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A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO - OPEN SEASON ON ASSIGNED SEATING

gkelly1
Not applicable

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
Gary15
Not applicable
I am not a fan of open seating, but I am a fan of Southwest, so I cope with it. I would, however, be really appreciative of some improvement in the boarding procedures. The cattle call is truly an accurate assessment of the boarding process on many crowded flights. I know the system, so I know what to expect (and print my boarding card early and arrive to the airport with plenty of time to spare when I can), but there has to be some civility in the process. If the system calls for folks to line up, and they do so very early, so be it. My problem gets to be when others decide that they do not have to wait in line and decide to jump ahead. I have witnessed near fist fights from such behavior in the past. Other times passengers have just said "I'm not sitting on the floor" as if that gives them license to move to the front of the line. If these issues could be ironed out, I'd be more supportive. Can't we all just get along (in line)?
Jim13
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I couldn't help myself - I saw Dave's posting above (11th reply) and I just had to start a website called SetSeatingFree.com. I cannot believe what a hot topic this has become. So grab your Kool Aid and go to http://www.setseatingfree.com/ I need to set up a forum and website for my company by August 15, so this will be good practice.
jmalone
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WOW!! This topic sure does stir up the passion in our Customers. As a SWA Flight Attendant, there is only ONE reason I would vote for assigned seating. That is so we wouldn't have to stand in the exit row to "qualify" our Customers to sit there. You would get rid of us taking up your space to ensure that everyone is physically able and willing to assist in the event of an emergency, since that "qualifying" might possibly be done at the ticket counter or by the Operations agent. Anyway, just a thought. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment on this topic. James Malone Chicago - Midway Flight Attendant
nsx1
New Arrival
I doubt that any new system lacking an elite preference feature can match my current nearly 100% aisle seat success rate. I got "A" boarding passes and aisle seats twice this week even when booking 18 hours before long-haul flights that were totally full. You just can't do that with the other guys unless you have elite status and perhaps not even then. JetBlue's first-come first-served assigned seating is particularly bad, leaving the late bookers paying top fares for middle seats. Please don't change the current system on the whim of people who haven't flown Southwest since plastic boarding cards and have no idea how well A/B/C works. Those new customers won't stay with you if they don't like whatever new system you come up with. Better to give them a chance to get to know today's system: I mean really to get to know it. My idea? Consider mailing a conquest promotion to other airlines' elite members, offering triple Rapid Rewards credits and guaranteeing an "A" for every flight during the next 3 months. Once the new customer has flown a few times, he will know the value of getting an A and he can get his own A the regular way. By then if you ask him whether Southwest should switch to assigned seating, his answer will be a resounding NO. If targeting this promotion is a problem, just offer a less generous verion to everyone on a one-time basis, starting in the traditionally weak fall travel season.
K_Johnson
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I have always enjoyed open seating... set my cell phone 24 hrs out, log on and print that most coveted A line boarding pass... The idea of assigned seating shakes one of the pillars that Southwest was built on. But if we must seriously look at this as a possibilityÃ
James_Weaver
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Southwest's seating policy is the main reason that I will go on any other airline that I can find to avoid the cattle car mad rush to get in line for the flight. I travel by air 40 weeks a year, time is a valuable commodity to me and the need to be at the airport and in line to get decent seat is pain. With assigned seating, obtained on-line just like the SW A,B,C flight ticket would allow more effective use of the business travellers time. Please go to assigned seats, it will give me about 4 extra work hours in each week and give you a larger share of my $200K travel budget.
John_Barnicle
Not applicable
Don't change. With a little discipline and paying attention to cut off times I can get a priority for A group. This permits me to avoid sitting near babies or travellers with a wide girth that probably should have a seat and a half. Passengers pick Southwest due to cost, frequency of flights and on time flights. John Barnicle
Fred11
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Its about time you gave some thought to stop putting customers on like cattle. I have seen people standing in line, A,& B, an hour before the airplane was even on the ground. As for the business traveler who gets those last minute tickets he is probablyl in the "C" line anyhow and gets whats left over from the "A" and "B" clients. Not having assigned seating is the only real complaint I have about flying Southwest.
