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Chaos!!! Special Boarding for Exit Rows???

New Arrival

I experienced a HORRIBLE boarding experience on Sunday flying SW out of San Juan, PR.    Two things happened that were incredibly unfair to anyone who pays for EarlyBird checkin.   

 

First, the pre-boarding for those with "special requirements" or ''who need extra time" - the SW ground agents correctly accomodated an elderly woman in a wheel chair.  However, they also allowed her entire extended family of about 15 people to pre-board with her!   I don't think it was necessary for everyone in the group to pre-board - should have been just a couple of family members to assist the elderly woman.

 

But the really horrible part was that between boarding Groups A and B - the gate agent made an accouncement that anyone from B & C boarding groups  could immediately board if they would volunteer to sit in the exit rows!    Total Chaos - people already lined up in the back of boarding group B and those still seated in group C all pushed to the podium.     I don't know how many 'volunteers' were willling to sit in the exit rows - but I think it was way more people than actual number of exit row seats.  I had boarding number B-1 so I had a front-row view of what was happening.     The really disgusting thing is that once I finally got on the plane, the exit rows were not occupied!   People used this announcement as an opportunity to jump the line and get better seating than their assigned boarding order would have otherwise provided.   The pre-board announcement was absurd and of course the flight crew in the plane presumably had no way of knowing that the 20 or 30 people who boarded between groups A & B were supposed to be in exit rows.     People standing patiently in line who paid for early-bird boarding were really p*ssed off.   I've never seen this happen when boarding a SW flight and I hope that it's not a new boarding policy because it's incredibly unfair and unnecessary!  


Home Airport BWI
4 REPLIES 4
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Re: Chaos!!! Special Boarding for Exit Rows???

Rising Star

@rca19 something sounds off!  Most of us here are other customers like you so it will definitely help to bring this directly to the attention of the Southwest Customer Relations team via Twitter (@Southwestair) or by phone at 1-855-234-4654.  Email is also available via the "Contact Us" link, see below.

 

References:

 


Customer | Home airport DCA
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Re: Chaos!!! Special Boarding for Exit Rows???

Top Contributor

Exit row seats are covegted becasue they provie additional room. I've never heard of any airline

pleading to get exit row seats filled. If society alowed it, people would fight in order to get them.

I agree with @SWDigits , something is off here.

 

As to the 15 people that pre boarded with the woman in the wheel chair, that was clearly excessive

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Re: Chaos!!! Special Boarding for Exit Rows???

New Arrival

Thanks for the reply.   I did indeed contact customer relations using the online form.    I detailed what I described in this post. The response I got back from them was "We are sorry that someone boarded out of order ... but sometimes people are jerks and we can't do anything about it" (I'm paraphrasing!  8-)      They refunded my Early-bird purchase but they totally missed the point!   

 

I then followed up with a phone call and that was equally useless.      The customer relations agent really would not address the annoucement allowing anyone from B/C to preboard if they would take an exit row.     I kept getting a canned robotic answer from the agent stating that they would be contacting the staff at San Juan so that they could use this situation as a 'training opportunity'.   I never had the impression that the agent that responded to my email or the agent that I talked to on the phone understood (or cared to understand) what happened.     It's pretty straight forward but based on the weird responses, I'm not sure that contacting customer relations made any difference at all.   I wish I knew how to escalate this further because it was a really bad situation that should never be repeated anywhere!

 

I certainly hope this is not a new 'standard boarding procedure'.   I'm flying cross-country BWI to San Diego in about 10 days and I have an early bird purchase - so let's see what happens.  


Home Airport BWI
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Re: Chaos!!! Special Boarding for Exit Rows???

Rising Star

@rca19 wrote:

I wish I knew how to escalate this further


You can always write an old fashioned letter to Southwest, the "Write Us" address found on the "Contact Us" page is:

 

Southwest Airlines
P.O. Box 36647-1CR
Dallas, Texas 75235

 

As another customer I think you should mention that you aren't asking for anything other than to help improve the experience for others and that you'd like to escalate the issue within the organization.  My two cents.


Customer | Home airport DCA