I am the mother of a six-year-old. I’ve been traveling with my daughter since she was 10 days old. So when I read in USA Today that United Airlines recently decided to drop pre-boarding for children, my first thought was “good for them.”
I regularly fly on Southwest Airlines, which stopped pre-boarding for children under age 5 back in 2007. I would set my clock 24 hours in advance to get an A pass for my flight. But since Southwest started the $10 Early Bird fee, I just buy that, ensuring that I get the time I need to get my daughter settled (she wears a CARES harness).
When pre-boarding was still available on Southwest Airlines, I saw travelers abusing the system regularly, with children much older that 5 boarding, or entire families with older children taking advantage of pre-boarding.
With a little advanced planning, I believe that parents can make the adjustment accordingly. So what do you think? Did United make the right call here, or should they continue allowing pre-boarding for children?
This headline on ABC News – ‘Too Fat To Fly’ Passenger Sues Southwest Airlines For ‘Discriminatory Actions’ - caught my eye, since I’ve blogged several times (here and here). For my newer readers, I am a woman of size – rubenesque, as it were — but I can still fit in one seat. So I understand the sensibilities on both sides.
I happen to agree with — and appreciate — Southwest Airlines’ policy of how it deals with passengers of size. But I also see the point of Kenlie Tiggeman, the overweight passenger who was originally judged too fat to fly, who filed the lawsuit.
The problem with the Southwest policy, as Tiggeman (and I) sees it, is the inconsistency in how it is administered. I’m all for having a row of seats at the end of a ticket counter placed behind a screen if an agent feels someone might not fit into their seat. The issue is that as humans, we all have our own views and prejudices. I’m betting that if you put Tiggeman in front of 10 different gate agents or even 10 different travelers and asked if she was “too fat to fly,” you’d get myriad different answers.
A few years ago, my daughter and I were flying Southwest home from San Antonio on a full flight. She was still using her SkyMall stroller/car seat. She was at the window (she can’t block a passenger in) and I was in the middle seat. A man “of size” came to sit in the aisle seat. I knew it was going to be a tight fit — and it was.
Several flight attendants came by and looked at him, but didn’t say a word. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be rude. I should have. That was the longest 3.5 hour flight of my life. A passenger who has paid for a seat should not be forced to have a passenger of size taking up their space.
So my wish is that before this goes to court, Tiggeman and Southwest Airlines come up with a plan that balances the needs of passengers of size to have a consistent second-seat policy with the rights of “normal” sized passengers who deserve to have their own whole seat.
So, what do you think? Is Tiggeman right to sue Southwest Airlines? Do you think Southwest Airlines’ Customer of Size policy? Tell me!!
My hometown airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. You can click on my BWI tag to see my past posts on why I I love my airport. Every time I depart from the airport, I take a nice pile of pictures. In the shot below, I saw Southwest Airlines’ Shamu Boeing 737; in the background is a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Enjoy!
BWI Airport is my hometown airport, and I love it. I spend a lot of time in Concourse A, home to Southwest Airlines. When the airport built this concourse, they put in lots big windows to bring in lots of light. Below is a shot of one of those windows, decorated. Enjoy!
Back in July 2008, I was attending an airports conference in Chicago. As part of the conference, we got to take a great tour of Chicago Midway Airport. I saw a lot of the Southwest Airlines fleet there, and I was lucky enough to get a snap of two Boeing 737s, including the one dedicated to the State of Maryland. Enjoy!
It was quite a week in aviation, with topics including cracks in the Airbus A380’s wings, a snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest that shut down airports, American Airlines continues moving ahead in Chapter 11 and Memphis-based regional Pinnacle Airlines facing the same. So I had to fight to decide what made the top 10 this week.
- I’ve been steeped in the business aviation side of the business since late 2008. After Boeing announced it was shutting down its plant in Wichita, the self-proclaimed Air Capital of the World, the New York Times came out with this profile of the city and its history with the Chicago-based company.
- At the beginning of my journalism career, I covered topics including education, economic development and employment and training. So it was with great interest I read a blog post in Aviation Week’s Things With Wings blog: The Art of Attracting Top A&D Jobs. The post not only discusses what happened with Boeing in Wichita, but covers how other companies are making the balance between capacity and work.
- I flew down to Austin on Southwest Airlines last week, and noticed that the carrier has begun its integration with AirTran Airways. So I read two stories last week with interest. One, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, discusses how the Dallas-based carrier will dismantle Atlanta as a hub. The second story, in the Washington Post, covers how the carrier will keep 22 AirTran cities, but drop another 15.
- Even before American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, rumors were rampant that the carrier was a merger target for US Airways. Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a story about how US Airways is working on a plan that would “fix a weak domestic route system at American Airlines and boost revenue.”
- Back in 1996, on my first day of work at the Regional Airline Association, I got to sit in on a call where a major airline executive had words with my new boss over a decision not to take sides in the fight over user fees to fund the Federal Aviation Administration. And now, 16 years later, the fight continues. The latest shot was fired when the White House responded to a petition asking that a proposed $100 per flight user fee be scrapped, according to a story in AOPA Online (my current employer).
Episode 181 of the Airplane Geeks podcast features my boss Craig Fuller, who discusses user fees, NextGen and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif. Finally, below is a video of Southwest Airlines installing its new EVOLVE interior in a Boeing 737. Enjoy!
Editor’s note: kids, Aunt Benet is taking the week off to enjoy the holidays with the family. So please enjoy these best ofs this week. Happy Holidays!!
I know I usually do top aviation stories of the week, but I’m on travel, so I’m switching it up a bit. The announcement that Frontier Airlines is rolling out a new advertising campaign — complete with television commercials — made me remember how much I love a good carrier campaign.
I’ve always been a fan of good airline commercials. I like ones that make me laugh, that give me a sense of place and that show the wonderment of air travel. Below are links to 10 of my favorites, in no particular order. Which ones do you like? What did I miss?
Click HERE to see the commercials!