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wee-haggis
09-25-2005, 06:25 PM
Having never flown with them,I am completely unfamiliar with Southwest Airlines seating assignment process.
Is it just like a bus where you pick up your boarding pass and simply board the plane picking the best seat you can find?
or
Is it more civilized than that? (I can only imagine the chaos if it was that way).
Then again,maybe I'm completely wrong in my assumptions :goodvibes

SB in KY
09-25-2005, 06:36 PM
Well it is slightly more civilzed....but not much!!

I call it the SW Boarding Circus. When you check in (anytime up to 24 hours before departure) you are issued a boarding pass, with an A, B or C on it. When you arrive at the gate they have 4 groups for boarding. First on are the "Pre-boarders"...includes people with disabilities and those travelling with a child 4 or under (and on MCO flights this can constitute a third of the plane. Then they call everyone with an A boarding pass, followed by B passes and finally the C's are allowed to board. Once you board you may take any available seat. If you have an A pass you can most likely sit with all of your family together....and depending on the number of preboards you can usually sit together if you have a B pass....however if the flight is full and you have a C pass you will likely be seperated....so moral of that story is check in on line early and get an A or B pass if it is a priority to sit together.

Then keep your sense of humor and go with the flow!!

safetymom
09-25-2005, 06:37 PM
The earlier you check in online or at the airport the better chance you have of sitting together or getting the seat you want.

Southwest hands out A,B,C boarding passes. If you have a C then you don't have a lot of seat choices when you board the plane.

So the earlier you check in the better, also when they line up the closer to the front of the line you are the better.

NotUrsula
09-25-2005, 06:51 PM
It is just get on and sit where there is an empty seat, but it is not a madhouse; passengers line up very early in their boarding group line and are almost always very orderly about boarding. This system is much quicker than the assigned seat system; it's not unusual for SWA to turn a plane around with only 15-20 minutes at the gate.

You may check in online up to 24 hrs in advance of your dept. time, or wait to check in at the counter or at airport kiosks (if using the kiosks, be sure to have your CC handy to use it verify that you were the person who purchased the tickets.) The boarding pass you get when you check in will have a letter on it, A, B, or C, based on when you checked in; the earlier you do so, the better your shot at an A. That is your boarding group. (The passenger load is roughly divided into 3, and each plane holds about 137 passengers, so there are about 40 people in each group, with the extras ending up in the preboard category.)

When you arrive at the gate, you will notice placards over the gate door that designate where the boarding line will form for each group, plus the preboard area. Preboarding is normally immediate families containing children UNDER age 5, or disabled persons who have asked for preboarding because they need extra time. Preboarders may not sit in the exit rows, but they otherwise may sit wherever they want to (those using carseats have to follow the placement rules that apply.) You get on when your row gets on, you see an empty seat, and you stash your bag and sit. If you have a C pass and the flight is full, be prepared for the possibility of being forced to gate-check your larger carryon; the bins may be filled by the time you board.

Depending on airport, the B and C lines may start forming up to one hour before boarding, though 20 minutes is more normal. The A line rarely forms more than 15 minutes before boarding time, as most passengers with A's will get seats they are satisfied with even if they end up at the end of the A line. The exception are the folks who just MUST have an exit row seat; they may stand up early to be first in the A line. BTW, you cannot just plunk down your carry on bag to hold a place in a boarding line; you must actually stay in the line to hold a position.

wee-haggis
09-25-2005, 09:08 PM
Thanks guys ....Very informative stuff !

seashoreCM
09-26-2005, 11:07 AM
Sometimes the concierge, if not too busy, can print your Southwest boarding pass before you leave the resort for home or even do it the previous day, but you are not able to get Southwest boarding passes at the Magical Express desk before boarding the ME bus.

Disney hints:
http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/dispass.htm

inkkognito
09-26-2005, 11:36 AM
I fly SW a lot and see the A line form just as promptly as B and C (can be up to an hour beforehand). No matter what letter you are, if you want the best choice of seats, get in your line early. It's just as easy to sit on the floor than to park it in a chair. I'm usually no farther back than #8 or so in the A line and have a great choice of seats, even when the pre-board is pretty large.
Barb

applepwnz
09-26-2005, 12:54 PM
Oh, also, I've never flown SouthWest myself, but my girlfriend recently flew with them to LA, people who are elderly, with small childeren, or who are disabled still get to board before the "A" line I believe.

marcyinPA
09-26-2005, 01:01 PM
Sometimes the concierge, if not too busy, can print your Southwest boarding pass before you leave the resort for home or even do it the previous day, but you are not able to get Southwest boarding passes at the Magical Express desk before boarding the ME bus.

