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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
Bob14
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Open seating is good by me for sure, I think the REAL reason for even thinking about assigned seating isn't for SWA or its customers at all, but it is likely a new regulation by the U.S. Government. It works like this: Let's say I'm flying to try and get to St. Louis (which is always overpriced for the distance involved to get there - from whatever city you choose); I find a route that has a stop in St. Louis, say to San Diego or Albuquerque for $99 and I just get off in St. Louis on the way. The problem? No one really knows who's on the plane and in this day and age that's a problem. I'm a fan of SWA for sure and I like being in the shuffle of humanity, its exciting. Thanks all,
Hugh_J__Rushing
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I vote to keep the open seating policy. When passengers have assigned seats they get to the airport later, disappear into the bar, wander off to shop and engage in activities that delay loading. You hear the pages in airports all the time "Mr. Smith, your flight is leaving". Southwest's current system rewards those who plan ahead, arrive ahead and take up their position in line in the most democratic system known. I have to fly certain locations on carriers who assign seats. I believe Southwest's system is much quicker and more efficient. One of the posters is correct, going to assigned seating will simply make Southwest appear as just another airline. I believe open seating is one of the keys to quick turn around and your great on-time service in most markets.
Karen5
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ASSIGN SEATS!! I am a frequent traveler,4-6 times per month. When I book my reservations I like have my seat assignment confirmed at that time. I do not have the time to "go back" 24 hours prior to the departure to get a boarding letter. I have traveled Southwest numerous times and each time there has been several incidents of people cutting ahead of people that have been standing in line for an hour. Personally, I find that concept to be ridiculous! There should be no need for anyone to wait in line for hour to get a "good seat" on an airplane. Save that for the movies! Also, if they line up for a section, I don't appreciate the luggage on line and not the person. The person is sitting somewhere and reserving his space with the unattended luggage. What happened to leaving luggage unattended? The Southwest reps are at the counters oblivious!? I have witnessed people arguing over exit row seats,saving seats and knocking each over just to board the aircraft. It's time to become civilized, since some passengers are uncapable of that. If I can find a flight on another airline I will choose it over Southwest. That"s a shame since you have a very good reputation and you really have the nicest people working for you!
Geoff3
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I vote to keep open seating. Now that you can check in 24 hours in advance instead of waiting until Midnight on the day of travel, has made Southwest my airline of choice for domestic travel.
BOB111
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Can we get an update on how testing in San Diego is going? I heard Southwest is assigning the seats for the customers for this test. Was wondering how mad the customers are getting by having a seat assigned to them and having no choice in the matter. This won't be a complete test I guess then, they said only testing how fast the boarding can happens with assigned seats. Would be nice to see a test where the customers would select their seats on the website as they are booking them. I guess that test will have to wait for future technology changes.
blusk
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Bob, One of our bloggers, Susie Boersma, is out in SAN, and she will be writing about the experiement there once she gets some time to breathe. Brian
Mike2
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Quite frankly Southwest will lose our business if assigned seating takes place throughout their coverage. With the double credit for booking internet flights and the cheap prices, Southwest was the hands down choice. Now with the double credits gone and the prices more competitive from other airlines, at least in the routes I fly, the only edge is to always get to sit where I want with my wife. If this goes away, then there will be no reason to fly Southwest. I don't fly often enough to obtain any type of preferred status and thus assigned seating is only a headache for me. I never get an aisle seat towards the front, let alone the ability to take carry on, since most people do not abide by the rules. I know this isn't the right place for this comment, but it would sure be nice to see the carry on rules enforced. Bags that clearly wouldn't fit into the carry on category are routinely stuffed into overhead compartments taking the room for others to place their compliant bags... Being in the first group means I never need to deal with that issue, and to do that all I need to do is pay attention to the time the day before I leave and press the print button on my computer.
Jan
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As customers of Southwest Airlines for many years, we are disappointed to learn of the seating test occurring in San Diego. How is Southwest accommodating handicapped customers? My husband has neuropathy and needs an aisle seat. On the other hand, I do not want an aisle seat because my travel tote fits under the middle and window seats, but not under the aisle seat. In today's newspaper it said quoted a customer who was upset because passengers flying together were not seated together. Is this true? Why would my husband and I want to go on a vacation together and then sit apart for several hours as we fly to our destination? We live in Phoenix and were going to fly to San Diego for a short vacation in September. Based upon this SWA seating test, we have decided to drive instead. Since SWA is the most successful and the most profitable domestic airline, why would they even bother to emulate the less successful airlines?
