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A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO - OPEN SEASON ON ASSIGNED SEATING

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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
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Hope I'm not too late to put my oar in. Open seating is the best way to go. As someone above observed, assigned seat holders wander off to get coffee, do not make the effort to arrive and board on time, and wait until "third and final boarding call" to amble down to their seats where the bins are full, the other passengers must unbuckle and let them in, and the attendants must gate-check their baggage. Maybe Southwest can do something else to speed things up, but please don't mess with Texas' best invention - open seating. P.S. How does Herb feel about this?
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I was a boarding (Ops) agent for 6 years and now I am a F/A. I have seen the boarding process from both ends. I have spend many hours talking to our Customers. Gary, if we go to assigned seating we will gain some vacation travellers. But for every once a year vacationer we gain, we'll lose a hundred ONCE A WEEK business travellers. They fly on us BECAUSE OF open seating. Any other way and we'd be just like all of those other airlines filing for chapter 11. If they made Dr. Pepper taste just like Coke and Pepsi, what would be the point in buying it? Please don't make SW just like the other airlines, please don't be the guy who puts our great Company out of business. Open seating. Forever.
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I strongly favor SWA leaving the open seating policy unchanged. I travel SWA frequently, often with my wife as her designated companion, and often on my own. My attitude toward open seating has morphed considerably over the years (I disliked it initially). Now I am a strong advocate of it. I am convinced that open seating allows a quicker turnaround of planes, and greatly reduces the 'idiot' factor as travelers peer and clog aisles looking for their seats. On recent trips to China and Alaska on other carriers the seats my wife and I were given (we fought and lost partly because we fly these carriers infrequently), were dreadful, so dreadful that I am resolved not to fly either carrier again unless, as may occur, I have no other choice. With SWA's open seating, I (and if traveling with my wife: we) arrive early, get coffee, sit down in the line and return to work. We're almost always among the first several to board and thereby gain a few additional productive minutes before we shut down our computers for take-off. Time is precious and the current SWA open seaing adds a few extra minutes. -- By the way, although SWA does not appear to be polling for this: The thought that flights may someday be packed with cellphones users sharing their business in a packed plane is as distrasteful to contemplate as is the current reality of having to listen to such rudeness in other public places. I vote for SWA to favor leaving all cellphones firmly off while in flight if/when the FAA moves to address the issue further.
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Please count my vote for having some, but not necessarily all, seating available on an assigned basis. My wife and I travel for pleasure, and much of the pleasure for me is to be able to see the countryside below--I definitely want a window seat; having assigned seating would allow us to have our preferences without having to be at the airport hours before deprture (even this tactic does not guarantee an A boarding pass anymore) on the return trip, when computer access may not be available. I'll admit that it's been a rarity not to be able to get a window seat, even with a C pass, as we're willing to sit in the far back of the plane, but having the preferred seats assigned would give us peace of mind and prevent having to stand in line longer than necessary on arthritic joints. We'll continue to be SWA fans in any case; we've been able to travel to more places more often with SWA luvable fares. Thanks! Tom Oliver Amarillo
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Open Seating WORKS!!!! Just get your boarding pass online to avoid being a "C". Start checking bags instead of carrying them on-this will help the flight depart ontime.
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I am a loyal SWA customer and fly it whenever possible, even if there is an intermediate stop to my destination and there is a nonstop flight available on another airline. I especially like the changes to Rapid Rewards that allow flight credits to be valid for 2 years instead of just one year, and that there are no blackout days. But open seating is Southwest's "signature", and is better left alone. Personally I like being able to choose my own seat, so how about allowing customers to choose seats in advance, for a fee similar to other airlines? This would allow customers who want to reserve a seat to do so, and other customers can choose their own seat. Customers who chose seats in advance can preboard after the special needs passengers but before the A group. If they arrive too late, they should lose their seat assignments but allow the assigned seat fee to be credited to their next SWA flight. I feel this would be the best of both worlds, allowing customers to choose seats in advance or on the plane. But I am opposed to mandatory assigned seat selection by SWA though. Allowing customers this choice would be a great innovation for Southwest!