Disney hints:
http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/dispass.htm

I was actually wondering about this....will the front desk staff (we are ASMo, I don't think they have concierge, do they??) be willing to check us in at 12:01 the morning we leave?? We are a large group (11 of us), and although some of us can sit alone, we don't want the 5 children by themselves. Being in the A group is important to us!!

Marcy

inkkognito
09-26-2005, 06:06 PM
The disabled and children under 5 may pre-board, but SW does not consider being elderly (unless also disabled) a valid reason for pre-board.
Barb

disgirl
09-26-2005, 06:40 PM
Hi! This is all new to me also as we usually fly jetblue but paying $300 one way during Pres. week from JFK is just too much, expecially since there would be five of us. Are you saying you can check in and get a boarding pass online for SW up to 24 hours before the plane leaves? Is this what most of you do so as to try to get seats together on the plane? Thanks so much!

I am waiting for the flights to be anounced for Pre. week so I can decide if we should go or not. I can not justify the really high airfare since I was going to take my dad for his 80th birthday but now he wants a party which is going to cost us a lot of money. Oh, I am not sure what to do.

Also, for all of you SW experts out there, Are the internet special prices which seem to be the lowest very risky because they say you may not get a seat during busy holiday travel? Any advice would be appreciated and I hope wee-haggis that you do not mind me asking this on your thread. THANKS!! Good Luck to you!

safetymom
09-26-2005, 06:42 PM
Here is the type of planes that Southwest is flying.


http://www.aviationtoday.com/reports/southwest.htm

ASW: How many airplanes are you operating, and how many of them are equipped with the FOQA quick access recorders?

SWA: All 106 of our B737-700 fleet are equipped. And we have approximately 219 B737-300 and B737-500s that are equipped. We are probably going to take a representative sample of those airplanes. We will probably bring on 30-50 percent of our total fleet.

ASW: Let me sort out the count here. You gave me 106 B737-700 and 219 dash 300 and dash 500 airplanes. Thatís a total fleet of 325.

SWA: Yeah, a total of 325.

ASW: So thatís the total Southwest fleet, right?

SWA: Nossir. Our total fleet is 355.

kathylovesdisneyworl
09-27-2005, 05:39 AM
I was actually wondering about this....will the front desk staff (we are ASMo, I don't think they have concierge, do they??) be willing to check us in at 12:01 the morning we leave?? We are a large group (11 of us), and although some of us can sit alone, we don't want the 5 children by themselves. Being in the A group is important to us!!

Marcy

The policy at SW has just changed. It is now 24 hours before your flight leaves that you can check in. No more staying up till midnight to check in for your flight.

marcyinPA
09-27-2005, 09:02 AM
The policy at SW has just changed. It is now 24 hours before your flight leaves that you can check in. No more staying up till midnight to check in for your flight.

Thank you! That's a very convenient change!

Now what do we do about checking in for our departing flight? Will hotel staff help us in the middle of the day? Or do we just wing it and hope for the best? (I don't "wing" things very well!)

kathylovesdisneyworl
09-27-2005, 09:38 AM
Thank you! That's a very convenient change!

Now what do we do about checking in for our departing flight? Will hotel staff help us in the middle of the day? Or do we just wing it and hope for the best? (I don't "wing" things very well!)

The staff at PO riverside did it for me. They were more then happy to help.

BunsenH
09-27-2005, 11:41 AM
Thanks for all of the great tips. I have not flown SW and the info is valuable.

I see no mention of checking luggage. How does this fit into the mix?

safetymom
09-27-2005, 12:48 PM
You can check your luggage at the curb at the Southwest stand. Be sure to tip the skycap or you can go inside to the ticket counter and check your luggage there. There is also kiosks you can use.

KCMiller
09-27-2005, 03:17 PM
Here's a good question. I understand the whole 'letting people with young ones preboard'. My kids were young once, too. But how many other people are allowed to board with them? If a family group is flying (Mom, Dad, 3 kids with one 5 and the rest over, Grandma and Grandpa), do they let all 7 preboard?

Just curious.


KC :sunny:

tjmw2727
09-27-2005, 03:23 PM
[QUOTE=KCMiller]Here's a good question. I understand the whole 'letting people with young ones preboard'. My kids were young once, too. But how many other people are allowed to board with them? If a family group is flying (Mom, Dad, 3 kids with one 5 and the rest over, Grandma and Grandpa), do they let all 7 preboard?

