Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

What is the PreBoard Qualification

Explorer C

What are the Qualifications for PreBoarding? I was taking a flight from Orlando today and almost 40 people preboarded. I was A18 and  was unable to get 2 sets together towards the middle of the plane... i did not pay to upgrade to Business select but others did. Imagine if you have paid $100 or more for your ticket to get to tbe front of the line only to watch all these peole parade onto the plane ahead of you (only 5 were in wheelchairs) I fly Southwest alot and have noticed the high number of preboarders compared to other airlines.


Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Aviator A

Federal law , the Air Carrier Acess Act, specifies the qualifications, not the airline, and the airline CANNOT question the nature of the disability.



"As a carrier, you must offer preboarding to passengers with a disability who self-identify at the gate as needing additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated."

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Explorer C

I believe that the above regulation is incorrect. The applicable Code of Federal Regulations (382.95) shown below requires only that the carrier provide “assistance.”  I don’t see a “preboarding” requirement in the code. 

(a) As a carrier, you must promptly provide or ensure the provision of assistance requested by or on behalf of passengers with a disability, or offered by carrier or airport operator personnel and accepted by passengers with a disability, in enplaning and deplaning. This assistance must include, as needed, the services of personnel and the use of ground wheelchairs, accessible motorized carts, boarding wheelchairs, and/or on-board wheelchairs where provided in accordance with this part, and ramps or mechanical lifts.

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Aviator A

This is some of the wording provided on the Southwest "Boarding the Plane" page.  Note there is a difference between "preboarding" and "need extra time to board":


"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."



Customer | Home airport DCA

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Explorer C

Again as usual Southwest will let anyone preboard if they have a hangnail. At least 6 people preboarded before me that could outrun me. Maybe everyone on the flight should go and get preboarding and that should prompt Southwest to better police the polices. I still don't understand how a non service dog can preboard. At some point I will before a flight boards that everyone go to the desk got preboard.

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Aviator C

Typically all the airlines offer pre-boarding to passengers who may require more time to board. Not just SWA! 

SWA Passenger, Community Champion

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Adventurer A

"Typically all the airlines offer pre-boarding to passengers who may require more time to board. Not just SWA! "


True, so how come when I fly them (United, Hawaiian and Delta over this past year) I seldom see more than 2-3 pre-boards, Is it because:


A) More disabled people flock to SWA than all other airlines combined, or


B) My 7-8 flights I took on airlines other than SW is not a large enough sample size to draw a conclusion, or


C) With assigned seats, there is little incentive to boarding early as you will end up in your assigned seat where as if you just say you need to pre-board on SW you get access to any seat you want and save a bunch for your friends and family.


I'll go with "C"

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Explorer C

Seriously considering flying other airlines. 15 preboards today. And then SWA has the nerve to increase the fee for Early Bird. At least at Disney the scooters although they board first, they are unloaded last. Today it took 20 minutes to get these preboards off the plane where we who paid extra for Early Bird are forced to wait. Maybe if they knew they wouldn't be off first they wouldn't be so eager to claim preboard. Maybe next time I'll put my old walking cast on and just join the crowd.

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Explorer C

It’s because seats are assigned. Southwest doesn’t assign seats so people use the preboard designation to circumvent the system because the people at the door will not ask what the disability is. 
I think the solution would be to have to fill out a preboard request when you print the boarding pass, and assign seats to those preboarding. 
I think once the seating choose is taken away in exchange for preboard, it may curb the mad rush at the door. 
mom a flight from Philly to Midway this past weekend there was a mad rush by the preboarders. Over 50 of them, fighting over who was there first at the gate. Meanwhile the people that paid for A group had to patiently wait. Southwest has to step it up. It may be first come first take the seat but the disability system is getting abused and you have to solve the problem because pretty soon everyone will preboard. 

Re: What is the PreBoard Qualification

Explorer A

We flew from Vegas last week.  There were 20 preBoards.  To get a handicap parking sticker you need to prove you need it.  Why can’t the same be done.  What really gets me is how many go in with wheelchairs but when the get to their destination none is needed.