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If you've traveled Southwest Airlines lately, can you answer a question? Pretty please?


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So...I have not flown Southwest since before the days of on-line check in. Back then, you showed up, you got in line super early, you got an A boarding pass, and then each letter (A, B, C) was divided into I think something like 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, or something similar). 

 

Now, of course, it's on-line, and with smart phones, everyone and their brother logs in at the 23:59 mark to be able to check in right at 24:00 hrs before the flight. 

 

So....supposing that happens, and you set your alarm on your phone, downloaded their app, signed up for notifications, etc, but none of those alerted you until 30 mins later, and your hypothetical family of 5 ended up Boarding Group B, numbers 48 thru 52. Ahem. 

 

Ignore, for the moment, the grumpiness between the hypothetical grown-up family members, how bad is this going to be??
 

I'm assuming A is going to use up basically half the aisle seats and half the windows, leaving random pairs of seats all over the plane (figuring the A group will be an even mix of folks who want windows vs. aisles). 

 

I'm assuming C is going to be folks stuck in middle seats. 

 

This hypothetical family was hoping to at least have 2 together and 3 together, preferably across the aisle from each other (ha, not a chance now, I assume) or in front of/behind one another (also unlikely I think at this point). 

 

Do you think they'll still be able to get a pair of seats, and a trio? Even if separated by several rows? Or even a pair, a pair, and a nearby single? 

 

Or will they likely be stuck with singles, and should snag the 5 nearest-to-each-other single seats they find?
 

I'm trying to formulate a game plan, having not done this in ages, but what I don't want is to be scanning the plane for pairs/trios, walk all the way back to the back of the plane and have to double back to the front to take now filled-in single seats we could have snagged.....

 

We absolutely need at least one pair of seats (the teens and 1 adult are fine alone; the 12 yr old needs somebody sitting with him, period).  Being nearly to the C group.....how likely are we to find that? 

 

(yes, we will double up the alarms and put the more attentive person in charge of this on the way home.....hypothetically, I mean...)

 

 

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The last time I flew Southwest I swore I would never do it again.

 

People in the front of A boarded and saved seats for their friends and family in B and C.  We were something like A23 and A24 and still had middle seats about 10 rows apart from one another.

 

I hate SW.

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We've always had pleasant experiences on SW. Granted, I've had little kids for the past 11 years, so I've always been able to board directly after the A group. But the attendants have always managed to find seats together for children and parents on the flights we have been on.

 

I know that's not very helpful. Hopefully the return flight will be easier.

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I recently flew Southwest. On one flight the attendants asked for someone to switch sears so that a parent and child could sit together. Someone took them up in it.

 

I'm sure they will do it for you as long as the child isn't a teenager. I had B one time and I got an aisle seat with an empty middle next to me. I think you can get two seats together towards the back of the plane. Three, I'm not so sure.

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We just flew in April/May, same situation as you (even the hypothetical forgetting to get on the app at the 24 hour mark).  We were late B's on the first flight. I was traveling with four kids, two older teens and two under 12 and I wanted to make sure that at least the two youngers and I sat together. I let the older teens go wherever they wanted, so no problem there, but we also had zilch problem finding three seats together for me and the youngers. Sure it was a little bit further back, but there were still a LOT of empty rows in the back half when we boarded. I also mentioned it to the flight attendant at the front when we first entered the plane, and while she said it wouldn't be a problem, she also called back to the back to have them check on the situation. They came up and made sure we found what we wanted when we got back there.

 

I wouldn't worry about it.

 

ETA:  These were full flights, too. 

Edited by milovany
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The last time I flew Southwest I swore I would never do it again.

 

People in the front of A boarded and saved seats for their friends and family in B and C.  We were something like A23 and A24 and still had middle seats about 10 rows apart from one another.

 

I hate SW.

 

That seems to be completely, utterly against their policy. I'd have no problem taking the seat anyway and letting the flight attendant sort it out, but I'm kind of a brat that way. 

 

But, it is good to know. Thanks. (DH is already saying we'll never do it again...I warned him when we bought the tickets it would be this way....) (and, I used to love it, back when you physically had to show up to get your boarding pass, but now....guess we'll see).

