for an average size human being, much less somebody as tall as I am. Since SW adopted its new policies, now it's virtually impossible for me to guarantee one of those coveted exit row seats. I know what most people must be saying, just suck it up like the rest of us, but trust me on this, flying on a regular seat for me is literally torture. Anyway, I understand that as a company it is hard to please everybody. Business flyers claim they pay the bill, families say them boarding first is good for all involved. All very good and valid points. My point is that since airlines feel the need to pack as many people as humanly possible into planes, there should be some way that people that need a little more space can get it. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. As much as it pains me to admit, I would gladly pay a reasonable fee to be guaranteed an exit row seat....
Phil21
Not applicable
I am a buiness traveler who fly's over 40 flights on SW a year, I like the new system except for family's boarding after A group. Since the new system I have been forced to sit around family's with small children. Some parents have been very good at keeping them behaved, but most are too small to understand and are loud and active even when parents believe they are behaved. I truly believe we should go back to the old sysetm, let family's with young children board 1st. Then we can sit make the decision to sit year these family's or in another area.
Tim10
Not applicable
To Bob King (on Dec. 24): You call our attempts to influence SWA "bullying"? I guess you believe consumers should shut up and take whatever a company gives them. This is how a free market works. Maybe we'll succeed, maybe we won't, but this is how we let SWA know how we feel. It's our stance, which we have the right to as much as you the almighty business traveler (which I have been, as well). You also say "we'll be back." Other airlines may not be perfect, but this issue is important enough to me that I won't be, even after my kids are grown, until they change or modify the new rules. I plan on sending a quick note to SWA every time I fly with a different carrier, just so they can see how much $ they lose from my family of four (who travel quite a bit, I might add.) And as for your last comment of "preferential treatment," give me a break. There are some who may expect too much, but the majority of us are looking for some common sense. If you had read all the posts above, you would have seen that. My stance is that SWA allow a parent with carseats to preboard and get them installed. This will help me avoid hitting people with them as I walk 2/3 of the way back dodging people. I don't expect my extended family to get to board with me, nor do I expect that we get to preboard once my kids are out of carseats.
obeid
Not applicable
With an infant (6 months) and our first flight from BWI, I have forgone flying with SWA specifically due to lack of preboarding (aka taking care of people with varying needs aka customer service). I am truely disappointed in southwest and was looking forward to flying SWA again after moving to Baltimore and having used SWA extensively when I was near a hub 99-02
Robin11
Not applicable
I travel SW within Calif about 12x per year, and I don't have kids. But I absolutely agree with comments above that families have to be able to preboard. The new boarding policy actually slows down boarding, creating a mess onboard prior to takeoff as people move around to accommodate families, and has the opposite effect of the one intended. Don't fool yourself that business folks try to sit far from families; if families are in the front, the biz folks sit right behind them in order to get out of the plane in a hurry. But also, I am saddened by SW's decision to raffle off 'A' line places to the highest bidder. The 'check in at home' prize used to be A, but now everyone will try to figure out how to get a B, as the ideal tradeoff between paying too much or too little, being able to avoid screaming babies (*I absolutely defend the right for kids to scream, as long as I can sit a ways away) and being fairly sure you can keep your carry on luggage with you. I hope an anthropology PhD student is interviewing and taking footage of our antics in the terminal and on board, plus the strategies folks are utilizing in order to optimize the outcomes we want. Is there a way to just get on a plane and go somewhere without a lot of game playing? At least it is giving us all a lot of things to talk about as we figure out where the B & C folks should stand while the As are lined up.
Larry3
Not applicable
I'm a long time SWA customer. I've seen a lot of the comments pro and con, and listened to them first hand in the airport every week, as I'm a frequent PHX to BUR flyer. As for the complainers, bunk. If you want to get on first, you can use on-line checkin to get into the A boarding group. The big gripe for most of you is that you don't like change. Get over it. Adapt. Southwest Airlines is a great company that does a fantastic job at customer service, but it is still a business. Families need to remember that the lifeblood of any business is frequent, repeat customers. Leisure travelers have been a beneficiary of Southwest Airlines policies and procedures for a long time, though they like to take a lot of credit for the companies success. I'm willing to bet that their assumptions regarding their contribution to this success are somewhat exaggerated. I understand the families with small children issue, having been a happy pre-boarder when my children were much younger. I kinda foresee SWA revisiting this issue, maybe fine tuning the pre-board age to accommodate families with children still in diapers. However if the kids are self-propelled and can carry a backpack, get in line and quit whining. You're abusing the policy and those of us who play be the rules are sick and tired of seeing your smug faces while you get on before us. I'm ecstatic that the boarding area no longer looks like a camping area at every gate. I love being able to mosey over and use the airport restroom before my group starts boarding without fear of losing my place in line. I like sitting comfortably in a chair INSTEAD OF ON THE FLOOR FOR AN HOUR BEFORE MY FLIGHT. It makes the travel every week easier and less exhausting. Since I've been working 65 hour weeks, this is also a plus for me. I hope the airport merchants appreciate the new features of the boarding system that may not provide them with more customers, but will give the available customers more time to browse their wares. On that note, I'm looking forward to more improvements in the gate areas. I've seen some already in PHX, and I'm still waiting for more upgrades in BUR. We could use a few more seats at gates A2, A3, and A6. So get over it people, the updates have been a long time coming. It's also obvious that SWA spent a lot of time studying the changes and is continuing to monitor the situation. So take a breath, eat some nuts, and relax.
BWI_Dave
Not applicable
Have flown 6 flights using new boarding system, it works great. But, I must say the new ticket prices are a disaster. Prices fluctuate all over the scale for no apparent reason, changing from day to day. I can fly BWI to the west coast cheaper than BWI to West Palm Beach (one third the distance). Ding fares from BWI are a joke. Is anybody really going to pay 3 times the price for the BS fare, just to board first and get a "free" drink? ( I have about 40 free drink coupons if anyone wants them) Please, bring back common sense pricing. Dave