Susan12
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I have been a frequent Southwest customer for more than 15 years. And I've been a marketer with responsibility for understanding and adjusting to customer demands for longer than that. My advice to you...beware of making drastic changes to your business based on a very vocal minority of customers. keep in mind that people who are happy with service (including myself) tend to be pretty quiet....you won't hear from them until you've done something to make them unhappy. if you do the work, i'd bet you find that the majority of current customers prefer unassigned seating and that many of those (including myself) make their choices when flying partially based on the convenience of your system. If you switch to assigned seating, I for one will likely be flying Southwest much less frequently.
Skye_C_
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I am a huge SWA fan. My husband and I don't fly more than a few times a year, but when we do, it's SWA. Why? The absolutely brilliant and logical approach to getting people ON the plane and OFF the plane as efficiently as possible. Couple that with the general positive attitude and professional yet approachable and genuinely NICE staff that you've managed to assemble, and we're happy campers. Er...flyers. We have had to fly other airlines from time to time, and there was nothing about the experience that was better than what we find with SWA. Assigned seating is not all it's cracked up to be, and the other airlines just don't have the overall friendliness that SWA projects. First class, business, coach, it doesn't matter. That stuff doesn't get you there any sooner, you still have to put up with the hassles that EVERY airport now presents, it's meaningless to those of us who simply want to arrive at our destinations. Those who turn their noses up at SWA for whatever reason, be it seating, lack of fru-fru frills, whatever, are not going to be convinced to switch purely on assigned seating. From the looks of it, SWA will lose its appeal to much of the faithful, and therefore perhaps a bit of its advantage, should assigned seating be implemented. Assigned seating will mean I have less reason to fly. I won't bother switching to a different airline, but I certainly won't be as willing to fly, and will go back to roadtrips. Open seating means the least amount of hassle and delay for me, and that is why I am willing to fly. If I lose the option of the low-hassle airline I've come to luv, then I just won't fly. Here's hoping for the dismal failure of the assigned seating experiment! 😉
David_Kroeger
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I am a regular business and personal traveler on Southwest Airlines and am a huge fan of your current "best-in-class" A/B/C open seating policy. In fact, on more than one occasion I have even booked a 1-stop flight on Southwest over a non-stop flight on one of your competitors due to a combination of your seating policy and your on-time arrival performance! Please don't give up on one of your prime differentiators in the competitive airline industry. I'd like to rephrase the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" phrase and say "it's already the best, don't ruin it" instead! Consider ways to refine the current open seating system, but don't settle for the rest of the industry's assigned seating mediocrity.
Phil11
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Re: the open seating vs assigned. Had flights this past weekend PHL/FLL?BNA?ISP and a fistfight nearly developed when an uninformed passenger attempted to "cut" in line for "A" boarding. I don't think she will fly SWA again. Another open seating problem is travel with kids and being set apart from them. Flight attendants are adept at requesting folks to change, but from what I see, once someone is seated that's it!
Gelie
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I just want to say I'm not a fan of assigned seating. I've never been assigned a seat that I liked with any airline and I really enjoy the way you have it set up now.
Lynn1
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I am the Mommy traveling with the Daddy and 3 children under age 6. We LUV the open seating and early boarding for families with small children. We sit in the last row of the plane, near the restrooms and the very latest people who got the very last choice of seats - so they are grateful to be on the plane. If you assign our seats in advance, it is unlikely that we will get the three and two seats together that we want. (Who wants to sit with my 2-year-old?? Any volunteers??) It's also unlikely that we would be in the back of the plane to let the "grown-ups" have peace toward the front. PLEASE keep the open seating!!! We only fly Southwest!!!!!!
