I am extremely disappointed with the end of family pre-boarding. It is quite shortsighted. The rule only applies (er, applied) to families with children under four years old, and it is ridiculous to imagine that Southwest would expect any child under four to sit separated from his or her parent/adult companion. You are injecting a lot of unneeded stress for families (will we be able to find two seats together?) and your hallowed business travelers (will I get stuck with a 3 year old in the middle seat?) for no good reason. It cannot posssibly save time to have parents and flight attendants begging people who already found a seat they are happy with to rearrange to accommodate C group families -- thus getting a C group seat -- rather then letting the families board first. In all of my experiences flying Southwest both with my family of three and later four, and as a business traveler, I have never seen more than 3-4 families pre-boarding. Those families are not taking up solely "prime" seats, they are usually occupying an entire row and taking middle seats.
To the people who say "give it a try" -- I have seen families with kids just over the cut off really struggle and go through a lot of agony trying to get seats together when they are in the C group. A five year old is really no better prepared to be in a middle seat between two strangers than a 4 year old, and I have always felt that that the 4 year old cut off is too low. Going through that same struggle with car seats and diaper bags in tow will be horrible.
I plan on cancelling my Southwest credit card and going back to Delta. Sorry Southwest.
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