Thanks for the useful suggestions. I spoke with several customer service representatives throughout the day. All of them were very kind. In the end, they were able to reinstate my original ticket, but not my Early Bird position. They did, however, offer to reimburse me upon return if I purchased an upgraded boarding position at the gate for each leg of my flight (assuming availability). That would allow me to board at the same position as my children.
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About 6 months ago, on the very first morning the schedule was opened for September, I purchased tickets for me and my children to fly across the country. I also purchased Early Bird for all of us so that I could ensure I would be able to board and sit with them. Fast-forward to a couple of days ago. As a customer of size who stresses about airline travel, I decided to purchase a second seat. I contacted customer service, who instructed me to purchase the second seat and use the guidelines found here https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/extra-seat/index-pol.html, So I bought the ticket, thinking I was doing the right thing. Exact same information, with the addition of middle name XS. Not so, apparently. This morning I woke up to find that my first ticket and early bird had been deleted by the system. According to the person I spoke with this morning, their instructions to put XS as the middle name are wrong, and it kicks off an error in the system. The only way to fix it is to purchase the original seat again, starting from scratch with the early bird position instead of retaining the position I purchased 6 months ago. Just wanted to let folks know to call instead of purchasing online if you want to avoid an issue like this. (And yes, I know I can preboard. But I have a bunch of kids with me that I kind of need to be with. And I can't send them onboard alone to wait for me to board later. )
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