Claire
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Well, A month's worth of comments, I cannot possibly read them all, but ALL of the ones I read were for open seating and against assigned seating. I would guess that these are your base, Southwest, these are the folks who know to come on here and make their wishes known, these are the folks who fly SW and prefer to fly SW. And I'm one of those, too. Let's keep open seating and find some other way to board faster. I can tell you this, I have flown overseas quite a bit, on regional airlines similar to SW, and they board much faster than SW, and that's because they don't allow those huge roller bags. Carry on is truly carry on. How many times have I stood at the font of the SW plane waiting patiently while those in front of me wrestle with their luggage. That's what's taking the time. Let's all get together and show SW what we can do to board faster, by checking those big bags! If we want to keep SW the way it is now, we have to help out!!
Patrick4
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A recent article from one of your test groups had a travler comment ; "I love it. They're trying to board us like everyone else on the planet, and they're compensating us for it," said San Diego aerospace engineer Jay Newlin, who was on his way to Reno with his wife, son and other relatives. With four adults in their party and multiple drink tickets in each book, Newlin figured, "They just gave us a free case of beer." Please tell me that your taking this kind of paid off happness into consideration. Of course your going to get happy people if you give them freebies. If you plan to keep this up, great. Otherwise your not getting a true sense of how they feel by giving bribes.
Scott5
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I don't think you are testing assigned seating the right way. If Southwest is the one DOING the assigning, I don't think anyone would be happy about this. I think you should halt the current test until you are ready for us to "select our seat" when we "check in online" approx. 24 hours in advance. Otherwise you are not truly doing a good test between assign v open seating. Or for some better yet, select the seat at booking. But I still prefer open seating. But do a fair comparsion between the two. Thank you for adding IAD.
Christopher_Ada
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Don't Fix What's Not Broken.....I am a Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer, and by all means the Open Seating is what makes Southwest efficient and what makes Southwest! I don't want to fly just another airline with the same programs and policies, and assigned seating. I want to fly someone different from the mundance and boring. I want to fly Southwest! I LUV Southwest just the way it is. Say perhaps as the media tell us, that maybe some day there may be international flights? International flights can have assigned seating, but leave the domestic the way it is. I'm sure people will adjust to the change if implemented, but it will also turn some loyals away. Is there another way to come up with new revenue? Let's all put on our creative hats....There's got to be a way!
Sandy6
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Two words: NEW COKE Will SWA commit a similar grand corporate blunder? As for the "coveted business traveler", I was a 75000-100000 mile a year guy (platinum on Continental) for one reason only, first class upgrades. No first class, no bookie ticket. So it's not about assigned seating. In fact, a previous commenter noted booking last minute (as many business travelers do) puts you at a disadvantage with traditional carriers unless you have a high elite level (once again, angling for a first class upgrade.) Now that I'm self-employed and travel half as much, I book SWA 90% of the time. If you go to assigned seating, I might as well go silver elite on another carrier and get some first class upgrades now and then.
Scottie
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I don't usually take an activist position and I've never even seen a blog before today, but I feel really strongly about this issue. Please don't even think about changing the open seating--it is one of the best things about Southwest! Assigned seating is often a nightmare. We get to the airport only to find that they have over-booked and we aren't sitting together afterall. With Southwest we download our boarding pass the day before, get to the airport early and know that we have control of our seats. We never fly any other airline unless Southwest doesn't service our destination and we have sung your praises to everyone we know. One of our children calls us a walking commercial for you. When our suitcase was lost, the way SW worked to replace it was incredible; even your rapid rewards program is better--almost no black-out dates. So many of those before me have said "If it's not broken, don't fix it". I agree.
Lynn_C__LaFentr
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Please do not change! I LUV Southwest to the point where I have caught myself defending SWA while in line listening to "Cattle Call" comments from other passengers. At times I've had to change seats so that a familly or group could sit together and enjoyed the fact that I made someone smile! SWA has always been about people. It wouldn't hurt your passengers to get a little more people friendly also. My suggestions are: Get tough on carry on size. I liked the old ("Bin Hog") signage that used to be posted everywhere. Where you can, define A, B, and C lines more clearly. Remind all passengers that the front of the plane usually hits the ground first followed closely by the rear........LOL Thanks for all you do!