Actually in your example none, as they only allow preboard for children under 5 so it is really 4 and under. :earsgirl:

Anyway, it is supposed to be immediate family only so grandma and grandpa would be boarding with the rest of their group unless either had a need of their own. Depending on the amount of pre-boards the gate agents may let the entire group board but that is up to them.

Many times times esp to and from MCO they suspend preboarding or are more strict about who is allowed to preboard with the child/children.

I had a link to preboarding and traveling with children but I can't find it. If you poke around southest.com they have a good website with most of the information you need.

Tj

inkkognito
09-27-2005, 03:42 PM
In all of my flights, I have never seen the pre-board totally suspended, but they almost always are quite strict about the number of people who can board with a child. And if they deny boarding to other family members, they have to go to the BACK of their lettered line (which often results in some very colorful language). I don't feel sorry for the people who get sent back, as the gate agents make the policy very clear on the speaker beforehand.
Barb

byoung
09-27-2005, 07:55 PM
Southwest is for me why because I get lower flight costs. That's why I go 3,4,5 times a year. I will go for weekend only trips. Cheaper then gas costs. :banana: :Pinkbounc :banana:

Captain Blue Sky
09-27-2005, 08:02 PM
We have a special nick-name for Southwest Airline's boarding process/lack of seating assignments:

THE CATTLE CALL

In all my years of flying I have flown them only once, from IND to MDW when I flew for ATA. Not an enjoyable process as I was in the "C" line. People were standing in the A & B lines for upwards of an hour, as some posters have mentioned. When they became a code-share airline with ATA there was talk of them going to assigned seating, but that was shelved as it was deemed too expensive/too much of a paradigm shift.

I know for a fact that travelers appreciate the security knowing that they have a space on the aircraft via a seat assignment. The A&E television show Airline has shown all-too-many-times what can happen without seat assignments and overbooked aircraft...

dreamalittledream
09-27-2005, 10:40 PM
Preboarders may not sit in the exit rows, but they otherwise may sit wherever they want to (those using carseats have to follow the placement rules that apply.) .

where can I find the carseat info? I am going to use a seat for the first time on a plane to keep my little wiggle worm in her seat. I never used one with my other DD on 4 flights. She is under 2 but I think it would be best to buy her a seat for an upcoming trip (not to Disney :sad2: )

NotUrsula
09-28-2005, 11:38 AM
Rules on carseat placement vary by airline, but the following are pretty much always true, and enforced on SWA:

- No exit row (this one is universal)
- Must be in the window position (this one is pretty much universal as well, as least on a 737)
- Not the row immediately in front of or behind an exit row.

In addition, SWA also is known to enforce a rule that anyone who is responsible for a minor child may not sit in an exit row, so if Dad sits in the exit row and Mom and the kids sit two rows behind him, the FA may force Dad to leave the exit row. The reasoning is that in an emergency, someone with a child on the plane would go to the child rather than stay at the exit and help others out the door.

wee-haggis
09-28-2005, 12:15 PM
Rules on carseat placement vary by airline, but the following are pretty much always true, and enforced on SWA:

- No exit row (this one is universal)
- Must be in the window position (this one is pretty much universal as well, as least on a 737)
- Not the row immediately in front of or behind an exit row.

In addition, SWA also is known to enforce a rule that anyone who is responsible for a minor child may not sit in an exit row, so if Dad sits in the exit row and Mom and the kids sit two rows behind him, the FA may force Dad to leave the exit row. The reasoning is that in an emergency, someone with a child on the plane would go to the child rather than stay at the exit and help others out the door.
What age do SWA consider as kids?
(ie:kids are not allowed to sit in exit rows)

erikthewise
09-28-2005, 12:35 PM
A is for Aisle
As good as an Ace
You get a nice seat
And some overhead space

B is for Back
Because thatís where you go
Looking for good seats
You just never know

C is for Center
ĎCause thatís where youíre stuck
The windows and aisles
Are taken -- Oh Pshaw!

NotUrsula
09-28-2005, 01:11 PM
What age do SWA consider as kids?

The exit row seating rule is not specific to SWA, but is mandated by the FAA. No one under age 15 may sit in an exit row.

Captain Blue Sky
09-28-2005, 08:29 PM
In addition, SWA also is known to enforce a rule that anyone who is responsible for a minor child may not sit in an exit row, so if Dad sits in the exit row and Mom and the kids sit two rows behind him, the FA may force Dad to leave the exit row. The reasoning is that in an emergency, someone with a child on the plane would go to the child rather than stay at the exit and help others out the door.

