Cutting in line

Old Jan 12, 02, 6:27 pm
  #1  
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Cutting in line


I'm a Southwest companion pass member, i.e. I fly the airline a lot.

I just wanted to throw something out for discussion. I almost wrote their customer service about this.

I'll start by saying I really like Southwest, if for no other reason than they always make me hot chocolate when I ask.

But, their policy of first come first serve boarding pass distribution causes me irritation. Yesterday, I joined the line for LAX to PHX the standard, but ridiculous, 1.5 hours before the flight. I was originally 19th in line but I got boarding pass 33.

Why? Because Southwest tolerates someone holding a place in line for others who are sitting. Literally, an ENTIRE FAMILY moved into place right in front of the gate agent and there were two other examples of this happening involving husbands / wives.

These were not old folks who would have had trouble standing in line, but very young people. This happens in full sight of the agents, but they never call people on it.

Southwest defends their practice of no advance seating apparently under the premise that it is "more fair" to reward bin space and selected seating to travellers that arrive at the airport early. I think the way the system works just causes irritation.

Do you think the gate agents should say something to people that cut in line?
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Old Jan 12, 02, 8:34 pm
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I see no problem with a family travelling together having one family member stand in line while the others sit until the line starts moving. In fact, this can allow for less congestion at some airports where there is minimal space when the line gets long. I've seen lines for more than one flight appear to join each other.
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Old Jan 13, 02, 10:44 am
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I have no problem with this, since (a) all those folks who cut in front of you did in fact arrive before you did, (b) holding places in line for other members of your party is a well-accepted practice, and (c) I use the same technique myself from time to time. The problem isn't fairness, it's one of accurate expectations. You don't expect the number of people in front of you to greatly exceed the number standing in line, but it does happen from time to time.

What *does* bug me is the new random screening procedure, in which you get pulled aside as you present your boarding card. Then you get to board last, regardless of how early you showed up and how long you waited in line. This is sufficiently annoying that it has the potential to prompt some change to Southwest's no-assigned seating rules.
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Old Jan 13, 02, 10:59 am
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What's just about as bad, or perhaps even worse is the Southwest policy of making you stand in line AGAIN for a boarding pass for a connecting flite. For scheduling reasons, I had to change planes on Southwest at LAX recently. LAX was a zoo with pepople and long lines everywhere for Southwest boarding passes. My arriving flite was about 45 minutes late, and I had to wait for over 1/2 hour in line to connect. As you can imagine, I got a 3- digit boarding number, and ended up way in the back in a middle seat, with no overheard storage space for a carry-on by the time I boarded.
Southwest computers should tell gate agents how many people are coming off connecting flites, which flites they are connecting to, reserve low boarding numbers for them, and hand them out as you leave the arriving flite. This would be the much more reasonable way to handle an otherwise difficult situation, especially when the arriving flite is late.

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Old Jan 14, 02, 10:38 am
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I agree this is not cutting in line. It doesn't do anyone any good for the entire family to stand there for an hour rather than one representative of the family. Everyone would end up with the same boarding cards either way.

Re pre-reserved boarding cards for connecting flights -- this isn't the way WN does business. Their philosophy is KISS, and sometimes that works out nicely (one aircraft type fleet), and sometimes it doesn't (connecting fligts). They aren't going to pre-reserve boarding cards for connecting passengers. Might as well have assigned seats, and WN isn't interested, even if they do lose passengers as a result.
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Old Jan 14, 02, 10:46 am
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I find nothing wrong with this.
I have always wished I had somebody stand in line for me!
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Old Jan 14, 02, 1:17 pm
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OK. You have convinced me that the practice is acceptable.

Next time I have been standing in line for half an hour and the entire clan from the TV show Eight is Enough walk right in front of me I'll just smile.
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Old Jan 14, 02, 1:29 pm
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What drives me crazy are all the people that pre-board without needing it. That's a problem SWA needs to address. If you don't have children under 5 with you or actually NEED assistance down the jetway, you shouldn't be allowed to pre-board. It's amazing how many people abuse it. The gate agents never enforce the rules.

[This message has been edited by W-N (edited 01-14-2002).]
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Old Jan 16, 02, 1:27 am
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Sawsmanfc, many years ago, Southwest did pre-reserve boarding cards for connecting flights. I recall seeing an agent reserve the first 15 cards (1-15) for connections. They started with boarding card 16 for the 1st person in line.

Since I usually make connections when flying Southwest, I would love to see them go back to pre-reserving for connections. I'm assuming that they stopped the practice because it was somewhat less efficient.
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Old Jan 16, 02, 1:32 am
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I may be wrong, but I thought that when they used to hold back boarding passes that it was based on the number of through passengers that would already be on the plane so that they didn't distribute more boarding passes than available seats. PBAudit, are you sure they were holding those boarding passes for connecting passengers?
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Old Jan 16, 02, 10:11 am
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I would have to say that I have no problem with a family member holding a spot in the checkin line. I've done this many times myself as well. What is frustrating is why folks insist upon starting the line as much a 1 1/2 hours before departure time. It just makes no sense, and once a few people get in line, everybody does.

As a Companion Pass holder, I would also appreciate being able to pre-board. However, I don't see this as very likely to happen with Southwest's business model. They are at least beginning to crack down on 6 people pre-boarding with one child. Thanks for that!

In all the years I've been flying Southwest I have not noticed them holding back the first boarding passes for through passengers. The gate agent knows the exact count of throughs and they will process and give boarding passes only to the correct number of originating passengers. Remember, not all 737 aircraft hold the same number of passengers.

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Old Jan 16, 02, 2:33 pm
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I too have no problem with a family member holding place in line for the rest of the family.. This has happened quite often and I'm used to it. I'd do the same if I were married and had children

But.. the other day I was flying from SNA to SJC and there were a couple women and a man who were in line ahead of me. It was clear that they knew each other and it seemed like they were working for the same company. Anyways, 10 minutes later, one of their pals cuts into line with them (I guess he must have just arrived). 5 minutes later, another one of their associates does the same thing. And by the time Southwest started handing out boarding passes, those 3 people had 5 of their associates 'cut' in line with them. From their conversation, it was clear to me that they did not all arrive together. It didn't affect the boarding group I ended up in so I wasn't too bothered but I was a bit annoyed I suppose.. Anyways I just wanted to relate my story Thanks for listening..
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Old Jan 16, 02, 3:15 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">The gate agent knows the exact count of throughs and they will process and give boarding passes only to the correct number of originating passengers.</font>
Unless they forget which size 737 they are servicing, which has happened on a flight I was on HOU-DAL. It was evident when departure time approached that there were fewer seats than what was necessary based on the number of people in the aisle who had not yet taken a seat. The gate agent came on board and apologized that she thought the plane held 137 when it only held 122. They asked for non-connecting passengers to voluntarily agree to take the next flight. Don't remember what compensation they were offering, but they got the number of volunteers they needed. (It was definitely fewer than 15; I'm thinking about 4 or 5).
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