David6
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I offer a compromise that may come close to satisfying everyone. The only real objection to open seating is the jockeying (and sometimes fighting) for position. People begin lining up 2 hours before flight time. I've seen the lines completely block pedestrian traffic in the airport. Those of us with disabilities cannot stand in line for long periods and are forced to the end of the line at boarding time. This can easily be resolved by simply numbering the boarding passes. Passengers simply get in line numerically at boarding time. This eliminates the jockeying and fighting while preserving open seating and the time savings associated with open seating. I think it was ValuJet that used this system. I thought it was far superior to Southwest's boarding policy, even though it was remarkably similar.
Terry_Hulbert
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Gary, While I'm very interested in seeing the results of your tests of the various boarding processes and think it's about time someone took the initiative to get to the bottom of this much debated topic, I, for one, would be very disappointed if SWA were to change to assigned seating. As an Industrial Engineer and frequent flyer IÃ
Robert_Whitten
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I am certianly not against change, here is why I changed almost exclusively to SWA. Up until 3 years ago all my business travel was planned well in advance and I almost never flew SWA because I wanted to be sure of getting an aisle seat. But since then, my business travel has almost all been short notice, flying once to twice a week. Price is not the issue, just the chance that I can now almost always get my seat. If that changes I will now be forced to consider all options to insure my seat selection. Thats how I vote my current 165 RR segments.
Beth_Harbin
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Janet's post raised a question that I would like to clarify. While our evaluation of boarding methods (or "test") is limited to select departures from San Diego, the developers of the evaluation had a variety of Customers in mind during the design phase, including those with a disability. As you know, seats are being assigned to only those Customers traveling on evaluation flights from San Diego. Parties who are booked on the same reservation are assigned seats together. (Helpful Tip: If your traveling companion is not "booked" in the same reservation, we cannot guarantee you will be sitting together.) In addition, legally required preboarding for Customers who have a disability is being continued for all boarding methods tested. During this evaluation period only, seats are being assigned manually by our Employees because we do not have a system in place to allow you to do that for yourself. If you are contacted by a Southwest Airlines representative to let you know you will be traveling on an evaluation flight from San Diego, be sure to checkin for your flight as you normally would (24 hours in advance on southwest.com or at the airport) then be sure to discuss your situation with our Customer Service Agents when you receive your seat assignment at your departure gate. Our consistently high ratings in Customer Satisfaction are well deserved and we'll work very hard to come up with a solution to meet your needs.
Mary2
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First of all, it's great that you have a blog and that the CEO (hopefully actually) blogs!! As a Rapid Reward member and frequent Southwest flier, I can't believe you would consider losing one of the true competitve edges that you have in the market. In having read through some of the comments above, it seems that the overwhelming response from the loyal SW customers is to keep the open seating policy. Those who are not flying SW because of it are few and far between. As someone mentioned, it takes a lot more money to get a customer than to keep one. You're leaning toward a strategy that appeals to a few and risks the true hardcore loyalty of the many. Don't do it!!!!
Anonymous1000
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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep the unassigned seating. Years ago I hated it but now that we have the ability to checkin from a phone or PC 24 hours before a flight (including the connecting flights) we are rewarded with the ability to choose which seat we want based on our needs that day, including who we want to sit with and where we want to sit on the plane. No matter how frequently I fly on other airlines I seem to never get into an early boarding group, and I've even been bumped from my seat selection (if I was able to make one) by more "important" flyers the day of the flight or by the airline changing the plane they were flying to the last open seat which NO ONE wanted. Even when I make a reservation well in advance of a flight on another airline I often can't choose a window or aisle seat, but with Southwest if I make a reservation a day or two before a flight I can still usually get the seat I want, and I travel several times a week on Southwest for both business and pleasure. I suggest simply improving the process and ambiguity of lining up prior to boarding- that seems to be the main annoying point for many of us loyal Southwest passengers that has led to anxiety and argument. Now that we don't have to line up just to get the boarding pass itself, we would prefer to fix such issues such as those of us who arrive early and stay in line and then have to fend off the late-comers sneaking in front of an "implied" line of people sitting down or in a different aisle of seats or leaving their bags sitting there while they roam around the airport. In additoin it seems boarding would go faster if you would make 2 changes. First, if the flight is in fact very full and/or there are a significant number of pre-boarders with wheelchairs every effort should be made to start boarding them much earlier and have enough roaming staff available to board multiple wheelchair-bound people as early as possible, even to take them down to the jetway as soon as most passengers have disembarked, even if the plane isn't quite ready to be boarded yet. I've seen many times where the gate agent was the only one available to take them down the jetway and they had to do it one at a time even 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure for an incoming flight that arrived on time. Second, if the slower people such as those with children or other issues were allowed to board last it would make it more efficient since the first people in regular boarding almost always get down to the plane and then stand around waiting for a while for the "pre-" boarders to get settled since they only pre-board a minute or two before the standard boarding groups. If you must go to pre-assigned seats I think you need to reward your most frequent flyers with some way to get the best seats as other airlines do, or you'll risk losing many loyal frequent flyers.
