I considered paying the $10 when I heard about it because we had just made plans to fly, but there are 4 of us traveling and we can board in the family group. Considering that the seats are 3 and 3, I don't see why some people, especially the poster flying with his 3 kids, thought they would be sitting together. Clearly with my 4, we will be 2 and 2 considering there are 2 car seats involved. However, if anyone wants to sit by the 2 kids while my husband and I sit together, we would be most appreciative. I used to be bitter like all of you, especially when Southwest dropped the young children boarding at the beginning, however, I find this as an excuse to ask for help from passengers in the same boat as me. So if you see a family of 4 on Halloween on the morning HOU-BNA flight, how about helping us get the car seats and all of our stuff situated rather than standing behind us impatiently sighing for us to hurry up? We will all have a better flight, even if we get stuck in the middle seat.
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I agree with Kevin that if you are going to be stringent on the number of bags and weight, I think your gate agents, flight attendants, etc. should also be paying attention and enforcing the size of bags being carried on and stowed in the overhead. It's only fair, though now you might have more bags carried on with this change, especially if people don't want to pay the extra money.
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I find it hilarious that not two months ago, frequent fliers were telling the parents flying with children that they weren't entitled to preboard just because they have small children and a lot to carry. Frequent fliers said THEY were the bread and butter of Southwest and should be able to get on first. My haven't the tables turned. Now the frequent fliers sound like little children going, "hey, that's unfair!" You're complaining because as Southwest's bread and butter you shouldn't have to pay extra for seats or line up behind Business Select or have to use two rewards for one. Didn't you frequent fliers see this coming? Did you think you were in the clear when they made the first set of changes? With all of these changes, Southwest basically presented you with good news and bad news. You chose the good news first, now you have to deal with the bad news. Sorry frequent fliers, don't ever assume your that high and mighty. It obviously didn't take much to knock you off your pedestal did it?
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All the people complaining about the children bugs me. This is Southwest's policy, but as the parent of an 18-month-old, reading these comments makes it sound like a personal attack. If you don't like a child sitting behind you, take your one bag, get up and move. Oh wait, isn't that the reason the policy was changed in the first place? First you complain you didn't get to get on the plane fast enough, now you are being discriminative to the people sitting around you. It sounds to me that for those who are really complaining, it's not possible to ever make you happy. I have to sit in traffic sometimes an hour per way per day, but I do it because I have to in order to work and provide for my family. It's the same with flying for work. You know what it's like, so plug in your ipod, get a book, and just sit through it like the rest of us.
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I have enjoyed reading all of the comments for the past week or so. Wow, there are so many mad people out there. After my initial rants and seeing everyone else's, I have thought of some suggestions on how Southwest might be able to redeem itself. Brian - get out your pencil.
1. Rapid Rewards should be a tier system that allows for preboard. It sounds like those who fly 100,000 miles with you would probably enjoy this perk, plus it would free up lots of A passes for others.
2. Clearly abuse at preboard was an issue that Southwest thought would best be solved with the "everyone gets punished" rule. That's fine, though it would help if flight attendants would take just a couple of minutes and direct traffic on the plane, making sure that people find seats. This is especially true on connector flights where even the A group has trouble finding seats. I think it would ease everyone's mind to know that even if they were in the C group, there was a possibility that they can get seats in the quickest time possible.
3. Southwest really needs to take a look at its policies. I hope the "Airport" show was a really eye-opener on how same policies are defined at different airports. For example, we flew in April with our then 11-month-old to Nashville. We were not asked for his birth certificate in Houston, even though it was a policy. We were asked in Nashville, so congrats to them for following the rules. See what I mean? Rules cannot be inconsistent between cities, that is how people get mad. Remember the woman who was told her bag was too big for the overhead, and she was followed all over the airport, though she kept insisting she flew every week and no one ever told her that before? Something tells me that by the way she was so angry, she probably had been told her bag was too big at every airport she was at, but she learned that by getting mad and hysterical, Southwest would let her have her way in the end. Or at least that's what I am hoping because it disproves the "everyone follows the same rules" notion.
4. How could we all not understand the frustration of having to stay up until 2 a.m. to log on at exactly 24 hours before a flight to get the A group, go to the airport 3 hours early, stake out a place in the lane and sit there for 2 and a half hours to save your place. Then 10 minutes before boarding, have two parents and their infant get on before you when they didn't do the same thing. The nerve of those people. I think one person commented that why do parents think they are entitled to board first? It's for the same reason as the person I mentioned above. We also got to the airport 3 hours ahead, but between standing at the counter for our plus infant pass, getting through security, making our way to the gate, etc., we started to get a sense that we worked hard to get that preboard. Those of you not taking strollers, car seats, diaper bags, having all of your lotions, potions, etc. evaluated for their ounce, just got to the gate a little faster than the rest of us.