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The open seating that you have at the present time is just great. As a senior sitizen, I appreciate the fact that I can get on the plane, look around and decide where I want to sit. Sitting next to, in front of (the worst) or in back of restless and loud children and babies who are traveling with over-tired and sometimes, indifferent, parents is something I feel I can avoid because of your open seating policy. I have "done my time" as a parent and traveler and want to fly in peace and quiet whenever possible. Your open seating policy fits the bill. Another reason to keep open seating is the fact that a lot of time is wasted with people trying to negotiate to sit together (especially families) while others are left in the aisles waiting for the changes to be made or refused. This makes loading the plane a lot slower. The fact that a person can now get a boarding pass on the Internet is a great thing and I am finding that most of the people I travel with on Southwest are using this choice. In this day and age of people not respecitng other rights and sensibilities, it has been such a nice touch that Southwest does do this through open seating. Please listen to your Customers.
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I have been flying with Southwest sence i was 2. I love Southwest .Yes i have tried other companies, but they are not nearly as good.I think if Southwest changes it to assigned seating , it changes what southwest has always been, and that's different. Southwest has always been different than everyone else in some small way.I like that about Southwest. When I get on the plane I like to be able to choose if I sit by someone that I think I might have a nice conversation with or someone that I would rather not sit with.My mom works for Southwest, so we rarly can sit together as a family.If southwest starts assigned seating it highers the chance of us siting anywere close.I think assigned seating is a horrible idea .
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I think assigned seating would be a step backward on your part. On of the reasons I prefer your airline is because you do not have assigned seating. If you must accomodate the few grumblers, charge them more and allow assigned seating in the first several rows and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. If you go to assigned seating I might just as well fly any other airline.
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No..No...a thousand times no to assigned seating. I love the freedom of choosing my very own seatmate. I travel alone and absolutely love the ability to make some decision about my new best friend. I've had some pretty rank experiences (literally) on airlines with assigned seating. Hey! I'm 70; I've paid my dues and if I choose not to sit near a kid kicking my seat for 2,000 miles, I've earned it. You've always been unique...please...please...stay that way. Only silly, self important people think they need to have a seat assigned. Judith-Rapid Rewards Member
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Well I have travelled twice since my first post, once on SWA and the other was on another airline and I continue to appreciate "unassigned seating". On brand "X" as usual I was in the "back of the bus" in a middle seat because of my booking date. I paid particular attention to boarding times. No one boards as fast as SWA, if the intent is to streamline boarding, then enforce the carryon bag rules for size and number. The most time consuming part of the boarding process is while someone is try to cram an "oversized" bag in the overhead or walking up and down the aisle looking for a space to cram it. On the airline with assigned seating, of course they board from the back , so folks will throw their bag in the first available overhead, then the folks in the front, who get to board last have to go down the aisle way past their seat to find a place for their bag. Then when exiting they need to go against the stream to retreive their bag, slowing down the exit process. So enforcing your existing policy of number and size of bag could help streamline boarding. And I'm really annoyed by the announcement of "place your small bags under your feet to leave room for larger bags in the overheads. I check my bags so that I don't have something under my feet and feel that I am entitled to a small bit of room in the overhead for the one briefcase I do carry on.