Emily8
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I am a customer service agent for SWA and I am also not so keen on the idea of assigned seating! I have always loved the fact that our open seating has characterized us into the fun luving casual airline that we are! We love fun and we want you to have fun too! I dont thing assigned seating would work for everyone. There are so many reasons why open seating works, and the above posts have a million of good reason why it has worked for so many years. Assinged seating still will not be able to promise you that you will sit by your loved one, but checking in online 24 hours prior and getting an A will. What will happen when the family with small children only has middle seats to choose from? I love our passengers and they are what make my job so enjoyable! I love playing games with you guys and most of all I love hearing your stories and jokes. I will support my company in any desicion they make, we have the best on our side and I know they will make the best plans for us at heart, even if I dont understand it right now! They have never steared us the wrong way and I know they never will. Emily
BOB111
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Not so sure about that promise to sit together. Don't forget about connecting boarding passes might have an "A" on them, but the plane may get there after boarding is finished due to unforeseen delay. This is where open seating suffers since those passengers who are connecting are split up even though they had an "A".
Gary_Groleau
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The idea of Southwest reverting back to an assigned seating system is tremendously disappointing for those of us that are taller and larger than the folks airline seats apparently were made for. For us, Southwest has long been a great airline to use, particularly because being able to get a seat that better accommodates those of us with long legs, has always been possible on their flights. Though, to guarantee an accommodating seat, us large folks have had to get to print out our boarding passes online exactly 24 hours prior to the flight to assure getting the Ã
Kathy_Ostrander
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As an infrequent, but loyal Southwest customer, I am all for assigned seating. I book our vacation each year through SWA vacations as soon as our travel date becomes Ã
Gail__amp__Rick
Not applicable
PLEASE KEEP OPEN SEATING!!!! It moves the people on faster than any other system. We love Southwest! Thanks
jtighe
New Arrival
The best ting going at SWA is the open seating. Dont change it!!!!
Joseph_Temenak
Not applicable
I am a loyal Southwest airlines flyer (companion pass holder), and just plain love whatt Southwest stands for... FREEDOM. There was a wonderfully written section in the recent in-flight magazine describing the start of the company, and the true inginuity that has kept southwest air fresh and fun. The thread through the entire written piece: FREEDOM. One of the fun and practical parts of the airline is lining up/boarding the aircraft in groups of 30 (whether by plastic card or paper boarding pass). Please don't change this aspect of the "Southwest" FREEDOM experience. Here's a free idea for the airline (actually, if you do end up using this I'd like a few things: 1) bring back raisins, 2) scrap the fake cheese crackers in the snack box, instead put in peanut butter and crackers and 3) keep some of the "vintage" planes flying, i.e. with the rows of seats facing one another). The idea is to incorporate "FREDOM" into the advertising, and byline of the airline, e.g. the LUV and FREEDOM airline! This is truely a match made in heaven. Keep giving the CUSTOMERS what they like, and stay with the boarding procedure you already have in place!
Yancey_Chapman
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DON"T DO IT! To quote others who have already commented, if it ain't broke (and it definitely is not), leave it alone. Assigned seating (combined with the recent change in Rapid Reward tickets) would be enough to send me searching all airlines when I travel. Those 2 changes take away your edge in the industry. I recently booked flights for my husband and myself for a trip to a family wedding. I had 2 RR tickets - one old and one new. After 40 frustrating minutes trying to book online, I finally called the reservation number where I waited on hold for 20 minutes which was frustrating since I had no choice but to wait. The agent I talked to was finally able to figure out a way to book our flights. So in addition to not changing the open seating policy to anything else, please bring back the old RR tickets - I don't mind a few black out dates - I very definitely do mind the limited available seats - that makes you the same as everyone else and as prices increase (and other airlines are sometimes cheaper), it will be difficult to justify remaining loyal.
