Besides airports and airport screenings, how does an airline treat people with disabilities? Recently I flew with Southwest Airlines and was surprised at their customer service from the staff at the check-in counter, to the gate agent and the flight attendants. This, by far was one of the best airline experiences I’ve had.
Remember that with Southwest there are no assigned seats. But, when reserving my flight, I ticked a box that said I needed assistance getting to and from the gate. My boarding pass had an “A” on it which meant I was one of the first to board, but more information was needed at the gate.
Assistance at the Airport
At the airport, either at the curbside or Southwest counter, I reminded them of my need for a wheelchair. Within minutes, one appeared. I was scooted off to the gate where the agent was told I required a blue preboarding sleeve for my ticket. That blue cover got me onboard along with parents of small children (before the other passengers).
Besides preboarding, a wheelchair aide appeared as if I had rubbed a genie’s lamp. While being pushed down the ramp to the plane, chatter filled the air – from other passengers and aides.
Assistance on the Plane
Then the most astonishing thing happened – the aide passed my carryon bag to the flight attendant who helped my load it in the overhead compartment. Since I have trouble lifting my arms, I was so grateful. Having the choice of any seat helped me as well. Since it is difficult to walk long distances, sitting toward the front of the plane is the best area for me. And it is close the front restroom.
One caveat is the Southwest doesn’t have many non-stop flights so transfers are often inevitable. That can mean a long travel day with difficulty getting something to eat. Bringing healthy snacks helped me, though. However, there were no issues with waiting for a wheelchair when I left the plane.
Have you flown Southwest Airlines? What was your experience?