Southwest Preboarding for ASD and motor issues

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by Rach3975, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Rach3975

    Rach3975 Mouseketeer

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    This is my 12-year old's second trip to Disney and his first plane ride since he was a toddler. More so than his autism, I think his proprioception issues and global apraxia will make a crowded airplane aisle difficult for him to navigate. It would help a lot if he could preboard when there are fewer obstacles (ie, people and luggage in the aisles). I've checked the cognitive/developmental disabilities button on his reservation, but his motor issues probably won't be obvious while he's walking around the airport.

    I know that I need to talk to someone at the airport about preboarding--would that be the person at the curbside check in or someone at the gate? On the return trip, do we ask at the resort's MCO check in desk or the airport?

    I'm sure we'll be asked a few questions about why we need to preboard. Should I bring something from a doctor, or are they not allowed to look at documentation? Are most people who request preboarding given permission, or is there a good chance we'll be denied? We purchased Early Bird Check In for the other 3 members of the family but not for the 2 of us who are trying to preboard. If worse comes to worse and they deny us, we'll try boarding last and then switch seats with 2 of our Early Bird boarders, so that DH and my oldest end up in whatever seats are left at the end while I sit with the 12-year old and 9-year old.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    one thing to think about is exiting the plane with the same aisles and more crowds that do not move. preboard does not help with exiting other than wheelchairs which have to wait to be last off
     
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  4. Rach3975

    Rach3975 Mouseketeer

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    Definitely a concern, but our strategy for situations like that is to sit and wait it out. We'll just stay in our seats until most of the plane is empty.
     
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  5. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    You can ask to preboard at check-in. I've done it at regular check-in (also for my son with ASD, who used to be more severe than he is now), but never curbside check-in. I just said he would need to preboard, so they gave him and me preboarding authorization. No questions asked.
     
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  6. Mrsjvb

    Mrsjvb DIS Veteran

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    at the gate or when you check in. just understand that because of the way SW operates,preboarding is not that much less crowded. in fact, it can be more so since the destination means a LOT of families with smaller kids( preboard, a LOT of personal mobility devices( preboard) and the fact that it is a free for all on seat assignment. we actually stopped flying them because of it. when half the plane ends up preboarding in some fashion, its no longer a viable option for some needs.
     
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  7. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    I've never found that to be true. Usually only a handful of people preboard. One time out of the many times I've flown out of MCO, there were about a dozen preboarders, but even that was less hectic than regular boarding, because preboarders get extra time.
     
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  8. SirDuff

    SirDuff DIS Veteran

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    Has it been a while since you flew with them? "Smaller kids" don't pre-board anymore (haven't for a while). They board between A and B.
     
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  9. Lilsia

    Lilsia DIS Veteran

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    You are right, they always let preboard on first and only when they are all settled into their seats do they start regular boarding. And SWA does NOT let families board with the pre-board, they board after the A group. OP, ask when you check-on or even at the gate. They do not really ask for specifics and if you tell them you need pre-board due to medical issues they will give it to you.
     
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  10. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    Here’s a link to Southwest’s boarding policy FAQs. Scroll down - it’s the last question.
    https://www.southwest.com/html/generated/help/faqs/boarding_the_plane_faq.html

    Basically, those who have a mobility device, need a specific seat or need assistance to board are given preboarding before other guests.
    You request it at the ticket counter or at the departure gate before boarding begin.
    Those who just need more time are given a boarding pass that lets them board after the A group and before the B group.
     
  11. Lilsia

    Lilsia DIS Veteran

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    This is not how SWA works. They do not let families pre-board. They go after the A group.
     
  12. PatMcDuck

    PatMcDuck DIS Veteran

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    My son is an adult with Down syndrome, autism, balance and vision challenges. And he uses a large Convaid chair that we gate check. (he only uses this at the parks, or day trips from home). We get the pre board at the gate desk.

    Sometimes we are the first ones on the plane. We usually head to about the 5th/6th row. SW is interesting, sometimes the PILOT (or co-pilot) pushes my son down the ramp, lol.
     
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  13. Hoodie

    Hoodie <font color=purple>Going to BC and GF with one wee

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    We've done preboarding with my son with ASD. It allows only the person with the preboard and one adult/aide to go with him. The rest of the party will board per their boarding pass. Families with small children do NOT preBoard with Southwest, but go between group A and B. Southwest boarding is usually:

    People with Mobility devices
    Preboard
    Group A
    Families with small children (under 6)
    Group B
    Group C

    We have found that waiting until most of the crowd has gotten off helps on the other side.
     
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  14. Rach3975

    Rach3975 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks! SW should name those 2 options differently so there's less confusion. I think all we need is to board after the A group, but I have no idea what to call it aside from preboarding. I'll make sure to specify which we'd like.
     
  15. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    the Southwest website says their staff will ask a series of questions to determine preboarding.

    In our case, our daughter uses a wheelchair to the gate. We were asked a few questions when we used Southwest about her ability to walk (she can’t) and what assistance we needed.
    So, I’d suggest being ready to answer questions about about what the needs are.
     
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  16. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    It has been a while since we flew Southwest. We had a special needs stroller to gate check, however DD is able to walk, we just needed more time to get her settled ahead of the crunch of passengers. They gave us the pre-boarding before A group.

    Enjoy your vacation!
     
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  17. 2tinkerbell

    2tinkerbell DIS Veteran

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    We fly Southwest all the time. Only once, when my DD asked for pre-boarding at the gate was she asked, "How will pre-boarding help you?" She wasn't expecting this question and had what we lovingly call the 'blank stare'. The attendant noticed it. My DD said she would be right back. DD came to me and explained what happened. I said, "Just tell her that you need more time to get settled and that you get easily overwhelmed in crowded situations." My DD walked back and the attendant had her pre-boarding all printed out and handed it to her.

    We usually try to be amongst the 1st on the plane - even before those individuals needing mobility assistance. We wait first in the pre-boarding area.

    Last time we flew (August) my DD had pre-boarding right on her boarding passes. Because of some weird mistake with her name, I had called Southwest after we booked our flights. The agent I talked to put it on our confirmation and boarding passes. Calling ahead of time might be helpful.

    My DD likes to sit on the aisle seat because it is less restricting for her. She doesn't like "people in my bubble." When deciding the seating configuration for your family, this might be something you will want to consider.

    We also are about the last off the plane. We will sit in our seats until the backup on the aisle has dispersed a little. We use it as time to discuss what will happen next.

    Good luck! I am sure things will be great!

    PS. Just remembered another little thing. My DD can't drink her drink with ice. If you just ask, even though my DD is an adult, they will put a lid and straw on her drink. I usually get it on mine as well because I am a klutz...lol!
     
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  18. Lilsia

    Lilsia DIS Veteran

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    They call it family boarding.
     
  19. EveDallas

    EveDallas Always keep fighting

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    I think you're confusing medical preboarding with family boarding.
     
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  20. anonymousegirl

    anonymousegirl DIS Veteran

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    I pre-board on Southwest for every flight. I usually go after the wheelchairs, and sometimes, I am only part way down the jetway and I hear the announcement for A group--which leaves me almost no "extra" time for me getting to my seat. My advice to OP is after getting the pre-board okay from the gate agent (who is at a kiosk in between gates, not at the gate podium), speak to the real gate agent who will be boarding the flight and tell them that your daughter needs a few extra minutes--hoping that will preclude him/her from sending the A group hot on your heels.
     
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  21. LadyD

    LadyD DIS Veteran

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    Sometime in the last year when I flew Southwest (I forget when exactly) I was on one of those odd flights where 30-40 people were preboarding. There were a huge number of people in wheelchairs, a few service dog teams, and a few others with mobility impairments. Most of them were preboarding with a helper too, which is why it seemed like so many people. It definitely was not the norm for preboarding and I was genuinely surprised. That line snaked on forever.
     

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