I've flown southwest many times, and I tend to travel southwest first (I only fly another airline if absolutely necessary, like some international destinations). One of the main reasons I choose southwest is the excellent customer service I've received many times. I am someone who has some problems that require me to have specific seating (I have to be in an aisle or window seat especially if I'm alone because I have severe anxiety/claustrophobia; I also need to be closer to a bathroom due to several digestive conditions that can make things unpredictable; I also avoid bulkhead because I've found there is a lot less legroom than regular seats, which can be a problem with me due to severe back spasms/pain). I am younger and to some whom do not know all of this might assume I am healthy but I am not. Just because someone is young or not obviously disabled (ie wheelchair, cane, etc) does not mean they don't have a disability. Anyway, I've never had any trouble getting preboard, because all I've had to do is explain what I need seating-wise and they have put it on my boarding pass without issue. The flight attendants/gate agents I've dealt with have always been very helpful, including the couple of times I have required wheelchair assistance. One time, I broke my foot the day before a flight I was traveling alone on, and I was very scared and embarrassed about the whole situation including going through security with crutches and a wheelchair. But the people on that trip were so kind and understanding and that meant so much, making a difficult, embarrassing experience that much easier. Another time I was flying alone I got a severe bout of motion sickness/nausea which was particularly distressing as this was the first time I'd flown by myself. I was very embarrassed about it, but the flight attendants were understanding and extremely helpful. At least in my experience, the staff at southwest I've dealt with really care about their passengers and making sure they have the best experience possible, even under stressful circumstances like a disability issue. The same has happened when I've traveled with a friend or family member with a disability (some of my family members and a close friend of mine all have various issues such as mobility issues, severe anxiety, etc which make travelling difficult). Every time they've flown with me southwest has also treated them with the utmost respect and care. Having a disability or traveling with someone who has one can be very stressful and having people in your travel experience who care about you and treat you well can make all the difference.
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So I've heard about EarlyBird check-in and I know what it is, so that's not the issue. From what I've seen it's not that much, so I've considered getting it when I fly southwest in the future (I love southwest because of the prices, the fact that virtually all the airports I use the most have it, their friendly staff, their excellence in assisting people with disabilities, and the superior customer service I've received every single time), since it doesn't look like that much of an additional cost. But as a person with a disability and who frequently travels with family members who also have disabilities, I preboard on a fairly regular basis (and before you criticize me yes I do have real medical problems that require specific seating; and I never ever take bulkhead or save seats for anyone, and if someone wants to sit by me in an empty seat I happily make sure they can get in). This means that I am typically one of the first few people on the plane (unless there are passengers from a previous stop still on the plane). Is there any benefit to paying the extra fee if you are already boarding earlier (such as a disability preboard or "family boarding" with a child)? I imagine it might be helpful on busy travel days in terms of the "check-in" lines before you go through security, but is there any benefit besides that? Another reason I'm asking is a dear friend of mine has a similar situation and I'd like to be able to advise her on whether she should use earlybird in the future. I'd really appreciate more info on this. Thank you so much in advance
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