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Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

Charleston, South...
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Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

I recently flew Southwest for the first time and enjoyed their boarding process. I am not a fan of the scrum involved in boarding the other airlines and found SW's lineup process a welcome respite from this. On the way home, though, I noticed something and wanted to ask the experts.

My husband and I were boarding position A30 and A31, so we were first on the terminal side of the boarding queue. As we waited for the folks A1-29 to board (the window side), we noticed that a person who had A38 on his boarding pass was boarding with the earlier group. I will call him A38. He was clearly with the people he was boarding with, and those people had A-twentysomething. My initial thought was that A38 was line jumping.

On the other hand, I have a credit card from a major airline which grants me the right to board in Group B, right after the first class folks. I book flights when I can on this card for the early boarding benefits. But when I book for hubby and me, only my boarding pass has Group B. The hubby is still in Group C. Gate attendants have universally told me that the hubby can board with me in Group B (and have announced the same over the loudspeaker). In other words, a person in a later boarding group can board with his/her party if the others in the party have an earlier boarding group.

Does Southwest work the same way? Is it totally legit that A38 (later boarding group) boarded with his party in the earlier boarding group? Or is the same policy not true at Southwest due to their unique boarding system - and I witnessed a line-jumper?

I didn't mind and certainly wasn't going to complain. I ask because I want to do things correctly. I purchased Early Bird Check in for both me and my husband so that we'd have a good boarding spot. It seems to me if "board with the earliest boarder in your party" is the rule, then only one person would ever purchase EBCI and expect their entire party to board with them.

I expect that Southwest does not adhere to the "board with the earliest in your party" rule for this reason, but I wanted to ask. Thanks for any input!

London, United...
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1. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

Actually when I first started reading this, I thought you were being petty about a queue jumper who was with their family,

However I get your point, if you can board with the earliest boarder in your party, why pay for more than one. Valid question. I don't know the answer but am curious too,

If a38 was allowed through, then it would appear southwest permit it,,,or the staff were not doing their jobs correctly and should have sent him back.

Charleston, South...
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2. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

@Froggy - I am glad that you got what I was trying to ask. Exactly - I don't care about a random queue jumper (businessmen, probably not family, but regardless). I am hoping to know if I need to keep buying two EBCIs or if it's permitted to just buy one (and still have hubby board with me). I am hopeful someone knows for sure and can weigh in.

I honestly expected the staff to send A38 back and was surprised when he did not. Which could have been an ineffective gate attendant, or the earlier boarding may have been a-okay.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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3. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

There are all kinds of reasons for people to be allowed to board early including, most often, having a superior status in their frequent flyer programme. Back in the days that I flew more and had an elite status, I could go to the business counter rather than join the very long line for the economy counter even thought I was flying economy. You'll often hear, when they announce boarding, "gold member of xyz can board at any time...".

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

With southwest he was line jumping. Pretty sure if he had a valid reason for an early position, like status, it would have shown as an earlier boarding slot. It's different than most airlines in that respect. If he was with someone else that had status, the system would have assigned an earlier position.

Iowa
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5. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

He was a jumper, yes.

Had he purchased Business Select or been a Rapid Rewards A lister he would have had a low number about A 1-15 or so.

Families with kids board after the A group and before the B group.

Boston...
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for Walt Disney World, Orlando, Antarctic Adventures
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6. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

Seems to me he was a line jumper based on Southwest's video of the boarding process:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fagAJ5YSx8

Southwest is not like airlines that allow elites to board whenever they feel like it, like the gold example above.

London, United...
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7. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

I'm not sure the question asked has been answered specifically. The question is, if you are in a party ie with your husband and child and he has a higher boarding slot than you, can you board with him, rather than wait till your own later slot.

It's nothing to do with status etc, it's simply can a party board together based on the person with the earliest slot or does the party need to be split up and board according to their own individual slot only.

Iowa
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8. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

<<<<<can a party board together based on the person with the earliest slot

No

Charleston, South...
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9. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

Thanks to all for clarifying the situation. I will keep buying two EBCIs.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Southwest Boarding Etiquette Question

No , if your husband has a higher slot you cannot board with him. You have to board with your slot.

However as long as the two tickets were purchased together and checked in together they should get adjacent slots. If only one person purchases an early boarding position through business select or early bird, the second person cannot tag along.