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Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

Hi,

 

I've seen this topic discussed a few times on the forum, but without an official response from Southwest.  As a fairly frequent flyer since 2010, I've earned a companion pass a few times.  Currently, the companion is given a boarding position relative to their status or purchase (A-List or EarlyBird Check-In).  My boarding position is typically between A15 and A30 while my companion (a non A-List member) is  between B30 and C30.  This creates an unpleasant experience for both myself and other Southwest customers as I have to tell them the middle seat next to me is saved for my significant other.  Generally, this is not a problem, but could be easily be avoided with Southwest's flexible boarding procedure.

 

In earlier posts, members have suggested giving companions the boarding position immediately following their partner.  Ex: A15, then A16 for the companion.  This could upset other rewards members as the A boarding group is generally full of frequent flyers or EarlyBird upgrades.  Alternatively, members have suggested ignoring the companion's boarding position and allowing them to board with their partner.  This would remove the need to give them an A boarding pass, but again creates a situation where the companion may board and take a seat from another frequent flyer or EarlyBird traveler.  

 

A simple compromise would be to have the companions board after the A group.  They would board after the A-List members who didn't receive their As, but prior to family boarding.  Ideally, the computer system would print Companion on the boarding pass, so the gate agent could quickly validate the boarding pass.  Prior to updating the computer system, the companion could be required to show their physical card received from Southwest.  This boarding procedure would allow for all rewards members to board and select seats prior to any companions.  It would also allow companions to board early enough in the procedure to avoid any awkward customer interactions about saving seats.  Finally, this fits their boarding procedure with little alteration to the process or computer system other than the gate agent announcing it's time for the companions to board.

 

I'd love to hear back from a Southwest customer service agent on this topic.  Hopefully, they can inform the community whether this is being discussed/considered at a corporate level.  

 

Sincerely,

- Big Southwest Fan (Darren) 

17 REPLIES 17
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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

Top Contributor

My take: Southwest feels like they're already giving you a great benefit -- flying for free as a companion. It's very unlikley they will give you any other perk along with that. They want you to buy EBCI for the companion.

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

Sitting next to your spouse is not an extra benefit. It is an expectation for those who fly enough with Southwest to reach this status. I could fly United and always know that my spouse would sit next to me, but I choose to fly Southwest. Thus, this is just an expectation.

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

Retired Community Manager

Hi @Dartspeed255,

 

Thanks for submitting your thoughts to the Southwest Community - it's clear you've put a lot of time and consideration into this topic. 

 

With an open seating policy, there are always going to be some pros and cons, but overall we have found that the current arrangement works well for the overwhelming majority of our Customers. That said, we do take feedback seriously as we plan for the future, so thank you for taking time to share yours.

 

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

I hope you or whoever else is moderating will review my post below. There is a serious deficiency in the "family boarding" process that I think SWA needs to address. SWA does a lot of things right, but this "6 and under" business does not work.

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

Although it may work well with the majority of your customers, it dosent work so well with your best customers.  I get A-16 my wife buys EB and gets a high boarding B, after families, and our home airport is Orlando!  As said by others "saving" a seat has caused problems. If I am successful at saving a seat, then the overhead is full or her luggage is half a plane back from where we are sitting, which really holds up both the boarding and unboarding process.  Please let us know the outcome of the test period for boarding companion pass holders with the A-List person.  I cant imagine that it didn't go well! Prior to being A-list and companion we bought EB and always boarded togeather, now that we are "Good Customers" we don't board togeather, struggle with my wife's overhead (we only fly with carry on) so gate checking adds 30 minutes to our flight at the luggage rounder needlessly!  As an A-list person I don't have an issue with other A-list and their companions boarding before me "Togeather". I would think that having enough flights to be A-list and earning enough points to earn a companion pass would easily explain why the companion boards with the A-lister to any non-A-lister or non-companion pass holder.  In my opinion it is the only drawback to this great perk.     

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

I agree with allowing A-List members to board with one adult companion and any minors under the age of 18. If they are taking adult cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and so forth along, then they need to get in line. 

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

Although it may work well with the majority of your customers, it dosent work so well with your best customers.  I get A-16 my wife buys EB and gets a B boarding pass, after families, and our home airport is Orlando, where families can outnumber the A group easily.  As said by others "saving" a seat has caused problems. If I am successful at saving a seat, then the overhead is full or her luggage is half a plane back from where we are sitting, which really holds up both the boarding and unboarding process.  Please let us know the outcome of the test period for boarding companion pass holders with the A-List person.  I cant imagine that it didn't go well! Prior to being A-list and companion we bought EB and always boarded togeather, now that we are "Good Customers" we don't board togeather, struggle with my wife's overhead (we only fly with carry on) so gate checking adds 30 minutes to our flight at the luggage rounder needlessly!  As an A-list person I don't have an issue with other A-list and their companions boarding before me "Togeather". I would think that having enough flights to be A-list and earning enough points to earn a companion pass would easily explain why the companion boards with the A-lister to any non-A-lister or non-companion pass holder.  In my opinion it is the only drawback to this great perk.     

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

I, too, have a Companion Pass for my wife and we travel quite frequently.  We've traveled together many times already this year and each time they let her board with me after all the A passengers.  However, we were flying this weekend, waited for all A passengers to board and then attempted to board ourselves.  The gate agent refused to let my wife board with me, and suggested I try to save her a seat on the plane.  When I boarded the plane I was told I could not save seats as this was a full flight and all seats would be taken.  I've emailed SW customer service and received the response that all passengers need to board in their assigned position as to not take the early boarding perk away from others with an A boarding pass, however, agents are encouraged to "do the right thing" when making exceptions.  Apparently this agent felt doing the right thing was not allowing my wife to board with me even though it wouldn't have inconvenienced any other passenger nor slowed the boarding processs.

 

While I can understand that, it seems to me if you have an A-lister with a Companion Pass, that individual has spent a considerable amount of money on SW, and should hold some additional privilege over a regular A-boarding pass holder or someone who paid $15 for an A spot (no offense to those individuals).  An additional problem occurs when I fly with my children who are not A-list, but over 6 years old.  Either I give up my benefit of priority boarding to board with them and risk not finding seats together, or they need to board by themselves & I attempt to save seats for them.  


It seems a simple solution would be to give everyone on the same reservation consecutive boarding pass positions.  If a few A's get bumped, they still get to board between A & B groups, or let the companion/spouse/children board with the A-lister between A&B groups.  I have no issue waiting until after all the A's board, and give up my low A spot, but having to wait until B50 doesn't seem fair.  

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Re: Companion Pass - Boarding Suggestions

New Arrival

I agree with most of these posts, but want to add that SWA has not thought this out well in combination with its family boarding process. I am an A-Lister and Companion Pass holder, and now that my children are getting older, I presumably would not qualify for family boarding. However, I wouldn't conceivably board an aircraft with an A boarding pass and leave my 10 or 12 year old waiting in the boarding area for their "C" pass to get on - a) I am not supposed to save seats, and b) if I follow SWA's guidelines and wait to get on with my son when they board in the C group, we wont be able to get two seats together anyways because only middle seats are left! And like another poster said - why should I be punished like this when I am a companion pass holder or an A-Lister to begin with? It doesnt make sense.

 

I fly twice a month and know how this drill goes! either SWA needs to expand family boarding to more reasonable limits (not just "6 year olds" and under).  I think SWA should go to seat reservations and just open up reservations earlier to A-Listers or something similar.