BRIEF: Southwest tests family boarding options

Aug. 7, 2007

Aug. 6--Southwest Airlines continues to try new things with its boarding and seating policies.

The Dallas-based carrier, whose unassigned seating policy is often derided as a "cattle call," this time targeted families in a recent test on flights from San Antonio.

Typically, the carrier asks families with young children, customers with special needs and unaccompanied minors to board first.

Under this latest test, the carrier experimented with shifting boarding families after the A group instead.

Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said the preliminary test results showed that many families were already in the A group, so it had little impact.

In some tests, the airline reserved a few rows of seats to give flight attendants a way to accommodate familes in the B or C groups.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly has said that the airline plans to announce any changes to its long-held open seating policy or group boarding policy later this year.

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