Gordon_Sims
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Hello: I would really appreciate the change to assigned seating. This is mainly due to one thing and, if that could be eliminated then the open seating thing that you now use would be more agreeable. What I am referring to is that you get the feeling of being in a cattle call hearded through the loading chute in a rail yard. If there was some way to eliminate the mentality that if you aren't at the gate an hour in advance and standing in line 45min. prior to the plane's arrival it would be great as is. Unfortunately there is, in my opinion no way to count on otherwise mature and responsible adults, not 'competing' for the head of the line. I was departing Denver recently and the folks there were trying to 'self-police' the line up because in that particular location, the seating area was conducive to orderly boarding without having to stand in line. Unfortunately as I stated above, not all of the 'adults' thought that that was such a neat idea and the orderliness soon degenerated into crude but effective instant line forming. I thought one time that some sort of 'take a number' system might work but again, who is going to enforce the proper, timely and fair sequencing of passengers? I actually don't see why assigned seating can't work so lone as there is consistent and disiplined boarding using easily understood rules. Such as, you don't line up and board when pre-boarding is announced, you get to board last. I don't know, I am certain that are numerous boarding systems in use in the industry. If none of them can assure SWA meeting it's on-time goals then the current system will just have to stay. I still do not like it but as you know, a thicker wallet does account for something, eh? ;-) Gordon
CHARLES_ROSS
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I HAVE BEEN FLYING ON YOUR WONDERFUL AIRLINE FOR 16 YEARS NOW. SOME BUSINESS BUT OF LATE IT HAS ALL BEEN FOR PLEASURE. I CANNOT IMAGINE THAT YOU WOULD THINK OF ROCKING THE BOAT AND INITIATING AN ASSIGNED SEATING SYSTEM. ALL OF THE OTHER SO CALLED AIRLINES ALREADY USE THIS INEFFICIENT METHOD IN ALL SORTS OF VARIATIONS. AS YOU KNOW ALL OF THESE OTHER AIRLINES ARE NOT PROFITABLE AND/OR ARE IN BANKRUPTCY. PLEASE RECONSIDER AND DO NOT GO TO THE ASSIGNED SEATING THAT THE "LOSERS" HAVE GLORIFIED. I HAVE GOT TOO USED TO THE SO CALLED "CATTLE CAR" SEATING CONCEPT. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, NO ASSIGNED SEATING. LONG TIME CUSTOMER CHARLIE ROSS
Vegastraveler1
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Southwest is my carrier of choice to my favorite vacation destination - Las Vegas. Why ? For two major reasons. One, the 10-11 direct flights a day from Midway Airport and secondly, the open seating concept. It simply works for me! I will suggest one thing to some of the seat assignment proponents. Better planning. Check in 24 hours before your flight time and get the coveted "A" pass. Additionally, if there are any problems with other travelers, don't be afraid of letting airline peronnel know about it. They are probably better trained to deal with it then the consumer. Having said that, one suggestion to SWA is take a good hard look at the preboarding policies. On one occassion I was the first in the "A" line and counted over twenty preboarders. Hmmm. Okay :) Thanks for your time!
