Southwest Airlines and Early-Bird Check-in

As I said in the previous post, I LUV to fly Southwest Airlines. I have friends who work there, too, and the culture is admirable. But I have an issue with the whole Early-Bird Check-In scheme they’re running. To me it’s below the cultural integrity established long ago by the Low Fare Airline.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 (N235WN) t...

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 (N235WN) takes to the skies above San Jose International Airport, San Jose, California, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early-Bird Check-In

If you don’t know, there is no assigned seating on Southwest. That can be a good thing or a bad depending on when you get a boarding pass. Or it used to be based on when you got a boarding pass. Now I frankly can’t explain to you what the deal is.

Those who fly all the time or pay Business Select for a flight get access to A-list boarding passes, usually they’re the first 15 people to get on the plane, which means they get the best seats.  Now you can make the stupid statement that “we’re all going to the same place,” but when you get a window seat, and are sitting on the tarmac at Midway MDW in Chicago like I was on Thursday on Flight 745 with a bigger guy than me sitting in the middle seat and the ground crew screwing around with “putting more fuel in the plane because we’re taking a longer route down to Houston” it becomes a big deal.

At 2:50:02 p.m. on Wednesday I checked in for my flight home. I got B-03 for my boarding pass in Chicago and B-17 for a flight no one in Houston could check in for another three hours and 10 minutes. Now if they can’t even check in, how is it I’m getting in line behind so many people?

Paying For Early-Bird Check-In

Here’s the racket part.  Southwest will let you pay an extra $10 or so for each flight to get “Early-Bird Check-In.” If I’d not done that, no telling how much further back I would have boarded.  With EBCI, they’re supposed to hold you a place in line even before the non EBCI people get to check in 24 hours before, like 36 hours before.

SOUTHWEST, this system is broken.

After the cluster F in Chicago–now why would we have needed more gas to get to HOU from MDW?  Does that mean the plane is running on near fumes normally to get to HOU?–they dicked around up front, loaded us all onto a hot plane, the AC was barely working, and we finally got to Houston at 6:35 and I’d missed my 6 p.m connection to DAL.  Not really an issue because they fly from Houston to Dallas every 10 minutes it seems, however, here’s the part that ticks me.

I got a B-11 boarding pass and they gave it to me at 6:45 p.m. when I got off the plane from MDW and said from gate 42 that we were taking off from gate 21 at Hobby at 7:15 p.m

It was a full flight, too.

Now with a room full of people all going to DAL on a Thursday p.m. and people had had 24 hours to check in for this flight how could I possibly have wound up with a B-11 boarding pass?  It seems to me that my boarding pass should have been back in the Cs, which would have really hacked me, but clearly, my point is, SWA is playing games with the boarding passes.  We’re paying to get on early, and they’re shuffling the deck so that it’s all but impossible to get a good boarding pass unless you’ve forked over a ton more money. That kind of system’s not what Southwest Airlines was built on.

I don’t like this.

I LUV SWA and I’m so ready for the stupid Wright Amendment to be dropped so one can fly anywhere from Dallas, but SWA really needs to make it so you don’t have to pay for something you’re not getting in Early-Bird Check-In.

And someone in Chicago needs a reaming for the BS they pulled at gate B1 on Wednesday afternoon.  It was the worst experience I’ve had in flying on SWA in the past 13 years.  Worst. And I’ve been nice about it.

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