Boarding Pass Site Gives Up Legal Battle Against Southwest

A website that charged Southwest passengers $5 to ensure that they’d nab the coveted “A” boarding pass has shut down after giving up its legal battle against the airline.

BoardFirst.com used passenger’s confirmation codes to log them in 24 hours before their flight, thus ensuring the mythical “A” boarding pass. Southwest sued the site, claiming that it violated a clause in their terms of use prohibiting commercial use of their website.

Kate Bell, the owner of the site, says she expects Southwest to begin selling “A” passes itself.

We’ve never really understood the allure of Southwest. The lack of assigned seats gives us anxiety. It’s like the world’s most awkward, crowded movie theater.


Southwest’s win kills boarding-pass Web site
[Arizona Republic]
(Photo:Jay Adan)

Comments

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  1. Finder says:

    Have you ever flown Southwest? Despite their unorthodox boarding practices I’ve found they actually get people no the plane and seated noticeably faster than the way most other airlines have their passengers board. That and you can beat the cheap prices.

  2. Kurtz says:

    “The lack of assigned seats gives us anxiety. It’s like the world’s most awkward, crowded movie theater.”

    You don’t get out much, do you?

  3. chili_dog says:

    Sweet. I’m tired at checking in at 23:45 before departure and still getting a B.

  4. nweaver says:

    Southwest “cattle call” style (especilayl with the new improved sub-zone numbers, so no line worries) is a big win…

    It allows Southwest to run much more customer friendly change policies, and to overbook and count on no-shows more reliably. Boards faster, too…

  5. AD8BC says:

    I fly a lot…. I have flown Southwest once or twice and, although I prefer the big carriers (when my company is buying) I would seriously consider Southwest for a personal trip. Fares are reasonable and, although they are no-frills, since when have you truly enjoyed the frills that you do get on a bigger airline?

  6. hc5duke says:

    I’m working with a very small sample size here (flown SW 4 times in the last 5 years or so), but it seemed like any airport you go to, the A/B/C lines are very disorganized, which would give you that awkward feeling and anxiety – “am I in the right line? Should I ask that lady sitting in front of me? Wait, I only see two lines but there are three signs up there” etc

  7. Zgeg says:

    I had a Quantas sterwardess tell me that the lingo used by most airline professionals for coach is “Cattle Class”.. Just thought I would share..

  8. BK88 says:

    Don’t forget the friendlier staff (99.99999% of the time) from the
    check-in counter to the gate to the flight attendants dressed as
    regular people.

    In most cases they will hold your connecting flight for a few
    minutes if your plane is running late. How many others do that? I know
    from experience that ASA/Delta Connection does not, even if you are
    there 5 minutes before scheduled departure time.

  9. KingJoe says:

    You can cancel your flight up to an hour before and get full credit toward any other flight. Also, when you call their 800 number, a person answers the phone. You don’t even have to press 0. That kind of flexibility and customer service are what make it my favorite airline. The cattle call find-your-own-seat system is a function of that. It would be a lot more difficult to move people from flight to flight willy-nilly if they were reserving individual seats for people.

  10. crnk says:

    @chili_dog:
    I’ve checked in at about 23:55 (maybe even 23:57) for a CO flight out of europe—snagged an exit seat with unlimited legroom in the first row of coach….just glad I’m not fighting for an A pass on WN at that time…

  11. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    Ryanair and Easyjet in Europe use the first in line, first on the plane method. Works out great in my opinion. If you feel like getting there a few hours early for that coveted exit row seat during a long flight, then you should have that option…

  12. Anitra says:

    Southwest is the only airline I’ve flown on in recent years. What’s the allure? I’ll tell you: The tickets are cheap, the flying experience is pleasant, and all the seats are basically the same. If you don’t care where you sit (e.g. if you’re flying alone), who cares if you’re in “C” group?

    The reason the lines seem disorganized is the “first-come, first-served” approach. Most people in “C” group don’t bother even getting in line, preferring to sit in a comfy chair in the waiting area instead.

    Plus, if you are in line, you KNOW you will get a seat inside the plane, and not be told “sorry, we oversold your seat” and have to wait for a later flight.