Bill_Ackerman
Not applicable
I just returned from flying from Oakland to Portland, & Portland (via Albuquerque) to Tampa by Southwest. This was the first time I experienced your "first come, first served" policy. Personally, I found a lot of manipulation by passengers & in the instances I observed, & did not see it saving much time, even for the airline. We (my wife & I) arrived at Oakland a good 1.5 hours before the flight, & were assigned with group B. At the gate, three rows designated A, B, & C were cordoned, so at least they were defined. We actually ended up getting a decent seat in the first row. Because of that, I did not get to see much interaction in the rest of the aircraft. On the flight from Portland, it was quite different. We arrived 2 hours & 15 minutes before flight time, but were still placed in group B. This meant to get in group A, at least some passengers had to arrive at least three hours ahead of schedule. That's a long time to be waiting in airports, especially if you're in several segments on Southwest during your travel. Some of what went on I didn't piece together right away. First, there were no roped cordoned areas, making the lines less discernible & enabling some persons to look as though they were with others if they wanted to slip in ahead (I don't know if this was actually done, but it was certainly possible). Secondly, there were actually four lines, the first being comprised of old & disabled (I'm 70, but very healthy). It occurred to me that if I just brought an aluminum crutch with me, both of us might have been in that line (is there any confirmation of actual medical condition?). This time when we boarded, a very distinct pattern was displayed. Row after row of seats had the inside & outside seats occupied. Two that we tried to sit in only had books or bags on the outside seat, & the women who sat at the windows indicated they were "saved." But the most cunning trick of all was achieved by the young couple who sat in the first row on the left, probably the seats with the most legroom in the aircraft. They sat in aisle & window seats in the row. Someone had put luggage in the rack above my seat, so I tried to put my luggage in the rack above theirs (we were able to move forward when most passengers deplaned in Albuquerque). The woman looked at me & said, "We need that space for our luggage." I immediately wondered why, & when I looked down I saw that they had piled luggage & a salad wrapped in plastic on the middle seat between them. It was the perfect deception. People entering the aircraft are obviously looking around for seats, & quite ready to move by for another opportunity; the subtle slight intimidation of such an "occupied" seat provides an excellent chance that, if the flight is not full, it might well be the last remaining seat. They pulled it off. I only saw one other empty seat on the plane, but the two of them practically traveled "first class" compared to others ( I must say I found your seats very comfortable &, since I never keep anything more than a book to read with me, there was plenty of leg room). The amazing thing was those seats were the most visible to the flight attendants, & I don't think they ever caught on. As for the others, in retrospect I surmise this is what they were doing: it is quite onerous (& genuinely tiring for some) to stand in line to ensure better seating (especially when there is comfortable seating with waiting passengers right next to those standing), so I think these couples may "rotate" or spell each other off. The first one on then grabs a row & shoves something on the aisle seat, telling those following that it is "saved," giving time for the latter to arrive. Then they occupy aisle & window seats, just like the other couple I mentioned. Anyone not traveling alone is going to pass them by. If & when a single passenger decides to take the seat, they probably have pre-decided which two they prefer, so they occupy those & relent the other. Becoming aware of this selfishness took away from an otherwise enjoyable flight. If I thought the practice were continuing, I probably would be unlikely to fly Southwest again (my wife feels the same way). By the way, at Portland the system did not seem to be achieving your objective. Boarding was not started until 10 minutes before scheduled takeoff, & then the attendants had to badger passengers to hurry to make up for what was obviously someone else's error. I have two suggestions to eliminate this problem. The first, obviously, is that while occupying the aircraft seating, no luggage or other materials be allowed to be placed on a seat (this of course should be coupled with emphasis that "first come, first served," means exactly that). Only people can occupy seats. If this were done, by guess is that couples would sit together, reducing the likelihood of shuffling when the third person arrives, & saving time. The second is, if you still find more advantages in this process, instead of issuing boarding passes with assigned seats, you assigned them with a letter followed by a number, designating the order in which they checked in (A-1, A-2, A-3, etc., i.e. their place in the line). That way on any given flight, people could still sit & relax, read, sleep or whatever. 10 minutes before boarding, you simply announce that lines should be formed according to letter & number. That should give plenty of time for people to get in order, & no one would have to stand for 20 minutes or more, or spell each other off & possibly create controversy. When it's time to board, they go letter & number sequentially. Anyone with a pass but not in the area when boarding begins simply defers their place in line. It would take some getting used to. There could still be grumbling, but probably overall it would lessen dissatisfaction. It also reduces the variables for the passenger (when you arrive at the airport & when you get in line) from two to one. I have lived in or visited at least 25 different countries, & Americans are better "line-formers" than most. Enforcement of the other aspect could be stated in check-in material or on the boarding pass, as well as announced. Its effectiveness would have to be enforced by attendants, but no one could argue that it wasn't fair. Bill Ackerman
James_Hutcherso
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Open seating has always worked well enough if you like getting to your gate 2 hours early to get in line. However, I would like to suggest that customers be allowed to board in numerical order within their group. This means that boarding pass A-1 is first, A-2 is next and so on. This would alleviate the cattle stampede that occurs an hour or more before the plane loads as the people with high group A numbers try to get to the front of the line and the A-1 person is penalized by being at the back of the line. This is especially true when you are making a connecting flight. The customers just starting their journey arrive 2 hours early while the connecting passenger may only be able to arrive at the gate 30 minutes early. Not exactly fair is it. LUV your airline. Keep up the good work.
