I love Southwest so I want to work through this seating problem of yours. And it is a problem.
I have a solution.
Keep your existing system but with one minor change. This minor change will take out the worst part of the unassigned seat problem and not cost Southwest any time or money.
The worst part (in fact, really only bad part) of your seating policy is that even after securing an A, B, or C boarding pass, passengers still have to get to the airport early and stand in a line for an hour in the A, B, or C line so they can get on early in their group.
I really don't like having to stand there and I have a solution.
Number each of the Boarding Passes and board according to that number. That is, if there are 137 seats on a 737, print the boarding passes, say, A-1 through 47, B-1 through 47, and C-1 through 47, and board in order. All the agent has to say is "We will be boarding "in numerical order" (you couldn't say "numerical" on an American Airlibes flight, they wouldn't understand it, but Southwest passengers are smarter), on your boarding pass starting with A, B, then C. Then board A, B, and C separately as you do now--but now in numerical order as well. Passengers will get used to simply looking at each others tickets and quickly getting themselves into line just before boarding, which will only take about 30 seconds. You used to kind of do it this way, but since you din't enforce it people cheated and we all suffered for it.
Thus if we get in the habit of boarding in order then passangers do not have to line up in the A, B, and C lines an hour before flight. Net result, no assigned seats, which are costly and cumbersome, but no tiresome standing in line for and hour because you don't have assigned seats.
Nashville (a happy Southwest hub)
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