With these 'inside the beltway things any victory is better than no victory at all. I suspect the letter writing campaign made a big difference. As SWA continues to expand there will be a larger number and geographical base of citizens to write to their congressional reps to get this moving faster. As more people become aware of the Wright Amendment it will become a less desirable law not to change. Just remember it is year 2006 and the good citizens have DC still can't vote for President and have taxation without representation!
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I have flown SWA since 1993 out of BWI-Baltimore. I like unassigned seating but I believe SW has to change because of competitive reasons and to keep up with the times. I think once SW makes the change - and believe me, it is going to happen in one form of the other - its most loyal customer base will adjust to it. After all, compared to the post 2001 security measures in place now, having assigned seating or some other alternative to the current status quo, doesn't seem like a big deal to me.
We must bear in mind SWA is a much larger carrier than it was when unassigned seating was first implemented many years ago, and is even much larger than what it was 5 years ago. Unassigned seating made more sense when SW was smaller in terms of passengers carried. The characteristics/personalities of most persons who flew SW probably helped to make unassigned seating practical. Now that more people are flying SW to benefit from its cost economies, SW has a more diverse passenger pool.
As a collector of SW memorabilla, I remember reading an article which was dated years ago about how SW first decided on unassigned seating. Perhaps I read it in an old LuvLines from the early 1980's, or 1970's even. For those of you who don't know, LUVLines is a monthly newsletter for SW employees. I recall the rationale way back was very compelling and so unassigned seating was instituted. But alas the world has changed.
Despite its benefits, there have been some problems with unassigned seating. I think the worse problem I have seen was when boarding passes were numbered and passengers boarded in groups of 30, I believe. Many anxious passengers would literally sit on the floor in front of the aisles, A, B, C. (Was there an aisle D back then?) I found this behavior to be distasteful and what do you think passengers flying other airlines must have thought? What a sight! Many of them thought - "I will never fly that airline", or "I would rather pay more for an assigned seat."
One idea mentioned above suggests using a numbering system that not only has your group (A,B,C), but adds a number to it such as A1, A2, A3...B1, B2, B3. I don't quite like that approach because it requires an extra effort to put passengers in precise order. Whose responsibility will that be? The passengers? The gate attendants? What happens if A1 happens to arrive at the gate while the B group is boarding? Does he get to go in front of the rest of the B's, or at least in front of all of the C's?
My suggestion is to have open seating but to assign passengers to their boarding group, A, B or C, based on the order flights were booked. If a person ahead of you cancels, you would automatically be re-queued higher up until the time your boarding pass was printed. I haven't thought this out much, but one problem with this method is the "pre-boarders." I am sure there are other problems with it. In all practicality, I think this suggestion is just one step below assigned seating because those who book early will generally request the best seats anyway.
But having said all the above, whether seating is assigned or open, I never know which seat is the best to pick anyway. The best I can figure is that I don't want to be in the middle seat, and I don't want to be in the noisiest part of the plane (anyone know where that is?), I don't want a seat that doesn't recline (last row?), I don't want to be in the first row, and last but not least, not near the cute crying baby or in front of the kids with their foot in my back. Will someone please assign me an appropriate seat - window or aisle?
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Liquid ban is another pain. Although I understand your comments are limited to waiting times, from the customer's point of view, it's not just the waiting time that matters. Stress level and convenience are also factors. With the new bans anxiety and incovenience are both increased.
And we should not take the cavalier point of view as one commenter responded that the public will "continue to [fly] as long as flying is the fastest form of travel." Many trips are 'for leisure' and thus are discretionary (as are most of mine). My guess is the success of the Ding Fares program bears witness to the discretionary nature of many trips. Any added inconvenience will undoubtedly have a negative affect on the decision to make a discretionary trip.
Baltimore is my home base and SWA's fourth busiest airport. But it is probably not a good example to use when it comes to checkpoint waiting times. I say this because the folks at BWI are in fact a lot more efficient at getting large (Very Large) numbers of folks quickly through the checkpoints than at the average airport. That efficiency will undoubtedly shine through even with additional carry-on restrictions. Likewise, if you take an airport which historically has been inefficient -such as BUF- one could argue that they will be even more inefficient with additional restrictions in place. Or even worse, if you truly believe these new security measures are warranted, what about if the inefficient airports get folks through just as quickly as before August 10th at the expense of security. That is to say they are less careful in checking for all 'security risks' because now they have more to check for - but the need to get people on time to their scheduled departure gate remain the same.
The other problem with the new restrictions are that the traveler has to come earlier because he's forced to check his bag if he plans to bring along some toothpaste for brushing his teeth, or if he plans to bring along any of 100 of other personal items that people normally travel with. Say for example the businessman who travels once or twice a week for a day trip with nothing but his briefcase in which he happens to carry a small bottle of mouthwash or an aerosol breath freshener. He now has to get up earlier to so he can check his bag. If it (security) wasn't such a serious matter, it would be laughable.
And then there is the cost involved. How long can Southwest continue to induce people to fly if with a $49 fare there is a security fee of $49? It would be like renting a car at the airport for $25 for a day, but having to pay $15 to take the Airport Authority's shuttle just to get across the street to the rental location.
And by he way Kasi, no you cannot carry on liquid mascara. Basically you should go under the assumption that ALL liquids, gels and aerosols are prohibited. Why? Because there are few exceptions. JUST BRINGING a prohibited item to a security checkpoint - even accidentally - is ILLEGAL. How many travelers do you think are aware of that law?
"You are now free to move about the country".
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