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Southwest Experiments with Opening an Extra Cabin Door at Boarding

Southwest Airlines is testing a new boarding procedure it hopes will allow flights to spend less time at the gate. The plan will let passengers choose whether to enter the cabin from the forward or rear doors, thereby, in theory, allowing twice as many flyers to make their way onto the plane at the same time without the usual logjams.

Southwest Airlines seems to have found a surprisingly simple way to get more passengers to their seats in a shorter amount of time. The budget carrier has reportedly been experimenting with allowing passengers to choose to board aircraft from either the forward cabin door or the plane’s aft entrance. For now, the novel concept will be tried out only at California Airports including, Hollywood Burbank Airport Bob Hope Airport (BUR), Long Beach Airport (LGB), Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC).

It seems it’s no accident that the airline is initially testing the concept primarily at airports in sunny California. Cold temperatures and snow or ice, it seems, could quickly render the new boarding concept completely ineffective.

Airline officials confirmed the trial this week, telling the Chicago Business Journal that  passengers who opt to use the rear cabin door will first exit the terminal building and then board the aircraft via a set of removable stairs. Flyers who choose to board through the forward door will in most cases still enter through the jetway as usual.

The airline says the hope is that allowing passengers the option of more than one door will dramatically speed the loading process for obvious reasons. Boarding the cabin from both the front and rear could also have the added benefit of meaning fewer passenger will need to wait behind seat mates carefully placing items in the overhead bins. The airline will also experiment with allowing passengers on select flights to disembark form either the front or aft doors as well.

Comments are Closed.
troybondi November 14, 2018

To clarify, the word "procedure" is not correct in this context. Opening the door is a procedure in itself and a part of the boarding process, but they're trialling a new POLICY of using both the front and rear doors (L1, L2). Sorry for pointing out the detail, but I deal with confusion between policy, process and procedure every day. I would hope professional journalists would know the difference and why it's important to be precise when writing.

StrongEagle November 14, 2018

So... they can finally put those excess A380 air bridges to work.

gerardof71 November 14, 2018

How about training passengers how to quickly place luggage in overhead bins, and then sitting down quickly?

Mike Rivers November 14, 2018

It would require a lot of cooperation to make this work since there are no assigned seats on Southwest. A better way to put it is "If you want to sit in the front, take the jetway, if you want to sit in the rear, take the stairs." It would also be a good idea to monitor the occupancy so by the time they called the second round of Group B, they could announce "there are plenty of good seats in the rear" to avoid too many people boarding from the front and not pick a seat until they got to the rear half. I'm one of those weird people who watch the clock and check in on line the second after (24 hours before) flight time, so I'm nearly always in line in time to get seated where I'd like to be. But I have to be careful not to get run over by the ones who make a dash for the exit rows.

DominikBlasko November 14, 2018

This has been a standard procedure for Norwegian Air in Europe for a very long time already. Front door is connected to the jet bridge, but you have the option to walk down the stairs, walk along the aircraft and board the via the rear door. Once I was lucky to deboard a Turkish Airlines 777 through stairs, now that's more of an experience, hehe