Change in preboard policy?

Old Apr 13, 19, 4:18 pm
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Change in preboard policy?

Has WN changed their preboard policy recently? This is what I just came across on their website:

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.
I have a friend who will flying alone, following recent strokes and surgery. She will be needing a wheelchair to/from the gate, and down the jetbridge. This can't possibly mean that she has to board following the "A" group.

Is this just poorly worded, with two categories for preboarding pax - preboard before all others + "preboard" after "A"?

Last edited by mke9499; Apr 13, 19 at 4:32 pm
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Old Apr 13, 19, 4:34 pm
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It sounds like your friend would preboard (before the A group) if using a wheelchair.

The between A and B group section of the policy language is for people needing extra time. This is separate than preboarding and isn't a recent change to my knowledge.

I don't have experience with this personally. I'm basing my response off reading what you have quoted and observing the boarding process while traveling .
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Old Apr 13, 19, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by maybebehindyou View Post
The between A and B group section of the policy language is for people needing extra time. This is separate than preboarding and isn't a recent change to my knowledge.
Yes it is a change.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by mke9499 View Post
Is this just poorly worded, with two categories for preboarding pax - preboard before all others + "preboard" after "A"?
The wording is intentional and has been in effect for quite some time, at least since the blue sleeves went away.

The key is for your friend to state to the GA a need for accommodation contained in the first sentence such as "assistance in boarding". Ensure that the document received from the GA shows pre-board rather than extra time. Also you can check now that the PNR has disability information entered prior to check in.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 4:49 pm
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The problem is that WN may not legally ask the passenger any questions beyond, "do you have a specific seating need to accommodate your disability?" If "yes" than the passenger preboards.

This is true of all US carriers, but only matters on WN because it jumps the passenger ahead of the seat choice lottery (with the exception of exit rows).\

If your friend believes that she requires specific seating to accommodate her disability, than she may preboard. She need to give specifics of her diagnosis.

The change will simply theoretically take some percentage of passengers who are simply a bit slower but do not have specific seating needs and who accept this and move them off the preboard caravan.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 4:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Tanic View Post
The wording is intentional and has been in effect for quite some time, at least since the blue sleeves went away.

The key is for your friend to state to the GA a need for accommodation contained in the first sentence such as "assistance in boarding". Ensure that the document received from the GA shows pre-board rather than extra time. Also you can check now that the PNR has disability information entered prior to check in.
I often board after A and before B when I stand by for an earlier flight. I have never heard them call for people who need extra time. I'm not clear how this has been in effect for quite some time.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 4:56 pm
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I have heard them call for anyone with "XT" on their boarding pass after the A group. Presumably this would be people who need extra time.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by lougord99 View Post
I often board after A and before B when I stand by for an earlier flight. I have never heard them call for people who need extra time. I'm not clear how this has been in effect for quite some time.
Here's an FT post from six years ago discussing extra time boarding after As.

Presumably Ops Agents are aware when they have an XT pax and will make that announcement only if necessary.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 5:24 pm
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Originally Posted by mke9499 View Post
....This can't possibly mean that she has to board following the "A" group.

...
Have not flown in a few weeks, so not sure, but the wording "to me" means they do the wheelchair types first, and a DIFFERENT group that just needs some extra time between A and B.

But - even if this did mean all disabled types would board between A and B - I do not see a big problem.

But - I think they will be before all others. WN does not want wheelchairs in the middle of regular boarding.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 5:29 pm
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I know that last year the customer service agents issuing preboards starting asking if there was a specific seating need. If the answer was "yes," they would add the "preboard" note to the BP.

My friend always has me book her flights, so the wheelchair notation is always on her BP. With her needing to be wheeled down to the door of the aircraft, I can't imagine them not allowing her to be among the first onboard.

Thanks to all for comments.
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Old Apr 13, 19, 6:04 pm
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It seems pretty clear to me:

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.
The conjunction is and/or which means at least ONE (but not necessarily both) of the two conditions must be present in order to preboard.

Needing a wheelchair down the jetway implies needing assistance in boarding and stowing the wheelchair. This qualifies your friend for preboard, regardless of whether or not they need a specific seat.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 3:10 am
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Not anything new. Specific seat or assistance boarding = preboard. Extra time boarding = after A.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 7:29 am
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Since this is on the Honor System I don't see it being used all that much. I seldom hear a special call after A and often see people pre-boarding who apparently don't need assistance nor seem to take an apparently specific seat once on board.
Please don't start the "some disabilities aren't visible" not all disabilities qualify for pre-boarding either.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 8:43 am
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For those that do not travel WN often - there is a slightly silver lining to the abusers - they MUST sit in the first row or two. They can not wander back to exit rows, etc.


I have been A1 a few times and the agent tells you to inform the FA that regular boarding has started. (allowing me take an exit row or anywhere I want)
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Old Apr 14, 19, 11:40 am
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere View Post
For those that do not travel WN often - there is a slightly silver lining to the abusers - they MUST sit in the first row or two. They can not wander back to exit rows, etc.
Pre-boarders can sit in any seat in any row, except an exit row seat.
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