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A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO - OPEN SEASON ON ASSIGNED SEATING

gkelly1
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I’m new to this whole blogosphere thing but I have really enjoyed reading all of the comments and am humbled that so many people are as enthusiastic and nuts about Southwest as we are.

I wanted to address some of the recent comments about Southwest’s seating policy. There’s been quite a bit of buzz both in the media and on this blog about our current open seating policy and my recent comments (at Shareholder’s Day on May 17) about our consideration of changing to assigned seating in the future. So, as the saying goes, here’s the scoop “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

At Southwest, quick, efficient operations and our desire to give the Customer what they want have been the keys to our 35 years of success. Everything we do at Southwest takes into account maintaining the delicate balance between operational efficiency and providing the Positively Outrageous Service that our Customers have come to expect from Southwest. One of the most common requests for change from our Customers is to add assigned seating. Obviously, many of our current Customers enjoy the open seating, so it’s not a unanimous request. However, we do listen intently to our Customers and do our best to give them what they want so it only makes sense to extensively research and evaluate this possibility.

Open seating has allowed us to build a highly efficient operation by keeping the time our aircraft are sitting at our gate to a minimum. Aircraft on the ground don’t make money! But it’s no secret that all airlines – even Southwest – are facing extensive cost pressures due to the rising price of fuel and we have to find ways to generate additional revenue.

Our Customer Service technology has evolved to the point that assigning seats may prove to be an efficient way for Southwest to board the aircraft. Our computer reservation system is undergoing an upgrade and, while we are in the “remodeling” effort, we are adding the technical capability to assign seats. This does not mean we will; rather, it means we will be prepared to assign seats, if we so choose.

We are currently conducting extensive research and if our research and testing (which some of you may be involved with) proves that we can bring in more Customers (without alienating our existing Customers) and increase overall Customer satisfaction, but at the same time not increase our boarding times or our costs, then I don’t see a reason not to do it. I haven’t given any time frame – just that it won’t happen next year.

I know that several of you have commented that you don’t want the current seating policy to go away because you see it as a part of what makes Southwest “Southwest,” but I’ll remind you that many people felt the same way when we transitioned from plastic boarding cards to electronic boarding cards. Things change and we can’t ignore that fact. One thing that will never change, however, is our dedication to you – our Customer – and we will always make decisions with your best interests in mind.

So, stay tuned…we promise to keep you informed of this and all of the changes at Southwest. And keep telling us what you want, we LUV hearing from you and we appreciate your business!

655 Comments
Elizabeth2
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I am very excited that southwest is considering assigned seating. I really enjoy flying southwest, but I find the experience of open seating extremely stressful and actually breathe a sigh of relief when I fly on another airline and have my seat before I get on the plane. Even though I almost always manage to be in the "A" seating and one of the first in line, I never relax until I am sitting in my chosen seat. As one of the many people who find the normal process of flying stressful, adding on the open seating process simply makes the entire experience unenjoyable. Please continue to consider assigned seating and know that at least one of your loyal customers will be overjoyed if you choose to go in this direction.
Greg_Buzek
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Hi Gary, PLEASE, PLEASE do not move to open seating. It will force many a loyal customer like myself to start flying elsewhere. I luv flying Southwest today. In fact, as a retail analyst I wrote an analyst advisary specifically on "What Retailers can Learn from Southwest Airlines. See link here. http://www.ihlservices.com/ihl/analyst_corner_detail.cfm?AnalystCornerID=13&filename=analyst_corner_archives.cfm Your announcement of the test prompted me to look at the parallel to retailing again in a briefing today called "Why Southwest is about to Blow It". http://www.ihlservices.com/ihl/analyst_corner.cfm Perhaps this is all a PR ploy with the USA Today articles and customers voicing their opinions. I hope that is all this is. You have an incredibly loyal group of customers who care enough to take time out of their days to voice their support for your airline. PLEASE don't mess with the secret sauce. You are facing a Coke vs. New Coke decision. Don't let the competition and a few complaints of Delta, American, and Northwest loyalists lull you into a New Coke decision. Open Seating is part of the secret sauce. Please, PLEASE don't mess with it. If you do I think you will find that the planes will load faster because there are fewer passengers. Thanks Greg Buzek President IHL Consulting Group
Jo_Emmons
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NO, NO, NO......Pleeeeeeeze don't do it!!! We have flown (almost exclusively) on Southwest for over 30 years! We like you just the way you are....quick turn arounds, and GREAT service! You guys are the BEST because you did not bow to conformity. You are different and better than all the rest who all do the same thing over and over (assigned seats) and it hasn't help them get any better. That's what make you all teh BEST in the business! Don't give in to a few cry babies......if they loved you the way we all love you.....they would be happy too!!!! As many of the others have said....'if it ain't broke.....don't fix it".....and it ain't broke! We Luv Ya !