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We just flew in April/May, same situation as you (even the hypothetical forgetting to get on the app at the 24 hour mark).  We were late B's on the first flight. I was traveling with four kids, two older teens and two under 12. So I wanted to make sure the two youngers and I sat together. I let the older teens go wherever they wanted so no problem there, but we also had zilch problem finding three seats together. Sure it was a little bit further back, but there were still a LOT of empty rows when we boarded. I wouldn't worry about it.

 

Oh, that's actually a relief! thank you! We like the back of the plane anyway, so that's no big deal. I'll let the teens go where they want, too, no biggy. I am just really hoping if not dh, 12 yr old, and I all together, at least one of us can be with the 12 yr old and the solo person not too terribly far away. Sounds like we might be okay. 

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That seems to be completely, utterly against their policy. I'd have no problem taking the seat anyway and letting the flight attendant sort it out, but I'm kind of a brat that way. 

 

But, it is good to know. Thanks. (DH is already saying we'll never do it again...I warned him when we bought the tickets it would be this way....) (and, I used to love it, back when you physically had to show up to get your boarding pass, but now....guess we'll see).

 

 

I was thinking the same thing when I read that. I'd ask the flight attendant for help in getting the seats if I was next in line and wanted them.

 

I fly almost exclusively Southwest and I don't mind the way they do seating. You can also pay extra ahead of time to be in the A section. Then you don't have to remember to log on 24 hours out.

Edited by milovany
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Oh, that's actually a relief! thank you! We like the back of the plane anyway, so that's no big deal. I'll let the teens go where they want, too, no biggy. I am just really hoping if not dh, 12 yr old, and I all together, at least one of us can be with the 12 yr old and the solo person not too terribly far away. Sounds like we might be okay. 

 

I added a little bit more information to the post if you want to reread it. :)

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We flew Southwest last month and my parents fly often. A seating is now for frequent flyers and you can pay to be in A. Then families with small children board after them. B and C are for everyone else that you do online. So since I boarded as flying with small kids right after A there were still plenty of spaces. The A people basically took the front spots minus the middle seats. My mom and her siblings were in the B 20 through 26 and they had no problem sitting with me without me needing to save them seats

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I was thinking the same thing when I read that. I'd ask the flight attendant for help in getting the seats if I was next in line and wanted them.

 

I fly almost exclusively Southwest and I don't mind the way they do seating. You can also pay extra ahead of time to be in the A section. Then you don't have to remember to log on 24 hours out.

 

Can I ask you a follow-up question? (well, duh, I'm asking...do you mind answering?)

 

On the website it shows a photo of the numbers being listed out as 1-15, 16-30, etc.. but then in the deeper description it says the columns will be set up in "groups of 5" and to "line up in numerical order." 

 

Can you elaborate on that? I'm picturing 1-5 on one placard, 6-10 on the next, 11-15 on the next, and so forth & so on....and then they actually put you into that strict of an order before letting you on the plane? Is it that rigid, or not so much? 

 

And, as we have 48-52, if it's grouped by 5s, will we all be "boarding" together, or 48-50 will be in one set, and 51-52 in the next set? (I'm picturing them literally only letting 5 on at a time to avoid congestion...surely it's not quite that strict, right?) Or since they're the end of that section, just have them stand in our grouping (since they won't allow later numbers to group with others in their party in higher numbers)?

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We flew Southwest last month and my parents fly often. A seating is now for frequent flyers and you can pay to be in A. Then families with small children board after them. B and C are for everyone else that you do online. So since I boarded as flying with small kids right after A there were still plenty of spaces. The A people basically took the front spots minus the middle seats. My mom and her siblings were in the B 20 through 26 and they had no problem sitting with me without me needing to save them seats

 

Oh, thank you! Okay, I'm feeling better about this! :)

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I added a little bit more information to the post if you want to reread it. :)

 

Got it :) Thank you! Yes, that is helpful to know. I'll be sure and mention to the first flight attendant when we get on, and hopefully they can assist us in finding a decent grouping. 

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If you head to the back you should be fine.  My husband flew SW last week and was B-50something and he still got a window seat.

 

They have stanchions labeled with the groups of 5 with about enough space for 5 humans to stand in line between them.  Even though you are in different groups of 5 you will still be all together in line and walk to the plane together.