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Five years ago I started flying Southwest and from that point on refuse to fly any other airline. Southwest has a unique personality that gives me a "comfortable" feel when I am onboard. I used to fly Continental solely until I got a taste of how friendly and comfortable Southwest was. A main reason for that feeling is the fact that I can arrive early and guarantee that I get to sit wherever I want! Before I started flying Southwest every airline I flew on before had assigned seating and it was awful! Those for assigned seating say it could speed up the process of boarding, to those I say did you ever fly on assigned seating planes before?? All that happens is that people arrive at the last minute assuming that because they have an assigned seat that their spot is "reserved" and therefore there is no reason to arrive early. What happens then? The flight is delayed because we are waiting on those people to run in at the last minute and board. Not to mention that because they do have an assigned seat everyone already seated on their row has to get up and let them in and wait for them to get settled in. With open seating at Southwest, if someone arrives late, the flight attendants find the first available seat puts them in it and off we go. I realize that all airlines have to make a profit and have been understanding that Southwest has currently raised their prices due to fuel costs. So I am now paying more for tickets on Southwest than ever before. In fact, I have lately began to notice that some other airlines are actually cheaper than Southwest a good majority of the time. Yet, I still remain a loyal customer, as does three other members of my family that I have gotten addicted to Southwest. Rarely do I board a flight on Southwest that has an empty seat anywhere on it, so I have a hard time believing that assigned seating is needed to bring in more customers for the airline, nor do I believe that it speeds up the process of boarding and taking off as from personal experience I know it does the opposite. I was willing to pay more for tickets on Southwest, but if open seating goes away then Southwest no longer holds an advantage for me over any other airline, so I will simply look for the cheapest fare and whoever has it I'll fly. I recently read that another major airline was considering going to open seating themselves, therefore I would have yet another reason to fly someone else. I luv Southwest and have my fingers tightly crossed that they won't give up their uniqueness of open boarding as I had hoped to remain a frequent flyer for life. But if the choice is made to assign seats, then I will have to seek other airlines in the future. As for the comparison that customers were upset over the change in boarding passes---I never understood that one and certainly do not feel as though that was anywhere near such a major change as this seating policy is. Don't change Southwest!! You have built a lot of loyal customers over the years for what you have continued to do---why fix something that isn't broken???
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Dear Friend, If you change the open seating, I am "doomed". I am a Contemporary Christian Singer and I "tour" on Southwest 12 months of the year. I am flying much!! 2006 is my 17th year on the road!! My problem (if you need to call it that) is I had a heart attack in 1998 and then another one in 2004....to add to this, I am EXTREMELY claustrophobic (I have a medi alert card) and Southwest Airlines has taken such good care of me, even allowing me to continue my touring (I'm still young I just have a birth defect in my heart), DUE TO THE OPEN SEATING!!! You see, I am a pre-board passenger EVERYTIME. The gate agents are made aware of my condition and I ALWAYS get the BULK HEAD SEAT IN THE FRONT AND IN THE AISLE. This is the ONLY way I am able to fly with out MUCH discomfort...my heart also affects my legs, so I need to stretch them straight out in front of me several times during the flight. My touing is also my means of income...if I don't fly to the concert, I have no way to pay my bills and survive. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THE OPEN SEATING, I JUST DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WILL DO. PLEASE RESOND. God BLess you, Annie Meadows
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My wife and I have flown Southwest exactly once. Short of saying "never say never," we probably will not fly Southwest again until you change your seating assignment system. Your current system is the worst: it's a cattle call and brings out the worst in people's behaviors. We both hated our experience with Southwest because of it. Please change it.
