Elderly boarding at A61 - criteria?

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Old Jun 13, 18, 2:49 pm
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Elderly boarding at A61 - criteria?

I couldn't find a thread on this topic via searching, but if I missed one please feel free to move this there.

Since I came back to WN part-time late last year, I've seen several flights where obviously elderly people board at A61. Sometimes with a cane or something similar, sometimes not.

I'm taking my dad MDW-RDU tomorrow. Do you have to go to the gate agent to get the A61 boarding? My dad looks fine for 85 years old, he can carry his backpack and can walk at a reasonable pace. But during an emergency if I was in say 17C he'd have to be in either 17B, 17D or 16C to understand what I'd be telling him as English isn't his first language and at 85 his comprehension of strangers is not nearly as good as it used to be. I rarely sit in front of the exit row, I like rows 17-19, but usually I don't need to worry about where he'd be sitting.

[In the past it wasn't something I thought of because before she passed, my mother had a disability which required preboarding - they'd take an A/C around row 5-6 and I'd get on eventually.(I was A-List then) and sit with them.]

Am I likely to get resistance from the GA? Anything I should know?
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Old Jun 13, 18, 2:59 pm
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Just put him in a wheelchair and you're good to go, A0.
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Old Jun 13, 18, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Kevin AA View Post
Just put him in a wheelchair and you're good to go, A0.
He will balk greatly at that. And it's not necessary.
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Old Jun 13, 18, 3:39 pm
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Originally Posted by ElmhurstNick View Post
I couldn't find a thread on this topic via searching, but if I missed one please feel free to move this there.

Since I came back to WN part-time late last year, I've seen several flights where obviously elderly people board at A61. Sometimes with a cane or something similar, sometimes not.

I'm taking my dad MDW-RDU tomorrow. Do you have to go to the gate agent to get the A61 boarding? My dad looks fine for 85 years old, he can carry his backpack and can walk at a reasonable pace. But during an emergency if I was in say 17C he'd have to be in either 17B, 17D or 16C to understand what I'd be telling him as English isn't his first language and at 85 his comprehension of strangers is not nearly as good as it used to be. I rarely sit in front of the exit row, I like rows 17-19, but usually I don't need to worry about where he'd be sitting.

[In the past it wasn't something I thought of because before she passed, my mother had a disability which required preboarding - they'd take an A/C around row 5-6 and I'd get on eventually.(I was A-List then) and sit with them.]

Am I likely to get resistance from the GA? Anything I should know?
This is from Southwest's website:

Preboarding

Preboarding is available for Customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability and/or need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device. If a Customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups. Those Customers who need extra time to board will receive a new boarding pass with an extra time designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to board before Family Boarding.

We will allow one travel companion to act as an “attendant” and preboard with a Customer with a disability. In most cases, the Customer requires assistance from only one other person, and any additional family members or friends are asked to board with their assigned group.

Customers should request preboarding from our Customer Service Agent at the ticket counter or departure gate. Our Agents are trained to ask factfinding questions to determine if the Customer meets the qualifications described above. Those Customers who qualify for preboarding will receive a new boarding pass with a preboarding designation. The designation serves as notification to our Operations (boarding) Agent that the Customer should be permitted to preboard.

It's important to keep in mind that Customers who preboard may not occupy an exit seat.

Note: Customers who are preboarding because of a need for a specific seat onboard the aircraft should speak with the Operations (boarding) Agent prior to the start of preboarding to alert the Agent to the seating need.

https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/unique-travel-needs/customers-with-disabilities-pol.html?clk=GFOOTER-CUSTOMER-ASSISTANCE#unique_travel_needs_allergies_disabilit ies_pol_tab_list_tab_2_scroll

Last edited by jep8821; Jun 13, 18 at 3:47 pm
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Old Jun 13, 18, 4:40 pm
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Betcha if you went to 22D there's gonna be a place for him to sit in 22E or 22C

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Old Jun 13, 18, 5:48 pm
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He can board with everyone else. If you pay in advance, you will probably get a decent a seat. If you checkin right at 24hrs, you should get a High a to mid B. Then just board.
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Old Jun 13, 18, 10:38 pm
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Originally Posted by ElmhurstNick View Post
...Since I came back to WN part-time late last year, I've seen several flights where obviously elderly people board at A61. Sometimes with a cane or something similar, sometimes not....
Never heard of this. Maybe the "elderly people" are A-Lister.
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Old Jun 13, 18, 11:00 pm
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Originally Posted by NextTrip View Post
Never heard of this. Maybe the "elderly people" are A-Lister.
Pre-boarding vs A61 boarding is dependent on how the medical disability question asked by the GA is answered by the pax.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 8:23 am
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If you qualify for extra time or "XT" as it's labeled on boarding passes, you will board at A61 with family boarding, rather than as a preboard. This would be the likely solution here.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 10:23 am
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I wonder why Southwest split it up like that. Seems like this would slow the boarding process? It just seems to make sense to get everyone on who needs assistance before general boarding commences.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by Yellowjj View Post
I wonder why Southwest split it up like that. Seems like this would slow the boarding process? It just seems to make sense to get everyone on who needs assistance before general boarding commences.
Because if they let family board before A-list they would get all the great seats
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Old Jun 14, 18, 3:32 pm
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Just take your dad to the GA and request Pre-board, they are pretty accommodating. Otherwise get XT and board A61, still plenty of seats left by then.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 7:11 pm
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There are ALWAYS seats available.
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Old Jun 16, 18, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by john398 View Post
Because if they let family board before A-list they would get all the great seats
Family boarding was never part of pre-boarding. To group people who need extra time with the family boarding group seems counterproductive.
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Old Jun 16, 18, 4:16 pm
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One of the best things Southwest ever did was create family boarding at A61. The pre-boarding abuse used to be out of control, with a six year old kid and 4 other people on one ticket who "need extra time to take all the seats up front".
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