Bob_Daniels
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I've always enjoyed flying Southwest over ALL OTHER airlines mainly BECAUSE of your open seating policy! Passengers are HAPPY because WE choose our seats...quick starters can check-in for an "A" boarding pass early...and those who don't care (or are LATE) can settle for a B or C. I have to say: I HATE THE RESERVED SEATING IDEA! And HATE might not be a strong enough term to express my feelings! Thanks from a guy who has enjoyed EVERY Southwest flight I've ever taken!
dennis2
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In the late 1990's, I flew continental extensively. I did, and still do, live North of IAH, and IAH is north of Hobby. In fact, flying out of Hobby, adds about 45 minutes from home, each way. In the late 1990's, I was a Platinum member of Continental's One Pass system. I enjoyed the special perks, upgrades, etc. However, Continental quietly changed their system. Upgrades become infrequent, mileage awards became "more expensive", and they alienated me as a result of their attempt to gain new customers. I changed to Southwest, and, although my travel has diminished, I still earn a couple or three tickets a year, which I guess is about two round trips per month. About half of my trips I can plan ahead, but, the other half is last minute, fairly close, if not at, full price. I am in favor of the non-assigned seating. Why, I really don't know, but, at least when I am on Southwest, I know I am in charge of where I sit. If I forget to check in early, that's my fault, not Southwest's. I, like others above, can attest to the fact that seating is usually quicker, and less probalematic. Further, during boarding, you do not have the "one pass" envy that arrises when half the plane boards due to one pass membership. I also second the poster who qouted Darryl Royal. I use the qoute all the time. I will dance with the one who brought me. In other words, I will not give up the person who made it possible for me to get where I am simply because there may be something better on the horizon, if that would mean I would have to foresake the person who helped me at the start. Continental did not do this, and, they lost me. Continental, with the exception of International Flights, does not have a real chance of getting me back to using them for everyday domestic flights. There is one way, however, for them to regain my business. That one way is for Southwest to turn into Continental. The easiest way for Southwest to turn into Continental is assigned seats. One of the best posts above is from Chris at Holiday Inn. If you are willing to loose my business, to gain new business, so be it, but, keeping my business does not take advertising, does not take gimmiks, does not take much. However, once lost, you will have a heck of a time, and need a whole bunch of marketing money, to get me back. Dennis Sullivan
Katie_Runella
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As a Travel Agent and loyal customer of SWA for over 12 years, I find the idea of switching to assigned seating quite risky considering the current airline market. Open seating is one of, if not the biggest reason people fly Southwest. As a frequent flyer, I dread the flights I have to make on other carriers (unfortunately SWA doesn't fly everywhere). The reason, primarily because of assigned seating. SWA has managed to set themselves apart in the airline industry. They are a constant source of reliability in an otherwise unreliable market. By switching to assigned seating, you will become what the other airlines are: a-run-of-the-mill, I-will-fly-you-if-I-have-to airline. People will be given less and less reasons to choose SWA, and they will probably only end up flying with you if you offer the lowest price. That should not be the only reason customers fly SWA. There are many times that my clients will travel on SWA because of the open seating feature, even if another carrier offers a lower fare. Its not just about money anymore. People want quality, they want options. Take away open seating, and you will take away the #1 feature that sets you apart from everyone else. Then instead of being THE airline that people want to fly, you become one of many airlines that people have to choose from.
David_Callaway
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Really prefer the open seating policy. Have used many other airlines that have reserved seating and have experienced boarding by Groups. Always seems slower than open seating. When I get an "A" or "B", I know I can get me and my bag on the plane to and from Phoenix. The change I support is international flights to Toronto from LAX. Regards, Dave
Kristina_Nordby
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As a Rapid Rewards member I am NOT happy about your decision to assign seats. One of the reasons I (And my family) ALWAYS flys SWA is the open seating policy. Please do not destroy the SWA culture that has made you #1. It will no longer be the reason to pick Southwest and I feel you will lose a lot of business. In other words, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Please show respect to your loyal customers and leave things alone.
Jeremiah_Jackso
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SWA flight attendant here: Really the only problem I see wth open seating is the cattle call. I feel like everyone is back in 3rd grade lining up for lunch. Maybe we should get rid of all those seats in the gate area and line up rocking chairs in the boarding lanes. That way its not so high-stress. Bottom line is we can't forget who we are as a company. I feel that going to assigned seating would be just that. In the end, assigned or no assigned, nobody wants a center seat, but somebody has to take it. Might as well give it to the last to show up.
