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Boarding Process

Explorer C

So, I know that you get many complaints about the boarding process - especially relating to the number of pre-boards.  I've commented on that before.  It seems that the cities I typically fly to and from (Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale to and from Baltimore), have an incredible numbers of people who need to pre-board.  I've noticed that many of those who need wheel chair assistance and get early boarding are miraculously cured on the flight since they tend to bound off the plane at the destination without the need of a wheelchair.  I've also seen otherwise very healthy looking people getting an early board and I'm told that many are claustraphobic, etc. or have other ailments that require an early board.  And I've been told that SW employees are not allowed (or perhaps restricted) in their ability to question the legitimacy of claims of people who need to early board.  


On Monday of this week, I flew Jet Blue from Providence to Palm Beach because they had a non-stop whereas SW's flights to PBI did not work for me.  Their boarding process seemed much for equitable.  First, children and families were given early boarding.  Second, people with wheelchairs got early boarding, but unlike SW flights from FLL, PBI and BWI, there were only a couple of wheelchairs.  I have yet to see a SW flight from FLL, PBI or BWI where there were not at least 12 wheelchairs and a number of non-wheelchair boarders (presumably those that have other phobias or needs such they they need to board early).  Third, Jet Blue planes must not have the curative powers of SW planes because no one who boarded via wheelchair was cured during the flight and was able to walk off the plane under their own power.  Moreover, the flight crew made an announcement that those who boarded on wheelchairs had to deplane on a wheelchair and they had to stay in their seats until others deplaned because the wheelchairs would clog the jetway. 


I started to think that statistically, it was odd that one airline had so many pre-boards and another airline had so few.  (By the way, the Jet Blue flight was totally full).  I therefore assume, that one reason there are fewer pre-boards was because Jet Blue might be a bit more critical in allowing people to pre-board.  


Clearly those with special needs absolutely should be given priority for boarding, but the vetting process on whether one does or does not need to pre-board seems somewhat lax on the SW side at least compared to Jet Blue.  Please think about it.


Re: Boarding Process

Aviator A

@woltaj this is primarily a customer to customer forum (I'm another Southwest customer like you) so you may want to send this directly to the Southwest team: Submitting a Suggestion and/or Complaint


One thought I had while reading your post is that Southwest is unique in offering open seating so my *personal opinion* is that boarding comparisons with other airlines are not always apples to apples.

Customer | Home airport DCA

Re: Boarding Process

Aviator A

JetBlue (and every other domestic carrier except for Southwest) has assigned seating. Which explains the differences.


Until Southwest also begins assigning seats there will always be negative side effects of their Open Boarding system (and, more recently, the monetization thereof). 


Re: Boarding Process

Adventurer A

Assigned seating takes away much of the benefit of early boarding so why go to the trouble of faking it? Huge incentive on SW so that’s why so many do vs other airlines as you note. Other airlines you pay for aisle, closer to the front etc. whereas SW you request early boarding