Ciara
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I only flew Southwest twice, and only because everyone else in my group wanted to fly it. Open seating isn't bad when there is a group, as it allows everyone to sit together. But I will never ever fly Southwest solo, and will only fly as a last resort with a group because I absolutely detest having to wait in line for ages. I've travelled domestic and international regularly since I was 3mos old (going on 42yrs), and the last thing I want to do at an airport is be forced to sit in a line and stress about where I'll end up sitting. I much prefer flying an airline that allows me to choose my seat at least 24hrs in advance so I know where I'll be before getting to the airport. If I want an exit row, bulkhead or chance at an upgrade(on airlines with Business and First Class), I arrive at the airport early enough to request it. But once I've checked in for the flight, I prefer to be free to wander the shops and go to the bathroom until it is time to board the flight. I spend enough time sitting in one spot on a plane, I don't need to prolong it in the terminal as well! If Southwest offers pre-assigned seating, I am very likely to start using it for my domestic travel needs. I don't mind paying an extra $10-20 for the extra service. And the idea of creating a "first class" for folks who want assigned seating, with a little more legroom and wider seats, is a very good one! Air Tran has the right idea there.
Wendell
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Keep the current seating process. Otherwise, you'll be just like all the others and I'll have no reason to pick Southwest. It works. Don't change it.
Joe_Heldmann
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We usually get a chance to fly once or twice a year and always look for flights on SWA. I don't really mind the cattle call type of seating as long as I remember to get a seating pass. Recently we flew to Tampa and I thought of an idea that might speed up the boarding time. Would it be possible to board from the rear of the plane because most people want to sit up front. That way there would not be as many people in the aisle. Also, we've booked a flight to Hawaii in October and I check every day to see if you lower the price. I wish you had a system that would notify me when the fares are reduced. I also check for a friend who is going to the Ravens Game in Tampa in September. He is an over the road truck driver so I check twice a day for both of us. Because of your low fares you made it possible for a family to travel more often. Thanks Joe
Dawn_Bach
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Please continue to look into assigning seats. My husband and fly a lot both for business and pleasure and use Southwest as our first choice whenever we can. We are in the Baltimore area and can take advantage of the hub at BWI. Southwest has consistently made improvements to the travel experience by changing out the plastic boarding cards and allowing more time to book those passes on line but why the extra steps? When we book the flight online we should be able to book our seat. Job done. No more panic that we might miss the window to book the boarding pass. Southwest.....it's time to assign seating.
BOB1111
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I've never flown on Southwest simply because I want to know ahead of time where I'm going to sit. The prices that Southwest charges isn't that much different than other airlines with assigned seating. If Southwest wants my business, assigned seating is a must.
Ken_Hess
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When I travel alone, Southwest is fine as I don't really care where I sit as long as it is on the plane. But, when I travel with the family (4 of us), I prefer assigned seats. When we went to Orlando in April on Air Tran, it was nice to get to the airport and not have to stand in the boarding line 45 minutes ahead of time to try and get seats together.
Mark17
Not applicable
I am the highest level frequent flyer at a competing airline flying 120+ flights per year. I also utlize Southwest but only when necessay. The reason is lack of assigned seating and priviledge to a frequent flyer. I would change many of my flights to Southwest, as many as 50-75 per year, if there accomodations were made for high level frequent flyers. Either reserved seats could be avaiable for us such as certain aisles and of course the choice emergency exit rows or open seating, but , We would be able to board after the pre boards and before the A,B and C. This would give us access to the preferred seats, overheads and find seats that are away from the preboard families. Different from an earlier blog, preboard families should be at the front. A screaming child in front of me is better then one behind me.
