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Re: Pre-boarding

spud424
New Arrival

So I am wondering what to do in my situation. I am a recent double amputee below the knee. I can walk (slowly) with a walker and will be using a wheelchair to get to and from the gate and the plane. I don't really need assistance beyond that - however I probably need a bulkhead seat so I can fit comfortably with my prosthetic legs. My next trip is in April and I will probably still be on the walker for support. Would it be abusing the system to ask to pre-board? My walker will likely have to be gate-checked since it won't fit in the overhead compartment.

 

I don't want to abuse the privilege of possibly preboarding, but I just want to make sure I can get on with minimum discomfort for myself as well as other passengers.

 

thanks

Ken

 

Re: Pre-boarding

LindseyD
Retired Community Manager

@spud424,

 

You are welcome to take advantage of our pre-boarding policy. Please approach one of our gate agents and let them know you need a little extra time boarding. They will hand you a pre-boarding pass, and you'll be able to go on a little early and find a seat that meets your needs. We look forward to having you onboard, and please don't hesitate to reach out if you've got additional questions. 

 

Re: Pre-boarding

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

Actually, I would recommend not following Lindsey's advice. (Lindsey may not be fully familiar with Southwest's pre-boarding policy.)

 

Those needing "extra time" are not given a pre-boarding pass, but instead are instructed to board during "Family Boarding," after the A group, and before the B group. 

 

Since you need a specific seat (bulkhead), be sure to mention that to an agent at the gate desk. Those needing a specific seat are given a pre-boarding pass and allowed to pre-board so that they can get the seat they need.

 

Here's the policy, for reference:

 

Preboarding

Preboarding is available for Customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability and/or need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device. If a Customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups. Those Customers who need extra time to board will receive a new boarding pass with an extra time designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to board before Family Boarding.

We will allow one travel companion to act as an “attendant” and preboard with a Customer with a disability. In most cases, the Customer requires assistance from only one other person, and any additional family members or friends are asked to board with their assigned group. 

Customers should request preboarding from our Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter or departure gate. Our Agents are trained to ask factfinding questions to determine if the Customer meets the qualifications described above. Those Customers who qualify for preboarding will receive a new boarding pass with a preboarding designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to preboard.

It's important to keep in mind that Customers who preboard may not occupy an exit seat.

Note: Customers who are preboarding because of a need for a specific seat onboard the aircraft should speak with the Operations (boarding) Agent prior to the start of preboarding to alert the Agent to the seating need.

 

 

Re: Pre-boarding

Ms
New Arrival

On my recent flight from Tampa to Indy there was a total of 22 needing to preboard including  10 wheelchairs, their companions, and others. When we arrived in Indy, there were only 3 of those same people waiting for assistance. I understand and appreciate your policy to help those who need it. But I wonder if those same people should be made to leave the plane last. Since they need help, it seems this would speed up the process of deplaning  for others.

Re: Pre-boarding

Swilson43
New Arrival

My preferred seat is, say, 2D. All I have to say is that I need it and I can beat all the Business Selects? It would sure beat the A16 to A19 that I typically get...

Re: Pre-boarding

Jckcj03
New Arrival

What Lindsey failed to recognize is that not all disabilities are visable. She has NO WAY of knowing what the nature of someone's disability is or that they are "taking advantage". 

There are people, like me... that can walk but cannot stand for any length of time without suffering horrifying pain for the next 3 days. You can't tell by looking at me but all of my joints inflame and cause my immune system to go haywire when I'm required to stand in one place like during a Southwest boarding procedure. Am I in a wheelchair.... No... but that certainly doesn't mean that because you see me walking to my car I'm not disabled. 

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Re: Pre-boarding

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

Southwest's pre-boarding policy, and the rampant abuse thereof, is a side effect of their unique boarding system, and especially the monetization of it. Due to legal requirements, they can't really do anything to fix it. The issues will continue, and likely increase, until the point at which the boarding system is changed significantly --re: assigned seating.

Re: Pre-boarding

ronnyradio
Active Member

 exactly - I am A-List Preferred and a companion pass holder so tired of this (and the fake service animals pre-boarding) that I am looking at other options The number of pre-boards on other carriers pales in comparision because the incentive isn't there for it - i.e. taking the best seats. Monetizing the boarding order and then allowing scammers/seat savers and so on to take advantage of your loyal high fare customers is inexcusable. 

Re: Pre-boarding

sdramper
New Arrival

I agree.  This pre-boarding is getting out of hand.  I am getting tired of all these people with fake injuries getting on the plane ahead of all us A-Listers.  The problem is that Southwest's policy encourages people to pre-board.  I understand that some people need to pre-board, but they should have to sit in the rear of the plane.  Southwest lets them sit in the front of the plane in the best seats so why not do it.  When you pre-board on other airlines, you sit in the back of the plane, not in first class.  If pre-boarders had to sit in the rear of the plane, they would not want to pre-board.  This would eliminate all these people showing up with fake injuries.

Re: Pre-boarding

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

The Air Carrier Access Act, the relevant law that governs travel aboard commercial air carriers, does not allow a carrier to dictate which seats the disabled must use. In addition, many disabled actually need the bulkhead row, for a number of reasons. Your comparison to other carriers is invalid, as customers take the seat in the class for which they've paid, and Southwest has only one class of service. It's true that the pre-boarding policy is abused, and that Southwest's unique boarding system -- and most importantly, their monetization of it -- exacerbates the situation. But unless the federal regulations are revised, there's really nothing to be done. I expect this will be yet another reason that moves Southwest to assigned seating.