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I don't know how Southwest works but even with "reserved" seats when we flew Delta last week my 7 and 9 year old ended up being separated from both my husband and me for one leg of our flight. The 4 year old was also not seated with me on the boarding passes, but my husband put his foot down and said that the 4 year old had to be with one of us. They did have to ask someone who was already seated to change seats. Fortunately it ended up not being a huge deal but man I was stressed. My 7 year old checked in with me mid flight (she was about 6 rows behind me). My 9 year old was so engrossed in the game he was playing he ended up being the last one off the plane. I'm not sure he ever would have noticed we had landed had I not walked back to his seat and alerted him.

 

Hopefully the people around you will at least help you get your 12 year old near you.

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So...I have not flown Southwest since before the days of on-line check in. Back then, you showed up, you got in line super early, you got an A boarding pass, and then each letter (A, B, C) was divided into I think something like 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, or something similar). 

 

Now, of course, it's on-line, and with smart phones, everyone and their brother logs in at the 23:59 mark to be able to check in right at 24:00 hrs before the flight. 

 

So....supposing that happens, and you set your alarm on your phone, downloaded their app, signed up for notifications, etc, but none of those alerted you until 30 mins later, and your hypothetical family of 5 ended up Boarding Group B, numbers 48 thru 52. Ahem. 

 

Ignore, for the moment, the grumpiness between the hypothetical grown-up family members, how bad is this going to be??

 

I'm assuming A is going to use up basically half the aisle seats and half the windows, leaving random pairs of seats all over the plane (figuring the A group will be an even mix of folks who want windows vs. aisles). 

 

I'm assuming C is going to be folks stuck in middle seats. 

 

This hypothetical family was hoping to at least have 2 together and 3 together, preferably across the aisle from each other (ha, not a chance now, I assume) or in front of/behind one another (also unlikely I think at this point). 

 

Do you think they'll still be able to get a pair of seats, and a trio? Even if separated by several rows? Or even a pair, a pair, and a nearby single? 

 

Or will they likely be stuck with singles, and should snag the 5 nearest-to-each-other single seats they find?

 

I'm trying to formulate a game plan, having not done this in ages, but what I don't want is to be scanning the plane for pairs/trios, walk all the way back to the back of the plane and have to double back to the front to take now filled-in single seats we could have snagged.....

 

We absolutely need at least one pair of seats (the teens and 1 adult are fine alone; the 12 yr old needs somebody sitting with him, period).  Being nearly to the C group.....how likely are we to find that? 

 

(yes, we will double up the alarms and put the more attentive person in charge of this on the way home.....hypothetically, I mean...)

 

If the reason why the twelve year old needs someone with him, period, is related to disability, then go to the desk when you check in, tell them you are traveling with a person with a disability who needs early boarding as an accommodation, and one adult and the child will be able to board before the A group.  When you get on the plane, go to the back and pick a row and a window in the aisle.  I can almost guarantee no one will sit between you.

 

The other 2 can find their own seats, and will probably find a pair, but may be in 2 middle seats in the same row.   

 

If the reason the 12 year old needs a seat is unrelated to disability, then I'd pay for the early boarding for one person, and have that person put their bag in the middle seat next to them.  Again, if they're near the back no one is going to care.  It will be $15 well spent.  

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Can I ask you a follow-up question? (well, duh, I'm asking...do you mind answering?)

 

On the website it shows a photo of the numbers being listed out as 1-15, 16-30, etc.. but then in the deeper description it says the columns will be set up in "groups of 5" and to "line up in numerical order." 

 

Can you elaborate on that? I'm picturing 1-5 on one placard, 6-10 on the next, 11-15 on the next, and so forth & so on....and then they actually put you into that strict of an order before letting you on the plane? Is it that rigid, or not so much? 

 

And, as we have 48-52, if it's grouped by 5s, will we all be "boarding" together, or 48-50 will be in one set, and 51-52 in the next set? (I'm picturing them literally only letting 5 on at a time to avoid congestion...surely it's not quite that strict, right?) Or since they're the end of that section, just have them stand in our grouping (since they won't allow later numbers to group with others in their party in higher numbers)?

 

No, they just line everyone up and the line files through.  If you had a bigger gap in the numbers, you can board anywhere after your number.  In your case, though, you'll stand at the back of the 46- 50, and if your family stands at the front of 51- 55 they'll be right behind you.

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The last time I flew Southwest I swore I would never do it again.

 

People in the front of A boarded and saved seats for their friends and family in B and C.  We were something like A23 and A24 and still had middle seats about 10 rows apart from one another.

