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Skip the line: Southwest tries out new boarding

We’ve been talking a lot about what’s going on over at Southwest lately, but when the airline that dragged the terms “low-cost” and “cattle car” into the popular vocabulary starts talking about seat assignments, you can bet it piques interest around here.

On Wednesday, Sarah wrote about the sundry changes Southwest is considering, and before that Josh looked into Southwest’s plan to board families in groups. And then yesterday, I found a Dallas Morning News article with specifics about this trial boarding process.

So here’s the scoop. The stated goal is to shed that cattle-car feeling and make the boarding process less of a hassle for passengers. Southwest is aiming to achieve this by assigning people numbers along with their boarding groups (A, B, and C). Then, instead of getting up early to jockey for position within a boarding group, passengers can continue to sit until their numbers are called for boarding.

This process preserves the open-seating arrangement, but provides an alternative to the ridiculously crowded boarding areas you can spot from ten gates away.

I for one welcome the prospect of no longer having to choose between getting in line 40 minutes before boarding or resigning myself to a middle seat.

And I can state with confidence that if the new boarding method is adopted, it will make my personal life a lot better. That’s because my boyfriend and I have different boarding styles (I’m willing to stand in the line, he refuses on some sort of principle), and until now the decision to fly Southwest has come with promise of a battle of wills in the minutes before boarding. So I say bring on those numbers!

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