Sandy_Smith
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Gary, As a flight attendant for SWA, I have heard all "kinds" of comments over the years concerning our seating policy. Having assigned seats has indeed stirred the passions of our loyal passengers. I have yet to hear a positive comment concerning assigned seating. I wish we would go back to the phase of having the preboards, (excluding wheelchairs or pax with disabilitites) go to the back of aircraft, (row 14 and back). That system was great. It allowed the parents to stow all the necessary equipment needed for traveling with small children, and got the front of the aircraft open for fellow passengers to start boarding. Also if we could only allow one bag and one personal carry on, and enforce that rule, that would speed up the boarding process immensely. Thanks for all you do, Sandy
Don_McDonald
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We love SWA, and open seating. My wife is handicapped and needs a wheel chair or her electric scooter to navigate through the jetway. We are always with the first passengers into the plane. However, the open seating encourages to get to the boarding area early and board early to get the best available seat. That enables SWA to push back on time because you have very few last minute arrivaling passengers who are carrying on at least one huge piece of luggage with not place to store it on the flight. I know that open seating was one more Herb Kellehar inovation, and it expedites boarding on every flight. Please do not ever eliminate or modify open seating. Herb has created a dream airline, with employees who always seem to be having fun when they are making the passengers comfortable and happy. A happy employee is a great ambassador with the passengers for the airline.
Jesse_Kornblum
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I enjoy flying Southwest Airlines as arriving at the airport early guarentees me a good seat. Unllike any other airline, my own behavior is what determines the quality of my flight. That's why I fly SWA exclusively. If you remove open seating, I will go back to looking for seats on other airlines.
Jeff_S1
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Having worked for another low fare airline that uses assigned seats. I can with all confidence, tell you that using assigned seating will NOT help you aircraft turn arounds. The one thing you can count on with open seating is 99% of your passengers are RIGHT THERE in line, waiting to board. With assigned seating many passengers wait until the end to board because they know they have a seat! Then we have to page and page to get them to the gate so we can leave on-time. You also run into the whole issues of seating families together and ADA issues. Never fails, somehow you get a 5 yo in an exit row or the bulkhead is taken and a person with a leg cast or or other issue that needs a bulkhead seat cannot get one. You end up having to move someone, not a pretty prospect from first hand experience. Please keep the open seating or at least some of the aircraft seats. You may want to try a blend for your frequent fliers or large groups.
Karen_Kilgore
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Keep open seating! Luv you guys!
KDC
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I am on your flights usually at least one round trip per week, sometimes up to three - you are my commute. I get routinely check in in advance (as I will when available in 20 minutes) and have a A for the sheer fact SWA is the only airline that allows me to pick my seat. I am terrified to fly, yet need to out of necessity. Yet, I get the seat that makes the flight at least somewhat comfortable for me. That's why I have flown you almost exclusively for the past 10 years. Do that, and you will loose your image of a caring airline who values its customers. I was recently really touched by your magazine's coverage of your 35th anniversary. That image is not even close to how I feel about you now, especially after reading and seeing images of your first days of testing your new experiment. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm grateful I'm not a San Diego customer. Assign seating, and you become no better than any of the other airlines. Your customer service will only take you so far in that arena. You go from being my only airline of choice to just another choice. I'll take my miles elsewhere. When you finally decide to make a decision before 2008, think about the loyal customers you have now, and the new ones you will need to find once those loyal ones go away. Spend your time finding new cities for new customers, rather than driving the existing ones away.
Len_Jeffrey
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There's an old saying" If it isn't broke don't fix it" Please keep open seating as it is... I enjoy being there early and being able to enjoy the perks of getting good seats. The 24 hour advance tiket process was a great and has worked well for our family... Changes are good and in this case, assigned seating isn't...... Southwest is a leader,don't be a follower and do like the other airlines....
Jim19
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I have no problems with the current seating structure. What holds up the boarding process is the preboarding, which I understand you really can't avoid, but the people with strollers and huge baggage on wheels trying to stuff all these things in the overhead compartment just slow things down. Instead of having A,B,C how about Back of the plane, Middle, or Front. Most people who board first, whether preboarders or A tickets, go right to the front of the plane. They're not always quick to sit down which in turn slows everyone else trying to board. I know a SWA pilot and he agrees with this. I've been lucky to always get the A ticket, and I always head straight to the middle.
Carol_Von_Fange
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I say let Ciara, Fred, James and Norm choose another airline if they urgently need assigned seating. Some think they are special. That being the case, all other airlines have assigned seating, so they have many choices. They don't need to ruin SWA. Stay with open seating. That makes you unique and one of the reasons my family has flown SW for years.