 

I hate SW.

 

 

UGH

 

This is why I haven't ever tried it.  Sounds like such a hassle.  I am old school.  I want a seat number. I want to pick where we sit.

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UGH

 

This is why I haven't ever tried it.  Sounds like such a hassle.  I am old school.  I want a seat number. I want to pick where we sit.

 

Unless Southwest doesn't fly where we are going, we only fly Southwest.  We've never, ever had an experience like described and we are always somewhere in the B's.  It's always been extremely easy to find seats together, no problem.

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If the reason why the twelve year old needs someone with him, period, is related to disability, then go to the desk when you check in, tell them you are traveling with a person with a disability who needs early boarding as an accommodation, and one adult and the child will be able to board before the A group.  When you get on the plane, go to the back and pick a row and a window in the aisle.  I can almost guarantee no one will sit between you.

 

The other 2 can find their own seats, and will probably find a pair, but may be in 2 middle seats in the same row.   

 

If the reason the 12 year old needs a seat is unrelated to disability, then I'd pay for the early boarding for one person, and have that person put their bag in the middle seat next to them.  Again, if they're near the back no one is going to care.  It will be $15 well spent.  

 

 

Thank you; I may try this. He has delays; no official, formal diagnosis beyond learning disabilities, but it's enough that neither he nor we would be comfortable with him seated with strangers. It will depend on the gate agent, I guess, if they'll accommodate that request w/o a formal diagnosis, paperwork, etc. 

 

(well, he does have formally diagnosed learning disabilities, an IEP for school, etc, but it doesn't fit in one nice, neat package like "autism" or something.....just delays from having been premature). 

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Unless Southwest doesn't fly where we are going, we only fly Southwest.  We've never, ever had an experience like described and we are always somewhere in the B's.  It's always been extremely easy to find seats together, no problem.

 

Before we moved to Brazil, we did too, but that was still mostly back in the days of plastic boarding passes at the gates when you could just arrive 2 hours early and be assured a first spot in line :) 

 

We love the customer service, though, and all my past experience with them has been pleasant. (after Brazil we switched to United, because that's where all our frequent flier miles were....). 

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I was thinking the same thing when I read that. I'd ask the flight attendant for help in getting the seats if I was next in line and wanted them.

 

I fly almost exclusively Southwest and I don't mind the way they do seating. You can also pay extra ahead of time to be in the A section. Then you don't have to remember to log on 24 hours out.

 

With little kids, we paid the last time we flew Southwest to be automatically checked in.

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Today I read a survey of U.S. airlines. I forget which web site it was on. There was a link from the home page of the news channel I follow. Southwest was rated the best U.S. carrier and Spirit was rated the worst.  If one of the parents can speak with the Gate Agent, before they begin the boarding process, that hopefully will result in getting 2 seats together.  The others should sit in the first empty seats they find. Closest to the front door of the aircraft.  Have a safe trip and enjoy!

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We just flew Southwest yesterday. We were supposed to fly Tue Evening but our first leg got delayed making it impossible to make our connection. Without asking they got us a hotel room and $200 vouchers for each ticket. They bent over bavkwards trying to get me home Tue evening.

 

That being said our boarding passes were late B and mid C on our two legs. We were easily able to get two seats together on both legs. The C group we even got Exit Row.

 

My game plan for you would be to look for seats 2-2-1. Take the first sets of two and the single could keep going back and text if they find 3 and you could move if you wanted.

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Add us to the Southwest lovers, and like Lanny, we saw that report where travelers just voted them the best airline out there.   ;)  If we can, we ONLY fly Southwest as I love the way they do their seating - everyone picking their spot.  We pay the $15 each for advancing in the line and usually get A, but sometimes B.  We've never had a problem finding seats together or what we like.  We love their flight crews (sometimes quite humorous, but not always - we like it when they are), we love that they still allow 2 free checked bags, we love that they allow one to change or cancel flights and get credit, and we love that they still have the most leg room of any major airline (as per that article listing them as the favorite of most flyers who participated in the survey).

 

I just googled and saw that there are 137 seats on an average flight.  Folks aren't really allowed to save seats, so you don't have to honor that TBH.  Ask if a flight attendant can help you if it looks like there isn't room.  OR, you could also check to see if there are any upgrade seats available (Seats A1-15 if Business Select isn't filled).  They can offer these for an additional fee - I forgot what that was, but have heard it announced a couple of times.  If you wanted to try to save seats (again, not really allowed, but some do it), you'd only have to pay for one or two.

