I had the same problem on a Southwest flight the other day. I am tall, so I really prefer a bulkhead or exit row seat. When I got on an empty bulkhead seat was being "saved" for someone's mother, then when I got to the exit row seats a seat was being "saved" for their girlfriend. In both cases they tried to cover the seats with some stuff (magazines etc) to make them look taken. I know Southwest doesn't want to deal with this issue, but I really think an official policy needs to be in place. My suggestion is to have a tag with the magazines that someone can place on the seat that signifies they'd like to hold it. Of course, someone can sit there if they want. If somene complains about not being able to sit together, I believe the guidance should be to default to the lowest priority person in the group. If you have a A15 and a B15, the A15 should wait and board with their B15 friend, not the other way around.
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