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SWA Priority "Handicap" Boarding

Discussion in 'Misc. Vegas Chat' started by Buddha, Dec 2, 2012.

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  1. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Just thought I would post an experience that we had leaving Vegas on our recent trip home, which very much seemed out of line ... and unfair to the rest of the regular airplane boarders.

    While my wife and I (upper 60's) are usually healthy and fully ambulatory, and typically pay for the SWA - Early Bird boarding, this trip home was very different. In the middle of our week in Vegas, my wife wrenched her knee to the point that she could not walk. I rented a wheelchair at the Cal for our last three days, and also got a wheelchair for her at McCarran, when I dropped her off at the curbside Sky-Cap, so I could return the rental car.

    The SWA curbside people were absolutely wonderful in getting her into a wheelchair, checking us in with boarding passes, and taking care of our luggage. And when I wheeled my wife to the gate area, they gave my wife the "blue sleeve" for her boarding pass, so we could do the "priority boarding". There were also three other people in wheelchairs, along with their spouses, waiting for the boarding to begin ... and then I noticed six other people standing to our outer left, sort of like they were waiting for the A-B-C line-ups to be called.

    Soon, the SWA gate person went through the usual pre-boarding announements, and expalined how the priority-assisted boarding would begin first. But then, very strangely, the gate person announced to us that if any of the priority boarders were able to walk down the gang-way, they would start with them, and have SWA personnell assist the others. With that announcement, the six people standing to our left immediately hustled to the front, presented their boarding passes, and very easily proceeded down the gang-way. THEN ... the other three wheelchair people stood up out of their wheelchairs, and with their spouses, walked right up, presented their passes, and all walked down the gang-way. And then ... last but not least ... the SWA helper came to wheel my wife down, and then I helped hold her up, as we slowly made our way to a pair of empy seats.

    We were not expecting any special favors, other than just taking our turn, with our wheelchair situation ... but watching those other 12 people all pop up to the front, and then comfortably walk down the gang-way on their own was disgusting. I also wondered later what the other people in the waiting area thought, watching that blatant exhibition.
     
  2. leo21

    leo21 VIP Whale

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    Usually people have the sense to at least fake a limp or something during boarding before they race off the plane at the final destination. I think there are some of a certain age that feel that their age entitles them to be first. There should be some perks for being older but when a business A) charges people extra for the privilege of being first and/or B) offers special pricing for seniors, it's not a reasonable expectation. These folks probably did the same thing in long buffet lines too. It's frustrating but it's a Catch-22 because you can't really call out a senior for bad behavior.
     
  3. HAWJOHN

    HAWJOHN Tourist

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    Kudos to you, but I would not lump all 12 as violating the rules. Some may honestly be able to walk, but cannot stand up for long periods of time. Then there are others who are not truly handicapped and unfairly pre board. I do not know what system Southwest has for identifying those who need to have priority boarding.
     
  4. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Well, Leo ... maybe the saddest part was that of those 12 "pre-boarders", only 4 of them were "seniors". In fact, the 6 that were just standing with no wheelchairs appeared to be no older than 40.
     
  5. LucyR.

    LucyR. VIP Whale

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    Southwest handicapped boarding

    I think that there are some phonies who ask for the BLUE colored thing so
    they can get on the plane first.
    There is a law that states that nobody can ask you what kind of handicapp
    or special needs you have. Southwest can't ask people what their handicapp is because they will be breaking the law.

    I think that Southwest can solve that problem by reserving the first front
    10 seats for the handicapped people because those seats can be taken by people who can walk.

    I have been handicapped for 10yrs. now and I have always been able to go first on any airline plane because of my special needs eventhough I have limited walking and partial vision. I have never had any problems.

    The main reason they ask the Handicapped people who can walk to board first is because they all seem to walk really fast into the plane. I sometimes
    have to get out of their way to pass me up because I walk real slow due to my vision problem. I am afraid of falling down when the floor is not even.

    Recently, there was a senior grandfather on a wheel-chair. He had to wait until Southwest could take him on the plane. For some reason his adult grand-daughter was able to get on the plane at the same time I was able to get on first on the plane. I promised the grandfather family that I would save him a front seat when I got on the plane.

    Some senior male wanted to sit next to me and I told him the seat was saved. He started to argue with me. I pointed to the seat across from me for him to sit there. He was grumpy but he did sit at that seat.
    I had to fight to keep that seat for the grandfather.

    After the grandfather showed up I let his family member have my seat and I moved to another seat behind him. "WHEW".....

    This all happened at the Vegas airport a few months ago.

    Last month in Nov. I was able to get on the plane first in Vegas. I noticed the plane already had some passengers on it. I was surprised.
    I like to sit on the second row of seats. I noticed that after lots of people got on the plane that a handicapped lady who was blind was seated across from me. The people sitting near her were told about her problem.
    The final person to get on the plane was a lady with those walking hand braces in order for her to walk. They asked the man sitting in a front seat
    to please move to another seat so that lady could sit there.

    I always save the seat next to me for the last person to get on the plane and needs a seat. So that nice man got to sit next to me and was great company for me.
    Maybe I should continue to save a seat for a handicapped person until Southwest finds a solution to this problem. i don't think it is fair for Southwest to ask a person to give up their seat and have to sit way in the back of the plane when they got on the plane before some of the other pax.

