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.
Southwest has told customers on Twitter that boarding assignments are the result of “technical issues,” and that they’re working to resolve those problems.
AZCentral notes that travelers who pay for the EarlyBird Check In option have not been affected.
What to do?
We’ve asked Southwest for more information on what frequent fliers should do if they find themselves with non-priority boarding assignment, and will update this post if we hear back. In the meantime, AZCentral points out that some travelers who noticed the assignment problem before they get to the airport have had success getting their boarding passes manually updated by Southwest customer service.
It’s also worth noting that A-List and A-List Preferred members are always allowed to board after the A group and before the B group, regardless of their boarding assignment.
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.