11.20.2009

Southwest Airlines…Off My List for Now

As the big travel season is nearing us, you may want to consider other airlines.

I used to fly Southwest a lot. I appreciated the cheap tickets, the in- flight magazine, and efficient service. However, I’m starting to think that maybe Southwest would rather fill their planes with childless passengers.

I was surprised that SW no longer does pre-boarding for families. When I asked a SW clerk, she said they stopped doing pre-boarding due to complaints from folks flying without kids.

It doesn’t stop there. Two weeks ago, a co-worker of mine who I’ll call Rosie flew with her twin boys from Oakland to Los Angeles. The returning flight was unpleasant and a bit embarrassing. This was Rosie’s first time flying with her two boys.

Here are her words:

The boys are 20 months old and we traveled with my 14 year-old niece and Luis. I realized afterwards that the flight attendant did keep an eye on us right from the beginning -- as soon as we sat down, she hovered over the boys and me as I changed their diapers. She patiently waited in the seat behind us as the plane filled towards the end then presumed that I did not buy the boys a seat. She said, "since you did not pay for the seat, one child has to be held with the other adult in another aisle." I cooperated with the attendant as I shuffled Aaron, who resisted, to Luis on the next aisle. Aaron cried for about ten minutes before we took off then just before taking off, I got both the boys on my lap to calm them down. I was going to give Luis one boy right back as the attendant came and scolded us for having the two boys on my citing the FAA rules this and FAA rules that. Never did she want to help and comfort us. The surrounding passengers sympathized for us and showed their support with smiles and even offered their toys to comfort the boys. As we got off the plane, the flight attendant referred us to the security officer for yet another lecture on the rules. This time they accused us of switching babies during the landing and we confirmed that we did not, that we each held one boy as we landed. Luis was firm and reiterated that we know the rules and that they should not accuse us of such things unless they really saw us.


Ironically just a month ago, another mother was kicked off a SW plane for having a loud two year old. For Pete's sake, babies will cry and babies will fuss. But they're not a threat to anyone on the plane. Pass out headsets to folks who want to drown out the crying...offer support....do something other than making mothers feel bad for traveling with a child.

I’m officially writing SW off my list. SW can continue their policies, but parents will definitely look for friendly skies elsewhere.

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