Rand_Chritton
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Having flown Southwest enough over the last five years to have attained the Companion Pass each year I think I would be considered a loyal and frequent customer. My travel needs are such that I often have no ability to purchase a flight until days (and sometimes hours) before the trip. More often than not my plans will change on the day of the flight so that I will not be on the same flight as was reserved. The open-seating system works great for someone like me and moving to an assigned seating would be viewed as Southwest caving in to a vocal minority that are more likely to fly another airline anyway. Please don't change something that isn't broker, instead concentrate on enforcing rules such as the one personal/one carryon item that seems to really slow everyone up (especially on Friday afternoons).
Kimble
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Hard to invent a new way of saying what many SWA Frequent Flyers have said, so...PLEASE DO NOT GO TO ASSIGNED SEATING such as that noted in the USA Today. I have also been a loyal SWA flyer for 10+ years. Probably fly 35-45 times a year. All is well JUST AS IT IS with the seating. If someone must re-invent the wheel (is this some sort of "change for the sake of change?") and begin assigned seating, at least let the flyer pick the seats ala many of the other carriers. Hint: if AWA/US AIRWAYS can set up their website to allow this, ANYONE CAN!!! Skip the frills. Skip the first class. Stay the same. Keep the pricing competitive. But no SWA-imposed assigned seats. Just hustle people on board, period. I hate the thought of leaving SWA, but arbitrary assigned seats would probably drive me away. Kimble.
Andrew10
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Diminishing fuel hedges, impending negotiations over a pilot's contract that hasn't been overhauled in 12 years and increased competition from the likes of jetBlue and others... it's no wonder Southwest is looking hard for new ways to save or make more money in their everyday operations. Well, assigned seating is NOT the answer. Famous for their 10 minute turns once upon a time, they now struggle to stay on the mark with 25 and 30 minutes scheduled between flights. What happened? What killed the 10 minute turns? While many factors can be argued, ONE clearly prevails as the most affecting: passenger's luggage. Mainly that the business-"men" of yesteryear toting nothing more than satchels and briefcases have been replaced with vactioners, college students and business folks that insist upon dragging all their oversized "carryon luggage" into the cabins of the airliners. Southwest is so busy growing their fleet, pilot and flight attendant base while keeping their ground personnel at or below minimums that they have lost their oversight--the operations and customer service agents that could and should enforce the one carryon plus a small purse or laptop bag limit. It's simple, really. If they stringently enforced the carryon policy to the letter, there would be no need to explore new boarding procedures. The longer turn times are not a function of folks piling into the first rows of seats at the outset of the boarding process but rather that they are simply holding up everyone behind them while they search desperately for overhead space that will accomodate their multitude of baggage, and then struggle to cram those items in the bins. When was the last time you saw an agent ask a passenger to utilize the sizing boxes strewn around the terminals? One carryon means one carryon and a second SMALL bag sufficient to accomodate a laptop or basic personal affects found within a purse... AND NOTHING MORE. Better yet, leave it at ONE SINGLE CARRYON (.) Southwest passengers are the savvy, work-the-system types that enjoy "playing the game." Let's leave the "game" at scoring the "A" boarding card and not devising way s to sneak all pieces of their luggage onto the aircraft. Southwest has a one of the best luggage handling reputations in the industry. Their loyal passengers can learn to be comfortable with waiting an additional 5 minutes at the conclusion of their flight to receive the baggage OR leaving behind the extra stuff they really didn't need to bring anyways.
Gus_Olvera
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Hi Gary, As a flight attendant and proud SWA employee, I will always support any decision that our company makes in regards to the future of our airline. Having said that, I also feel that it is our unique qualities and concern for customer satisfaction over profit that separates us from the big name carriers. That is what we are known for...our personal and warm touch to an ever growing cold world of aviation and travel. We all recognize what a fine a line we stride when it comes to trying to maintain a profit and keep the public happy. I hope that whatever decision is made in regards to seating as well as other future endeavors, will be made with the one thing in mind we have always stuck to, providing POSITIVELY OUTRAGEOUS SERVICE to our customers and keeping them happy and coming back. After all, we are the spirit of Southwest...it's what we do best!!!
Melissa5
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MMMMMMMOOOOOOOO please keep the cattle car assigned seating is NOT good!
