Well, it's said and done. When I opened up the Tampa Tribune this morning at my office and read through the business section I noticed that starting in November Southwest Airlines will be implementing a revised boarding policy.
This is how it's going to work:
You check in for your flight starting 24 hours in advance at the Southwest.com web site. As soon as you are checked in you will be assigned two boarding items: First is your boarding group of A, B or C as we Southwest veterans are used to as before; second will be a number right after your boarding group letter and that number will be your place in line. Sound simple?
When you get to the airport you won't have to worry about staking a place in line at the gate for your flight. While at the airport you can enjoy all the amenities offered like getting something to eat or sitting down and using your laptop in the terminal. When your flight is called the new procedure will be for a given boarding group five at a time. For example, if you are assigned into Boarding Group A and you are 4th in line - this will show up on your boarding pass as A-4 - the gate agent will call Group A, 1 through 5 and that's how you will board.
At around the same time this new boarding policy at Southwest takes effect the preboarding policy is going to change as well. Presently in addition to disabled, unaccompanied children ages 5 through 11 and those customers needing a second seat families who had a child younger than 5 got to wait in the preboard line. Not anymore under the new policy. Instead, if the family group is assigned to Boarding Group A they will board according to their position in line; however, if the family group is assigned to Boarding Groups B or C they will be able to board after the Boarding Group A has boarded the aircraft. In my opinion, restricting preboarding to disabled, unaccompanied children ages 5 through 11 or those who have had to purchase a second seat is a better idea.
Southwest has an informative and educational page on their new boarding procedures, which you can read simply by clicking on this link.
As I mentioned in a previous post here at the Edward Ringwald Blog and in replies to posts on the topic of possible assigned seating on Southwest's blog I think the new boarding policy and procedure as well as the revised preboarding policy will be a win-win situation for everyone. I know, not everyone will be pleased but let's give this new boarding procedure at Southwest a try!
I cordially welcome your feedback on Southwest's new boarding policy and procedure anytime.