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Southwest Experimenting New Boarding Procedures

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Southwest Experimenting New Boarding Procedures

Southwest Airlines has a unique boarding procedure which might confuse first time customers. The airline does not have assigned seating. Instead, passengers boarding in groups and once onboard, passengers can select any available seat.

If you have A-List loyalty status, the you board in Group A. Otherwise, you need to be ready 24 hours before departure and check in as quickly as possible to get a good boarding spot. This is a process that some Southwest loyalist like, and others hate. It can be confusing, especially for those that don’t fly Southwest frequently.

Now the airline wants to make the process quicker and easier, and has been testing some new ways to speed up boarding on its planes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The airline is using parts of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as a testing ground called the “innovation zone,” where it is experimenting with 11 new concepts in hopes of slashing five minutes off the average flight’s boarding time. That process currently lasts 40 minutes for smaller jets and up to 50 for larger ones.

The new boarding practices include things like upbeat music on the jet bridge and video monitors that tell passengers when boarding will begin. The monitors also include lights that flash during boarding, according to the Journal. Southwest has also installed a color-coded carpeted area that makes it easier for passengers to figure out where to line up, as per TPG. Self-serve kiosks at its gates were also installed to shorten the line of passengers waiting to talk to gate agents, as reported by The Street.

One other idea Southwest is testing is a group chat between workers on the ground, on the plane, and at the gate. It aims to improve coordination between airline employees.

It’s not clear if any of these ideas will be rolled out system-wide.

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  1. Yes Southwest is a hold out on seat assignments so I rarely fly them
    They also have some of the most uncomfortable small tight seats without padding especially if you have some extra pounds.If you are a person of size it Will be torture
    I feel like I’m sitting on an ironing board the seat is so hard
    If I fly them I prefer a one hour flight or less and I know I will dread the experience with boarding.It near ruins my day and music won’t help with all the desperate push to get on board. Organized chaos
    I do like the company and their business culture even after its noticeable decline over the years.Others are worse

  2. I am sure I am in the minority but I absolutely love the way Southwest does their boarding. Living in Dallas Southwest is my first choice for flying and when going international I fly them to either New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco to take advantage of lower priced international flights than if I were to depart from DFW. I also know and understand their system which for someone flying their first time iI understand how it could be confusing.

    My wife has a companion pass which allows me to fly for only the $5.60 govt. fee each time. We both have Amex platiinum credits which we purchase early bird checkin for her which automatically positions me rightr behind her in boarding order. If our position in not between A 16 and A 60 we purchase for her upgraded boarding using our Chase Southwest Priortiy card credits allowing her to board A1 through 15. She boards before me saying me a seat. Most of the time we sit in rows 2 through 6 so we depart the plane early.
    Living in Dallas being able to use Love Field saves about about an hour in extra driving time along with much quicker baggage claim than if we use DFW. Also with the companion pass we usually use points to pay for our flights or we watch for their frequent sales. In the past if we have had a situation where we felt Southwest itself caused problems that affected us negatively we are very vocal complaining to them about the situation. Many times they have compensated us with credits which we use to pay for future flights.
    I really hope they keep things just like they are now.

  3. Huh? Upbeat music on the jet bridge is gonna speed boarding? What, are passengers gonna start dancing on board instead of shuffling on? I hate their cattle car boarding and it is time they join the rest of the industry with assigned seating. The last time I flew them, it was chaos and it was, truly, the last time for them and me both.


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