John_Franz
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The *only* thing I *dislike* about Southwest is the open seating. I arrive a couple of hours early to the airport, wait on line for ticketing, wait to check my bag, wait to get through security, and then - there it is - all those people pushing into a crowded area and sitting on the floor for an hour. When I fly with my family on vacation I want to sit with them, period. Your policy of '4 and under' pre-boarding helped us until my daughter turned 5. Now we have the constant stress of wondering whether we will sit together, so we get there as early as possible and sit on the floor for an extra hour and then we still wonder what will happen. Surely there is a better way. When I fly alone on business, I want to be sure that I don't sit in a middle or window seat. My laptop prefers the aisle. This is extremely unlikely on Southwest. Surely there is a better way. I am all for assigned seats or some middle ground compromise. If you want more of my business, the current way just isn't going to work.
Bill_Trampone
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It looks like the only people who like open seating are the ones who are flying alone, have plenty of free time to get to the airport 2 hours earlier, and enjoy sitting on the floor. For the rest of us: Assign us seats!
Arthur1
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Gary, You would be doing your faithful customers a great injustice by instituting the assigned seating policy. It ain't broke....don't fix it. If you are trying to board planes faster, assigned seating is not the way to go. Every airline in america gets it wrong when it comes to boarding planes. This includes Southwest in a way. They all start by boarding the front rows...this means you have people getting aboard and stopping in the middle of the aisle to put their carry on's above while other passengers are stuck waiting behind them. Instead of assigned seating... do something like this.... If you have a "C" boarding pass, you get on first and must take a seat in the last "x" number of rows. The B's can have a seat somewhere in the middle and go next. Then the A's in the front. Finally, the phony preboards can have the first few rows. By forcing people to board the back of the plane first, you will get everyone aboard faster. I believe that you will offend your customer base alot less with a plan like the one described above than you would by changing to be the same as everyone else. Try it on a limited basis .... I'll bet it will work.
Jim16
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Good thing about having the peanuts on this page because you guys are nuts. I know no one who wants assigned seating. I fly lots of flights between San Diego and Las Vegas so there is a chance I might get caught in your test. Let's see if this is right, I have an "A" ticket and get a middle seat, I am flying with a friend and we are seperated. This goes against wgat Southwest stands for. I don't want or need this. Thanks
Steve15
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Gary, Who's clammoring for assigned seating? Maybe the family of 5 who gets to the airport late, is assigned a C boarding pass, and then can't find seats together on a sold out flight, but it appears from these posts that the vast majority of your customers like the boarding process just the way it is. I do too. In my view, shifting to assigned seating would bring a major change to the unique culture of flying SWA. It's that uniqueness that differentiates SWA from your competition. Don't mess with success!
C_B_JOHNSON
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SWA DOES DO THINGS THE BEST WAY. IF YOU CAN PULL OFF THE ''ASSIGNED SEATING'' YOU AGAIN WILL BE A 1ST IN THE INDUSTRY. NOBODY ELSE HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO IT!!!!
Ray_Rafalowski
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I have been a very loyal Southwest business customer for the past 5 years. I can't stand the rediculous prices charged by my local legacy airline here in Cincinnati nor their tiny RJ jets that they try to cram all of us 6' + people into. I typically drive 2 hours to fly Southwest out of IND-SDFor CMH. I have put up with the plastic preboard cards, the people cramming through the gate, and the long drives to these outlying airports because WN was always fun to fly. I could change my schedule last minute and get on an earlier flight if I finished my business early, and your FAs, CSRs and pilots were always pleasant. I always check in the day before, get my A and my preferred seat. My kids have enjoyed all those free tickets and my wife her CP the past several years. However, after reading all of the above posts, I'm still unsure about whether assigned seating will benefit WN or not. I think you might loose some loyal business customers like me that are used to the current system and don't want to change. That wouldn't cause me to leave but several other things that are happening lately will. I am actually finding better fares now on the legacy carriers (except for the one based in my hometown). However, I am really getting tired of the people lining up an hour in advance of the plane showing up at the gate. Isn't that a stupid practice? Just watching it irks me. With more people flying WN now, I am seeing more and more preboards, not just families with kids and elderly, but a lot of people that look healthier than me. And lastly, the changes in your RR program are dissappointing to me and really reduced the value of those 2 hour drives to a WN city for me, especially at $3+ gallon gas. I probably won't earn a CP this year with th elimination of 2X point opportunities, and now there are limited seats available to use a RR ticket. I am flying out of of San Diego with my wife in August and I hope we aren't on a "test flight" for assigned seating unless you let me know in advance, not when I get to the gate.
