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Old 09-13-2013, 06:58 AM   #1
leebee
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SWA boarding procedures for elderly?

My MIL is joining us in December to come see DD19 dance in Nutcracker! Seriously- this IS a good thing!! Anyhow... she is 82 and flying on Southwest, and there's a plane change. She walks a little more slowly than she used to and could use some additional time when boarding. What is Southwest's boarding procedure for the elderly? Will she be able to pre-board? Should I contact someone at SWA? (There's plenty of time for her to change planes; about 2 hours at BWI).

ALSO: If something happens and her connecting flight doesn't make it on the scheduled day, will SW help her make overnight arrangements? I don't expect them to pay, and she's a feisty woman (still lives by herself in her stone house in the middle of the woods), but we'd all rest easier if we knew there were people to help her find accommodations with a shuttle, etc.
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:15 AM   #2
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If she's already made her ticket purchase, she can go to her confirmation and check the little box that says something like "needs assistance (wheelchair) but can walk." (It's under her name in blue letters on the confirmation...you can click on that and it takes you to a page where you can check the appropriate box.) That effectively gives her assistance to/from the gate on all segments. When she gets to the airport, she needs to see a Skycap to get the wheelchair assistance.

This also qualifies her for pre-boarding, as do other medical issues. When she gets to the gate, she should see a gate agent to get a "blue sleeve" for her boarding pass. That signals that she can pre-board. When it's close to boarding time, they will call for the pre-boards to line up near the door, and then they'll wheel them down the ramp when it's time. It will become evident, as there will be a bunch of wheelchairs lined up.

Feisty or not, she should request this service, if for no reason other than to not get knocked over or bumped into, and to not hold up the line. The FA's will also be glad to assist, if she is flying alone. If she's NOT flying alone, one (sometimes two) of those flying with her will also be allowed to board.

We have done this MANY times. My 88 yo mother walks VERY slowly and with a cane, but uses the wheelchair in the airport. (Otherwise we'd miss the flight. lol)

As for your missing the flight and hotel question, I don't know the answer to that. We've never missed.

ETA...I'll also add that the Skycap will help her go through security. My mom is often all the way through before me.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebee View Post

ALSO: If something happens and her connecting flight doesn't make it on the scheduled day, will SW help her make overnight arrangements? I don't expect them to pay, and she's a feisty woman (still lives by herself in her stone house in the middle of the woods), but we'd all rest easier if we knew there were people to help her find accommodations with a shuttle, etc.
All she needs to do is tell the gate agent she needs pre-boarding. This won't be a problem.

Airlines don't help you find a hotel when you miss a flight. It's possible that some kind Southwest employee will, but they aren't required to.

If possible, try to find non-stop flights if you are worried about this. I understand that isn't always possible.
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Old 09-13-2013, 04:13 PM   #4
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Why not preplan just in case she needs a hotel at the airport? Scope out places nearby, so that if something happens weatherwise a reservation is a simple phone call or mouse-click away?

I "work" as my husband's TA when he's traveling, and we try to take care of contingencies like this if something funky is happening. Makes it easier for him, and it would be easier for your MIL if you or DH or DD can be aware and near a computer and phone while MIL is traveling.
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lost*in*cyberspace View Post
Airlines don't help you find a hotel when you miss a flight. It's possible that some kind Southwest employee will, but they aren't required to.

If possible, try to find non-stop flights if you are worried about this. I understand that isn't always possible.
I wasn't thinking about her missing a flight, but more about her flight from BWI to PWM being cancelled due to weather. Unfortunately we are in a market where there are no direct flights available, so she will travel CLE-BWI and then BWI-PWM. I am not really worried, but I know that addressing potential "issues" in advance will help her travel with peace of mind. I might make a reservation in advance and cancel on the day of travel if she doesn't need it. The flight times are such that I could cancel by 4pm or 6pm on the day of the reservation if I know her connections go well.
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Old 09-14-2013, 11:22 AM   #6
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I'm guessing that you have already booked her flight, but are you aware that United has a non-stop flight from CLE to PWM and back, in the afternoon? I flew into PWM on it in July and it is still listed on the Jetport web site. It's not a big plane and probably fills up fast but at least keep it in mind for future reference.
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