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Pre-Boarding vs Family Boarding with Triplet Toddlers

Explorer C

My wife and I just took the outbound flight from east coast to west for a family issue that had come up. We are not new to travel or southwest, but this was the first time flying since we had triplets last year. They are just over a year old. As such, we had 2 lap children and one infant ticketed to ride in a car seat. We expected the experience to be a bit bumpy, but had some questions come up regarding our experience. 


We boarded our first flight with family boarding after the A, and before B. We had a car seat to install, 2 diaper bags (keep in mind please we have 3 1 year-olds) and a stroller to check planeside. The issue we ran into was that when they asked for family boarding, the A's were still waiting to board, and before we could even get on the plane, the B tickets were called, so we were still sandwiched between groups. This meant I had to carry the car seat to the back of the plane, install it, then fight boarders back to the jetway to be able to breakdown the stroller and bag it for planeside check in, and then help carry the kids and diaper bags back to our seats. This caused a huge hassle, not just for us but for everyone else boarding. 


WE understand that many fliers pay a premium to board first, and we don't want to cause any issues - we are fine going straight to the back of the plane and taking the seats nobody wants. However, it seems to make more sense in our case to pre-board before the A-seats when they call for authorized pre-boarding so that we don't get in the way of literally everyone else boarding the plane. THis was actually suggested by one of our flight attendants. However, upon asking at the gate for our next flight and explaining the situation, we were told it was not an option. 


We don't feel entitled to special help or concessions, we honestly just think that boarding would work more seamlessly and help everyone involved this way. We definitely won't be trying to fly again until the triplets can walk and handle more on their own, but hope that if anyone has suggestions tomake our return trip easier, we are open to them. Or maybe this just helps enlighten any future policy changes that are made. 


Re: Pre-Boarding vs Family Boarding with Triplet Toddlers

Aviator A

You are in a difficult situation.


Pre boarding is reserved for people who have a need for a specific seat - presumably due

to some medical condition. So you really don't qualify for pre boarding.


Family boarding happens after A-group boards and before B group starts to board. Frequently B starts RIGHT AFTER A and family boarding ends. So, the groups merge in the jetway.


I don't know how you handle 3 toddlers, a toddler seat, a stroller and assorted other items - given the above.

Re: Pre-Boarding vs Family Boarding with Triplet Toddlers

Aviator A

This is tough! I don't have any good suggestions, other than to a) try for Early Bird Checkin so you can potentially get in the A group (not guaranteed though), or b) see if there is upgrading boarding available where you can purchase a spot in A1 - A15 (if it's available). That would get you on the plane ahead of most others so you can get the seat(s) you want, even in the back,  and alleviate at least some of what you encountered on your trip. 



Re: Pre-Boarding vs Family Boarding with Triplet Toddlers

Aviator A

Can you squeeze two of them into a checked bag? Hooray for free bags! TOTALLY KIDDING, DO NOT DO THAT.


My only suggestion would be to ask about preboarding every time you fly, you may find a sympathetic gate agent who will allow it despite it not quite fitting into the policy. As others have mentioned your situation is definitely a difficult one and I wish you the best of luck with future travels.