Edited by creekland
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We've flown with them twice in the past two years (four times if you count the flight back home). We managed to find pairs of seats each time. We weren't looking for 3 in a row, so I can't speak to that, but I think you'll be ok to find at least 2 seats in a row. You will probably have to walk to the back to find them, though. We were like you and in the B group, but around 30-something and not 50-something.

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We flew Southwest last month and my parents fly often. A seating is now for frequent flyers and you can pay to be in A. Then families with small children board after them. B and C are for everyone else that you do online. So since I boarded as flying with small kids right after A there were still plenty of spaces. The A people basically took the front spots minus the middle seats. My mom and her siblings were in the B 20 through 26 and they had no problem sitting with me without me needing to save them seats

This isn't really accurate, not all of A is reserved for business and early-bird. We've had 12 flights on southwest in the last 10 months, we've boarded in A in all but a couple of those flights and I've never paid for early bird check-in.
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Thank you; I may try this. He has delays; no official, formal diagnosis beyond learning disabilities, but it's enough that neither he nor we would be comfortable with him seated with strangers. It will depend on the gate agent, I guess, if they'll accommodate that request w/o a formal diagnosis, paperwork, etc. 

 

(well, he does have formally diagnosed learning disabilities, an IEP for school, etc, but it doesn't fit in one nice, neat package like "autism" or something.....just delays from having been premature). 

 

I flew last summer with one of my students, and simply said "I have a young woman with a disability who will need to board first."  and they complied.  Definitely no documentation.  The student's disabilities are visible, but she wasn't with me when I approached the desk, and so I don't know whether the staff had seen her or not.

 

I also asked Southwest for a gate pass to take my goddaughter, who has learning disabilities, to the gate, and was too old for unaccompanied minor.  They didn't question me or ask for proof.  

 

So, I'd be cautiously optimistic that this would work.

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Someone else stated it above, but yes, you get in line between the numbered stanchions and the whole group on one side of the stanchions boards at one time while the other side waits their turn (they don't cut off a group between like 30-34 and 35-39,for example).  SW doesn't monitor if you're in the right place in line, but the people do!  People kind of check with each other, "What number are you? Oh, I'm right here behind (or in front of) you," and then they make room, etc.  That's been my experience anyway. 

 

I, too, love Southwest and choose it first if it works out.  Yes, partly because it's consistently very inexpensive (they have sales all the time; we flew Seattle to Phoenix for $108 RT two months ago), but also because of their awesome customer service policies like changing a flight without a fee, the free baggage and carry-ons, and -- as someone said above -- the often times funny/fun flight attendants. 

 

 

Edited by milovany
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We like flying SW and never had problems as a family of 4. However we were comfortable sitting 2 and 2. I think ds was little at the time (under 2) and they maybe let us board a fuzz early.

 

We just flew SW again to Florida, which was a full flight. As this time I had *2* SN people with me, I paid for priority seating. That was 5 people in the group, priority seating, and even though we came in at the very end of it, we got seated easily. Just eliminating the hassle of the lines was worth the extra $$. 

 

But if you don't have littles or SN people, no ECVs, no autism, no cognitive or physical disabilities, maybe just roll with it? Everyone should have their snacks. Check all the bags you can so each person only has a carry-on. It will make it really easy. SW is really generous on their bags. That was what I did with our party. I checked everything we could. Negotiating SN people plus luggage is too much.

 

You're going to have a nice trip! It will be an adventure, and your kids will enjoy it! Think positive! :)

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Thank you; I may try this. He has delays; no official, formal diagnosis beyond learning disabilities, but it's enough that neither he nor we would be comfortable with him seated with strangers. It will depend on the gate agent, I guess, if they'll accommodate that request w/o a formal diagnosis, paperwork, etc. 

 

(well, he does have formally diagnosed learning disabilities, an IEP for school, etc, but it doesn't fit in one nice, neat package like "autism" or something.....just delays from having been premature). 

 

Sorry, I missed this! Just decide who the person is who needs to be with him. On some flights, the rows are only 2 seats wide anyway. Just depends on the plane. Then I would just ask the person at the desk when you check in if it's going to be an issue. Explain that you just need to make sure that person is with him, that everyone else can be whereever, and let them sort it out. 

