A Your Mileage May Vary reader, Lisa, wrote to us the other day to give us a heads up on an interesting situation: She was on a Southwest Airline flight a few days ago, and noticed that they did their old, pre-pandemic boarding procedure.
Instead of assigning seats, Southwest historically clumps passengers into groups and assigns them numbers within each group. They’re then boarded alphabetically, in numerical order. Once on the plane, passengers are allowed to pick whatever seat they like.
Southwest’s “old,” “regular,” “pre-pandemic” “call it what you’d like” boarding procedure was to let 30 people onto the plane at a time. However since last May, they had cut that down to just 10 at a time, to allow for social distancing.
Our reader said, “I had been on SW a couple of other times since COVID, and was expecting just a handful of people to board at once. Now we were back to the old way. I’m not eligible to get a COVID vaccine yet and although he wasn’t on the flight, I live with someone who can’t event get the shot due to medical reasons. So I need to be super careful. TBH [to be honest], being so close to so many people, even with masks on, wasn’t comfortable or pleasant.”
We reached out to Southwest and just got the following response from “Jeni”:
It is true. We have returned to our standard boarding style, inviting a group of 30 Passengers to line up according to their designated boarding position. We remain committed to aligning our procedures with the CDC’s recommendations that all who travel with us must wear a mask, except children who have not reached their second birthday and those who were pre-approved for a mask exemption due to their disability. Your feedback is appreciated, and we recommend checking out: http://Southwest.com/Promise to learn more about what we’re doing to support our Customers’ comfort onboard. Thank you for looking to Southwest for your travel needs! -Jeni
Well, I’m glad that they’re still requiring everyone to wear a mask, at least. But don’t CDC recommendations include social distancing as well? Why are they not aligning themselves with that?
But really, as of this writing, only 14% of people in the United States are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and a mere 25% have gotten at least one dose. That leaves 75% of Americans who are still vulnerable to the potentially deadly virus.
I am excited that we finally have a vaccine out there and that there are so many people getting “Fauci Ouchies” each day. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to going back to normal, or as normal as we can get. But frankly, I find Southwest’s grab for “normal” by beginning this “new/old” way to board…premature. With literally millions of people getting vaccinated against the virus every day, why couldn’t they kept them “Board 10 at a time so we’re not all up in each other’s faces” for another month or two, so a higher percentage of us will have gotten the shot? That’s disappointing.
Many thanks to Lisa for the heads up!
Feature Photo: Reddit / jlowreallow
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary