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Youth Traveler Policy - Need For Review

Explorer C

I was motivated to write this post after returning from Los Angeles to Dallas. I should start this with a disclaimer I fully support parents or guardians being accommodated when traveling with young children. What I experienced on my return flight on 08.05.2023 in the application of that policy bordered on egregious. 

I set my alarm on Saturday afternoon to be sure I'd check in within seconds of my Sunday afternoon flight. The best I could do was B-47...not bad. After arriving at the gate Southwest staff called for the plane to board.  A 1-30 boarded the plane like clockwork, as well as the back half of the A group. After that, they began calling for travelers with small children. Initially there were a couple of families that were moved to the front. After that a second Southwest staff member called for all families traveling with children 10yrs old or younger.


The staff member began asking people how old there child was and calling them to the front. Now there are groups of adults traveling with one child. I watched this go on until there was no need to call my group. I was among the last 8 passengers to board the plane. When I got on, I sat in a middle seat in the first row. The stewardess asked me to move to because i couldn't put my carry-on under my seat because the person behind me needed it to store their carry-on. Of course I ended up towards the rear of the plane. I'd like to reiterate, I understand the need for an adult to be accommodated when traveling with a small child, but there has to be a way to apply the policy so it does not undermine the spirit for which it was instituted. Why bother to meticulously checking in 24hrs prior, when you're subject to the same narrow selection you would if you'd checked in late. My boarding group was never called, it was more like, the rest of you can board now.

I'm hoping someone from Southwest operations can help make sense of this experience and policy.        


Re: Youth Traveler Policy - Need For Review

Aviator A

@EarlSoWtraveler wrote:


Yours is the second complaint of this type that I've heard. Someone is taking it upon his/her self to do something outside of policy.



I'd suggest that you complain directly to SW. This is a customer to customer forum and you are not doing that here. Click on "contact us" below to proceed.

Re: Youth Traveler Policy - Need For Review

Explorer C

This was very help. I've forwarded my concerns to management. Thank you for the advise.

Re: Youth Traveler Policy - Need For Review

Aviator C

I've suggested that Southwest change the name of the policy from "Family Boarding" to "Child Assist".  


The current "Family Boarding" policy is to become active only when you have a CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF SEVEN, and then, only two adults can accompany the child during boarding between A and B groups.  So, no child under seven, no "Family Boarding".  Period.


Also, there is no way to assure that they all "sit together" since Southwest has open seating.  If that is a critical decision for you, fly another airline.


I would suggest using the CONTACT US link at the bottom of the page and report this nonsense to Southwest and demand compensation.  They will trace this issue back to the gate agent and advise them to follow the policy.


Being a family traveling is irrelevant in the policy.  What is relevant is when you have a child under the age of seven, the process begins.  However, no child under seven, no "Family Boarding".  


I would insist on a complete refund.  Let the gate agent explain that to their boss.