Southwest Airlines No Longer Does Socially Distanced Boarding

Southwest Airlines has been boarding 10 passengers at a time, instead of lining up 30 people, throughout the pandemic. They no longer limit the number of passengers on board, selling every seat and placing passengers shoulder-to-shoulder. And now they no longer limit crowding during the boarding process where HEPA air filtration doesn’t exist.

The carrier, which does not pre-assign seats and lets customers pick once they’re on board – so boarding position determines the seat you get – has reverted to its traditional boarding process. Better get that vaccine jab quickly! In Southwest’s headquarters state of Texas the free-for-all with no eligibility criteria begins March 29th.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson notes that the airline “continues to have ‘physical distancing’ reminders at the airport” but boarding order markers often don’t have enough physical space for the number of people who are supposed to line up next to them. Boarding 10 at a time didn’t give each passenger ‘six feet’ but if the CDC acknowledges that six feet was based on a flu transmission model and there wasn’t any science behind it for Covid-19, then mere inches must be ok.

While the spokesperson claims the reason for the change is it’s what customers who are returning to travel are used to, their twitter team explains because traditional 30 at a time boarding where everyone lines up in advance is faster. Southwest’s CEO once claimed “It would cost us approximately 8 to 10 airplanes of flying per day if we were to add just a couple of minutes of block time to each flight in our schedule.”

In fairness, not all Texas-based airlines have been providing for physical distancing during the boarding process to begin with.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Good life is getting back to normal. I’ve had my shot and Gary you can too since TX is opening them up.

    Will say it is strangle to see people without masks and lack of distancing but remember that is normal so get used to it again

  2. And they are passing out Coke products too! Based on using a number system so you don’t have to tell through your mask. Two fingers… Diet Coke please.

  3. Also, if you are A-List and have a Companion pass. Your companion also now gets an A boarding group next to yours. That is fantastic as it used to not work, because technically the companion was on a different PNR.

  4. Hooray, good to see all the non-sense going away!

    Team Reality is winning over Team Panic, FINALLY!

    ‘Social Distancing’ will go down as one of the dumbest fads since the pet rock.
    What a stupid concept.

  5. Thank for the update on our agonizingly slow return to sanity.
    P.S. speaking of insanity, if the magic pieces of porous, breathable, virtue signaling fabric we place in front of our mouths actually do protect us, why did we ever need to social distance in the first place? I’ll take my answer off the air…

  6. If Southwest is returning to old ways because it is “what customers who are returning to travel are used to,” then Southwest needs to bring back full drink service and drink coupons. It is a double standard when they return to normal when it saves them money but not when it costs them money.

  7. It’s about time we started getting spittled on our face by random people once again. Can’t wait to get periodic colds, sore throats and sinusitis again!

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