D_Green
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NO NO NO TO ASSIGNED SEATING. I fly Southwest almost weekly and the majority of the time, I do not hear anyone complain about the open seating policy. Don't change what works. To prove my point, I ended up having to fly American Airlines this past Monday as I was in downtown DC and had a tight schedule. Monday weather was horrible with planes delayed and canceled. I was fortunate enough to get on the last and only flight to Chicago. At 9:00, the station agent states the plane is being cleaned; and due to the noise ordanance in Reagan National, this plane must back away from the gate at 9:52 or we do not leave. At 9:25, the station agent reminded us of the time constraint, and then bellowed, "Everyone get on the plane" I am not sure how many seats there are on a MD 80, but we all ran for the door and were in our seats in less than 10 minutes. Now I know this is an extreme circumstance, but it worked, just like open seating on Southwest. If you feel compelled to change, the comment from K. Johnson makes a lot of sense. Charge a little more and have them go to the back of the plane, but don't make those of us who appreciate what you have suffer
Jim_Seay
Not applicable
Gary, As a company owner, the staff of my organization, Premier Rides (don't worry, we're a roller coaster manufacturer -Revenge of the Mummy, The Italian Job Stunt Track Coaster - not a fledgling competitor), do think of you as The Company Plane. We literally fly hundreds if not thousands of segments annually. While I agree with some of the comments that point out that your most loyal customers (like ourselves) enjoy knowing how the system works and thus being able to secure A passes consitantly, I have to say that that the bad of the "cattle call" overwhelms the good. There is no more pleasant flying experience that one can have considering tyour planes are typcially relatively full. Your pilots are polite and your flight attendants by far the best in the industry - they can put a smile on the worst sour puss! However, the preboarding experience can be a frustrating and sometimes dangerous experience. Spend a day at the airport in Vegas where due to the fired up attitudes from "What happens here, stays here" you find line cutting, pushing and shoving when the lines start moving, and on several occasions I have seen fights over line position. I once watched a classic ambulance chaser scene where a lawyer gave his card to a passenger in line who had been in an altercation with the classic line "Let me take car of this, the airline has deep pockets" - made me ill to watch. Of course if one goes to the smaller cities on your routes especailly down South the situation is typically more humane and the "events" are less evident. But you are a national company, not that small regional airline from so long ago. Perhaps one approach would be to identify the locations where uncontrolled lines are a challenge - Vegas, LA and only focus the reserved seating for those locations. I wish you luck wiith your tests. Jim
Madeline
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Assigned seating would solve the one problem I have with Southwest. There always seems to be so much more anxiety and stress when preparing to fly Southwest. The "competition" for seats creates something in my fellow passengers that is no longer entertaining, but disturbing and uncomfortable. Eliminating that would be a godsend. Otherwise, you guys are fantastic.
bcmommy
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I, too, am opposed to assigned seating. When friends and I book for the same flight, but separately, we are able to sit together on the plane rather than being assigned seats that separate us. Perhaps a partial solution is to offer a limited number of assigned seats (perhaps for a slightly higher cost) and allow the rest of us to do cattle call. I love flying Southwest and only choose other airlines if I have no other option.
William_Moore
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Gary, This issue has brought me to my first Blog response! My wife and I have been faithful southwest flyers for many years, and we are very happy participants in the Rapid Rewards program. Quite frankly, if Southwest doesn't fly there, then we don't go there. As time has progressed, there have been changes in the business scheme that have given me pause. The first was the modification to the Rapid Rewards amounts that triggered the free round-trip ticket. The next came with the announcement that Southwest will start restricting the use of the Rapid Rewards tickets. Now you are entertaining the elimination of the current seating policy. If this sentiment continues, there will soon be no difference between your airline and the rest of the major carriers. I may be wrong, but I presume Southwest has built its' business by catering to the low and middle market. Those that complain about being herded like cattle are ones that are more focused on being pampered, than flying on an affordable flight. One even represented a willingness to pay 20% 20% more for a flight if they were able to have a seating assignment. Good heavens! That is not the mentality of a low or middle market consumer. Let's face it, Southwest has reached such extraordinary levels by being cheap and fun. No meals, no movies, no frills. Just cheap and clean flying with a staff that has a sense of humor. Please consider keeping your current open seating policy. It is unique, and it has not been a deterent in the growth of your business. I suspect though, that changes to this model will ultimately diminish a significant part of that uniqueness, and will lead to consumers questioning the difference between your airline and all the rest. If they cannot sense the difference, then you lose their loyalty, and in turn lose a dedicated customer. Thanks for allowing a forum to receive such feedback. William Moore
Larry9
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I have avoided flying Southwest at all costs due to the "cattle car" seating plan. I would love to use your direct flights from my area so I am urging you to begin assigning seats! Thank you!
