Southwest is tweaking its boarding process. Tweaking is the key word. They are keeping the 3 boarding groups and 24 hour prior on-line check-in intact. However, they are also assigning numbers within groups and will now call passengers in groups of 5. So no need for 40 people to stand in line in group A, B etc. Relax (or play in their new, redesigned, tech-savvy boarding areas) till your specific "micro-burst" is called (and shown on planned new screens as B11 through B15).
Of course, Delta raises the stakes. It announced this week a "breezeway" (parallel to the general boarding area) for its preferred customers. Supposedly they will stop general boarding any time someone shows up in the breezeway and let them on first. Elitist - sure? I look forward to the better treatment. But take it from this Delta 3 million miler, there are plenty of other reasons I do business with Southwest for domestic flights. So long as I get A1-A40 in the new Southwest set up, I should be ok. With the 24 hour prior check in I have over last couple of years almost always managed an aisle. On the left side of the plane so my right arm can freely handle my keyboard and mouse.
The good news is the moves of both airlines should free up 5 to 15 minutes to do whatever you want at a restaurant or lounge, instead of waiting in a boarding line.
The bad news is you are likely to spend the time in the TSA security line. It announced this week the GE "shoe scanner" was not going to work. So we continue with manual shoe checks. And the hospitality of the TSA staff.
3 weeks ago, as I moved from customs at Atlanta from my Amsterdam flight to my domestic flight, I enjoyed that hospitality. I asked the TSA rep if I needed to remove my soft shoes - in all my travels they have never set off any alarms. He rudely shouted "all shoes!". Then proceeded to ask - "first time in the US?" As I showed him my US passport and passed through the X Ray machine he shouted to his colleagues on the other side - "man claims he has never had his shoes checked". The ones on the other side then made more derogatory comments like "why don't you complain to our President?" "See if that useless fellow does anything about that" and more.
Of course, not one of them picked my shoes, bent them, knocked the soles for hollow areas, sniffed them for explosives. At least in India last week, they twisted my shoes. The GE shoe scanner must be pretty darn useless if TSA is willing to let its crack team just X-Ray the shoes. And let their mouths do the walking....