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Pre boarding rules

Explorer C

I'm traveling with my son, to California for a wedding. It's been many years since I've been on a plane and a friend recomended Southwest, because of the cost, but also, they have a pre boarding option for those with a disability. I walk with a cane, although I use the motorized carts at stores becuase walking distances is difficult. I had multiple surgeries and need more, so can't bend my leg and need extra room. My friend suggested my son and I sit in 16D & F, so I we can have the extra room needed. Can I ask for a spacific seat, or bulkhead seating? Also, who boards first, people in wheel chairs or people with canes? Is this written in a rule roster or anything? Thanks!


Re: Pre boarding rules

Aviator A

There's no priority given to canes or wheelchairs or any other condition within the preboarding group. I would suggest you make yourself known to the gate agent and be ready to go when preboarding starts so you can be among the first to board.


Read through Southwest's info I've included below for details about requesting preboarding and requests for specific seats. Keep in mind, your flight may have passengers who are staying onboard from the previous flight and your preferred seats may not be available. Additionally,  row 16 is probably the emergency exit row which is not an option for people who preboard.


Here's the info from

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. Those Customers who need extra time to board will receive a new boarding pass with an extra time designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to board before Family Boarding.


We will allow one travel companion to act as an “attendant” and preboard with a Customer with a disability. In most cases, the Customer requires assistance from only one other person, and any additional family members or friends are asked to board with their assigned group.


Customers should request preboarding from our Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter or departure gate. Our Agents are trained to ask factfinding questions to determine if the Customer meets the qualifications described above. Those Customers who qualify for preboarding will receive a new boarding pass with a preboarding designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (Boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to preboard.

It's important to keep in mind that Customers who preboard may not occupy an exit seat.


Note: Customers who are preboarding because of a need for a specific seat onboard the aircraft should speak with the Operations (Boarding) Agent prior to the start of preboarding to alert the Agent to the seating need.