    By the way.... Southwest is never full of passengers in Vegas going towards Burbank airport. Burbank is a small airport and has lots of flights to Vegas.
    Lucy
     
  6. dbueler

    dbueler High-Roller

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    The handicap lineups to Vegas are the worst. Nearly every single trip, I see people pre-board as handicap, can barely make it to the plane. I usually sit in the front of the plane (early bird boarding) and see who boarded as handicap. Without fail, the minute the plane reaches the gate in LV, those same handicapped folks are suddenly able to LEAP to their feet, lift their carryons from the overhead, and sprint to the door to line up for it to open. There is a healing miracle every flight.

    I agree there are some, many, who need this service. I also know, for a fact, from years of watching, this is frequently abused by non-handicapped people just to board early.

    If they revised the policy that handicapped boarders were required to wait for a wheelchair upon arrival, after everyone else had disembarked, the number of handicapped pre-boarders would decline by half.
    diane
     
  7. LucyR.

    LucyR. VIP Whale

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    My experiences as a handicapped flyer

    In Nov. I did notice that an old lady was sitting on a wheel-chair and her and her husband got on Southwest to fly home to Burbank airport.

    When we arrived at Burbank airport there where 5 wheel-chairs with attendants waiting for us handicapped people.
    I saw the old lady not ask for a wheel-chair. I know it was ordered for her.
    I also knew that one wheel-chair was ordered for me too.

    But the last time I used a wheel-chair at Burbank airport the attendant was
    rude by spending time talking on his cell phone and getting irritated with my luggage not being ready at the luggage area. He kept asking me over and over what does it look like. "Duh".

    The Burbank airport is small and walkable. The Las Vegas airport is full of passengers and lots of people ask for the wheel-chairs.
    Delta airline has a better system for wheel-chairs than Southwest.

    In Nov. I decided to find me a wheel-chair to put my carry on bags as I was departing Vegas. I feel safe from falling if I hold on to a wheel-chair handle.
    It was fun for me to walk around holding on to the wheel-chair.
    When I asked for the special needs Blue thingy I was given one at the gate.
    It's in their computer that I requested special assistance.

    One time the wheel-chairs were all being used and I didn't want to wait so one of the Southwest workers held my hand and my carry-on and took me to my gate. That was great service at Vegas airport. Lucy
     
  8. C0usineddie

    C0usineddie VIP Whale

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    My aunt and uncle went on a cruise with my mom and grabbed wheelchairs when they deboarded so they didnt have to walk down the gang plank and could get off the ship earlier.

    So not only does some young girl have to wheel them down but they were jerks to her as well.

    shameful.
     
  9. LucyR.

    LucyR. VIP Whale

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    Carnival Inspiration ship

    The handicapped cruisers can ask for a wheel chair to disembark the ship.
    They go by what number you are. Since I am a VIP Cruiser I can get off anytime I want because I am number one.
    I will be on the ship tomorrow and plan to leave the ship early on Friday morning and will be able to leave the ship by 8:30A.M.

    I notice that a lot of obese cruisers like to use the wheel-chairs to get on or off the ship. I see them walking around the ship after using the wheelies.lol.
     
  10. leo21

    leo21 VIP Whale

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    I agree that some people preboarding can walk but can't stand in line. But usually people like that can't run on and off the plane. I also don't have a problem with a traveling companion or two coming on with a person who needs assistance, especially if they are needed to help them walk. I have seen some airlines try and make preboards the last to disembark so that folks can get off quickly and make their connections. Maybe if that were the policy, folks would be slower to abuse the program.
     
  11. dawgfan11

    dawgfan11 Low-Roller

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    my wife has severe dizzy spells and can get spells when trapped ina line waiting to board so we often ask to board first with the other people with disabilities. It really helps her alot to do this. She can walk just fine on her own and she's only 26...

    Do people take advantage of it? Sure but if it bothers you that much don't fly southwest. Get a airline where you don't have to rush to board just to get a good seat.
     
  12. BethGarden

    BethGarden Tourist

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    We haven't flown Southwest for several years but intend to next year. I have a daughter in a wheelchair(her own chair) and another daughter who is handicapped who gets very shaky at times. Boarding early is really necessary for us as it takes both my husband and myself to get my wheelchair bound daughter to her seat(he walks her and I get my other daughter seated and break down the wheelchair for the airline). We always are last to disembark though as we need to wait for the wheelchair and would hold up everyone trying to get off as it takes us quite a while.

    The easiest solution to this problem would be if you pre -board with a wheelchair or disability you must wait until last to disembark. If you board in a wheelchair you must leave in a wheelchair and it always takes them awhile to get the chairs to the plane.
     
  13. marktaylor

    marktaylor Low-Roller

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    im with you on this one beth , i have a son who "looks" fine but has trouble walking long distances because of hypermobility issues
    we flew to tunisia this year and he had his own chair with him , which gave us priority boarding , but we were also the last ones to leave the plane as he had to wait for his chair and its easier to get him out of the plane when theres not huge crowds pushing around
    as far as im concerned the priority boarding for disabled people should be just that and if you cant prove that your level of disability requires you to board early then it shouldnt be given

    ive even gone to the doctor for my son to get a letter from him to prove to the airline about his disability so that we could use priority boarding
     
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