Southwest Travelers Upset by Preboarding System Exploitation

( – Between rising costs and modern security rules, travel is often frustrating and stressful. Recently the social media platform Reddit has seen an explosion of complaints regarding Southwest Airlines and their pre-boarding rules. These complaints have centered on a subreddit specifically for Southwest Airline, with many claiming that passengers are pretending to have disabilities just so can board early. Unlike many airlines, Southwest does not have assigned seats, so early boarders get the broadest choices of where to sit.

A Southwest spokesperson, Chris Perry, has responded to the complaints by pointing out that all airlines are required to allow pre-boarding for any passenger who identifies as a person with a disability. However, there is no way for the airlines to verify the authenticity of their passenger’s condition. As many have correctly asserted, there are disabilities that may affect the boarding process but are not visible to casual observers.

One anonymous commenter said they have autism, for which they require preboarding. The same user spoke of seeing 20 wheelchairs filled with preboarders. When staff announced that ambulatory passengers would board ahead of the wheelchairs, nearly all of them stood. Similar first-hand stories like this have proliferated on Reddit and other social media. The complaints have become so numerous that the Southwest forum’s moderators are now scrutinizing any posts about the issue of “ill-informed, unsympathetic” language.

Passengers who have real disabilities and need accommodation for them have expressed relief that the problem is being discussed. The scammers who have taken advantage of Southwest’s policies make travel more difficult for them as well as for staff and other travelers. Frequent flyer Mike Worley has already started travelling on Delta rather than Southwest for some flights because of their policies. Southwest does not seem to be taking the complaints seriously yet, but they may be forced to discontinue their open seating policy in the future.

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