Ian_Kaye
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Assigned seating; Don't do it!!!!!! I have flown WN over 30-times and never had to set squashed inbetween the proverbial cyring kids. Now you can online check-in 24hr in advance and get the A zone every time. For traveller who is always getting business flights a day or so before departure, no assigned seating means I always get a good seat due to online check in... BTW; I love kids and anytime I sit next to one I get good practice on helping to cheer them up; practice I can use on my 3.5 year old :) Assigned seating is an old Legacy airline ploy to make you think you're getting better service. It works when you buy your tickets 6-weeks in advance. I flew the other airline with the BIG GREEN LETTERS on the outside recently, and it a) took forever to get on the plane b) landed me a middle seat because I bought my ticket "only" 5-days before c) gave me absolutely no choice as to where I sat d) had a dumb computer choose my seat "Assigned seating: JUST SAY NO!" "Got Zones" "Assigned seating don't fit; you must acquit" "If it ain't broke, don't break the goshdarn thing" "Don't mess with success" Don't ruin the unique experiene in today's over controlled world; you actually have a "CHOICE" as to whom you sit next to. Isn't CHOICE what this country is all about? Don't do it! Just say NO! I'll let you know how I really feel next time 🙂
Clint_Swift
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Go to assigned seating. I'm a Rapid Rewards member and am on board a plane half a dozen times a month for business. Another 3-4 times a year for personal reasons. I left Southwest because of what I hear termed the "cattle call." I even canceled my credfit card that was linked to Southwest miles. And I live in a city where Southwest is the most frequent option to get to anywhere. While I respect the perspectives of my fellow passengers (and learned about many of them for the first time here), I honestly don't see many people just walking on board at Southwest gates. I see the necessity to arrive at the gate hours early because a few people will start a line at the door long before boarding begins. The policy brings out the worst in people, as they jockey for position. Most of us stand during that period. A few will take seats if they are near the door, and standees are supposed to honor their place in line, I guess. As a businessman, I can see why Southwest would want to keep the open policy. It gets people to the gate on time and ready to board. But it also means that getting a decent seat remains an open issue for this businessman right up to the minute I board. On United, Continental, etc., I reserve a seat and forget about it until I walk on. When I think about other airlines, I don't think about them as typically "late" starting or arriving, so I'm not sure that some reasonable additional volatility in that stat is going to turn off a lot of business customers. I think you'll find price elastic, too, especially among those of us getting reimbursed. If there's a solution that allows "open seating" in part of the aircraft but allows business fliers to reserve coach (that's all my company will pay for) seats, too, I think you could get a modest premium for that. I'd like to be able to make Southwest my default airline again. Glad you're listening to all sides. Good luck with an interesting management challenge.
Chris3
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Gary, I don't know why I didn't say this earlier. If Southwest wants to get more customers, there is one simple solution here--get on web sites like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. The first three times I flew, this is where I want to look for plane tickets. It wasn't until I flew Southwest on a job that I learned that SW and many others aren't on these web sites. I still go to these web sites, just to price check. I prefer to make my reservations the old-fashioned way--over the phone.
Shelly_Ward
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I've been a Southwest customer for a number of years and have enjoyed the ease of travel made possible by your wonderful employees who are ALWAYS cordial, fun and helpful. One of the benefits of travel on Southwest is the lack of assigned seating. It's the great equalizer, the Soutwest bus in the sky because you sit where you like and there is no preferential treatment based on the price of your ticket. Let's keep the innovation that has kept Soutwest in the air despite fuel rising prices, declining job market and fear after 911. No Assigned Seating!
Carol3
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Working in reservations, I received a phone call from a grandmother who was traveling with 2 children under 8 and an infant and their mother and father. They had to travel the next day and had called 3 other airlines only to find that due to assisgned seating they were unable to be guaranteed seating together. She called and said due to our open seating policies and boarding families with small children would definitely guarantee them seats together. Just another example of the LUV airline and valuing our customers
Michele_Bass
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Absolutely Not. I share many, many sentiments expressed over the FABULOUSNESS of open seating. Yes - number one reason I fly SWA is this policy. I pay full fare ($600+) quite often for my business trips (inside 7 days) for this luxury (in spite of my company's preference that I shop for the best fare). (Number two reason is all of the non-stop flights in/out of LAS - my home base.) I have read a number of comments that are clearly indicative of folks not really knowing the SWA way - Asking when you will fly to Hawaii? Make a comment that you HAVE to stand in line to get a good seat because of last minute booking? [You can book a trip the day before, arrive at the airport gate 30 minutes before, sit until boarding begins (20 minutes before) and STILL get almost any seat you want because that factor was controlled at the time of on-line check-in. ] A couple ideas expressed that I LUV are: 1) The idea of pre-boarders going to the back! I honestly believe that would dramatically reduce the bottle-neck slow down up front when boarding. 2) Redefining the "carry-on" policy. Maybe I'm just lucky, but in all my years of flying, I've never had lost luggage. Also for all to note is that the SWA Baggage Office is EMPTY unlike the competitors - so you are already doing a great job in that department. The "griping" I hear most comes from people who travel once-twice a year, not weekly. You won't be long for the world if you want to depend on their business since it would appear that the seat assisgnment process could significantly change the minds of your bread and butter clientele. I have faith that you will listen to the masses. Conduct an official polling of anyone who has earned a Rapid Reward inside 6 months? So much more that could be said - but it's simply "too dumb to be true" that one would need to argue some points. Keep up the GREAT work - Thanks for listening!
