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PreBoarders

New Arrival

I agree with the policy and think it is a necessary thing to accommodate persons with disabilities, however the preboard is rapidly approaching the level of abuse that I see in handicap parking.  I am 64 years old and 6'3" so exit row is always my goal.  I have on two occasions watched a seemingly healthy couple with backpacks and suitcases roaming the airport then preboard my flight and when I boarded there they were in the exit row.  I know it a legal slippery slope but it is getting ridiculous to see 10 preboarders in apparent good health taking advantage of the program.

18 REPLIES 18
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Re: PreBoarders

Top Contributor

Pre borders aren't allowed to sit in the exit row. I have always seen this FAA policy strictly enforced on Southwest.

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Re: PreBoarders

New Arrival

You are so right. If someone is in seemingly good health and young, there’s no way they could have a disability. You only have a real disability if you are elderly or in a wheelchair. Or if you have cancer or something else that the general public can see and tell that you are disabled. My son has a congenital heart defect and a lowered immune system. We deal with this everytime we fly and I’ve already posted on another thread about how ridiculous this is to me that so many people can’t grasp the concept of a hidden disability (not only CHD but there are so many others). Like I said in my other post, I’m sure there are people who take advantage of pre board, but is it really worth all the trouble to save an extra 5 min? We wear masks and I pre board to adequately wipe down the area we will be sitting in, then my wife waits until everyone else boards the plane, then brings on my son. This keeps him safe from 100s of people passing by him while boarding, and usually there are a few that are coughing or could be sick. I usually choose a reasonable seat 5 or 6 rows back as well, we never sit in the front, but we aren’t going to punish ourselves by going to the very back of the plane as one commenter suggested in another thread. Believe me when I say this, if we could trade spots with the people who don’t need pre board and wait longer, we would. And understand that in the same way people are venting about their frustration for people abusing pre board, I am also venting about my side of the story. People with CHD are constantly not taken seriously in everyday life because in many cases, you can’t tell from looking at them that they are any different from a normal child or adult. Just to put things in perspective -

 

“In the United States, twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD.”

 

I know that that pediatric cancer is a terrible thing and it is not my intention to belittle childhood cancer, but children with cancer are more visually disturbing to see than a child with CHD and therefore more attention and funding for research goes to cancer. This is not very different from how things are out in public. I’m sure that is someone saw a child with cancer preboarding there would be no questions asked as to why they are able to pre board, but my son, who has what is considered a terminal illness, looks no different from any other kid.

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Re: PreBoarders

Active Member

When I was 30, I suffered from a herniated disk that caused terrible pain and made it difficult for me to stand up and sit down. To others I appeared to be a healthy man with no disabilities, but inside I was in excruciating pain.

I once chose to pre-board a Southwest flight in order to get a window seat so that I wouldn't have to constantly stand up and let other passengers into and out of my row. I chose a window seat at the back of the cabin in hopes that I would have the row to myself and to hopefully mitigate any thoughts of other passengers that I was a healthy person abusing the pre-board policy.

Passengers have many legitimate reasons for needing to pre-board and they don't always have obvious signs of a disability. I have no doubt that there are unscrupulous people who abuse the pre-board process but it is wrong to assume that every healthy-looking passenger who pre-boards is cheating the system.

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Re: PreBoarders

New Arrival

I also have become extremely frustrated with the increasing number of preboards on my SWA flights. This week the gate agent allowed 5 people to pre-board with the one person sitting in a wheel chair. There were an additional 7 wheel chairs lined up to board on the flight from LAX to PHX. There were 2 couples that appeared to be in great shape that strolled on after preboarding. This was just one flight and I am seeing it over and over. A few weeks ago I was changing planes in Chicago on my way from GRR to PHX. 6 young men in their 20's preboarded and plopped down in the exit rows. The flight attendants did nothing to enforce the rule regarding where preboards can sit. I have been flying SWA at least one round trip a week for the last 21 years and I have never seen this level of disgust by the regular business travelers that support your airline year round. There are many regular travelers that are looking at other options. I put up with it because I love having my companion pass for my wife to travel with me but many of us are no longer feeling the LUV. 

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Re: PreBoarders

Rising Star

When I travel with my family I often ask to pre-board. In my opinion, pre-boarding families actually helps the boarding process by being quicker and smoother.  Have you ever carried 2 large Britax car seats, diaper bags, etc. down the aisle avoiding other passengers heads? Then when you finally make it to a pair of open seats, it’s a total joke trying to get them secure and takes time. Pre-boarding avoids my safety concern with hitting passengers, and gets us out of the aisle so that general boarding is not held up.

 

On the flip side of pre-boarding, after we finally land and make it to our destination, we are the last ones off of the plane because I know that we are slow and will hold up other passengers. 

 

All airlines have pre-boarding processes for reasons like mine. Do some people abuse it? Of course! Unfortunately, that’s life and karma goes a long way. If it seems that someone is abusing the process, ask yourself “have you walked a mile in their shoes”? Do you know for a fact they don’t need the extra time to board? Please do not judge because more than likely if you have never been in their situation, you would understand. When I travel alone for business, I help out those struggling passengers instead of throwing dirty looks or making comments. We all know that boarding is frustrating and can be stressful, but doing the right thing goes a long way. 

 


SWA Passenger, Community Champion
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Re: PreBoarders

Top Contributor
@Passenger1C wrote:

When I travel with my family I often ask to pre-board. In my opinion, pre-boarding families actually helps the boarding process by being quicker and smoother.  Have you ever carried 2 large Britax car seats, diaper bags, etc. down the aisle avoiding other passengers heads? Then when you finally make it to a pair of open seats, it’s a total joke trying to get them secure and takes time. Pre-boarding avoids my safety concern with hitting passengers, and gets us out of the aisle so that general boarding is not held up.

 

On the flip side of pre-boarding, after we finally land and make it to our destination, we are the last ones off of the plane because I know that we are slow and will hold up other passengers. 

 

All airlines have pre-boarding processes for reasons like mine. Do some people abuse it? Of course! Unfortunately, that’s life and karma goes a long way. If it seems that someone is abusing the process, ask yourself “have you walked a mile in their shoes”? Do you know for a fact they don’t need the extra time to board? Please do not judge because more than likely if you have never been in their situation, you would understand. When I travel alone for business, I help out those struggling passengers instead of throwing dirty looks or making comments. We all know that boarding is frustrating and can be stressful, but doing the right thing goes a long way. 

 

 

Do you fly Southwest often?

 

Southwest doesn't offer preboarding for families, only for anyone with a disability who needs a specific seat or assistance boarding the plane.

 

Family Boarding (an adult with a child age 6 and under) happens between the A and B boarding groups.

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Re: PreBoarders

New Arrival

I suggest buying a more expensive ticket. And early bird. 

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Re: PreBoarders

New Arrival

With the increasing number of preboarders the early bird option is becoming less valuable. Actually all the earned or paid for boarding privileges are losing value. 

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Re: PreBoarders

New Arrival

How many other airlines have open seating?  These other airlines you're talking about probably have assigned seating so preboarding does not offer you the seating advantage that it does on Southwest.