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Handicapped Boarding

New Arrival

Is it me, or are the number of "handicapped" boarders increasing exponentially  every time I fly on southwest.  There are many unfortunate and legitimately disabled people who travel.  But I see more and more people who are not disabled until they get to the gate, and who are no longer disabled as they exit the plane.  They board before A-listers, before business select passengers who pay extra to get on the plan first.  It seems to me there should be more diligent scrutiny to ensure that those allowed to board first are actually entitiled to special treatment.  Last time I flew there were 35 "preboarders" including a young woman with 2 "service" dogs which she needed due to her extreme fear of flying.  It is getting absurd.

7 REPLIES 7
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Re: Handicapped Boarding

Top Contributor

Well Robert, there is  federal law that governs what airlines can and cannot do regarding disabled people.

 

1) Airlines cannot, as you put it "better scrutinize" those claiming to be disabled. When a person self identifes as disabled, the airline must believe the passenger.

 

2) The airline cannot inquire about the nature of the disability.

 

3) Remember, not all disabilities are evident. A person might have heart failure and look normal.

 

4) Sure, some  people are probably faking it, but the airline can't do anything about it.

 

If you don't like,the law, you should contact your senators and congressman to ask for a new law.

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Re: Handicapped Boarding

Active Member

@RobertB wrote:

Is it me, or are the number of "handicapped" boarders increasing exponentially  every time I fly on southwest.  There are many unfortunate and legitimately disabled people who travel.  But I see more and more people who are not disabled until they get to the gate, and who are no longer disabled as they exit the plane.  They board before A-listers, before business select passengers who pay extra to get on the plan first.  It seems to me there should be more diligent scrutiny to ensure that those allowed to board first are actually entitiled to special treatment.  Last time I flew there were 35 "preboarders" including a young woman with 2 "service" dogs which she needed due to her extreme fear of flying.  It is getting absurd.


As the fees increase for a shot at bording early boarding, the numbers of people faking a need to preboard will only increase.

 

Its a topic heavily discussed on this forum and others.

 

Unfortunately there is little SWA can do to stop it.  They cannot ask about the reasons for the need to preboard and the fakers know it.  These people have no conscience and will even try to save seats, or rows of seats.

 

The ESA animals are also getting out of control.  All you need is a letter that you can get online stating you have a need and the airline is stuck allowing it.

 

 

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Re: Handicapped Boarding

Active Member

The only solution to the Preboard nonsense is assigned seats. My guess is at some point the abuse will reach a tipping point and assigned seating will be the only way to resolve the bogus pre-boards and seat saving  . That will only come when SWA $ee$ some financial impact when idiots like me stop buying BS tickets or worry about gaining Companion pass/AL+/AL status year after year. Unfortunate that the open seating policy that has been so successful for SWA over the years may someday change because of dishonest and inconsiderate passengers

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Re: Handicapped Boarding

Active Member

Sadly... the most often "handicap" is lack of moral well being or brains in general.

 

The Feds are of little help with this.

 

 

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Re: Handicapped Boarding

New Arrival

I don’t look disabled but I am legally blind and have many invisible chronic illnesses including joint instability. If I’m flying alone, I have to go with the disabled people. Trying to get through to a seat can be a nightmare for me in large groups of people. I’ve been pushed and sublimated a knee just in a crowd for a gathering when everyone was heading to their seats. Some of us look healthy but are not. 

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Re: Handicapped Boarding

Top Contributor

@Kinataskup wrote:

I don’t look disabled but I am legally blind and have many invisible chronic illnesses including joint instability. If I’m flying alone, I have to go with the disabled people. Trying to get through to a seat can be a nightmare for me in large groups of people. I’ve been pushed and sublimated a knee just in a crowd for a gathering when everyone was heading to their seats. Some of us look healthy but are not. 


You are absolutely rght.

 

You have my best wishes for your future flights being safe and uneventful.

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Re: Handicapped Boarding

New Arrival

I am a newbie on SWA but I was struck by the huge number of preboards...greater than any other airline I have flown...plus the fact that many of them were wheelchaired on but sprinted off their front row seats direct to baggage claim and were able to heft substantial bags.  No gripe with people with genuine issues but being overweight seems to be a "handicap" permitting preboard with a helper.  I wonder if having these disabled people in the front of the aircraft would pose an evacuation hazard.  The process is obviously being taken advantage of...but there is one benefit...when a massive person preboards you can pick your own seat instead of the russian roulette of assigned seating and family separation that other airlines monetize.  Also I will say that the SWA flights I experieced had way faster boarding and deplaning than beloved Alaska AIr.  Maybe Southwest should just reserve the first three rows for handicapped and let them sit together!  Of course if they are taking up 1/3 of the plane this will not work/