 

Given his age (young, only 11), I think people will do it and not give you a hard time. They wouldn't expect an 11 yo to sit alone anyway, and if your concern level evidences SN they won't question it, not with that combo of young age and parental concern.

 

The advice to walk to the back of the plane is really good. If you walk toward the back and ask nicely, people will help you. It will be obvious. It's only that one you're asking people to help with. It will work out. :)

 

Really, that's how I solve problems sometimes. I just beg, ask, smile, play dumb. When you really look like you need help, people help, kwim? 

Edited by OhElizabeth
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So thinking more about this, I want to point out that in most public accommodations it's illegal to ask for documentation, or the name of the disability.  For example, if you need to get a pass to skip the lines at Disney, they can ask you "what accommodations do you need?" or "What is difficult for you?" but not "What diagnosis?"  If you bring paper from your doctor, they'll give it back to you without looking at it, they can't accept it.

 

Similarly, if you want to bring a service dog somewhere, they can ask "is this a service dog?" and "what service does he/she perform for you?" but that's it.  Obviously, sometimes telling what service will give the diagnosis away.  For example "he alerts me when I have low blood sugar" is a sign the person probably has diabetes or hypoglycemia.  But not always.

 

Rules for airlines are sometimes different, so I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's likely that paperwork not only won't be needed, it won't be accepted.

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Hmm, I didn't know that was a law. Definitely, what Daria is describing is how Disney handled it. 

 

Really, it will be enough if you just say you need to sit together (SN dc + 1). It's reasonable and he's young. But if you fly again as he ages, I would pay for the priority seating, if only to lower your stress. It's only like $10 more per person per trip. Sounds like a lot, but if it's just for the parent + 1, it's not so bad in the scheme of things.

 

If your flight out is less workable than you had hoped, then pay and bump up to early bird, priority thing for the way back at least. 

 

But hopefully it will be fine! :)

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Hmm, I didn't know that was a law. Definitely, what Daria is describing is how Disney handled it. 

 

Really, it will be enough if you just say you need to sit together (SN dc + 1). It's reasonable and he's young. But if you fly again as he ages, I would pay for the priority seating, if only to lower your stress. It's only like $10 more per person per trip. Sounds like a lot, but if it's just for the parent + 1, it's not so bad in the scheme of things.

 

If your flight out is less workable than you had hoped, then pay and bump up to early bird, priority thing for the way back at least. 

 

But hopefully it will be fine! :)

 

Yes, that's the plan. We're pretty much pros at flying, just not with SW, so I really don't expect problems and I have no problem at all asking for assistance getting seats for at least 2 of us together (SN child + 1 adult). 

 

Mostly I really just asked this question/post to find out did we need to snag single seats near each other, in order to be close, or would be probably be able to find pairs (even if those pairs are scattered), as I didn't know what to expect with such a late boarding position (practically to the C group). 

 

Kind of.....would grabbing all middle seats, both sides of the aisle, in 2 rows together, be the closest we could get to each other, so we could at least (annoyingly so) communicate across the aisle if need-be, or if we looked for pairs, would we find them? Not because we're in a panic about sitting in pairs, but because I don't want to pass up a good grouping of single seats if that's the best we're likely to get. :)

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As a person who has family who work in the commercial airlines, here's some tips for interactions with gate agents and flight attendants.

1. Their priorities are safety first followed by customer service and on time departures balancing out in second place. Therefore if you need their help do it before they get slammed with work at their desks by the gates. And use your judgment too - sometimes if a flight inbound is late, then they have a ton of connections to make for other passengers and their computer work increases a hundred-fold, which means for seat requests, that has to take a lower priority as the main goal is to get the passengers ON the plane.

2. Don't march right up to the counter either and interrupt them or stare at them. Instead come up, stand in front of the counter about five feet away smile or nod to let them know you need something and generally they always say some variation of "how may I help you?" Then proceed to explain.