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As a SWA Reservations employee, I feel like I must make my comments regarding open seating. There are a couple of things I hope our executives take into consideration. First, with assigned seats, it seems as if the "elite" passengers get first choice of a seat assignment. Although I very much appreciate our most frequent passengers, they are already rewarded with free tickets they can actually use, and then there are of course companion pass holders. With our current boarding process every body is treated equally by our crews. Because really, doesn't everyone who flies feel like their flight is important. From the families who take a once a year vacation to the weekly business person. As a mother of two children, one of which is about to turn 5, I am no longer going to be able to pre-board. With our current boarding process, even being in the dreaded "C" group, I'll still be able to find seats together, or in close proximity to each other. With assigned seats, I don't think that will be possible. I'd hate to have my children scattered about the plane with each of us in a middle seat, because the flights I take are as important as the other passengers'. I LUV working for SWA, and I LUV all of our passengers, whether they fly once a day, week, or year...I truly hope the testing being done proves what we have known for 35 years, open seating works. Thanks for listening, Andie Vigil
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I choose to fly Southwest because of the friendly employees and the ease of seating, besides you fly where I want to go with the lease hassle. Standing in line by group is FUN and affords you the chance to chat with those you will be flying with. It could also be considered healthy since you will be sitting for a period of time once onboard! You never know who you will meet and make firends with. I truly believe open seating contributes to making the passengers happier on SWA than most other airlines. Other airlines methods enforce the class system- and you sure get the feeling you are flying with people with 'attitude'. Assigned seats also promotes possessiveness, which goes along with 'it's my bin' for luggage. I can't imagine this will speed up or maintain the current boarding standards.. I LUV your current open seating arrangement. Maybe you could leave the domestic flights as is and if necessary for any international expansion, only implement assigned seats there.
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Assigned seating sure has done wonders for all the other Major Airlines?
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As a customer service agent for SWA, I have been interested in reading what people have to say on the subject of assigned seats. My opinion is that those that haven't had the opportunity to experience the advantages with open seating don't like it. I believe this isn't a seating problem but a problem in how we are communicating the advantages of open seating to potential customers. I think much could be done in this area with TV commericals, messages at our website and agents at our gates taking a more proactive role.
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No To Assigned Seating! As a business traveler I fly Southwest often especially because of the open seating. I enjoy open seating because I can choose not to sit by a customer of size or toddlers if I desire. There are many perks about other airlines (like Jet Blue's TV's) but I choose Southwest because of the policy in place. It fits my needs. Please keep open seating! Talk to the customers that use and choose Southwest often...not the one flight buyer who comes and goes every 3-4 years or so. We are your bread and butter... We feel a part of Southwest as customers. Please keep open seating...otherwise you just become another airline. People choose Southwest because of low fares, easy boarding, etc... NOT because of reserved seats. You've taken away the freedom of the Rapid Rewards availability (limited now), you've taken away double points through SWABIZ, and now you keep taking more and more until customers (like me) will choose another carrier because there is nothing left that makes Southwest unique. KEEP OPEN SEATING!
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The boarding pass that you get on the website doesn't even explain the seating procedures. This is a defenite problem for first time flyers who board themselves on a very easy to use site, but don't even understand the big letter in the middle of the page. SWA needs to put it clearly on the boarding pass explaining how seating works. I think it use to appear on those old boarding paddles?
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Having spent most of my life avoiding SWA because of not having assigned seats and the Ã
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Whatever happened to those well-handled ( and slightly bent) boarding cards? I mean physically - did they end up as astroturf? Not that I miss them!!
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Regarding the assigned seating - perhaps there is a hybrid approach here. At certain ticket prices, one could reserve an assigned seat from a reserve of seats designated as assignable. This allows families who need to have those seats together particularly on connecting flights to sit with their families throughout their entire trip. Those who love the dash and sitting in line for an hour would also have some primo seats to choose from as SWA would fairly distribute assigned vs up for grabs. Just a thought...
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I am a frequent SWA traveller and companion pass holder, and unassigned seating is one of my favorite things about SWA. When I have to fly to destinations not serviced by SWA, I notice how much longer the boarding process takes with the assigned seats. SWA's current seating arrangement allows for the quickest deplaning and reboarding of any airline in the business. Please, please, please do not change!