Gary_M1
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I am fairly new to flying SWA but so far I have found the current open seating system to work well. I have been able to get an A boarding pass on the flights I have taken so far. I have already booked a trip in October and hope that I will be as pleased with the SWA/ATA flight as the past SWA flights. I have found that the wait in line can be a great time talking with other passengers. My recommendations is to keep the open seating. I expect I will be in another boarding group on my return in October since I will be returning from a cruise and won't have the access to the internet to print my boarding pass early. Keep up the good work.
Limda
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We like the open seating, not the cattle call at the gates. We are able to get an A BP. The line up at the designated boarding is a joke. So many people just cut in, so what if people are already in line for the designated area? I think your people at the boarding gates, need to get involved. Plus, the designated areas, for A,B,C passes needs to be better defined.
BOB111
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Remember Gary you can have someone "check-in" for you from another computer and SWA can reprint your boarding pass when you get to airport.
Vicki2
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**ASSIGNED SEATING: YES!!** When making your reservations, the option to get assigned seats would be a HUGE plus! No more stress on trying to print up an "A" boarding pass, find the "A" line, and hope you don't lose your spot in line when you want to use the restroom before boarding, A suggestion for those who prefer 'open' seating: allow the system to accommodate them. They can board after the assigned seaters and pick where they want to sit!
Norman_Crandus
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Dear Gary, First of all Southwest is the finest airline I fly. The staff is always considerate and helpful - and that makes a difference to this passenger. The ticket agents are wonderfully accommodating. Having said that let me add my two cents on "assigned seating." I like it the way it is. I never had a problem. There is something fair about the system that I like. Thanks for the opportunity to speak my piece. Norman Crandus
Anna_B
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This BlogSite is a great idea - Thank you Southwest My daughter who is 12 (who is considered an adult by Southwest) will not have the ability to preboard. According to what IÃ
Autrey_Perkins
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Assigned seating or "cattle call", it makes no difference to me. I can seat up front or in the back (I prefer the back myself). When I travel with my family, I would prefer assigned seating. When I am traveling by myself, I can handle the unassigned. I have only two request: 1) make sure there is plenty of overhead for carry-on; & B) make sure the flight crew keep their bubbly personality (that is the #1 & only thing that makes my flights with SWA pleasant).
Susan1
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I am sure the're are more people for assigned seating than have been posted. I am one of them. I have flown with my kids and been expected to sit far apart because no one was kind enough to trade seats thus making me have to request to get off plane. I flew three times in the last three months and it's always the same; People cutting the line & being told "this seat is saved". People should not be allowed to Save seats! Have your whole party board together or don't get on. I found a seat but my small suitcase was 7 rows back! Why should this happen? I'm sorry if I just don't see how assigned seats can cost more or cause delays. I only started flying SWA because of the airport location other than that I prefer an airline that gives the the peace of mind that I will not have to deal with these inconveniences.
Cody
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Has everyone forgot that it use to be first come first serve at Southwest...well not anymore. Its who has the best technology, these are the people who will get the A's I've seen many people (senior's and people who do not have access to the internet) arrive at the airport 3-4 hours before there departure and get C's how fair is that. I know, I know life is not fair but this is how Southwest has done business for many years and apparently has made it a huge success, now everything is changing. Is the culture of Southwest Airlines changing.....you bet.....for the better?? Time will tell.
Brad21
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I don't want to see assigned seating at SWA, it seems like it has been successful and why ruin a good thing. PAX pick a seat and maybe make a new friend on the flight. There is no one standing around trying to find their assigned seat aruging with someone that they are sitting in their window or aisle seat (I just witnessed that on a continental flight). Keep up the great work!!