Once upon a time, there was no assigned seating on domestic flights.
You saw assigned seating start, not as a way too "pamper" passengers, but as a way to 'weight and balance' aircraft that were notoriously difficult. The DC9-10 comes to mind.
Assigned seating sounds good in theory...but it is not all that great in practice.
What happens if the seat you are assigned has a really really heavy person in it. That happened to me on a Delta Connection RJ
last week. Had happened before on a Mesa/HP RJ
from SAn to PHX
too. The Delta Connection was worse, though.....1:40 flight next to someone who CAN
'T get the armrest down......and he was only charged for one seat although he took up a good chunk of mine. Miserable!
Do you assign center seats to last minute passengers? Those are all the high dollar business fares. They are gonna love that! Or do you assign the center seats to your early booking el cheapo discount fares? If I am booking 9 months out, I am gonna be real suspicious if I am in seat 39B.
Open seating does one thing for you that assigned seating doesn't. It gets people off their rear ends and onto the plane. If you KNOW you have seat 8A, then you can take your sweet time about getting up from the lounge area and sauntering on to the plane after the crowd has died down. Of course, if everyone feels that way, there is no crowd.
Assigned seats generate just as much congestion in the jetway and the aisles as open seating. So the "cattle call" argument doesn't really mean anything. You are gonna be in a congested jetway whether you are in 8A or a mystery seat.
Open seating does allow you to look for folks that you might like to sit near (a good looking woman) and avoid someone who might not make a great seat partner (the family with squalling kids, the gentleman who spends all his spare time and money at Krispy Kreme and has the baggage to show for it) etc etc.
My question is not why is Southwest still allowing open seating. My question is why other carriers haven;t junked their silly practice of assigning seats.
If you are old enough to travel on an airplane you ought to be able to wisely choose your seat. if you need to have it dictated where you sit...maybe you shouldn't be out alone in public.
Just my $.02