P.S. In case my last comment wasn't clear... I am not complaining because families with small children are losing a privilege. I am not asking to be treated with special consideration because I chose to have a child. What I am asking for is the chance to be as considerate to other passengers as I would like to be. I feel that the new boarding policy denies me the ability to minimize the effect my child has on other passengers; it forces me to be rude. That's why I can't deal with it.
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OK, I took your advice. I tried it with an open mind. It SUCKED.
We flew across the country with our 2.5-year-old. Four planes in all. It was the worst and most traumatic trip we've ever taken, and sadly, I'm going to have to try other airlines for our next trip.
We are frequent travelers. Our son has flown at least 20 times with us, all of them on Southwest. I am normally a very loyal customer, but without preboarding for small children, you've lost us.
On every plane, we had to jostle and bump our way down the aisle to the back of the plane after it was mostly full. We sat behind people who clearly did NOT want to sit near kids, and endured dirty looks and sharp words from them every time our restless son bumped their seats or made a noise. I really, REALLY hate to put other people out, and just knowing that these people were unhappy was torture for me. I'd much rather be segregated into a kids-only section, be it in the front or back of the plane.
On one flight, my husband dropped all our stuff on the way down the aisle and one passenger got beaned in the head with our carseat. I was carrying our son and a couple of other bags. Another passenger (NOT a flight attendant--they seem to be forbidden to help at all) picked up our stuff and hauled it to the end of the plane for us as I sobbed my way down the aisle. It takes a lot of stress to reduce me to tears. I won't go through that again.
We were even in the A boarding group a couple of times. But YOU try keeping a toddler in his place in line after he's been through the check-in and security lines. Not gonna happen. So we had to board after the A group, by which time the flights were mostly full. A, B and C groups don't represent true 1/3 groups of passengers, and the groups are even less proportionate when there are continuing passengers already on the plane at the gate. We ended up in the back of the plane every time. I don't have a problem with being at the back of the plane. I *do* have a problem schlepping a carseat, a DVD player, and a backpack full of diapers and stuff to try to keep the kid quiet, bonking people in the head and shoulders all the way down the aisle, when the plane is already mostly full. If you are going to put me in the back of the plane with my child, just let me get on first and make me move to the back. PLEASE!!
One flight attendant cheerfully proclaimed that "Everyone loves this new policy! Give it a chance!" as I grumbled down the aisle of one plane. This same flight attendant came to me at the end of the flight and whispered that I should write a complaint letter, because the new policies are so hard on families. She's seen enough to know it doesn't work. And now, after four torturous flights, I, too, know it doesn't work. I'm really sad to get rid of my Southwest Rewards VISA, give up my credits, uninstall DING!, and stop identifying as a loyal Southwest customer. But I don't feel I have a choice.
Bye-bye, Southwest. Call me when the LUV is back.
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Two problems with the elimination of family pre-boarding:
1. Most people hate to sit next to kids on airplanes. Under the new policy, kids will be scattered all over the airplane, not concentrated in the front as usual. The same people who complain about families getting the "privilege" of preboarding are the people who will be complaining when they end up having to sit next to kids.
2. It will definitely slow down the boarding process. When I travel with my two small children and two carseats, I have to get both carseats installed and kids settled and snacks and toys out before the plane is ready to take off. Even when I get on first and go to the very first open seat I see, this takes up the entire boarding time and I just barely get my own seatbelt buckled before the plane starts to roll. If I have to lug those kids and carseats halfway down the aisle and then somehow stash both kids and one carseat in the seat row while installing the other carseat, you are high if you think that isn't going to stop up the entire boarding process. I will be blocking the aisle and trying to keep the kids from escaping. I'm sure all those anti-kid flyers are going to love me even more than they already do.
I'm not too worried about getting to sit together; I can lose some sleep camping on the computer to try to score an A pass (at least until the next kid is born and is a lap child for a couple of years, eliminating the possibility of online checkin.) But everyone who is in line behind me is going to be annoyed. I only hope they are as annoyed at Southwest as they are at me.
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