This would be highly unlikely in actual practice as there is not an FAR that requires a one-to-one correspondence for adults accompanying children. And minor children by airline definition (for USAir anyone under the age of 12) can be accompanied by someone as young as 14 without requiring special handling like Unaccompanied Minor services (UMNR).

Like I said, in actuality, this would likely not happen at all. Flight attendants are there to serve a safety function and a customer service function. If they see a mom with 2 kids sitting 2 rows behind exit row they are simply not going to pull the dad out of the exit row to go sit with his family...

:dancer:

tjmw2727
09-28-2005, 08:42 PM
We have a special nick-name for Southwest Airline's boarding process/lack of seating assignments:

THE CATTLE CALL

In all my years of flying I have flown them only once, from IND to MDW when I flew for ATA. Not an enjoyable process as I was in the "C" line. People were standing in the A & B lines for upwards of an hour, as some posters have mentioned. When they became a code-share airline with ATA there was talk of them going to assigned seating, but that was shelved as it was deemed too expensive/too much of a paradigm shift.

I know for a fact that travelers appreciate the security knowing that they have a space on the aircraft via a seat assignment. The A&E television show Airline has shown all-too-many-times what can happen without seat assignments and overbooked aircraft...

LOL - true but for $39.00 pp each way vs 300 r/t I will MOOO. Even if it means checking in early for that coveted A pass.

TJ

tjmw2727
09-28-2005, 08:51 PM
Regarding exit row seating:

My DH was not allowed to remain in the exit row alone on our last flight with AA. We were spit up into 4 separate seats despite booking many months in advance due to a change in the aircraft.

When we checked in at the counter the agent gave youngest dd (4 at the time) and I seats together in a regular row of 3. They put dh and my oldest dd (6 at the time) in the exit row (knowing dd couldn't stay) in hopes that when we boarded the other person sitting with me and younger dd would trade with older dd for a coveted exit row aisle seat. It worked but they did also re-seat dh when the FA onboard realized the situation. Of course dh didn't mind sitting alone but he would have prefered the exit row. The FA said that if he was needed his attention would be on us rather than the "duties".

So although it may be rare I can only tell my experience.

TJ

NotUrsula
09-28-2005, 11:42 PM
Like I said, in actuality, this would likely not happen at all. Flight attendants are there to serve a safety function and a customer service function. If they see a mom with 2 kids sitting 2 rows behind exit row they are simply not going to pull the dad out of the exit row to go sit with his family...

In actuality, it happens quite often on SWA. As I recall, you have said that you have flown SWA once, correct? I fly SWA twice a month on average, and have done so for the past 12 years, and I know that they prefer to enforce this policy when the relationship is obvious. You're right that they won't pull the Dad out of the exit row, because he more than likely would not have gotten into it in the first place. SWA FA's stand at the exit row during boarding, and if they can see that an adult is supervising children as they board, they will tell that adult that he/she cannot sit in the exit row. I have heard it happen too many times to count. (In regard to the part about sending Dad to go sit with his family, you are also correct that they won't do that: they don't care where he sits as long as he isn't in an exit row seat. This isn't about keeping a family together; it is about the safety issue of keeping unsuitable passengers out of the exit row.)

The usual scenario where this happens goes like this: Dad and 1 school age kid board. Dad tells kid to sit in the aisle seat of the row in front of the exit row. Dad: "Got everything? Good. I'll be sitting right behind you if you need anything." FA: "Sir, I'm sorry, but since you're travelling with a child I can't let you sit in the exit row." Dad: "You're kidding, right?" FA: "No, sir, I'm sorry." Dad: "Come on Kyle, looks like we need to sit further back." They go to another row where Dad takes an aisle and puts Kyle in the center seat.

Now, will an adult get away with sitting in the exit row if he tells his kids that "once we get on the plane, pretend you don't know me"? Yeah, probably; but if you are talking about a family boarding with a carseat, the relationship is usually not so easy to hide, because they tend to make the relationship obvious in that situation, especially on SWA, where they will have preboarded to install the seat. (Which, of course, makes it a moot point; as they don't let preboarders sit in exit rows.)

inkkognito
09-29-2005, 06:11 PM
LOL - true but for $39.00 pp each way vs 300 r/t I will MOOO. Even if it means checking in early for that coveted A pass.

TJ

Me TOO!!!! The SW rates from Chicago are amazing lately. And yes, I often cannot help literally mooooing as I head down that jetway with the rest of the A herd. ;)