Travelers Are Boycotting Southwest Over Boarding Change That Starts Today
The latest switch-up isn't sitting well with some of the carrier's loyal customers.
Southwest Airlines takes a unique approach to boarding by not assigning passengers a seat like other carriers. While that may not be ideal for everyone, there are many travelers who appreciate the option to choose their own seats on a flight. But Southwest has made a number of changes to its boarding process in recent months, and the latest update is upsetting some of its most loyal customers. Read on to find out why travelers are threatening to boycott Southwest over today's boarding change.
Southwest is getting rid of EarlyBird Check-In for some flights.
It may be harder for you to get an earlier boarding position on your next Southwest flight thanks to a change rolled out today. The carrier is "limiting the number" of EarlyBird Check-In spots that are available for some of its trips, Southwest spokesperson Tiffany Valdez told Best Life.
"Beginning August 15, EarlyBird Check-In will be subject to availability on certain flights, routes, or days, and that will mean EarlyBird Check-In is unavailable for some customers looking to purchase it," she explained.
Customers have been voicing their complaints over the change.
News of the limitations on EarlyBird Check-In hasn't gone over well with many loyal Southwest travelers. In fact, some customers have started questioning their commitment to the carrier.
"The EarlyBird Check-In is honestly one of the biggest reasons I always fly with Southwest. I've never flown with anyone else," one traveler posted on X. "Hopefully the flights this is taken away from aren't the ones I will take in future. Might have to bite the bullet and try somewhere else."
Another customer responded to Southwest Airlines' official X page with a direct complaint: "The change in the EarlyBird Check-In, where they may not be available on certain flights isn't giving people smiley faces. A Facebook post by a friend mentioned it and said 'guess it's Delta from now on.' I also won't buy a flight that I can't get early bird."
There are a number of threats from potential passengers, who say they will switch to other carriers as a result of Southwest's boarding change.
"If you cancel EarlyBird Check-In, there's no reason to keep using Southwest," one wrote in an Aug. 11 post on X.
Another Aug. 10 reply to Southwest's X page reads, "So disappointed you guys are getting rid of EarlyBird Check-In. You are no longer a low budget carrier so I guess it's time for me to find a new favorite. Southwest used to care about us little people but not anymore."
But passengers had problems with EarlyBird Check-In before this update.
Southwest has faced criticism over its EarlyBird Check-In service prior to its decision to pare down availability. The airline has long warned customers that paying the extra fee for this offer does not necessarily guarantee them a Group A boarding position. Before Southwest decided to implement a limit, if too many people purchased Early Bird, some of those passengers could still end up being among the last to board, despite paying extra.
This problem has been a clear frustration for Southwest travelers in the past.
"Feels like a bit of a rip off to pay for EarlyBird boarding on Southwest and still get mid-B boarding passes," one person wrote in a July 30 X post.
Another X user shared a similar complaint: "@SouthwestAir why pay for EarlyBird Check-In, check in within 4 mins, and end up in B20?"
You may still be able to secure an earlier boarding position in other ways.
The new limits on EarlyBird Check-In may help alleviate the frustrations some customers have had. In fact, Valdez told Best Life that this was just one of the ways Southwest is working to improve its service for travelers.
"Many initiatives are underway across the company to modernize the customer experience and win more customers," she said. "This focus brings an opportunity to evolve our fare and ancillary products, while maintaining the value they bring to our customers."
And if EarlyBird Check-In is not available for your flight, Valdez said you can still secure an earlier boarding position by purchasing Business Select or Upgraded Boarding. These will cost you much more than $25, however. Business Select is the airline's most expensive fare, and Upgraded Boarding starts at $30 (although it does guarantee you an A1-A15 boarding position). These options are also "subject to availability," Valdez noted.