Southwest "Honors" the Military

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Jul 6th, 2009, 05:24 PM
  #1
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Southwest "Honors" the Military

Last week I had a flight on Southwest who I usually prefer since they seem to be on time and responsive to customers.

Unfortunately, after my latest experience I will likely avoid them if possible. Southwest has implemented a policy to give preference to customers in the military. If you are an active duty military member you get preferential early boarding and are also the first to disembark.

It makes no difference to Southwest if they are late and if you miss your connection, as long as you give preference to the military to disembark.

Obviously, if you object to treating all customers equally this means you are unpatriotic. If they wish to honor the military, why not offer a discount or free drinks? Or if they don't want to actually give them something of value, why not offer them early boarding?

I speak from experience, Following is the response from SWA

We appreciate your patience and allowing us the opportunity to honor our Military.

Sincerely,

Deborah, Southwest Airlines
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Jul 6th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Just to clarify, on my initial flight no early boarding was offered to active duty military. The flight was over half an hour late, on landing the flight attendant stated 3 times that all passengers should remain seated to allow active duty military to disembark first and when I and another passenger who had 10 minutes to connect (20 for me) stood up to disembark we were meant to feel unpatriotic for not wanting to miss our flight.

Great job Southwest! It costs you nothing to berate passengers for their lack of patriotism.

Why not pitch in with actual $$$$$
?
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Jul 7th, 2009, 09:40 AM
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Our last flight with Southwest was on Memorial day, and on both legs they called up active and former military personnel to pre-board and get free alcohol drinks.

I don't remember them doing it on any other days, but I would applaud them, not belittle the airline.

What next? Are you against disabled people pre-boarding?
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Jul 7th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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I would applaud them, not belittle the airline.

Even if it meant you missed your flight?
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Jul 7th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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If the flight is over 1/2 hour late, they would put me on another flight - I was re-routed due to a hurricane flying out of El Paso. I think they have 15 minute rule.

Whatever the case is, missing or not missing the next flight, I would not expect everybody to drop what they are doing to accomodate me.
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Jul 7th, 2009, 02:02 PM
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I've been on several flights where active duty military were given priority -- and everyone (including myself) applauded. I'd think that a much more typical reaction than the OPs . . . .
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Jul 8th, 2009, 02:42 PM
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If you told a flight attendant on your Southwest flight that you were worried about making your tight connection and would like to get off first, I have trouble believing she/he would tell you, "Sorry, we have to let active military disembark first." The common sense thing is that Southwest wants you to make your connection.

I have absolutely no problem with Southwest honoring active military members, who could be coming back from a long, crappy deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan. It probably makes them feel really good to be treated well and have other passengers applaud them, etc.
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Jul 8th, 2009, 03:34 PM
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I'm all for honoring military people for their service.

If I am in the same position as the OP and running tight on a connection because Southwest's incoming flight is late, though, I am going to stand up and disembark as quickly as I can. There is nothing unpatriotic about that.
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Jul 9th, 2009, 02:29 PM
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Sorry, but I think I'm lost in comprehending the system behind this.
If a military sits in 26A, the people in B and C stand up to let him out, then sit down again, until he or she got his stuff and gets off the plane? And same procedure anywhere in the plane? Or would they have seats in the front because they can pre-board the plane?

By the way.. disabled people may pre-board but are usually told to remain in their seats until everyone has disembarked so they can be given proper attention (airline newspeak for "don't keep other people from getting off the plane as quickly as possible")
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Jul 10th, 2009, 04:17 PM
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Ditto what Andrew said. Speak up, catch your connecting flight and still honor our heroes
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Nov 14th, 2015, 12:10 PM
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Just another thing to think about in these situations: often, if the military members are traveling on orders, a 3rd party travel agency has purchased the ticket. In these situations, the military member CANNOT check-in for Southwest flights online, and must check in at the ticket counter. I see this policy as a way not only to honor the military, but also allow these service members to get a decent seat since they cannot do so through the typical means.
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Nov 15th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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I don't think Southwest is alone in offering special service to uniformed military. I became involved in the early sixties and it was common then. I recall flying for business purposes, such as attending a conference or going to inspect an office, and given that treatment even though I was not going to or returning from hostilities, so there was no warrant for any special treatment, but I thought it would be rude to turn it down. I think it reflected the fact that the flight crews were almost all veterans, valued what they had learned in the service and what the current GIs were giving, and that attitude filtered down to all employees of the airline, and I don't recall any passengers that objected. Today, even though I no longer wear the uniform, people will thank me for my service if they find out I served, and I think that kind of consideration reflects well on our society.

Of course, we have a class of people in our society that will do anything to get where they want to go, perhaps claiming a tight connection where there is none, and even pushing people out of their way. Perhaps the OP could pick up a used uniform in an army/navy store and get the service he feels he deserves by wearing it.
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Nov 15th, 2015, 09:25 AM
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>> Perhaps the OP could pick up a used uniform in an army/navy store and get the service he feels he deserves by wearing it.<<

The OP posted SIX years ago and is no longer on Fodors.
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Nov 15th, 2015, 05:30 PM
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Ellie, how did you find a 6 year old thread?
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Nov 15th, 2015, 05:34 PM
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>>Ellie, how did you find a 6 year old thread?<< . . . and register to top it?
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Nov 15th, 2015, 05:49 PM
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Ellie probably found the threat first by googling for it, then registered to comment on it without even seeing the date (or caring). Lots of old Fodor's threads are indexed by Google. Sometimes Google is an easier way to search for old Fodor's posts than Fodor's own search engine.
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Nov 15th, 2015, 05:54 PM
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Yes I know -- but what did she google?? There is no distinctive topic/key word that would bring this thread to the top of a google search . . .
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Nov 16th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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She's also not actually right about service members traveling on orders and not being able to check in online, therefore. I won't swear this never happens, but I've never heard of it.


You might be surprised...
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Nov 18th, 2015, 02:36 AM
  #19
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I've flown SW many times since this thread was posted 6 years ago. I've never heard an announcement that military people may disembark first so I think this is old news.

But let's assume this is still going on. I have no problem with military boarding before me. As far as disembarking goes, that depends on circumstances. If I were on a short layover and in danger of missing my flight I would get up as soon as we land and not worry about what a plane load of strangers think of me. If a flight attendant tried to stop me I would tell him/her why I'm getting up and I need to disembark now. I find it impossible to believe the FA would try to block the door and keep me on the plane.
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Nov 18th, 2015, 07:14 AM
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I haven't seen the disembarking policy, but I have seen AD military allowed to board early. I find all of these efforts to honor the military in easy ways bogus, and I assure you that service members aren't big fans, either, but I;m not going to get hot and bothered about it, either.


Dovetails with the conversation about ways to get yourself kicked off a plane... FA have short tempers these days.
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