Well I have always been a very loyal Southwest Business Traveler and never once was upset with families preboarding with small children. They had time to get their seats together and get their fussy and restless children settled before the rest of us got on the plane.
Now that I am a father of two small children I appreciated the preboard even more so because trying to deal with kids in the lobby area is a nightmare, not to mention getting them from the car, through security, and lugging all of our multiple bags and strollers at the same time. It is exhausting to say the least.
Gary Kelley failed to mention that they were changing the family boarding policy in his blog and yesterday we arrived as did many other families to the San Antonio International Airport to find that we had to sit with the kids even longer because they would no longer preboard families with small children. Even if we had an A boarding pass we would have to stand in line at the designated post and corresponding number. Try doing that with two small antsy kids.
Southwests poor solution to preboarding is to allow families with small children under four is to allow them to board between the A and B groups unless you had an A boarding pass. At first I thought this would be ok. I happened to be interviewed by KSAT 12 ABC news who was there filming and asked me what I thought about the new policy and my answer was "We will see".
Well we did see as did many other frustrated families. Not only did we have to deal with trying to keep our kids under control for extended times in the lobby, but we had to board the plane after the A group boarded. As we boarding the plane I watched as my wife who was in front of me continued to smack customers already seated on the plane with the bags over her shoulder and who knows how many I accidentally hit, and because so many people had boarded already we had to make our way to the back of the plane. By the time we were seated we were frustrated, the kids irritable, other customers had been constantly been bombarded by our bags and in general we were not very happy as were all the other parents who boarded with us and having to make their way towards the back of the plane.
As a loyal customer of Southwest, I have always considered them to be very fair and reasonable to all their customers whether they are business travelers, or family travelers. Now I feel that this new boarding system is not family or business friendly for all the reasons I listed above.
Even with my companion pass, and my reward tickets, I will and many other families expressed the same intention that we will think twice about flying Southwest with our families because of the significant inconvenience it places on the families and the customers already on the plane.
I live in San Antonio and have had to deal with the Southwest experiment and at no time did it ever appear to be more efficient to board the plane.
With the numbering system on each of the poles people are bumping into each other, looking for their place to stand, and then the late arrival customers disrupt this group again as they try to find their space. It is very disruptive. With the old system if you were a late arrival you took your place at the end of your prospective line and there was little or no disruption of the line.
Well that is my two cents on this issue and I hope many other loyal customers will send in their comments. A fair evaluation of these new policies and their impact on both business travelers, families, and our loyalty to your airline needs to be looked at further before making permanent changes.
I am not opposed to change when it makes the system operate more efficiently and more cost effective. So far I have failed to experience either of those requirements.
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