Jennifer_Jolley
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I feel almost as passionately about "voting" against assigned seating as I do about actually voting in a political election. I have to believe my vote means something and I hope the good folks at Southwest believe that, too. Please listen to your loyal customers and do not implement assigned seating. I assure you, Southwest boards faster than any other airline I've ever flown. Yes, change is inevitable and not always a bad thing, but assigned seating is more than a mere change! I've discussed this issue with several people the last couple of days. Our little segment VEHEMENTLY opposes the idea of assigned seating and I believe we are a pretty accurate cross-section of Southwest's loyal customers. Every traveler I know chooses Southwest as his/her preferred airline. Southwest's great deals, relatively stress-free policies, and great crews are the reasons. Keep those qualities and we'll always stay this loyal and continue to recommend Southwest whenever travel is discussed.
Dana5
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NO ASSIGNED SEATING, PLEASE!!!!!!
Ray_Ramirez
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I really enjoy open seating. it has made my life easier. that is why I choose Southwest as my carrier. I fly at least 2 times a week if not more. I understand that some people dont like change but if making more profit is the key why dont offer semi assign seating. I thought about this long and hard every since I heard of this. I have somewhat of an answer If you Have a second. Could the program that is being implemented have the ability to only allow half the aircraft as assigned or open seating. now how this would work is that the assigned seating will be allowed to board the aircraft as an A1 with there assigned seating this could be chargeable since they are being able to pick there seats no pun intended. I would think this could open a revenue stream the longer the flight the more could be charged or whatever Southwest determines. With this in mind the programmer would only have to make minor modifications to the current database system with only a few ODBS mods. This could be implemented in a few hours.Of course this would only be allowed for direct flights only with the people that choose to be at the gate on time. The seat will be forfieted if the customer decides to get on a different flight or the flight is cancelled. those are minor details that a few meetings could determine. I have been a rapid rewards member since 2004 and dont plan on going anywhere If more Revenue is needed to keep your fabulous service I would have to say "Kick up the rate" I would be more than happy to pay 20-30 dollars more a ticket than to see southwest decide to forfeit service. Possibly even to stay inline with the other airlines. I sometimes have to take other airlines to get to my destination and more time than not the assign seating is only geared for first class. all the other seats suck anyways. even next to first class.
Kevin_mclaughli
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Hay, Gary I would LUV to know when is Southwest going to fly into CLT? I was shocked that Jetblue jumped into CLT faster then Southwest.I also know that the CLT Airport people have asked Southwest a number of times to come fly their and still you blow them off.WHY?
Pat10
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PLEASE, PLEASE no assigned seating. I try to always fly Southwest because they DO NOT have assigned seating. I can often get good deals from AA because of a relative, but since I have been flying Southwest, I turn down those deals (My relative thinks I have lost my mind!!).I just recently converted my niece and sister-in-law from Delta because they loved NOT having assigned seats. In June your monthly magazine told your story and illustrated your amazing growth and expansion. That alone should show you that what you are offering is what everyone wants. The "no frills" message has been accepted by the masses and especially the freguent flyers. It was suggested that you ask your frequent flyers (the Rapid Reward members)for their opinion. These are the customers that are the force behind your growth, and you should ask for and listen to what they tell you. Your airline has grown and prospered because of the way you are doing business NOW -- if it's not broke, don't fix it!!!!!!!
Angela6
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PLEASE don't switch to assigned seating. Please, please, please. I travel for business and I am on a plane twice a week. I agree with the above comments that pre-assigned seating takes SO MUCH longer than your current system. The "zones" that your competitors use make boarding a long and lengthy process. I agree with the other above comments that mention the fact that if I buy a last minute ticket I usually get stuck with a middle seat, as that is all that is available. Thank you for being willing to listen to the comments of your loyal customers.