  13. topgun says:

    The allure of Southwest is low cost, and a pretty decent on time record as well as seldom lost luggage.

  14. crnk says:

    @BK88:
    I’ve had F9 (frontier) hold a plane for a handful of us connecting. They told us that they were holding the plane and what gate it was at. Sure enough, they were ready to go, we were late, and they kept the plane back for 4-5 of us connecting. I also recalled that they were doing the same for some other pax connecting to different flights too.

    As for the “5 min before departure time”….you really need to fly more. Everyone knows that you are supposed to be present at 30 min before, and that they regularly close the door and push back 15 minutes before the actual departure time (and just guessing that your DL was connecting in ATL….meaning that they had an incredibly long taxi and needed to close the door on time to get out on time).

  15. categorically says:

    @AD8BC:
    You do realize that Southwest carries more passengers than any airline other than American in the world, right? I’d say they are a “big carrier” wouldn’t you?

  16. daze says:

    one look at the huge line outside the Southwest terminal at LAX reinforces my willingness to pay the extra $20 or so to fly United and be able to sit inside the terminal to wait for my flight.

  17. GrantGannon says:

    The A boarding pass doesn’t really matter now that they’re enacting the A-B-C and numbered groups. I’ve never had a problem with Southwest. I think their fares are great and customer service is top notch.

    I once booked a flight 65 minutes before departure and dashed to the airport to find it delayed which meant I would miss my connecting flight. Within three minutes of checking in at the airport I was paged over the loud speaker to told to speak to the nearest gate agent. I had been rebooked on an earlier flight that was also delayed due to weather but was departing closer to my originally scheduled time.

    All that was done by SWA nearly instantly.

  18. bver100 says:

    @at grantgannon, i was going to write about that but i guess you beat me to it. When are they enacting that?

  19. BK88 says:

    @crnk: Yes it was via a connecting via ATL.
    The flight from ABQ I was on diverted around weather which caused us to
    be late. I then asked the gate agent where I deplaned to call the gate
    and tell them 5 people are coming right now with boarding passes to my
    outbound flight. She would not call, and started arguing with me about
    it. All I asked was for a simple call, and she decided to use more
    energy to argue, great customer service.

    The other time, the gate agent(ASA) in ATL said that ur flight was
    an illegal connection, even though we were there 6 minutes before
    departure. It was a 9:10pm flight, so there were no departure delays.
    We saw a real Delta agent at another desk, and he asked why we weren’t
    on the plane, because he was confused too.

    There is a joke, that is not appropriate, about the airline workers
    in ATL, but the hardest workers at ATL are the chocks holding the plane
    in place.

  20. indydrew says:

    Dont know why anyone flies Southwest? How about the fact that Southwest has NEVER crashed a plane, killed a passnger. They have the best servive of any carrier. Always a 737, not some single engine prop plane. Great prices. I hate the Southwest seating system, but I fly Southwest whenever I can. There are a lot of reasons why Southwest is the number 1 US carrier. Take your legacy carriers and that great seating you get and have fun.

  21. humphrmi says:

    @indydrew: Um, well, they did crash a plane ([www.cnn.com]) and it did end up in a fatality, albeit not on the plane.

    But yeah, aside from that, they’re pretty safe.

  22. pestie says:

    Maybe the appeal of Southwest has something to do with the fact that they’re the highest-rated airline in customer service, or the fact that their prices are usually the cheapest (at least on the routes I fly). I really don’t care where I sit on a plane, as long as I get an aisle or window seat, and the whole cattle-call seating thing never really bothered me.

  23. edhm says:

    I love Southwest. I used to fly them more often (once a month to visit my Fiance when she was still in college) and never had a problem aside from the occasional delay.

    Only one gripe, they still serve peanuts which most carriers have stopped doing. So when we fly we have to remember to request that peanuts not be served (my Fiance is allergic, to the point peanut dust circulating in the cabin can cause a reaction).

    Other than that, keep it up Southwest!

  24. doormat says:

    Why did they even bother putting up a fight once southwest announced their new boarding procedures?

