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Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

garcianc
New Arrival

I have been flying SW almost exclusively for over 15 years. A few years ago, in a cross-country trip, I decided to pay for an upgrade at the gate in order to get a seat in the exit row. I am very tall and my knees cannot handle long flights very well.

 

Big mistake!

 

Ever since I did that, I now routinely get assigned boarding positions near the end of the line. I even took a picture of a boarding pass once that assigned me position C62 (by the way, the numbers at the gate only go up to C60).

 

Out of principle, I refuse to pay for another upgrade.

 

What I do now is take the very first seat I find, knees be darned. This usually results in a bad flying experience for me and the two other poor souls sitting next to me. I have learned to assume the "eject" position in the middle seat in order to fit.

 

My wife sometimes travels with me and, when I book her ticket through my profile, we both get equally crappy assignments. When she uses her own profile, she has gotten better position than me. She is a few years older than me (she is over 65), so I am wondering if the algorithm takes that into account. We both just recently flew another carrier from Paris and were impressed, so I plan on using them for cross-country trips and only using SW for short trips.

 

Anyway, has anyone experienced changes after paying for an upgrade? Just curious.

 

24 REPLIES 24

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

@garcianc wrote:

I have been flying SW almost exclusively for over 15 years. A few years ago, in a cross-country trip, I decided to pay for an upgrade at the gate in order to get a seat in the exit row. I am very tall and my knees cannot handle long flights very well.

 

Big mistake!

 

Ever since I did that, I now routinely get assigned boarding positions near the end of the line. I even took a picture of a boarding pass once that assigned me position C62 (by the way, the numbers at the gate only go up to C60).

 

Out of principle, I refuse to pay for another upgrade.

 

What I do now is take the very first seat I find, knees be darned. This usually results in a bad flying experience for me and the two other poor souls sitting next to me. I have learned to assume the "eject" position in the middle seat in order to fit.

 

My wife sometimes travels with me and, when I book her ticket through my profile, we both get equally crappy assignments. When she uses her own profile, she has gotten better position than me. She is a few years older than me (she is over 65), so I am wondering if the algorithm takes that into account. We both just recently flew another carrier from Paris and were impressed, so I plan on using them for cross-country trips and only using SW for short trips.

 

Anyway, has anyone experienced changes after paying for an upgrade? Just curious.

 


I'm gathering that you aren't on the A-list then?

 

I haven't ever paid for priority boarding at the gate, so i can't say for sure. You seem to be implying that if you pay for upgraded boarding one time, you'll be given worse boarding positions later in the year - I've never seen anything suggesting that would be the practice. 

 

Unfortunately there are a lot of other variables involved such as number of A-listers, number of early-bird purchasers, whether you check in at exactly 24 hours, etc. so it would be difficult to verify this if no one else has the same experience.

 

Southwest has had to use numbers higher than C60 in some cases for the 737-800 airplanes which seat more passengers than the current gate structure is setup to accomoate.

 

My other tip for you is to try and book Southwest flights that originate at your airport and won't include any "through" passengers who may relocate and take that spot you are trying for.

 

It sounds like you highly desire a specific seat, and unfortunately due to through passengers even in some cases having A1 wouldn't get you that specific spot necessarily.

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@garcianc wrote:

I have been flying SW almost exclusively for over 15 years. A few years ago, in a cross-country trip, I decided to pay for an upgrade at the gate in order to get a seat in the exit row. I am very tall and my knees cannot handle long flights very well.

 

Big mistake!

 

Ever since I did that, I now routinely get assigned boarding positions near the end of the line. I even took a picture of a boarding pass once that assigned me position C62 (by the way, the numbers at the gate only go up to C60).

 

Out of principle, I refuse to pay for another upgrade.

 

What I do now is take the very first seat I find, knees be darned. This usually results in a bad flying experience for me and the two other poor souls sitting next to me. I have learned to assume the "eject" position in the middle seat in order to fit.

 

My wife sometimes travels with me and, when I book her ticket through my profile, we both get equally crappy assignments. When she uses her own profile, she has gotten better position than me. She is a few years older than me (she is over 65), so I am wondering if the algorithm takes that into account. We both just recently flew another carrier from Paris and were impressed, so I plan on using them for cross-country trips and only using SW for short trips.

 

Anyway, has anyone experienced changes after paying for an upgrade? Just curious.

 


 

What do you mean "assigned boarding positions"?

 

You do realize that on Southwest, general boarding positions are assgned first-come, first-served, based on time of check-in, right?

 

Are you checking in for your flight online, beginning 24 hours prior to departure?

 

 

 

 

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

garcianc
New Arrival

I think the Southwest Airlines web site has a definition of what "boarding position" means, if you need it: https://www.southwest.com/html/travel-experience/boarding-the-plane.html

 

Thanks for your reply.