3. They like to help, but they hate demands. A really great approach is, "I'm unfamiliar with how this is handled. I have a minor child, my son, he's 12. I realize he is probably old enough to sit separate from my husband and me, but as a mom, I'd feel better knowing he's near me, even if we're across the aisle. What should I do?" Ideally they would say to board with the families. If not that then they might start working on a plan to coordinate with the flight attendants. Please keep in mind though, that the counter is the agents' domain and the cabins on the aircraft are the attendants' domains, they often work together, but they each have their own "territories" so to speak. All care about safety and on-time departures. Help them work toward safety and on-time departures. Keep in mind though, that many airlines (I'm not sure about SW) have an unaccompanied minors policy that starts at 12, which means that a child can fly solo without a legal adult at the age of 12. So, they are used to dealing with minors NOT being with their parents.

4. By all means, don't stand in the plane aisle and impede the boarding process until seats are resolved to your liking. Rather, as you board, let the attendant know you spoke with the gate agent and once everyone ELSE is seated could s/he help you get the family together?

5. Because you have special seating requests on SW, be flexible with the placement of your carry ons. Like do not demand they come to the overhead space above you. For this reason, it is probably best to keep your valuables or important stuff in a bag that is under the seat capable.

 

6. Do not ask another paying passenger to give up their window or aisle seat. Instead if you have the better seat on the window or aisle, give that up to another passenger and you take the awkward middle one. In other words, your main goal is sitting with your kid, not sitting with your kid AND getting the best seat too. So the main objective is proximity, not comfort.

Edited by MommyLiberty5013
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Regarding the lining up.  I always hold my boarding pass with the boarding number facing outward, clearly visible to all.  This helps everyone around me and avoids the occasional testy conversations with weary travelers who think the whole thing is just a big pita.  With your family of five, it shouldn't be a problem at all.

 

Also, the number of seats available will depend greatly on the number of passengers remaining on the plane from the previous flight.  If the plane is empty when boarding begins, there will be plenty of room.  But, if half the plane is full of continuing passengers, space will be more scattered.

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Yes, that's the plan. We're pretty much pros at flying, just not with SW, so I really don't expect problems and I have no problem at all asking for assistance getting seats for at least 2 of us together (SN child + 1 adult). 

 

Mostly I really just asked this question/post to find out did we need to snag single seats near each other, in order to be close, or would be probably be able to find pairs (even if those pairs are scattered), as I didn't know what to expect with such a late boarding position (practically to the C group). 

 

Kind of.....would grabbing all middle seats, both sides of the aisle, in 2 rows together, be the closest we could get to each other, so we could at least (annoyingly so) communicate across the aisle if need-be, or if we looked for pairs, would we find them? Not because we're in a panic about sitting in pairs, but because I don't want to pass up a good grouping of single seats if that's the best we're likely to get. :)

 

I would expect to be in different rows but I would take pairs. If you want a better chance of being together, keep walking toward the back. Seats in the front will doubtless be gone. I would flex on having the two pairs close together. Doesn't seem really essential. You'll be enjoying the person you're paired with. I would put the adult + SN dc first, so that they can make their most comfortable pick. Your ds might have a seat where he does better or quirks like not being comfortable with someone in the third seat in the row.

 

There's still the C seats. 

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As a person who has family who work in the commercial airlines, here's some tips for interactions with gate agents and flight attendants.

 

1. Their priorities are safety first followed by customer service and on time departures balancing out in second place. Therefore if you need their help do it before they get slammed with work at their desks by the gates. And use your judgment too - sometimes if a flight inbound is late, then they have a ton of connections to make for other passengers and their computer work increases a hundred-fold, which means for seat requests, that has to take a lower priority as the main goal is to get the passengers ON the plane.

 

2. Don't march right up to the counter either and interrupt them or stare at them. Instead come up, stand in front of the counter about five feet away smile or nod to let them know you need something and generally they always say some variation of "how may I help you?" Then proceed to explain.

 

3. They like to help, but they hate demands. A really great approach is, "I'm unfamiliar with how this is handled. I have a minor child, my son, he's 12. I realize he is probably old enough to sit separate from my husband and me, but as a mom, I'd feel better knowing he's near me, even if we're across the aisle. What should I do?" Ideally they would say to board with the families. If not that then they might start working on a plan to coordinate with the flight attendants. Please keep in mind though, that the counter is the agents' domain and the cabins on the aircraft are the attendants' domains, they often work together, but they each have their own "territories" so to speak. All care about safety and on-time departures. Help them work toward safety and on-time departures. Keep in mind though, that many airlines (I'm not sure about SW) have an unaccompanied minors policy that starts at 12, which means that a child can fly solo without a legal adult at the age of 12. So, they are used to dealing with minors NOT being with their parents.

