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Boarding Position Algorithm

New Arrival

Do you have any insight on this phenomenon? I was standing in line at A54 and noticed that there were a LOT of empty spots in front of me (A31-A53) in a random array. There were even quite a few sporadic spots in the A16-A30 line next to me. After those A16-A30 people boarded the B1-B30 lined up and there were about 10 people with huge gaps between them. The flight was obviously not full and only had about 60 people flying (lucky me!). It was also an early flight (5am). There’s no way that 70+ people cancelled their trips at the last minute leaving these huge gaps, but it made me wonder how a person could be assigned B2, for example, the next person B8, then B12, etc. with no reasoning to the gap sizes. Again, this is assuming that half of the people on the flight were no shows or late cancellations - highly unlikely, especially because the flight check in lady confirmed that the flight was never fully sold and that the particular flight is always lightly traveled. It makes me think that SWA is gicing random line assignments Not in numerical order. With 60+- passengers you would expect the bottom half of the A group and the first part of the B group to all be together. I get that they leave a little space for A List Preferred and all of that, but it’s odd that someone was assigned B2 and the next person that checked in was assigned B8 or whatever. To reiterate from above, the check in agent noted that this particular flight is always empty. 

 

Any thoughts on this subject?

6 REPLIES 6

Re: Boarding Position Algorithm

Top Contributor

Business select, A list preferred,  A list , and EBCI boarding positions are assigned at 36 hours prior to flight time. Others can check in starting 24 hours prior to flight time.

 

People that cancel or change flights (ie standby for an earlier flights)  or just no show after receiving  boarding positions relinquish  those positions. So if a number of people do what I just said, there could be a fair number of unused boarding positions on a flight

 

That s why someone who checks in a hour before flight time could receive a better boarding position than someone who was A List or EBCI -- because that person got a position that someone else relinquished afer others had checked in.

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Re: Boarding Position Algorithm

New Arrival

I understand your response, and that very well could have been what happened, but the check in agent said the flight is never full and said there were no “no shows” or cancellations. Plus, I would really think it odd for a 5am regular flight with 60 +- passengers to have just as many cancellations/flight changes/no shows or even half as many of those. I’m sure I’ll never know the answer to this, and I suspect my conspiracy theories will remain as theories. 

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Re: Boarding Position Algorithm

Top Contributor

@moschioni wrote:

I understand your response, and that very well could have been what happened, but the check in agent said the flight is never full and said there were no “no shows” or cancellations. Plus, I would really think it odd for a 5am regular flight with 60 +- passengers to have just as many cancellations/flight changes/no shows or even half as many of those. I’m sure I’ll never know the answer to this, and I suspect my conspiracy theories will remain as theories. 


There's nothing that we know of that indicates spots are held open, or that the check-ins aren't as described.

 

I'd take the counter point that I've been on several flights that were light and there were no C-numbers given, it was fairly full between the posts in A and B groups.

 

It's open seating, so there isn't any reason for Southwest to hold spots open to space people out - that happens naturally during boarding on a light flight.

 

I'm sure there are gaps all the time with missed connections as well, although that may or may not have been the case with your 5 a.m. flight. 

 

The agent may not actually know about cancellations exactly, since that passenger would be removed from the roster and placed to the new flight unless they had viewed it the day ahead and noticed any changes - there would just be a gap in the positions for unknown reasons.

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: Boarding Position Algorithm

Active Member

@moschioni

 

 If I can possible like to point it out for some reasons is that, the storm has been going on for the last few days and some peoples at point might cancel the flight possible to avoid being stranded at the airport in just case of another storm coming in or the T.S.A. are delaying many peoples trying to pass the check in point fearing missing their flights. Prove me if I am wrong.

 

The lastest news was the Government shutdown and bad storm all over eastern part of the U.S.

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Re: Boarding Position Algorithm

Top Contributor

You'd be surprised how many people change or cancel their flights, often last minute.

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Re: Boarding Position Algorithm

Rising Star

Southwest allows you to cancel your flight with no fees up to *10 minutes* prior to departure, so if there was bad weather that day, it's very possible a lot of people cancelled at the last minute - or the night before. That's the only reason I can explain the gap in numbers. 

 

--Jessica