5. Yes, it stinks to have a boatload of people show up 2 minutes before boarding and get in preboard, but did you stop and consider that maybe they were also there 3 hours ago, but it's not always possible to sit still for 3 hours at a gate with children? It's easier to get up and move around. Would you rather they checked in with the first person in A group to let them know they had been there?
6. I'm sure that everyone has had a bad experience with not getting to the plane on time. I literally ran through the Detroit airport with my then 4-month-old in my arms, from one side of the airport to another, to get on my connection. If you have been to Detroit, you know my pain. My husband had run ahead with the stroller to try and keep the flight attendants from closing the doors. We barely made it. Just having that experience makes you forever weary of your next travel experience with your child.
7. After mentioning the scenario in my fourth point, the worry on the minds of parents is that the person who fought so intently to get to the head of the A group to board first, is now the person who will be expected to give up their seat in the event that should happen. Why is it then so insane a concept, given those circumstances, that we think it will be hard for us to get a seat together? I'm very happy that Nicole said she liked sitting apart from her husband, but I would like to sit by mine, so why should my request for a decent seat be any different than the person who logged on at 2 a.m.?
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About four or five years ago, we did require preboarding families to sit behind Row 18, but it was almmost impossible to enforce. That experience showed us that designated areas are impractical.
Brian - That seemed like a good plan. I know you said it turned out to be impractical, but do you know what the reasons were?
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Again, though, the rule you mentioned only applies to children who have their own seat, not those who sit in your lap. Your rules say:
# One child over 14 days and under two (2) years of age, not occupying a seat, may be carried free when traveling with an adult (12 yrs of age or older). Online checkin is not available if the infant is not occupying a seat.
# Affordable Infant Fares are also available that enable a Customer to reserve a seat for an infant and use his/her FAA approved car seat. Online checkin is available if the infant is traveling on an Infant Fare and is age verified.
I have yet to book a flight with you where your infant fares are affordable. In fact, they have been the same price as an adult. When we are paying $300 for our child to fly, it is simpler to take Continental out of Houston because chances are it is the same price, and we don't have to take extra time trolling the rows for a seat. That is why no matter how you do it, it is not going to save time when people are having to split up and look for seats.
I have always thought that if you want to be first on the plane, you should go all the way to the back of the plane and sit down. Let your Rapid Rewards people who fly all the time get coveted seats in rows 2 to 8. Give them a paper with their boarding pass that says so. Let the taller folks ask for exit rows - give them a piece of paper or something to show the flight attendant, so that person will at least assist them in getting a seat in the exit row.
I also think it would help if everyone would calm down about sitting in the middle. You get the two middle armrests any way, and if you haven't been, then middle seat sitters around the country need to take back the armrest!
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I just had the chance to read all of the blogs, and my comments are not knee-jerk. I have flown Southwest a lot - ever since high school. However, as people who live 1,000 miles from their family, the only sane option is to fly when you have small children. It just concerns me that flying Southwest when I was childless showed me how thoughtless people were. Once at their seat, you almost need an act of God to get someone to be nice and even let you sit by your husband on your honeymoon. So thinking of that is why I hesitate to want to try a 2-hour flight to Nashville with my small child - let alone if I have another one. If people are willing to allow my baby to sit between them while my husband and I sit somewhere else, I will be all for it. But that will never happen.
I used to be one of those people who couldn't stand to sit anywhere around other children on a plane, actually, I still am one of those people. However, I have more compassion now for what it takes to travel with a child.
Yes, it is my choice to bring a child on an airplane - I should know better - but all people fly out of necessity or else we wouldn't do it.
Yes, I would be thinking of other people if I just drove the 20 hours it would take to get home, but how seldom are people on an airplane considerate of other people? You bring larger than allowed carry-ons that clog up the overhead bin, refuse to even have one single thing under your seat to give room for other people's things, take an arm rest that isn't yours, take up leg room that isn't yours - are you seeing a pattern here?
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I'm all for the new boarding process. It bothers me to see people camped out under the different letters, plus, it always makes it seem like you need to hurry if you are going to fly Southwest just so you can get a spot in line.
What bothers me though is the article I read today that Southwest will stop letting those will children board first. How will this save time? I don't see it saving time. Now the delay will be dispersed rather than at the beginning.
Considering that you are still letting people choose their own seat, you are going to have a harder time explaining to two parents with a small child why they can't sit together because they didn't get the good boarding letter/number and only single seats are left. For fear that I will have to sit separately from my husband with a 1 year old will likely keep me from flying Southwest, which is a pity since the airport closer to me has Southwest. I'd rather drive the 45 minutes across town and have my assigned seat than be told we won't be able to sit together.
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