 

4. By all means, don't stand in the plane aisle and impede the boarding process until seats are resolved to your liking. Rather, as you board, let the attendant know you spoke with the gate agent and once everyone ELSE is seated could s/he help you get the family together?

 

5. Because you have special seating requests on SW, be flexible with the placement of your carry ons. Like do not demand they come to the overhead space above you. For this reason, it is probably best to keep your valuables or important stuff in a bag that is under the seat capable.

 

6. Do not ask another paying passenger to give up their window or aisle seat. Instead if you have the better seat on the window or aisle, give that up to another passenger and you take the awkward middle one. In other words, your main goal is sitting with your kid, not sitting with your kid AND getting the best seat too. So the main objective is proximity, not comfort.

 

All of these things go without saying, but yes, of course. 

 

Up thread when I said I had no problem being a brat, I meant to a passenger "saving seats" against airline policy, never to a flight attendant. We're pretty well-traveled, and not unreasonable people, I promise. I didn't mean to give that impression. 

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All of these things go without saying, but yes, of course. 

 

Up thread when I said I had no problem being a brat, I meant to a passenger "saving seats" against airline policy, never to a flight attendant. We're pretty well-traveled, and not unreasonable people, I promise. I didn't mean to give that impression. 

Oh no, I didn't take it that way as you being bratty. In fact, I breezed over that part in reading and thought I would just post some tips for navigating the airlines in general.

 

As a person who flies stand-by a lot and because of my DH, I hear a lot of stories, these are just my general tips for anybody. Many people have no clue...

 

Since your DS has disabilities, is this something you can approach the SWA ticket counter with prior to TSA check-in? I am unfamiliar with how SWA operates in terms of policies, but I wonder if even a ticketing agent could flag your boarding passes for your family to keep you together.

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Oh no, I didn't take it that way as you being bratty. In fact, I breezed over that part in reading and thought I would just post some tips for navigating the airlines in general.

 

As a person who flies stand-by a lot and because of my DH, I hear a lot of stories, these are just my general tips for anybody. Many people have no clue...

 

Since your DS has disabilities, is this something you can approach the SWA ticket counter with prior to TSA check-in? I am unfamiliar with how SWA operates in terms of policies, but I wonder if even a ticketing agent could flag your boarding passes for your family to keep you together.

SW's policy is to handle this at the gate, not the ticketing agent.

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I have not flown SW so I don't know on their policies but I have flown others recently and I made sure we were to gate in plenty of time. Then When the gate desk opened I calmly stood n line and then let them know of my needs (traveling with 2 special needs teens) and they offered great assistance.

 

For us, we liked the back of the plane near the rest rooms. It was a bit louder back there but on several flights there were empty seats way back there that others didn't want so we had a bit more room to spread out.

 

I agree with Libertymom5013 that just approaching the gate desk and asking how they would like you to handle this is a good idea. Also great point about traveling with just an under the seat bag for ds and the adult with him makes it much quicker and easier to board

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FWIW, since we're among those who like first choice of seats, I just mentally add the $15 to the cost of the flight when I'm searching.  Esp when one figures in checked bag charges on other airlines, SW is often the cheapest.  It helps that we use BWI (one of their hubs) as our main airport.  I always thought those who didn't pay the extra were those who didn't really care where they sat.  That's true among those I've personally met (those sitting next to me, etc).

 

Not SW, but when we flew to Hawaii on United (family of 5) we only had 2 seats, 2 seats, and 1 seat "pairings" assigned to us.  Our kids at that time were 14, 12, and 10.  We thought we'd put the 14 and 12 year old together and have one of us parents sit with the 10 year old.  He was livid that he couldn't sit by himself like his brothers could... so we let him have the single.  That was across the aisle from one of the two seat pairings, so hubby and I took that set.  They were all thrilled. My kids love flying though, so that can make a difference.  They fly on their own quite often now (all in their 20s).

 

I've heard from several folks that at least some "normal" airlines don't always put people together unless they pay extra for the privilege.  I wouldn't know.  It's been 3 years now since we've flown any other airline.  (Well, my kids have since SW doesn't go to Greece or Africa or places like that, but hubby and I haven't.)

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