While SW states they have no policy in saving seats, I believe any dispute should always favor anyone who paid extra for Early Bird boarding. I always pay extra for Early Bird and have frequently encountered someone savings seats for friends or family who did not pay the extra amount. And, I’ve often found myself having to decide to either not engage and risk an escalated confrontation, or choose a less desirable seat much further back in the plane. Situations which cause unwelcome stress because the airline chooses to let its customers risk escalated conflict. SW can maintain its “no official policy pertaining to seat saving” but the unspoken rules should be that flight crew always rule against those saving seats, ESPECIALLY siding with anyone who paid extra for Early Bird boarding.
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While I am not a “road warrior”, I do fly Southwest frequently. I am disturbed by what I have experienced is a growing stressful occurrence of passengers saving seats for others boarding after them. I understand their desire and the temptation to do so, especially on longer flights. But, it is unfair to those such as myself who always pay the additional amount necessary for Early Bird boarding. And, it sets the stage for potential confrontation between passengers. It isn’t helpful that Southwest has taken a hands off approach with no defined policy concerning this issue. The absence of such defined policy leaves the advantage to which ever passenger is more selfish and aggressive in arguing the issue when boarding. All of which just serves to create even more stress in an already stressful environment. Choose a policy and make it known. And, then make sure your flight crew is prepared to uphold and enforce the decision. I suggest that your pre-boarding and cabin announcements include a reminder that saving seats for others is not allowed and that any attempt to do so may be overridden by any other passenger. This can be done in Southwest’s normally humorous and light-hearted manner. In other words, Southwest should state a position, and not leave your customers to argue about what is right or wrong, which only serves to set the stage for stressful confrontation which I have witnessed between passengers due to this issue. BTW: not only are passengers trying to save seats, but increasingly, overhead bin space as well. On my flight up to Reno a passenger in my row had also put multiple small items in the overhead in an attempt to save a bin spot for her companion. Once it became evident what she had done, numerous passengers around her booed and ridiculed her, making for an unpleasant experience for all. Also, it would serve to decrease stress and serve to avoid potential confrontations if the flight crew would make an attempt to enforce the “one item in the overhead and smaller items under the seat” rules. Rather than have an F/A standing at he door greeting passengers, it would be better served for the F/A to be back in the aisle enforcing such rules. It may also better serve to ensure on time departures. Please accept these comments with the constructive intent with which they given. Otherwise Southwest Airlines does a great job.
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