Kelly_Sheridan
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Gary - as a frequest flyer of Southwest (as well as an investor!), I IMPLORE you to please keep the open seating. There have been many reasons given as to why it should be kept and I agree with them all. Especially being able to sit AWAY from the passengers who board early with small children. I've had many a trip on other airlines wrecked because of annoying little ones that cannot/are not controlled byt their parents. People who complain about waiting in long lines for a significant amount of time just haven't mastered the system yet. With your wonderful on-line ticketing, I get my boarding the day before my trip (almost always in A group) and I know that I can get to the airport (BWI, FYI) as little as 30 minutes before boarding because if I'm not checking baggage, I'm GOING to get the seat I want. I love that. I love that a LOT! A WHOLE LOT! Need I say more. You guys are the best at what you do and open seating sets you apart from all the others. If there is an increase in cost because of assigned seating, I will no doubt pay it because I love you so much, but I sure won't be happy. But I will always choose Southwest over AirTran or the other carriers. Thanks for all your good work!
Karl_Turban
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I am a frequent flyer on Southwest out of BWI BALTIMORE. I want to keep the cattle call type of seating. I love to get there early and get a good seat especially an emergency exit seat for leg room. I do want to comment about the entire family anuts, cousins etc..getting on early with a baby. I strongly suggest that only the immediate family Mother/Father brothers and sisters that are children be allowed early seating. It is getting that early seating is as long as the "A" line. I do want to say that the policy of early seating not be allowed emergency exit seating is a very good one. One more thing. I would like to encourage Southwest to consider seating all small children and their family in the rear of the aircraft which will allow all those coming in early to be far away from crying children. Thanks again for being diffrent. K. Frank Turban
angela
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SW blog visitors are getting some press!
Laura_Solash_Ge
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PLEASE do NOT assign seats! One of the many things I love about Southwest is that I do not have to have an assigned seat. I usually fly one round-trip per month and enjoy deciding where I sit when I get to the plane. Sometimes I have to book a flight at the last minute and do not want to have to settle for a center seat in the back of the plane. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!!! Thank you
rwilliamson
Not applicable
No No No No assigned seating. If I want to sit in the first row all I have to do is get to the airport before the other passengers and I am rewarded by being first in line to board. I rarely get a boarding pass number more than #5. I want the option of applying myself and getting the seat I want through a greater effort than most others are willing to put forth. If you had assigned seating then I would simply be relying on luck. Hoping that when I purchased my ticket my desired seat would not be taken. There would be no way of guaranteeing that I would get the seat of my choice. With no assigned seating if I get there early enough I am almost guaranteed my desired seat . I am not able to book my flight to far in advance because I work for the state and I am not allowed to actually book my own flight so I must depend on someone else in another office to get the seat I want??? I don't think so ! ! ! NO NO No No NO NO No Assigned seating.
Doug10
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I would've never found LUV if not for the open seating policy...I met my wife on a SWA flight from SJC to PHX on December 22, 1995. I was traveling to ABQ to visit my parents for Christmas, she was going to PHX with her sister and family to visit another sister. They preboarded (because they had small children), and I decided to sit on the same row because she was beautiful. (and still is!) Turns out that she lived only about 5 miles from me. We were married on August 7, 1998, and none of that would've been possible without open seating.