    Southwest is starting their new boarding process in November where in addition to getting A, B or C you get a number, 1-60. And then you get in groups of five (A1-5, A6-10) and board the plane that way.

  25. amen on the cult of Southwest. every time I check, their fares out of Manchester NH are anywhere from par to seriously higher than NW/DL/CO out of MHT or Logan. BOS-SDF for December on DL was $150 less and a non-stop over MHT-BWI-SDF on SW. since I live roughly equidistant from both airports, it doesn’t matter to me which I use other than long-term parking is a little cheaper at MHT.

  26. Benny Gesserit says:

    @edhm: Let me get this straight – you call an airline and say “I’m allergic to peanuts, please don’t serve them on flight such-and-such” and they don’t say “Bite me” back?

    Next time I fly, I’m calling and claiming I’m allergic to 5 year olds!!!

  27. Buran says:

    @edhm: Why are you flying Southwest when you know that they serve food that is life-threatening to a member of your party? Seems to me like the best idea would be to fly another airline, since you know about the problem in advance, and I imagine that when you make a request like this everyone else doesn’t get any food. I know it’s not something under your control, but why take the risk? There’s probably peanut dust in the cabin already from the last leg the plane flew, too.

  28. Buran says:

    What’s with the “I don’t get the non-assigned seating” thing from the editor and which I see in Southwest stories so much? People gripe about it, then proceed to buy Southwest tickets. Y’know… those of us (myself included) who like it that way don’t want it changed, and those that don’t like it can fly ANY other airline!

  29. TPK says:

    Wow hardly anyone has talked about the actual article here… we don’t really need to hash out the merits of Southwest, hasn’t that been done ad nauseum?

    I am surprised that they gave up on this so fast. It seems to me this is nothing more than a fairly specific personal service that is being performed for a reasonable fee. How can Southwest tell me, a paying passenger, that I am not allowed to have someone sit in front of a computer and type stuff for me? What if I want to print a boarding pass for my child? Is that allowed? What if I am traveling with a group of friends and we all want to make sure we get the same letter, am I not then allowed to designate someone to enter this data for me, so we may board together?

    As far as the commercial aspect, back to the personal service idea, there are many buyer service providers out there, are they not allowed to use web sites to do this shopping? Would Southwest object to someone booking a flight on their web site if they were being paid to do so for a passenger as a service?

    I think the owner of the site probably has it right, Southwest may very well be planning to sell this service themselves. I’m not sure their position would have held up in court.

  30. jdmba says:

    Dealing with the security, the airport experience, and the airplane experience tends to be stressful enough. I do not think I could also bear “OK – On Your Marks … Get Set … GO GO GO GO GO” mad rush for seating.

  31. brettt says:

    southwest has the best website. the best customer service. the most legroom. they are also the cheapest, you don’t have to buy tickets way in advance, and, most importantly, if you get in group A, you are guaranteed your own row. this way, you get a window or aisle seat if you want. don’t worry about the edgy people lining up and being stressed about seat placement, they are just confused.

  32. Ben Popken says:

    Wow, that’s pretty dumb, because all you have to do is know a little HTML to change the boarding pass.

  33. theblackdog says:

    @Ben Popken: Yeah, great idea, until the scan the barcode, I bet it will show a big old B or C on their computer, and your pass will say A, then they’ll nail your ass to the wall for fraud.

  34. XTC46 says:

    Aloha airlines does this type of seating where i live. I love it for short inter-island flights. It makes boarding faster, allows changes to be easier, and allows me to move to a different seat if some smelly person sits next to me.

  35. XTC46 says:

    @theblackdog: scan the bar code? The airlines around here dont even scan tickets for local flights. Its really bad. ive even seen them let customers without tickets onto planes. One time a guy walking off the plane said “aww I forgot my wallet at home” and the attendant told him just get back on the plane on fly back to get it. (these kinds of commuter flights are common here. A lot of construction workers live in Honolulu (or capital) then fly to other islands, between a 30-45 minute flight, to work then fly back at night, or fly in Monday morning and out Friday night)So the gate attendants know many by name and allow these little changes.