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It's a pleasure to see that the overwhelming majority of those responding to this blog have voted to keep the open seating policy (although I'm also a little surprised to see those few who don't like it or are critical of Southwest even responding, but I digress). To those who have voted in favor of assigned seating and are critical of the open seating, I would say this: Do your research. If you did, you'd know that you don't have to spend countless hours at the airport, waiting in lines, sitting in middle seats, and pushing & shoving your way into a plane. You can book 24 hours in advance either from your home computer or via mobile southwest on your cell phone from the road, so there's no reason you shouldn't be able to get an A boarding pass. This gets you your choice of an aisle or window seat, regardless of where you are in that line. There's a lot of business travelers out there who can't make a flight reservation outside of a couple of weeks, and there's going to be a lot of disappointed people if they've got to sit in a middle assigned seat on every flight. As one blogger said, the information is out there to use to get a decent boarding group, so it's your own fault if you don't. With regards to my experinece on assigned seating, I tend to pack light and carry on my luggage to get off and to my destination more quickly and to avoid baggage claim at the various airports. However, in the times that I have flown airlines with the assigned seats, I notice this irritating thing that if I'm one of the dumb ones that waits around for their row to be called, I find that I'm one of the last ones on the plane, after the rows that were called after me had already boarded, and thus, no baggage space. Fact of the matter is that the majority of people either don't pay attention, don't understand, or don't care that they should be boarding by aisle, etc, so they just go on whenever and the gate attendent lets them (unlike Southwest). I suppose someone's solution to that would be to book yourself a seat in the back of the plane, but it doesn't make it right or an effective way to board a plane as you trip over the people that are already in front of you, blocking the row, or in your seat. In any event, before you criticize the open boarding pass, please do your homework and know what you're talking about. If you like an assigned seat and are lucky enough to book 4 weeks in advance, more power to you. Pay an extra 20-30% and fly another airline - most of us don't like to hear the ignorance anyway. Sorry to be harsh, but please use some common sense.
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I have been flying SWA regularly for over 10 years. Some years as often as 1-2 times a weekÃ
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I am a frequent business traveler and can not say enough good things about Southwest. I will always choose you over the competition. I have no problems with open seating. My concern with assigned seats is that it will raise rates and take away the other best parts of Southwest - namely your frequent flier program. I appreciate all my intra-Florida flying counting just as much as long distance segments, the speed in which I can get free flights, the ability to book a free seat if it is available, and no change fees. Those are the reasons I am such a loyal customer. You are, by far, the most consistently on time airline I deal with, but that would become less important if you changed any of the benefits I mentioned. If those disappear, I may as well fly on airlines that can upgrade me to first class for being a semi-frequent passenger. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
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I have waited forever for you to come to my hometown, and now that you are here, I am a convert. Open seating works for me _and_ my family. We don't always get to sit together, but sometimes that's better 😉 ... I do think that these cattle chutes could be changed to rows of chairs, and that may make it more comfortable for those, including myself, whose bones can't take all the stress of standing for an hour or sitting on the floor ... hey, just came up with another idea to float by y'all. Since seating seems to be a big factor in time-on-the-ground, why not take advantage of passenger-time-on-the-ground to improve airplane-time-on-the-ground? What if you arranged the seats at the gate to the same configuration as they are on the plane, using the time we normally wait in line to optimize/haggle the seating arrangements, so that when the flight gets to the gate, we're ready to go? Of course, this could all fall apart if cheaters come to play, so you'd have to have a way of dealing with that i guess .. oh well, it was just a thought ...
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I love open seating. This seems like a decision that is designed to appeal more to travel columnists than to passengers. Nobody turns planes faster than Southwest. It is this efficiency that has made SW a profitable company for 33 years. My roommate works for Continental and admitted to me that they could never turn planes as fast as SW does. He really has a lot of respect for SW.
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I fly on business (Frontier,Delta,Nortwest and Southwest) and i believe i definitely wait longer to get to my assigned seat on the other airlines. The system works for SWA and please don't change it.