John_M_
Not applicable
I prefer assigned seating. Although a 1K on UA at IAD, I look forward to SW coming to Dulles and I plan on doing plenty of flying with you...once you assign seats.
Bernard_Rubenst
Not applicable
As a wheelchair flyer, open seating is a blessing. Otherwise, even though I can bpard first, unless i am able to get an aisle seat I am very uncomfortable. With the open seating policy we disabled are able to obtain seats whichenables us to fly in relative comfort Please keep your open seating policy. Bernie
Ron_Sindelar
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My wife and I are frequent flyers, so much so that we have had a companion pass for the last 4 years, we also hold Southwest stock in our IRA. We love the way you board, I hate to use other airlines when we fly to places Southwest doesn't go, I don't like picking out the seats, due the different plane configurations, I never know what to expect. We like being able to sit away from crying babies and small children (we're 58 years old and we want to relax) your airline makes flying fun, even the boarding process is fun! Our adult children are the ones who told us we needed to try SWA because it was so different and much more relaxed and fun!
John_Melton
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Howdy! Open seating is one of many things that makes Southwest special. Perhaps other airlines should try it. IT WORKS FOR ME!!! p.s., I'm looking forward to joining the "A" group when Southwest begins service from Washington-Dulles. John Melton, Falls Church, VA
Bill_Wilkins
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Southwest Family, I fly almost every week and the only time I don't fly your airlines is when I'm going to a destination that you don't fly. I recently heard that you are considering seat assignments. Are you kidding me? This is how you seperate yourself from the rest of the carriers, it's what keeps you in front of the competition! It is they who should be wondering when they should go to your system! I am tall, very tall at 6'7" and having the opportunity to sit on an aisle, a window or more importantly the wing exit row is very important to me. It is what brought me to you, it's been a LUV affair ever since. I could take my business to one of your competitors and earn enough miles to take my chances on upgrades to business class seating and be very content. As much as I travel it would not take long! My preference is to stay with Southwest. I like the relaxed, casual approach to traveling. It is what I've come to know and luv. Don't change! Bill Wilkins
Kirk3
Not applicable
While I like SWA and their affordable travel, I think the open seating is horrendous! It's bad enough that one has to get to the airport so far in advance because of increased security, but then you have to deal with standing in a line at the gate instead of being comfortable in a chair. Once that first person makes the move to start standing in the corral it's all over! ItÃ
Rich8
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I think the open seating policy is to the benefit of most passengers. It allows us the opportunity to sit anywhere on the plane according to our travel needs for that particular trip. If I'm traveling with a group, it's good to sit in the back, with our group together and away from the kids. If I need to make a connection or time is an issue, I can sit towards the front of the plane, etc. I think the open seating policy is actually something most people enjoy, and the vocal minority criticizes. Make sure your research proves otherwise before making us all stay between the lines...
Caitlin_Rayman
Not applicable
Open Seating should be retained. It is more than just a critical link in efficient boarding and part of what makes this airline uniques. There is another equally important factor not to be overlooked: quality of life through the customized flying experience. Open seating allows a customer to fit his or her flying experience to their needs on that day. For example, the person who recently twisted their ankle can try for an aisle or bulkhead seat. The person traveling with little children can get their whole entourage closer to the bathroom if that's a priority. The traveler who really needs to be towards the front to make a tight connection or just get out fast can sit up front and the person who want a little quiet time to nurse a headache or do some work can retreat to the back (if the plane is not full, which is a rarity these days!). I think this freedom and flexibilty to choose your travel experience is critical -- and not just because I met my husband standing in the B line waiting to board. To think, it we hadn't had the option to sit together that day, we wouldn't be who we are today. Thank you for asking us what we want -- please listen carefully to your loyal customers. Thank you.
Todd_H_
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Kim's comments pretty much say it all for me. However I do have a comment for Karl Turban - if you know where the "crying children" are - why don't you sit "far away" from them? With open seating you can sit anywhere you want.
