Bad service with youth traveler - is this the norm?

Old Dec 22, 15, 9:38 am
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Question Bad service with youth traveler - is this the norm?

Hey all,

I don't deal with WN much. I haven't set foot on one of their planes in over 10 years as I really don't like them much.

That said, my son's grandmother bought him a WN ticket to go to Florida to see her and his dad's family for the holidays. As my wife has a foot injury, I took him to the airport (BWI).

He's 13 and flying down himself, with his dad picking him up at the airport. Not a big deal - he's flown by himself before. We're mainly there to deal with things in case of IRROPS.

Everything went ok in the beginning. TA got him checked in but couldn't issue him a boarding pass. They told him to get one at the gate as the system wouldn't release the seat to him. No worries. I get my gate pass and we go to the gate.

Gate agent is nice. He issues the boarding pass and tell us since he's a youth traveler (BP marked with a YT) that he can board at the end of A group. We take our seats and wait.

Boarding starts and we line up after A60. We get up there, she looks at his BP and says he can't board. I told her that he's a YT and the gentleman at the podium told us to board at the end of A. She's like no, it doesn't matter what he says. He's over there, I'm the one boarding the plane. I'm just like wow, I'm just telling you what he told me. And she responds "it's my plane." I'm floored at this point. Then she asks him how old he is. He says he's 13, and then decides to "make an exception" and lets him board.

I'm not happy. I haven't flown WN since 2005 as I didn't have good experiences with them in the past. I've flown 50-100k miles per year (UA, US, then AA) since then, so I'm pretty seasoned.

Is this the norm at WN? Am I out of line for wanting to send this up the chain? I'm not looking for any compensation as I'm not the one that paid for the ticket. I just think this was really poor customer service, especially from an airline that touts how different and happy it is.

What's the best way to escalate this?

Thanks,

Super
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:09 am
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I too find WN to be a major PITA and don't fly them unless it's personal travel, significant savings and really convenient.

Their agents tend to be finniky about silly stuff and I would chalk this up to exactly that. One agent says X and the other says Y, but eventually realizes they are wrong and lets it go in a face-saving way.

It's better than the alternative which is paying the UM fee on a legacy carrier for a 13 YOA who doesn't need it.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:14 am
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Two thoughts:

1. It's unclear why the check-in agent couldn't issue a BP. This is not generally a problem with Young Travelers as far as I can tell.

2. Your main complaint seems to the be that the GA spoke to you unkindly about exactly where you should stand/wait during the boarding process. And you want to escalate over this? I suggest you get over it.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:15 am
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I'd report it. Why not?

If you have not flown WN since 2005, you would likely be very surprised by the changes. Some good, some not.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:20 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
I too find WN to be a major PITA and don't fly them unless it's personal travel, significant savings and really convenient.

Their agents tend to be finniky about silly stuff and I would chalk this up to exactly that. One agent says X and the other says Y, but eventually realizes they are wrong and lets it go in a face-saving way.

It's better than the alternative which is paying the UM fee on a legacy carrier for a 13 YOA who doesn't need it.
Yeah, I didn't pay for this ticket, so this wasn't my choice. WN has direct flights to RSW, so between that and the points, they won out this time. Me? I'd sooner make the haul out to IAD.

I don't know what happened in flight, but he didn't like the flight at all. He didn't tell my wife, as he was being more macho in front of his dad, so I'm sure we'll find out.

I sent him down last month on a UA flight by himself with no UM fee, and what's surprising is he said that he preferred UA to WN.

I'd rather just send him down on AA, but AA won't allow it until he's 15. Old AA did though, but US's policy won out.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:23 am
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
Two thoughts:

1. It's unclear why the check-in agent couldn't issue a BP. This is not generally a problem with Young Travelers as far as I can tell.

2. Your main complaint seems to the be that the GA spoke to you unkindly about exactly where you should stand/wait during the boarding process. And you want to escalate over this? I suggest you get over it.
My main issue was more over the "respect my authoritah" attitude and "this is MY plane, MY rules." It's not like the TA or someone told me along the way, it was the guy working the flight with her that told me what to do.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:25 am
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Originally Posted by toomanybooks View Post
I'd report it. Why not?

If you have not flown WN since 2005, you would likely be very surprised by the changes. Some good, some not.
Boarding was the main difference I saw. It was much more orderly than it used to be. I remember having to camp the line to get a good seat. I hated that.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by Superguy View Post
I'd rather just send him down on AA, but AA won't allow it until he's 15.
I flew LEX-MYR all by myself (both ways) at the age of 6 (in 1965), with a plane change somewhere like BNA, to see my grandparents at the beach. On Piedmont. I remember I was late or about to miss a flight and someone banging on the door of the plane to make them lower the stairs to let me on at the last second. DCFS would have arrested my parents if this happened today.

Different times.

Originally Posted by Superguy View Post
Boarding was the main difference I saw. It was much more orderly than it used to be. I remember having to camp the line to get a good seat. I hated that.
Yeah, those "cattle call" days are long gone.

WN has many features that are good and many that are not so good, depending on your preferences.

Last edited by toomanybooks; Dec 22, 15 at 10:36 am
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Old Dec 22, 15, 10:44 am
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OP, I suspect the agent at boarding thought you were trying to use family boarding with a 13 yo as an excuse, and didn't realize he was unaccompanied. The family boarding cutoff is much younger.

Too many usurpers try that little trick, and it annoys many of us.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
OP, I suspect the agent at boarding thought you were trying to use family boarding with a 13 yo as an excuse, and didn't realize he was unaccompanied. The family boarding cutoff is much younger.

Too many usurpers try that little trick, and it annoys many of us.
This is exactly what I thought first. OP can browse some of the many threads about people trying to cheat their way to a better boarding position using family boarding.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 11:03 am
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Is this the norm at WN? Of course not!

The "gate agent" that gave him the boarding pass was allowing him to board with family boarding (why, I don't know), which boards after the "A" group, but before the "B" group. Family boarding is after A-List Preferred and A-List passengers that don't hold an "A" boarding pass.

The Operations Agent could have handled it differently, but life is too short to get yourself worked up about it.

Enjoy your holiday season!

Last edited by NextTrip; Dec 22, 15 at 11:20 am
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Old Dec 22, 15, 11:09 am
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
Two thoughts:
1. It's unclear why the check-in agent couldn't issue a BP. This is not generally a problem with Young Travelers as far as I can tell.
Its probably because OP never did OLCI. WN will only issue boarding passes for the last x number of passengers on a full or over full flight at the gate.

I guess I don't understand the outrage here.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 11:20 am
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
I suggest you get over it.
Agree completely.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
OP, I suspect the agent at boarding thought you were trying to use family boarding with a 13 yo as an excuse, and didn't realize he was unaccompanied. The family boarding cutoff is much younger.

Too many usurpers try that little trick, and it annoys many of us.
Perhaps, and I can understand that. I just would have much rather she just say that than go on the power trip. I told her he was unaccompanied, and I didn't present a boarding pass.

Had I been traveling with him, yeah, we would have taken our middle seats with the C group. I would have checked in at T-24 though so it wouldn't have been an issue.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 11:29 am
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Sadly, the people here advising the OP to get over it are correct. This is Southwest. Inconsistent application of policy, including being told one thing by one employee and then another by a different employee just minutes later, are common. In the grand scheme of possible screwups, this one is very minor. Escalation won't do anything at all. OP would likely receive only a reply stating that they will "share the concern with their leaders." The chance of anything actually getting back to the GA is precisely zero.
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