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Saving seats

Explorer C
I paid for the early bird check in. A36 was my boarding pass. As I get to middle of plane, exit rows are unoccupied. As I get there, there is one guy saving all three seats. And he is also saving the row behind him (which is normal seating) I ask the stewardess (who is standing in the row behind the exit row) if that is allowed, she just ignored me. Towards the end of the boarding his family (the guy saving the two rows) shows up and they proceed to fill the row. I'm furious now. I paid for the chance (albeit a small chance) to get those sets. 4 hour fight to Vegas. Something needs to be done about the abuse of seat saving. I wouldn't even have cared if he saved A seat for his wife, mother, whatever. 12.50 is not a lot of money. It's about being fair to everyone who gets the early bird ticket. Anyone have this happen to them. Southwest will be hearing from me.     9/22 flight from BWI to Vegas at 1:15

Re: Saving seats

Retired Community Manager

Hi @Wagon487,


Southwest Airlines does not have a policy for or against the saving of seats. Customers may chose any unoccupied seat on the aircraft (except the exit row under certain circumstances). 



Re: Saving seats

Adventurer A



Saving seats. Ugh.


To be honest, I'm glad that Southwest doesn't have a formal policy on seats. Letting an elderly woman put a light jacket on a seat for her husband who had to use the restroom, or an A-list business traveler set his ipad on a seat for his B43 bride are gestures that are just fine with me. Now when these actions are don't for a companion traveler, but in hopes of an empty middle seat, they aren't the same.


My wife and I love to travel and when we do, we like to sit together. For me, that means an eternity of middle seats, but I'm okay with that. I'm always grateful when I'm able to find a seat next to her (she's an A-lister and always ahead of me). To be honest, on occasion, she's spread her things out while I made my way down the jet bridge. Of course, if anyone asked if the seat was taken, she could say, "no you can sit here if you'd like, but I was hoping to let my husband have it." I think this casual behavior and subtle social signal is better than the confrontational and confusing "this seat is taken" discussion. 


At the same time, if I came across a bank of seats that had been "claimed" by a family, I would have to consider the costs and benefits of informing them of Southwest's open seating policy versus avoiding confrontation and finding a less comfortable seat. If comfort on a long flight is important, than I would try to find a polite way to say, "you know what, I understand it's important that you and your family sit together, but its also important that I get to enjoy the additional comfort that I've paid for. There are two rows right behind, and I'm sure your family would be so grateful to be seated together. If you don't mind, I'm going to take this seat here."


Now why do you have to do that and not Southwest? I don't know. Maybe avoiding those confrontations helps improve boarding time, meaning that we can all get where we're going on time. Also, it leaves those human interactions and those judgement calls to us, the passengers.


There are always going to be some people in the world that don't understand certain things as well as others. There will always be people that abuse privelege and people that try to take advantage of others. Our delimma--in life, not just boarding an airplane--is deciding how to deal with these people in these interactions.


If legroom is important enough, I'm sure you'll find a polite way to get what you desire and 'nudge' the others into understanding how their actions are affecting others. If keeping your cool and sucking it up for a few hours is the path you choose, then you'll enjoy the peace and comfort of knowing you're the bigger person. And maybe, just maybe, that's more important.


The good news? More legroom is coming for all of the seats.


Re: Saving seats

Explorer C

Moderator, saving seats on an airline that doesn't reserve seats, is a chronic problem that is wantonly ignored by SWA, based on reading this forum and from my own experiences.

"Any open and available seat" may be interpreted differently based on need. We all know the perspective of the "saver" who seeks preferential treatment that the airlines supports by not taking a stand but what about the rest of us that know how to follow the rules? Do you think we always get the best seats, whether it's in the front for quicker deplaning, or the exit row for added leg space? Do you think we always get to sit together as a family? NO! Do you want me and everyone else to play by our own rules or your rules? No policy is no answer. By not taking a position you are advocating vigilante justice and it will eventually result in violence, placing you in a liable position.

If a seat doesn't contain a body, it's open and available, PERIOD. If they won't step out, I've been forced to step over them. What's next? Will they use force? Will I have to defend myself with equal force?


Look, it's very simple.

If a family wants to sit together, no exceptions, they have two choices. Either buy an early boarding priviledge for a few dollars more or they can fly on another airline that assigns guaranteed seats.

Your part?

1) Post a policy on your website, pushing for the early boarding privilege;

2) Include a summation of the policy, i.e., NO SEATS MAY BE SAVED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, on the confirmation Email when the purchase is made; and

3) Include the statement via public address when you invite lines to form for boarding.

You have to expect them to conform to principles for the good of everyone or be willing to cut them loose as a selfish customer who shouldn't belong to the SWA family. There's no half way about it.


Your failure to act will lead to consequences for everyone involved, including yourself. It's merely a matter of time.