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@garcianc wrote:

I think the Southwest Airlines web site has a definition of what "boarding position" means, if you need it: https://www.southwest.com/html/travel-experience/boarding-the-plane.html

 

Thanks for your reply.


 

Welcome back! 😉

 

I should have been clearer. The important part of my post back in November was the word "assigned." From your post it sounded like perhaps you didn't understand how boarding positions work on Southwest. For many flyers who are used to assigned seating, Southwest's system can be confusing.

 

Assuming you're not A-List (Southwest's elite frequent flyers), without buying EarlyBird Check-In or Upgraded Boarding, general boarding positions are assigned based on the order of check in, beginning at 24 hours prior to departure.

 

Positions are assigned in this order:

 

-- Business Select (always A1-15)

-- A-Listers (in an order that only Southwest knows)

-- EarlyBird Check-In purchasers (Anytime fares followed by WGA, in chronological order of purchase)

-- General Boarding (everyone else, in chronological order of check in)

 

Boarding actually includes a few other groups (Upgraded Boarding purchasers, preboards, families, etc.) but their actual boarding order is independent of their originally assigned boarding positions.

 

Having bought Upgraded Boarding in the past won't suddenly give you a bad boarding position now. Unless you've bought a Business Select fare or EarlyBird Check-In, your assigned boarding position is solely based on the time you checked in for your flight, beginning at 24 hours prior to departure.*

 

If you received C62 position then you were among the very last people to check in for your flight. Did you not check in online before arriving at the airport?

 

 

*One note: On a flight with connecting passengers, those passengers could have checked in earlier than you were allowed to, since they can check in for both flights beginning at 24 hours prior to their first flight. So those who checked in early will be assigned positions ahead of originating general boarding passengers who check in early as well.

 

Hope this helps!

 

 

 

 

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

garcianc
New Arrival

You forgot one, cancellations. Case in point, if someone were to check in now, they could get an assigned boarding position ahead of someone who checked in after I did this morning because my C25 spot is now available.

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@garcianc wrote:

You forgot one, cancellations. Case in point, if someone were to check in now, they could get an assigned boarding position ahead of someone who checked in after I did this morning because my C25 spot is now available.


 

Yes, that is true.

 

Southwest reuses the positions of passengers who have been checked in and then cancel or change their flight. Those positions then go to the next person who checks in manually. This allows people who have not purchased EarlyBird Check-In, for example, to leapfrog ahead of those who have paid the extra fee. It's an unfair practice and, as I have stated before many times, is something that I believe Southwest would do well to discontinue. That said, there is no indication that Southwest will end this practice anytime soon. It's just how it is.

 

I am not sure why you mentioned this, as this has absolutely no bearing on your situation. 

 

Your position is assigned based on when you check in, and if you are receiving a poor boarding position it's because you are not checking in as early as you can.

 

Hope this helps clarify things. 🙂

 

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

bec102896
Rising Star

@chgoflyer wrote:

Yes, that is true.

 

Southwest reuses the positions of passengers who have been checked in and then cancel or change their flight. Those positions then go to the next person who checks in manually. This allows people who have not purchased EarlyBird Check-In, for example, to leapfrog ahead of those who have paid the extra fee. It's an unfair practice and, as I have stated before many times, is something that I believe Southwest would do well to discontinue. That said, there is no indication that Southwest will end this practice anytime soon. It's just how it is.

 


I think one reason they reuse positions is they don't want to make a D group (I feel that's what would happen if they didn't reuse numbers) because after all some people don't know the ABCs as it is now and if they add group D those confused people would be even more confused. 

 

I think it would be nice if people got pushed forward like if A18 cancelled the A19 person would be A18 but that would be complicated having to notify people hey your boarding position changed. I agree people who check in late shouldn't be rewarded because someone else cancelled. 

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

garcianc
New Arrival

@chgoflyer wrote:

 

I am not sure why you mentioned this, as this has absolutely no bearing on your situation. 

 


I probably should have been less subtle. It bears because I cancelled my reservation on Southwest and booked a flight on another airline.  Hence my boarding position on that Southwest flight became available to others who checked in after me.

 

 

Re: Boarding position changed after paid upgrade

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

@garcianc wrote:

@chgoflyer wrote:

 

I am not sure why you mentioned this, as this has absolutely no bearing on your situation. 

 


I probably should have been less subtle. It bears because I cancelled my reservation on Southwest and booked a flight on another airline.  Hence my boarding position on that Southwest flight became available to others who checked in after me.

 

 

Oh, I understood what you thought you were saying. 😉

 

I guess I'm still completely confused as to why you don't simply check in at 24 hours prior to departure, so that you don't get a late boarding position and then need to cancel your flight?