Steve111
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Keep the open seating policy, PLEASE! LIsten to the people who rely on Southwest everyday. The only complaints I hear about open seating are from the occasional traveler. Southwest's system works. If I'm an A, no need to stand in line, if I'm a B traveling alone, no need to stand in line. If I'm a center 'C', first ten rows is common. I frequently book my travel 1-3 days ahead of my trips. The flexibility that open seating offers is second to none. On the other airlines (oak to den) booking 3 days before, I'm always in the center way in the back. Unless I fork out some extra money for "more leg room" so I can get a center not so far back. That's the great thing about the Southwest system. Everyone has the same opportunity and is treated fairly. BTW, if you go to assigned seating learn from the mistakes that ATA makes everyday when trying to assign seats. I sense the end of a good thing. What's next, a credit card to buy snacks? No thank you.
Mark_Tate
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Hello: And thank you for the opportunity to post my thoughts about Assigned Seating on Southwest. First... ARE YOU NUTS! ha ha... had to throw that in there! Seriously... Why mess with such a great system? I am convinced that your seating process is one of the reasons that SWA is as successful as it is! I operate a Fear of Flying website www.takingflight.us You will see that SWA is promoted there. I invite you to take a look at the site, and go to the forum section. Look under Captain Ray's section, and there is actually a poll about SWA's consideration of assigned seating. Again... thanks for listening! Mark Tate Taking Flight - Fear of Flying Support www.takingflight.us
Tanya4
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Hello Gary! Thanks first of all for allowing us to leave feedback on the seat assignment thing. As a CSA in SAT over the last 10yrs, I remember the days of the plastic boarding pass with the paxs standing a mile long in line just to get 1-30 and so on. Then, the moment after 911 of the paper boarding passes with A B C with the paxs names and having to wait in line at the ticket counter just to get it first come first serve. Now, internet check in 24 hours in advance, and our lines have diminished to some extent, that was a great move. I thought I would never have gotten used to that change. But , since I heard this testing about seat assignments was about to take place, I was very disappointed. That is not a change, I , or anybody else can get used to, especially the employees on the front line. We , as Southwest Airlines , had, have and has always been known for our "open seating" policy, which has always, I mean always kept us different from the other carriers. ( and prices as well in certain cities) . But , for us to change,just to be like the other carriers, all because of a few unhappy people getting middle seats or not a window, I dont think this should ever be considered. From what I heard from our supvs in SAT, we had the highest load factor this year at our station compared to last year. That there should tell you that our load factor has been great! (knock-on-wood). , without seat assignments. We have an employee who came from United, and he mentioned that the seat assignment thing was a pain in the butt. People sat in the wrong seat. One pax had 23A aisle when it should have been 22A, so you got a few minutes there for the pax to move, move his stuff and get situated in his new seat holding up the aisle. According to one of your articles, you mentioned that 75 % loved our open seating policy, why change it for only 25% of the ones that dont? Southwest Airlines, with 35 years of open seats ,should continue the next 35 years as "open seat " policy. As an employee with Southwest, please reconsider, and stop the testing. NO SEAT ASSIGNMENTS!!!! Thank you for reading.. and May God bless!!! Sincerely, Tanya
Joel2
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After reading some of the remarks above with some paxs and employees, I agree with the "NO seat assignment " thing.. That would be the worst mistake Southwest will probably ever encounter. Open seating is the quickest way to board a Southwest flight. Thanks for your time, and May God bless!.... sincerely, Joel. P.S. RIP Braniff, Eastern, Pan Am ... you get the general idea.
Tanya4
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NO SEAT ASSIGNMENTS!!!! Let's not be like the other carriers, we need to remain different. It's qucker to board, and much less of a hassle.
Jesse_K
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Open seating needs to stay! I usually have to preboard, so I'm one of the fortunate ones who gets to choose my seat. I don't like bulkhead rows, and that's always where the other airlines insist on putting me. Either that, or the aisle, at which time, I have to get up and let two other passengers into the row! Total inconvenience, as the other airlines rows are fas smaller than southwest's. Keep seating open, and you'll have a customer for life. It's definitely an advantage!
Tim30
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Being a Frequent Flyer on SWA, if Open Seating goes, so do I, to AA or Delta. There would be no advantage to fly SWA if Open Seating goes away. I plan my time to get an "A" ticket. Stick with what got you to the top !!!! P.S. Someday I hope the frequent travelers on SWA will get Pre-Board privileges. They deserve it.
Brenda_Yeats
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One of the main reasons I fly SWA is because of the open seating policy. If you are first in line you get your choice of seat and on other airlines, I don't know the planes well enough to choose a seat I am confortable with. I have been flying SWA since it's beginning and vote to KEEP the open seating policy. Your planes are always full with this policy and you are the most profitable airline because of what and how you do it. Keep up the good work!