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Pre-boarding (San Juan)

Explorer C

There were over 30 pre-boards on my recent flight going from San Juan to Orlando. A majority of them walked on (not in a wheel chair). This tells me that Southwest did NOT provide assistance for them to board. I paid extra for my business class fare ticket and my boarding position was A-2. When I boarded the plane, the first 9 rows were occupied with pre-boards that were saving seats for travel companions. I watched the gate attendants allow anyone who walked up to the counter who appeared to be over the age of 60 pre-board the plane. I understand the law requires airlines to provide assistance when requested and can not discriminate, but I could not find where the law states that they have to be let on the plane first ahead of any other passengers. I can see that this isn't an issue for airlines with assigned seating, but it presents a unique situation for Southwest because you charge extra to be at the front of the line, but you're not actually allowing the customer to be at the front of the line. It would make sense for Southwest to allow the first 15 passengers who paid the extra for the business class fare tickets to board first, and then allow the customers who need "assistance" to board. This would not add any extra time to the boarding process. The only exception to this would be where the customer said they needed to be sat in the first row due to their disability. The policy needs to be changed!


Re: Pre-boarding (San Juan)

Aviator A

Southwest actually makes a clear written distinction between someone needing to preboard versus someone who needs extra time to board.  Implementation at the airport...


Here is the exact wording followed by the source:


"Preboarding is available for Customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability and/or need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device. If a Customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups."



Customer | Home airport DCA

Re: Pre-boarding (San Juan)

Aviator A

This has been extensively discussed here; I understand the frustration, but this will not likely change. As @SWDigits mentioned, SW’s policies do provide for differences in need, but they cannot make a judgement for customers about their level of need. Or even ask for that matter. 

This isn’t a big deal for other airlines with assigned seating. It’s a little different with SW, but for me, the benefits of SW outweigh this small caveat. As a frequent flyer, I’ve learned to ignore the preboards. Given that I don’t know their situation, there is no reason for me to try and police it or get bent out of shape about it. 

My advice? Aim for the exit row. Pre-boarders can’t sit there, and you get more legroom. 

-A List, Companion Pass holder

Re: Pre-boarding (San Juan)

Adventurer A

My wife has arthritic knees and must get up and walk up and down the aisle several timed during each flight. Thus, she needs an aisle seat at the front or back of the plane. To quote Southwest's rule:   [She has] a specific seating need to accommodate [her] disability .

We get EBCI as a matter of course as it is worth it to me to not have to watch the clock to check in. Even getting B-20s boarding positions we have never had a situation where we have not gotten the seat arrangement she needs. We could probably get early boarding based on her seating need, but it really isn't necessary. If only some of the people who use early boarding would think "is this really necessary or is there another way to get the seat I need" it could reduce the number of preboarders and the stigma that is attached to them throughout these forums.