Just to follow-up:
My experience with the new boarding policy was just as I had expected -- AWFUL. I ended up in the dreaded middle seats both ways. It would be one thing if I flew another carrier and when I bought my tickets I KNEW those were the only seats available, but in most cases you still get some kind of choice if you plan your flights early enough.
Whether I pick a SWA flight two months, two weeks or two days in advance, I'm still going to end up in the "B" or lower "A" boarding groups. Which means I'm still going to get stuck with those awful middle seats. (I had a business-class ticket even! But not one of the top-of-the-line business tickets, I guess. First class on SWA? Who knew?!)
PLUS since at BUR the passengers board and deplane from the front and the rear, the new boarding process caused a lot of "traffic" while boarding. People walking from the back to the front and the front to the back in search of dwindling bin space.
It was awful. Terrible. Took forever to get off the plane and people were grouchy when you tried to exit and they needed to "go against the flow" to get their bags.
I fly the BUR>SJC route often and use SWA because of their low rates. But considering that United has pretty competitive BUR & LAX>SFO rates (which is closer to my office), I'm going to request that our agent always book me on United as a rule and on SWA as a backup. At least I know if I plan in advance that the agent can guarantee me an aisle seat!
It's an unfortunate situation because I used to really like SWA and I would insist that people who had never flown them before at least give it a try. Now I do the opposite and have warned business colleagues and friends about the new boarding policy.
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I've been a pleasure and business traveler on Southwest for years. I could never figure out why east-coasters had such distain for Southwest since they are typically always on time, have great customer service and the open seating policy is just fantastic.
Not so much anymore. This morning I became the latest victim of the new boarding policy. I checked in 23 hours and 57 minutes before my flight to end up in the B group position 08. What?!
I called and an agent explained that not only do Business Select customers get priority, but so do RR customers with at least 32 segments in the last year. So that's how I ended up in the B group. Even though I paid the business (not select) fares.
So I paid more but still end up sitting in B? United Airlines offers guaranteed seating on a more convenient schedule and to an airport closer to my destination for not much more money -- Maybe $80 more. And since I fly this route about 10 times a year, I think I'll definitely be switching to United since they seem to value my patronage a little more than Southwest's new "Pay more or travel more frequently and we'll like you BETTER" policy.
This is a complete slap in the face to business travelers who might not travel as frequently as Southwest would like or to those of us that enjoyed getting to the airport early so that we could sit in what I now call "Southwest's 15 rows of 'first class'".
And I'll *definitely* stop recommending Southwest to my friends, family and my 6,000 co-workers -- about 15%-20% who travel all over North America.
Why pay more (or even slightly less than the competitors) and get less?
You guys stuck out. BIG TIME.
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