Bry
Not applicable
KEEP OPEN SEATING! There's nothing worse to me than buying a last-minute ticket and finding myself sitting between two people much larger than me; at best, I can play musical chairs -- if time permits -- to try to find another seat on the plane. With Southwest, even if I am compelled to take a middle seat, I get to choose who I sit next to. And because I travel a lot in-state, often I already know that person. When a formula works, why change it? New Coke didn't do very well. There's no need for a "New Southwest." There's still a lot of cities that are aching for Southwest service. That's where the growth is -- and not these frequent fliers from other airlines that probably wouldn't fly Southwest anyway because there is no first class, no priority boarding for Elites, frequent flier credits expire, etc.
Vic
Not applicable
I HATE open seating -- it makes the entire boarding process so agrivating that I will always book a flight on another ariline if I can get a similar rate. If you do keep the cattle call, I would be willing to pay a reasonable premium ($5-$10 per flight) to be one of the first to board.
Robert_in_PSP
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Are you INSANE? If Herb was dead, he'd roll over in his grave. Changing one of the most famous things for which you're known is the most silly idea yet. The flying public only wants a few things: low fares, comfortable and safe transportation and no hassles. Please don't screw up your business plan that made your business work!
Rusty1
Not applicable
NO! NO! NO! I fly Southwest everywhere I go (except Atlanta - can you do anything about that?) and much prefer your open seat boarding. Assigned seats slows boarding and you can't choose to sit away from screaming children! Please don't change things - open seating is one of the things that makes Southwest well, Southwest.
Lynda1
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I love the current seating procedures at Southwest. PLEASE DO NOT change to assigned seating. I enjoy printing my boarding pass online 24 hours in advance, and I appreciate SW attempts to block the attempts by non-SW sites from charging for this service. My only concern is that too many "Pre-Boarding" folks take unfair advantage. I think that the idea of asking families with children to board early and move to the REAR of the aircraft is a good one. Since there is no lingering near the front lavatory, rear placement of the children would prevent the current running up and down the isles of youngsters, which prevents flight attendants from delivering beverage service. Let the "obviously" handicapped, and those with no overt disability (require a handicap placard) sit near the front. Please ask those that need a wheelchair to remain seated until other passengers deplane. These couple of suggestions would speed up an already very workable streamlined SW procedure. Keep up the good work. You ARE my favorite airline! Posted by Lynda June 23, 2006
michael_balenso
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ASSIGNED SEATING, ASSIGNED SEATING -thru the internet eiher 24 hours prior or when you make reservation. I have lately flown Southwest back & forth from BWI to Ft Myers due to your schedule, flight times, and prices with NS as compared to AirTran, YET I DO LIKE ASSIGNED SEATING- I too do not want to stand in line 20-30 minutes when people start quing up. I also look at flight times due to business, but your competors such as Air Tran, USA3000, & USAir all have assigned seating which makes it easier for someone who flies back and forth 4-5 times/year.
KLSmiley
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Finally! I felt so strongly about the "cattle car" effect, I wrote you a letter last year requesting that you assign seating on flights over 2 hrs. I got tired of witnessing the arguments over who was in line 1st, who was saving space in line w/ a piece of luggage; who was saving seats which goes against the whole premise of first at the airport gets best seat and my favorite--the glaring looks and negative comments made when 6 people board with the child or handicapped person. Since the planes are flying with smaller seats, larger people, and full seating, assigned seating would reward those people booking first, allow people to actually sit in the seats instead of standing at the gate, and avoid the verbal or, yes, physical altercations I witness every time I fly nonstop on a longer flight.
Terry_Lessig
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I find it interesting that those who already fly WN frequently want the system left as it is, and those crying for assigned seats have only the promise of future business to offer. Could we be seeing an orchestrated campaign to make you as inefficient as the others since they were unable to win in the courts?
Jim_Margarit
Not applicable
I'm a family flier, not a frequent flier (5-6 times a year). Because of the non assigned seating, Southwest is our airline of last resort. As a rule of thumb, I will pay up to $50 a ticket more to fly on another airline to avoid the cattle call. I'll pay even more to avoid the Southwest lines at LAX.
