It's a pleasure to see that the overwhelming majority of those responding to this blog have voted to keep the open seating policy (although I'm also a little surprised to see those few who don't like it or are critical of Southwest even responding, but I digress). To those who have voted in favor of assigned seating and are critical of the open seating, I would say this: Do your research. If you did, you'd know that you don't have to spend countless hours at the airport, waiting in lines, sitting in middle seats, and pushing & shoving your way into a plane. You can book 24 hours in advance either from your home computer or via mobile southwest on your cell phone from the road, so there's no reason you shouldn't be able to get an A boarding pass. This gets you your choice of an aisle or window seat, regardless of where you are in that line.
There's a lot of business travelers out there who can't make a flight reservation outside of a couple of weeks, and there's going to be a lot of disappointed people if they've got to sit in a middle assigned seat on every flight. As one blogger said, the information is out there to use to get a decent boarding group, so it's your own fault if you don't.
With regards to my experinece on assigned seating, I tend to pack light and carry on my luggage to get off and to my destination more quickly and to avoid baggage claim at the various airports. However, in the times that I have flown airlines with the assigned seats, I notice this irritating thing that if I'm one of the dumb ones that waits around for their row to be called, I find that I'm one of the last ones on the plane, after the rows that were called after me had already boarded, and thus, no baggage space. Fact of the matter is that the majority of people either don't pay attention, don't understand, or don't care that they should be boarding by aisle, etc, so they just go on whenever and the gate attendent lets them (unlike Southwest). I suppose someone's solution to that would be to book yourself a seat in the back of the plane, but it doesn't make it right or an effective way to board a plane as you trip over the people that are already in front of you, blocking the row, or in your seat.
In any event, before you criticize the open boarding pass, please do your homework and know what you're talking about. If you like an assigned seat and are lucky enough to book 4 weeks in advance, more power to you. Pay an extra 20-30% and fly another airline - most of us don't like to hear the ignorance anyway. Sorry to be harsh, but please use some common sense.
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