Families Flying Southwest No Longer Get To Board First

What parent does not dread the prospect of flying cross-country with a cranky toddler (or a gaggle of cranky kids)?

Ask around and you will likely hear from any beleaguered mom (or dad) that one of the few perks of traveling with children is the fact that you get to pre-board. It’s one of the few times in life when cutting in line is perfectly legal.

However, if you plan to fly Southwest Airlines with young children in the near future you can kiss that line jumping privilege goodbye. The airline just announced it plans to eliminate early pre-boarding for families beginning October 2nd in an effort to speed up the boarding process.

As a mother of a well-traveled 3-year-old, I know what you are thinking:


Sad, but true. Beginning next month families with children ages four and under will now board after the first regular boarding group unless they have an A boarding pass to be in that first group.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Southwest’s quirky open-boarding policy I recommend you get a crash course before you patronize the carrier. I call it the ABCs of Southwest. Basically, passengers board in three groups, A, B and C, with their letter determined by when they checked in. The system makes for a very interesting (see: crazy) process. If you purchase a ticket on Southwest you are able to check in online 24 hours before your flight, which means you have a plane full of people fanatically monitoring the clock to make sure they snag an A boarding pass and thus get their pick of seats. Up until now (or at least next month) if you were flying with young children you didn’t have to worry about staying up until midnight to get your hands on an A pass since you were allowed to pre-board.
Now families flying Southwest have to say so long to that luxury.

“We decided that it works for us,” said a company spokeswoman.

Apparently, the airline doesn’t care whether it works for parents flying with young children.

What do you think about the change?

Flying with children in the near future? Check out these blogs for helpful tips on making your next flight a smooth one:

Traveling With Children-Learn From My Mistakes

Flying with Children: Layover or Not?

Tips To Remember When Traveling With Children

Flying With An Infant

Avoiding A Bumpy Flight

Even More Tips To Remember When You Travel With Kids

More Tips To Remember When You Travel With Kids

Traveling With Young Children: More Dos and Don’ts

Traveling With Young Children: Dos and Don’ts

In Flight Diaper Changing Etiquette

Are Airlines Becoming More Family Friendly?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.