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I too fly SWA as often as possible. Even if I have to land and drive to a nearby city that some other airline services and SWA doesn't. Regarding open seating, it's an excellent solution to a long time problem. Sitting on the ground for 45 minutes while someone plays woth boarding passes and seat assignments. I do believe SWA could do a better job of communicating what open seating is and why it's different. My home city is Orlando and I've heard many families complain: not about the program but about the fact they didn't know enough ahead of time. Come on people, Get you "A" pass on-line 24 hours before flight time. You can have moble check in then print your pass when you get to the airport. SWA can land a plane, unload, clean, reload and take off in half the time of other airlines with half the people (happy people I might add). If you want entertainment, watch the ground crew of other airlines. The look like a comedy skit with Tim Conway as the little old man on the Carol Burnett Show. Airlines only make money when the planes are in the air. Not when they are sitting on the ground. SWA, keep doing what works. Advertise it, don't change it.
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I love the open seating arrangement but do understand that it can be a hassle for larger families or for late arriving passengers with children. Generally somebody will make way to keep families together - especially children and parents. I would suggest that for families with children or for groups of 3 or more that you offer limited assigned seating and board these families first. The time lost would be made up by assigning these families seating starting at the rear of the plane and filling forward. Remaining passengers will then have available open seating. This will minimize delays related to having passengers seated at the front of the plane taking additional time to be seated. This also takes advantage of the high probability that seats in the front of the plane will be taken in open seating prior to the rear of the plane. Additionally, preassigned seating may be used for special needs customers. that must be placed at the front of the plane such as mobility impaired. I would consider boarding these passengers last and have the crew mark the seat with a card as pre-assigned before open seating occurs. This will be more comfortable seating these customers and reduce time pressures getting these customers seated. It would allow support for the limited population where it is important these customers not be bumped into for medical reasons. Likely with the few number of passengers that will need pre-assigned seating, this could be handled at check-in on-site at the airport or in the boarding areas. One other suggestion, at small congested waiting areas such as certain St Louis gates, I would extend the demarcation of ABC lines to provide a more orderly boarding area.
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Love the open seating for many reasons, INCLUDING that it makes people take responsibility for acquiring their boarding pass in a timely fashion and not holding up the rest of us. Those who delay get the "C" pass... kind of a "survival of the fittest." ...and those who prefer assigned seats can fly the other carriers at greater cost and leave more seats for those who choose SWA. ...but, I must admit, the reason that I fly SWA exclusively is less because of open seating and affordable fares than it is because of your great people. They seem to genuinely care about their customers/passengers and enjoy their jobs. They help make business and personal trips enjoyable. From the "lowest on the ladder" part-time employee to the President - keep up the great work!
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Self-selection of seat assignments is the primary reason I am a frequent, Southwest preferring customer! Don't change or you'll lose my business...I fly every week and whenever possible, I choose you over other airlines because of my ability to ensure I get the seat I want. Don't change!!!!
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I can't believe this is being considered given the fact it's been succesful. This change brings the airline down to the level of it's competitors...Oh well, I guess you either set trends or follow the leader.
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Keep open seating! We LUV you too!
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Recently cancelled a San Diego fligth since I don't want to be part oft his test and chaos. Instead, booked on Alaska.
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We Fly SWA *because* of the relaxed, open, enjoyable atmosphere and cannot believe you are even _considering_ going the way of stuffy, structured "Corporate America" (pun intended) and assigning seats. This is one family of flyers and stockholders who say "KEEP OPEN SEATING" and, while we are here we also want to add: SET LOVE FREE!!!
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Please leave Open Seating alone! I'm a Rapid Rewards member from San Antonio, and have flown so many segments, I've gotten a Companion Card for the last three years. That's over 100 segments a year. Every great company has a differentiator(s). Southwest's has been customer-friendly attitudes, open seating, and price. With gas hedging being done by everyone and gas prices going up, prices may soon be close to competitors, if they're not already. What can you control? Open seating and your culture. Don't give away what made you my "company airplane" because technology exists that lets you.
