A Plea to Southwest…

Posted in At the Terminal, BUR, Domestic US

Last week I flew out of Burbank for the first time in ages. Southwest operates roughly 7 million flights out of the diminutive Terminal A and I’ve grown to love Southwest the same way I love chicken fingers. They both don’t try to be anything they’re not. They’re not dressing themselves up as some sort of luxury experience. They’re simple, reliable, and get the job done. If I were in charge of marketing for SWA, I’d change the tagline to “No frills done right” because that’s the biggest appeal for me. Buy your relatively cheap ticket, check in, and board when your number is called. It’s the discount deli counter of airlines.

The entire experience was pleasant — quaint, even — until it came time to board the plane. As a middle child, I’m always nervous if something isn’t specifically reserved for me. Thanksgiving served family style is reason enough for me to break out in a cold sweat the night before. With Southwest’s boarding system, I get plenty anxious about not having enough bin space or seats when it’s my turn to board.

On my flight last week, I was in the low Bs along with my fiancee. Anything under B10 is usually a guaranteed window seat and bin space, but Burbank threw a wrench into the plans. With such a small terminal, BUR still makes you walk out onto the tarmac to board and for Southwest planes, that means boarding in the front and the back. I have no experience dual-boarding an SWA plane, so I didn’t know that the back was the way to go when it came my turn to board. Instead of putting my bag up and getting right into a seat, I got stuck behind slowpokes in front of me and while they were fussing with their baggage, I watched as all the good seats in the back filled up.

By the time I got myself free, both my fiancee and I were stuck with middle seats in concurrent rows. Gross. Luckily, we were able to find spots for our bags but the entire flight was an armrest battle on two different fronts. The only saving grace was that we were flying to Vegas, just a short hourlong flight.

So what’s the fix? It’s easy. Don’t board from both sides of the plane. I doubt it saves much time in the long run anyway. Instead, board exclusively from the back of the plane. Think about it: if you board from the back, odds are that the front seats get taken first anyway. While the passengers up there are getting situated, other people can start taking their seats instead of waiting for those in front of them. It would create a domino effect of efficiency. This makes sense, right? I’m not crazy. I promise.

Southwest? Are you listening? This is some genius management consulting here and I’m not even charging. Start boarding exclusively from the back and you’ll board your planes faster and your passengers will be happier. Everybody wins!


  1. “Southwest operates roughly 7 million flights out of the diminutive Terminal A…”

    7 MILLION flights?!? In a year?
    That would be about 19,000 flights a day!
    800 flights an hour (24 hours day which they don’t do)
    And 13 flights every minute?

    I think you maybe got an extra 0 or two in there.

    • Hi Patrick, after doing the math on 7 million flights a year, did you ever consider that the number I used might be exaggerated for comedic effect?

  2. I certainly hope that you are joking about removing the dual boarding. I find it hard to believe that dual boarding is not much faster. Just because you weren’t aware of the dual boarding doesn’t mean it should be eliminated. With these things, it’s a live and learn lesson. I’ve flown out of BUR quite a bit and the dual boarding is definitely much faster and easier. I flew out of SJC to BWI back in April and it was the first time that I boarded a SW flight using dual boarding and I’m certainly glad they did. Boarding was so much smoother!

  3. So you acted like Aunt Millie who flies twice a year, and now you think WN should change their boarding policy to accomodate for your benefit?

    Apparently Boarding Area now publishes any blogger.

    I too am baffled about so many things revealed in this blog!!!

    • Ken, what do you have against Aunt Millie?

      In all seriousness, this isn’t about changing things for my benefit. It’s about changing things for the benefit of everyone. Instead of having two bottlenecks on both sides of the plane, my proposal would make it easier for EVERYONE. Even you, Kenny.

      Also, for the record, Fly&Dine has been a Boarding Area blog since 2013. Welcome to the party! We really appreciate your snark. It matches our general tone nicely. –Jason

    • Hey man, please refrain from degrading the conversation with obnoxious condescension. I happen to disagree with Jason also. I love the dual boarding because the stragglers generally board slowly in the front and I can never recall getting stuck with a middle seat when I board in the rear, which I do every time I fly Southwest, nor do I ever want for bin space. If airports re-engineered their jet bridges, I have little doubt most airlines would opt for dual boarding…far more efficient. By the way Ken, apparently Boarding area also now publishes valueless comments such as yours.

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