Southwest Airways presents expanded household boarding ages on some flights

There’s one main airline within the U.S. with no assigned seats: Southwest Airways. As a substitute, you line up on the gate in ascending order of boarding project, then step onto the airplane and declare your most popular obtainable seat in a first-come,-first-to-pick association. There are as much as 60 folks in every boarding group.

The Southwest boarding course of is mostly not as dangerous as it might sound. Nonetheless, on the very least, it is an uncommon method that may provoke nervousness for households and others who cannot verify seats collectively prematurely.

For years, Southwest has allowed time for household boarding (for these with youngsters 6 and underneath) between its A and B boarding teams in an effort to make sure mother and father and little youngsters can sit collectively. This helps stop a state of affairs the place center seats are the one choices left for kids towards the latter finish of the boarding course of.

Now, Southwest is experimenting with a dramatic shift within the household boarding course of.


Primarily based on a number of studies — together with my very own boarding expertise at Dallas Love Area (DAL) in late 2022 — some Southwest flight boarding bulletins are using an expanded household boarding age vary that features youngsters all the best way as much as 13 years outdated.

That wasn’t the one boarding change I noticed on my Southwest Airways flight in late 2022. The youngest flyers as much as age 6 had been invited to board throughout a portion of the preboarding course of, which occurred earlier than the numbered boarding assignments had been known as.

Southwest Airways didn’t verify this potential take a look at or any alteration to the household boarding course of to TPG. As a substitute, the corporate states that the boarding coverage stays unchanged to incorporate youngsters 6 and underneath between the A and B boarding teams, in response to an organization spokesperson.

The present revealed coverage leaves mother and father with youngsters as younger as 7 in a disturbing place. With youngsters too outdated for household boarding, these households must hope they will verify in quick sufficient to safe a great boarding place. The options: They may buy the airline’s EarlyBird Examine-In, which begins at $15 per particular person, or they might pay for A1-A15 assured early boarding positions which promote for $30-$60 every, when obtainable.

Associated: Finest bank cards for Southwest flyers

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Whereas it didn’t verify trials of any expanded eligible household boarding age vary, the airline has beforehand shared that it’s conducting a focused trial of early boarding for kids 6 and underneath.

Getting that youngest age vary on first earlier than common boarding is logical as a result of that group probably has automotive seats and strollers; thus, they’re slower to get on board. Within the Atlanta trial, households taking part in that early boarding should choose seats behind the exit row. This might alleviate some issues about younger households getting early entry to the commonly most popular first few rows when there are different flyers who paid further to be greater within the boarding order.

Solely time will inform if extra Southwest Airways flights board with the expanded household boarding age ranges. Nonetheless, it is price observing that this is able to be a straightforward manner for the airline to maintain households with youngsters ages 13 or youthful seated collectively with out further charges — one thing a Division of Transportation discover despatched in June 2022 instructed airways to do.

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