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My wife and I will look for other airlines now as we always get to the airport early so we do not have to sit in the back of the plane. You are only doing this to INCREASE PROFITS. This has nothing to do with CUSTOMER SERVICE... Remember, you owe your success to those you serve and what you are "testing" here is how to increase profits. It's sneaky, at best. Big mistake but so be it. We don't mind comparing airlines/rates and if we have to pay a bit more for what we want, that will be okay.
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I am a long time flier from St Louis - my credentials include several 'Companion Passes' so I've flown a good deal on SWA. I own my business and could not function with SWA! I LOVE OPEN SEATING. I know how to check in online to obtain an A boarding card - and I feel this is my advantage as a frequent passenger that knows the system. In effect, I am the beneficiary of what amounts to elite status on the other airlines. I also like the fact anyone can do this - not just an elite group from a major company who negotiates a sweetheart deal with the airline (those of you from St Louis will remember how TWA sold these perks to a few large companies and everyone but those priviledged few were shut out - maybe that's why TWA is history) I appreciate the airline constantly reviewing its policies - its an indication that they will remain strong - but I hope Open Seating stays!
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To me part of the experience of SWA is the open seating policy and I almost revel in telling people I work with who fly other airlines how much I enjoy the "cattle calls". I like the fact that if I get there early enough I can choose whatever seat I want, and if I'm running behind and keeping everyone else from leaving earlier, I'll probably end up with a middle seat and that's about what I deserve 🙂 Whatever you guys do I know you'll continue to do it as well as anyone could possibly do it. Thanks for opening yourselves up for customer comments as you weight the benefits and problems with making a decision like this. Most companies, and probably no other airlines, would open themselves up so directly to customers...
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NO assigned seating!!! Please reconsider your new assigned seating idea. Not that it's a new idea, just... oh heck, you know. As the primary travel arranger for a company whose employees travel upwards of 50 times a year, I can confidently say that the open seating is the main reason we choose SWA. If that is gone, we will throw SWA into the pool with the others and see which floats to the top first. You'll be just like all the other turds.
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Open Seating works. Please don't get rid of it! I have come to appreciate it for the more efficient boarding times and good record of ontime arrival compared to other airlines. It's much less stressful to be sitting farther back in the (Southwest) plane with another connection to catch after deplaning. Also with open seating I might have a chance of getting a seat up front if I want one vs. not Ever being able to snag one in assigned seating the past few years! I like the equality of passengers. I also appreciate the friendly service of Southwest flight attendants - much nicer than other airlines'!
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No assigned seats. What I love about Southwest is that I can always get my bag on - yes, I am one of those people who never check. I only have 1 bag and as long as I get A or B, I can get my bag on. Don't change this please. And don't ban wheeled luggage like the woman commented. That is why I love Southwest.
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I fly Southwest all the time, 10- 12 times a year. Going to reserved seats stinks. And I read where you assign them, that is even worse. In todays USAToday the article was about you becoming like the rest of the herd, and you see how they are doing. Don't do it, be yourselfs or we will have no reason to use you.
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Please!!! No assigned seating. For over 28 years the present method has been great for my travel.At least 1 to 2 times per month. Test all you want but please don't ghange. Thanks
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One of the reasons we try and fly Southwest is not only the price advantage that is offered by Southwest, but the open seating policy which usually makes it easier for our family to be able to sit together and/or closer to each other even on busy, heavily booked flights. We will often go out of our way, and/or pay more for tickets because of the open seating policy that Southwest provides. If you move to reserved seating you will become "another" major airline. Keep with the current mode... It's not broken, don't fix it...
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We urge you to continue with the open-seating policy that has made SWA our airline of choice. Keep up the good work!
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Finally assigned seating! Nothing is worse than traveling and wasting time at an airport and standing in too many lines. I may now travel Southwest more if they have assigned seating. Typically I will avoid Southwest because of this policy and travel on an alternate airline if possible.