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Bloomberg says assigned seats might be coming

Frequent Flyer C

According to Bloomberg News:

Southwest Airlines Co. may ditch open seating, a classic hallmark of its business model, to offer assigned spots and premium seats in a bid to appeal to a younger generation of travelers. The move arguably would be the largest change undertaken by the carrier since it began flying in 1971. “We are seriously studying customer preference around our seating and our cabin,” chief executive Bob Jordan said Thursday. “We’ve been doing that for awhile — you have to be committed to understanding and meeting customer expectations.” Jordan’s comments were a step up from last year, when the carrier acknowledged it was monitoring growing industrywide preference among travelers for premium products. But chief commercial officer Ryan Green noted then that such things are often cyclical and the carrier would wait to see if the trend persisted. Now Southwest is expected to announce a decision on seating changes and introduce “a whole series of initiatives” — including overnight red-eye flights — at an investor day Sept. 26. While the carrier was known early on as being firmly against tweaking its no-frills model, it did give up plastic boarding cards, changed its boarding proces and expanded ticket sales beyond its own website. But its aircraft are crowded now, with passengers often filling more than 90 percent of the seats compared with 60 percent to 70 percent in past years, and “customer expectations change over time,” Jordan said. The carrier is also considering how such a change would affect its flight operations. “There’s no decision,” he said. “The early results for both customers and for Southwest look really interesting. If data says this what customers want, this is good for demand, for Southwest, for shareholders, then I think you have your answer.” 


Re: Bloomberg says assigned seats might be coming

Aviator C

In my opinion, the abuse of preboarding, family boarding, carry on size and carry on count has destroyed the simplicity of open seating.


When no one can find anymore overhead bin space because George brought his riding mower on board and Betty brings the kids' swing set while Henry brings a wide assortment of cross county ski equipment along with an outdoor barbeque grill, everyone is afraid of running out of space and thus wants on board first.


I have warned Southwest about gate agent apathy of their boarding rules, especially what I see at MCO.


Southwest should examine the video of a random sample of boarding at MCO to see if gate agents follow the rule.  I would say that on every flight, someone violates one of the boarding rules and carry on rules.  Sad.