A new initiative being tested by Southwest Airlines that will allow their families with children board first. Families will be able to pre-board the plane with the new pilot, which the airline stated will be implemented in phases throughout the first quarter of 2023.
Atlanta will host the pilot’s test. Southwest wrote in an email to T+L, “We regularly test improvements to our renowned Southwest Turn and other elements of our Customer journey to analyse affects on our Customers and Employees.” “We recently disclosed that, as part of a larger assessment of passenger flow, we are evaluating the boarding procedure for families at an innovation station in our network. This will take place in several phases through the first quarter of 2023 and is not an indication of a forthcoming policy change and not a Network-wide test, at this time.”
Southwest will set aside a location in the gate area for families to gather during the experiment so they can pre-board before the start of the regular boarding process, the airline said. During the pilot, this will go through “many distinct revisions.”
According to the airline, Southwest does not allocate seats and instead offers “open seating,” which involves giving passengers a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a position (1 through 60 or more) when they check in. Families can board at the moment after the “A” group Boards and before the “B” group.
The airline unveiled a feature in August that lets passengers pay more when checking in to increase their boarding number. Southwest also has “EarlyBird Check-In,” which immediately registers passengers for their flight before the customary 24-hour check-in period, securing a more desirable boarding position.