AY104
Topic Author
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Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:35 am

Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:14 am

Recently travelled on Southwest for the first time. Just 2 short flights
OAK-RNO-OAK, which were full in both directions.
It was truly refreshing to see how smoothly a boarding procedure goes without advanced seat assignment! Seems like the plane was boarded in no time, no fussing with seat dupes and trying to re-seat people together. No lineups at the gate with people who already had advanced seating wanting to change. No collection of boarding passes by the gate agent to try to accomodate last minute seat changes by people who already had seats. My point obviously is all that advanced seating does is duplicate tasks to the point where it seems like on full flights nearly 50% are re-seated anyway.
On the same trip I also travelled YVR-SFO-YVR on AS. Both flights again were full, but what a chaotic boarding process, not to mention lengthy and complicated announcements about preboards and numerous frequent flyer levels. Another fine example where, as a society, we have become ridiculous! The AS flight from SFO-YVR actually was supposed to start boarding at 6:30pm for a 7:05pm departure, and they actually started 10 minutes earlier at 6:30pm, I suppose because the aircraft had been towed to the gate much earlier and the crew was ready to board. Even at that, we were almost late departing! All thanks to advanced seating! 45 minutes to board a 737! It seemed as though nobody on board was happy with their seating, families split up etc. etc. I could go on and on about what, as far as I am concerned, about the disruption advanced and pre-assigned seating, the totally unnecessary evil of having a first class section on such short flights, and the ridiculous and compicated boarding announcements. It only took 2 short flights on Southwest to make me realize what I should have realized for years! As I say, the flights on Southwest were full, never heard one complaint. The service on the flights was at a par with other major carriers, they do their best to do a beverage service. The big pleasure is the simplicity of their procedures and how no waste of time and manpower is spent on seating and upgrades. Not to mention the fact that they offer an excellent amount of legroom at every seat in a very comfortable cabin with up-to-date equipment.
Although I only took 2 flights, I am sure Southwest has it's problems, too, but they still get my vote. I am sure that I have pissed off a number of you who value the upgrades, preboarding, and blocking the aisles at the front of the plane to hold up the boarding, but I'm entitled to my opinion. By the way, I would take an aisle seat on Southwest any day over any Seat in the cramped and dingy f-class cabin on AS. I don't mean to knock AS, their service overall is really good, and I realize they are only doing what competition demands. I would still choose Southwest, though, but they don't fly from Canada. That's another reason for their sucess, though, keeping it simple. They don't have all the hassles of Transborder Customs and Immigration to deal with. They do what they do very well, and let's hope that they don't adopt pre-assigned seating and the chaos that it causes!
The only thing a customer should expect for his/her loyalty is good service
 
deltairlines
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:56 am

Ah...the timeless question of open seating vs. assigned seating.

For me, I refuse to fly on Southwest, in part because of their lack of assigned seating (people in my office though have come to learn the 20-reason long list of "Why Jeff hates Southwest Airlines and refuses to even consider booking a flight on them"). I enjoy knowing the fact that I'm going to have a seat at the front of the coach cabin (if I don't get upgraded) and it doesn't matter whether or not I check in at 24 hours out (online) or if I do so at 31 minutes before departure...I'm going to be able to have that confirmed seat, I'm going to be able to be amongst the first 10-15% boarding (which means my bag goes in the overhead on top of me) and it's hassle free for me as an elite traveller. Personally, I haven't seen any airline take 45 minutes lately to board a 757 sized aircraft...I've seen it done around 20 minutes or so, which isn't bad...it's just a matter of people listening to directions. Southwest does do good in this sense - if you're a C, there's a whole "cattle pen" for you...on Delta (my primary carrier), the Zone system has speeded things up, but those gate lice in Zone 7 that are right over the boarding pass reader during Zones 1/2/3 do slow down the process...if people could wait their turn and follow directions, it would help.

As for duplicate seat assignments, they're very rare now...I've only seen 1 on the 75 flights or so I've taken in the past year...it helps that Delta has the boarding pass readers now though that signal whether or not that seat has already been boarded. As for families being split up, yeah it does happen. However, seats are reserved on all flights for airport control only, so if they really want to be together, show up early and get those seats.