Dan4
Not applicable
I travel frequently, and with the exception of a short flight between Baltimore and Manchester, NH, I won't fly SouthWest due entirely to my dislike of the cattle call. Perhaps my most frustrating moment dealing with Southwest was when I arrived at the airport a full 2 hours in advance of the flight in order to get a decent seat, and was pulled out of line at boarding time for an additional security screening. I ended up at the back of the line. Extremely frustrating! Assigned seating is a idea that is overdue at Southwest.
Bob13
Not applicable
The problem with the current boarding procedure isn't "open seating," it's the cattle car atmosphere in the gate area that proceeds it. If you can figure out a solution that eliminates the urge to line up (thinking off the top of my head, what about giving everyone a number and board in groups of ten?), you might have the best of all worlds.
David4
Not applicable
Over the years Southwest Airlines has developed a great reputation for efficiency in moving folks around the country. I believe one of the best features has been the open seating. Certainly there have been times when I have been among the last few people to board and have mumbled under my breath about "assigned seating", but even at those times I know that in reality the open seating system works very well. One of the best parts about it is that it is non-discriminating. It doesn't matter whether you are the CEO or the labor hand, you get to sit where your airport arrival (or online boarding pass retrieval) permits. Speaking of online boarding pass retrieval, I might just mention that most of the recent grumbling I have heard in the "cattle lines" has come from people that arrived at the airport very early but still didn't beat the online retrievers to the "A" passes. There might be something to consider in that process. Perhaps making 20 or so spots available for the folks who get to the airport early might alleviate that sort of grumbling. Anyway, I appreciate the service provided by your airline and its great employees. My vote is to keep the open seating policy. Regards to all, David Cerchie
Alex_Kirk
Not applicable
Assigned seating is a horrible idea, and I'd hate to see Southwest implement it. I fly Southwest whenever possible, though on occasion I end up on a different airline due to flight availability (i.e. for my Grandfather's funeral this past January). Every time I've flown some other carrier, it has been amazing to watch how much less efficient the boarding process is than with Southwest, due to the disaster that is people looking for, and being forced to cross each other to get to, their assigned seats. In addition, customers are usually much more grouchy getting into their seats on other airlines -- they have no incentive to board quickly, and they're busy anticipating the loud/smelly/fat/otherwise aggravating person they'll be forced to sit next to. More often than not, I've run into families that are busy yelling at flight attendants over the fact that they're nota ble to sit together due to the way their assigned seating fell. Most of the time, assigned seating does nothing but make customers unhappy while losing the airline money. People who are complaining about the need to arrive early at the airport even when they've bought tickets well in advance are just whiners. It's not hard at all to get in the "A" boarding group -- in all of the times I've flown Southwest since the introduction of online checkin, I've never once been in "B" or "C" -- and any seat you get in the "A" group is going to be a good one. Even going with a small set of assigned seats presents serious problems. Part of the beauty of Southwest is that you can get a great seat through your own efforts, i.e. checking in and/or showing up early. If assigned seats were sold at a higher rate than regular seats, they'd almost certainly have to be the good seats (i.e. front few rows, exit rows, etc.), else no one would pay for them. The problem here, though, is that if you give all of the good seats to people who are paying extra, regular customers will lose the possibility of an excellent seat, and become very irritated in the process. You're likely to alienate a large portion of your customer base to please a very, very tiny portion thereof.
Lora_Mouton
Not applicable
I love to travel, and I'm always looking for the best and cheapiest airfare to wherever it is I'm traveling to. Southwest has more times than not been the airlines I have chosen, because of your low prices. There's only one thing that I dread about traveling Southwest and that was that you did not have assigned seating. There was a few times that I purposely booked on a different airlines to get the assigned seat, of course I had to pay a little more. So, I say all this, to say please, please implement the assigned seating as soon as possible. It would be nice to also keep the lower prices too!! Thank you Lora Mouton