My husband and I have traveled for years using points from Southwest. It’s really nice to be compensated from an airline for all the loyalty I give traveling for business. Now that we have the companion pass it has made it even more attractive to stay loyal to Southwest. It’s hard to beat not having to use money or points to have the Home Warrior fly with me places. When checking in for Southwest flights my husband and I will usually end up with different boarding groups. I typically will end up with the better boarding group between the two of us. No big deal though. We just stand in line together and when they check our boarding passes I tell the agent we’re married and along we go boarding together. On a recent flight to Las Vegas we had different boarding groups as usual. I explained to the agent we were married, and had no problems. Coming back though it was a different story.
When we checked in to leave Vegas I ended up in boarding group C, and the Home Warrior was in group B. When we tried to board together in the B group the agent told me we would have to wait till group C is called if we want to board together. I told the agent we were married and she wouldn’t budge. I told the Home Warrior to go ahead and board. We were able to sit together but the Home Warrior had to turn a number of people away from the seat while waiting for me. Frustrated with the situation I decided to tweet my experience.
“Husband got better @Southwestair boarding pass but gate agent didn’t let us board together. Never happened before! #customerservicefail”
Within a few minutes Southwest replied back
“@RoadWarriorette Sorry for your frustration. If you want to board together, he’ll have to board with you. ^SW”
Because we’ve never had a problem boarding together in the past, including on the way to Vegas, I tweeted this back to them…
“@SouthwestAir is that a new policy? when I’ve flown w/ people in different boarding groups we’ve been able to board with earlier group.”
They replied back
“@RoadWarriorette No, only Passengers 4 and under can board with companions with a higher boarding position. Sorry for any confusion. ^SW”
I’ve voiced my opposition in the past in allowing large groups of friends and family to board together in the earlier group when they have a mix of group positions. When large groups board earlier than they should it defeats the purpose of boarding order, and it’s not fair to the fliers that are waiting their turn. With that being said, when it’s one person, and that one person is your husband or wife, I feel like it’s a different situation. I understand that it can be a little hypocritical to say large groups shouldn’t board together but one spouse, significant other, or other loved one should be allowed. However, why should a couple that has two different boarding groups have to move to the lesser of the two groups in order to board together? By having a policy that makes couples decide either to board separately, or board later they essentially are making it as hard as they possibly can for a couple to sit together. That’s not a flying experience I support.
On other airlines there has never been an issue with my traveling companion boarding in the earlier group with me in the Platinum group. But on Southwest it’s apparently a problem. Of course, what will happen is the early boarder will end up saving a seat for their person and it ends up the way it would if they boarded together with the earlier group. This can be a bit stressful for those who don’t travel often and aren’t familiar with boarding processes. And then there is the whole question of why two tickets on the same reservation don’t get sequential boarding passes in the first place!
It would be nice if there were some consistency. For years we’ve never had a problem boarding in the earlier of the two groups, but now it’s all the sudden a strictly enforced rule. If you have a rule, and it’s going to be enforced, it needs to be enforced across the board. I’m hoping this flight was a one off and in the future we can board in the earlier group together. We’ll see.
ETA: Well alrighty! People have some very intense feelings on this, which I totally get. I do want to be clear that until this event I never realized I was circumventing the policy. I thought I was adhering to it! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts! I’m now clear that I have been very lucky in the past to have had Home Warrior able to board with me. Moving forward we will not assume that to be the case. While I do still think there is a difference with one person vs. a group of ten, it makes sense that it can add up and be frustrating for those later on.
Maybe if the gate agent hadn’t been so rude about it I wouldn’t have been as mad? Although to be fair she is in Vegas so who knows what kind of crap she has to put up with on a daily basis.
Readers, do you think couples should have to wait for the later group if they want to board together on Southwest flights?
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