I am allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and soy. I called Southwest a week ago to add the peanut dust allergy to my reservation, as I was unable to do so when I made my reservation from the phone app. The phone agent informed me that the peanut dust allergy policy had changed and I would be unable to pre-board but would be given the opportunity to board after all of Group A. She told me that the policy had been changed because they did studies and found that those of us with allergies would have sufficient time to wipe down our seats after Group A and reiterated that they no longer serve peanuts.
When I arrived on Friday, Nov. 18th, I attempted to speak to the gate door agent. She kindly told me the policy had changed but to speak with the gate agent to understand the new policy. I waited patiently to be attended. When I was finally able to speak with the gate agent, he told me that the policy no longer allowed for pre-board but for extra time. The extra time boarding would be after all of Group A.
When I asked him how I could share a concern with Southwest, he got aggravated. I explained that I was not complaining and understood he is only following the policy, but that I wanted to share my concerns with the company because boarding after all of Group A doesn’t seem like it would be enough time. He shared that it was enough time to wipe down my seat and since we do not require a specific seat we have no need to pre-board. As his tone was still frustrated towards me and he made the comment that “everyone wants to board early”, I explained I only ask for this as a precaution to my personal health and safety, that I wish I didn’t have to but I want to be safe. He provided me a new boarding pass that has the “extra time” code.
I went back over to the gate door agent and asked her where I should stand to be able to board during the extra time boarding. She said that I should stand against the wall as otherwise she might forget that I was there and keep boarding the B Group right after A.
There were 2 wheelchair passengers and their guests, a pair of hearing impaired passengers, a blind passenger and his party, and another lady pre-boarding, so the gate door agent noticed that the pre-boarding was taking longer. As such, she said “it’s taking too long, you better go now” and let me board.
Once I boarded, I was able to get an aisle seat which I prefer for my allergies as I would be more accessible to receive assistance. I was able to take the time to wipe down my seat and the surrounding area. Almost as soon as I sat down, the A Group began boarding and I did not see that there was a break in the boarding for the proposed extra time. If I had boarded after Group A, I would have likely not gotten an aisle seat and disturbed my row as well as all other passengers and delay boarding.