As for F cabins and all that, if you ask many elites, you take away a F cabin and they bail. Even on short flights (I fly the GSO-ATL or ATL-GSO route about 20 times a year) I enjoy at least being able to have a little more room to relax and a little better service on these flights. It's perks like this and elite pre-boarding that might seem to make it more complicated for boarding to a non-frequent flyer, but trust me, you take it away from people doing 50,000 miles a year on planes and there would be an uproar.
 
Tango-Bravo
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 7:24 am

Quoting AY104 (Thread starter):
It was truly refreshing to see how smoothly a boarding procedure goes without advanced seat assignment! Seems like the plane was boarded in no time, no fussing with seat dupes and trying to re-seat people together.

You are aware that Southwest is testing assigned seating (on a very limited scale) as we speak? The test began July 11 and the word from Southwest up to this point is "so far, so good" with no effect on turnaround times. It will be interesting to see what the word will be as the test continues and their Customers have had time to become "re-trained" to lallygag in the boarding process (because "I have an assigned seat waiting for me") ala pax of the legacy airlines.
 
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drerx7
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 7:32 am

When I was a child I liked the open seating--but now as I travel alot--it really bugs me that people line up hours before the plane is even at the gate to rush on to sit at the front of the plane. Luckily all those folks are fitting for the first few rows--and not my favorite window seats with trailling edge wing views. I don't have a problem with Southwest and generally all of my flights with them have been very good--but I would rather assigned seats myself. In terms of turnaround times I honestly cannot see where there would be a noticeable difference.
Third Coast born, means I'm Texas raised
 
scintx
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 7:51 am

I've been flying WN since 1975. I'm CO Gold and and many years come close to status with other carriers too. I will fly WN and will book future flights. I try to avoid weekends. I have nothing against families, but I am traveling for business and not in the mood for them. Southwest is what it is, you either love it or hate it. I've always been impressed with their product. I'm fine with open seating, my only issue was before they changed the process that you had to get in another line for boarding passes after I checked my bag. People camped out hours before they began to issue boarding passes making it tough to get in the first or second group. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your WN experience.

Steve
Attention All Planets of the Solar Federation....We have assumed control.....We have assumed control......
 
atrude777
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:17 am

While I have not done a test with assigned seats with WN I still would voice my opinion and say please Southwest do not go to assigned seating.

Alex
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
steeler83
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:39 am

Quoting Atrude777 (Reply 6):
While I have not done a test with assigned seats with WN I still would voice my opinion and say please Southwest do not go to assigned seating.

Likewise, pal  thumbsup 
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Silver1SWA
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:50 am

I worked gate 2 yesterday morning. It was my first time observing the situation first-hand and I must say, there really isn't much to observe. Things seem to be going just fine. All I noticed was a larger line at the gate podium than normal and some passengers' faces showed they were anxious and unsure of what to expect.

My roommate is flying to SJC tonight. He has been notified that he is on an assigned seating flight. I will be sure to ask him about it. He is very supportive of Southwest and has always enjoyed their open seating policy. I'm looking forward to hearing about his experience.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
Gilligan
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:54 am

Quoting DeltAirlines (Reply 1):
I haven't seen any airline take 45 minutes lately to board a 757 sized aircraft

Me either. It all depends on the crowd though. Sometimes you get a flight where they just aren't paying attention or moving with a purpose.

I've seen WN flights where things didn't go very smoothly as well, once again it depends on the crowd you're dealing with.

I've also seen WN flight where it was obviously a full flight and people were eyeing other people and sizing them up figuring just who they could step on to get in front of them and get the seat they wanted. It can be pretty comical. Either way it doesn't bother me. Row 1 is going to get to the destination the same time as the last row does.
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, and a road that goes forever, I'm going to Texas!
 
N702ML
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:14 am

Not that this matters one way or another in the whole scheme of things....

But can anyone tell me if Hawaiian Air is still doing open seating on their intra-Hawaii flights? The one time I flew them in 2000 or so...it was open seating.

Just wondering.

Thanks!
The opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Southwest Airlines.
 
ScottB
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RE: Praise For Southwest And Open Seating Policy!

Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:37 am

Quoting N702ML (Reply 10):
But can anyone tell me if Hawaiian Air is still doing open seating on their intra-Hawaii flights?

They're not. I flew them interisland in October of last year and the seats were assigned. It was clearly a relatively new thing since there were signs up touting the assigned seating and how it would be done.