Southwest Promises To Fix Glitch That Scraps Priority Boarding For Frequent Fliers

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Although there’s no first-class seating on Southwest Airlines, members in the top tiers of the carrier’s frequent flier program do get one important perk when it comes time to get on the plane: Priority boarding, which means that they’re usually among the first in line. But a recent glitch has taken that benefit away for many passengers lately, ticking a lot of them off in the process.

For those unfamiliar, Southwest doesn’t assign seats to its passengers, but instead assigns boarding groups — A, B, or C — and numbers, depending on when travelers check in. But frequent fliers who’ve earned elite status in either the A-List Preferred or A-List tier are automatically checked in for their flights ahead of other travelers, and are usually assigned boarding numbers early in the A group.

The system is down

Over the past few days, however, many of these frequent fliers complained that they were getting assigned higher numbers on their boarding passes — including assignments in the C group.

This is not going over well.

Our bad

Southwest has told customers on Twitter that boarding assignments are the result of “technical issues,” and that they’re working to resolve those problems.

The company also said in a statement that it’s “working feverishly” to fix things.

“There is currently an ongoing issue affecting priority check-in and Tier Member boarding positions for Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Frequent Flier program,” a spokesperson for the company told Consumerist. “This has resulted in boarding positions that are less typical than what our A-List and A-List Preferred Rapid Rewards Customers have come to expect. Our Technology teams are working feverishly to resolve the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience to our Customers.”

AZCentral notes that travelers who pay for the EarlyBird Check In option have not been affected.

What to do?

Southwest has sent an email to members of its Rapid Rewards program alerting them to the glitch, and advising them to manually check-in 24 hours in advance of their scheduled departure to receive their boarding position.

“If you do happen to receive a boarding position in the B or C group, remember that as always, your Tier status enables you to board between Groups A and B,” Southwest notes. “If your A-List status is not printed on your boarding pass, please inform a Southwest gate agent at the airport, who can reprint your boarding pass accurately.”

Of course, when it comes to glitches, Southwest has seen worse: In July 2016, Southwest was hit by a massive, days-long — and very expensive — outage disrupting 2,000 flights and spoiling travel plans for countless passengers.