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SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:37 pm
by ultrapig
I apologize if this belongs in a different forum or if its been of RECENT discussion.

I flew STL/OAK last week. I paid for the pre check charge of $15 and got B-1-But with the plethora of preboards and families it was hardly worth the cost

Some Observations and I know SWA monitors this forum:

1. The Family Pre-boards are really out of hand-its one thing to let a mom with a lap child preboard but families of 2-4 pre teens is another.
2. I wonder if all the wheelchair pre-boards are really needing help or are just gaming the system
3. I've kept my mouth shut because I don't want to be a disturbance to the flight crew or other passengers but the practice of one member of a party going on first and then saying "Sorry this seat is taken" is just "plane" rude.

I know SWA has tried to avoid rules and simplify things but these three things are as I say getting out of hand.

If Larry David had to fly SWA things would be different-on the other hand maybe this would be a good theme for a new episode!

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:51 pm
by evank516
I'll be honest, and while I agree with you my only resolution to your issue is not to fly Southwest. I personally don't like their practices and I enjoy my assigned seat, so I try to avoid them when possible. I understand it may be more difficult considering the routing you took, but you do have other options. Maybe take a look at the alternatives.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:17 pm
by tjwgrr
ultrapig wrote:
I apologize if this belongs in a different forum or if its been of RECENT discussion.

I flew STL/OAK last week. I paid for the pre check charge of $15 and got B-1-But with the plethora of preboards and families it was hardly worth the cost


Many other factors in addition to purchasing Early Bird determine boarding group which include but not are limited to Rapid Rewards member, WN credit card holder, fare amount paid, Biz Select, number of Rapid Rewards points, etc.

I wonder if all the wheelchair pre-boards are really needing help or are just gaming the system


You've never heard of "miracle flights?" Florida flights are notorious for them. Wheelchair pre-boards at the point of departure, and then the pax are miraculously cured upon arrival and are able to nearly sprint off the aircraft when disembarking. It must be that warm humid air when they open the cabin door......

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:23 pm
by stlgph
In addition to the reasons above, it all depends on how far out you booked your Early Bird, and don't forget, while you might not think of STL as a "hub" for Southwest, the airport is a frequent transiting point, so you're also competing with connecting passengers.

And just plain take the seat. The other person isn't there, but you are.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:36 pm
by Super80Fan
Completely agree with point #1. I completely agree it's fine for families with little kids to board then but I also see families with only pre-teens board and the gate agents do nothing to stop them. If I ever get anything higher than A I will probably self identify as a kid and board with them.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:40 pm
by AA737-823
You sound a bit like you've gone off the deep end.

While I understand that your experience was somewhat frustrating, several (most?) of your complaints aren't especially realistic.
1. This abuse happens on every airline. That's why some now make announcements such as "Families with babies under the age of two." Which still gets abused.
2. You're seriously accusing handicapped people of abusing the system JUST to get on earlier? Listen to yourself talk. But again, jerks fly all airlines, so it's not like WN has a monopoly on these evildoers in wheelchairs.
3. How saintly of you. But yes, that's kind of obnoxious.

Subpart A: Exactly which "rules" is Southwest avoiding by letting your evil wheelchair grandma get on first?

In short, do as Evan says: fly someone else.
And be just as offended.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:40 pm
by irelayer
The wheelchair abuse happens on every airline, anywhere I've ever been in the world.

So that being excepted, all the other things you mention are designed to improve the customer experience. Having family pre-board (even preteens) keeps families together and allows parents to do all the adjusting and what not so they aren't slowing down the boarding process. Also, it happens after A boarding, so it's not like it's much of a benefit. It's moreso a family of 4 (two adults, two toddlers) have a good chance of sitting together.

And saving seats? Fair game. Here's the thing. Whether you like it or not some people LIKE the way WN does seating. They like being able to choose their own seat. If you are travelling for fun, with a group of people, it's hard to sit together on many airlines, and you often have to sift through multiple reservations and move a lot of people around to make it happen. So not ideal. Also, if you somehow make the case that it's an open seat and sit there, the group is still going to talk amongst themselves or whatever, and it's going to bother you. There will be backlash in most cases. So if that's the case, if you were WN, would you make this explicitly illegal and police it? No way. It's a free way to make customers happy, and policing it is a fruitless waste of time that has no positives for either party.

To address your point about buying Early Bird. It's not worth it. Travelling alone I have NEVER EVER had to sit in a middle seat on WN, and I've checked in at the airport before and gotten C30s before. If you are willing to go all the way to the back you will get something. The people who are complaining about the As and what not are usually the people who have very specific requirements for seating (must be in the front, aisle, not close to kids). Yeah of course, if you narrow it down to that it's unlikely you will get something if you aren't A. But if you consider that you have a 66.6% chance of getting either an aisle or a window, that's pretty good odds. That's not even factoring in that some people will occupy the middle seats voluntarily because they are travelling in pairs. Once again, this is a positive on WN for me. Yes I'm not guaranteed anything but I might luck out and get a exit row, or a bulkhead. And worst case I'm in the last row in a window or aisle. Also they will gate check your bags for free, so no worries there.

-IR

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:41 pm
by boeing767300
I share your frustration with people already boarded holding seats for family friends etc. Last year on LAS-LAX I boarded and went directly to the last remaining window seat. Guy in the centre seat told me it was not available as he was holding it for his wife. Flight attendant was right there and I advised her that based on open seating policy I would like to have that seat. She told me abruptly that there were plenty of seats at the rear of the aircraft and suggested I move to the back. Against my better judgment I said that I would not do that and that to be fair the seat was mine. A fairly heated discussion ensued and in the midst of that the guy flipped out and said he would move to another row. At no point did she advise him of the open seating policy and I was essentially public enemy number one now. Feeling like a skunk at a garden party I took the window seat and managed to get some nice shots of the strip as we departed off 25R. That was my reason for wanting the window seat in the first place. As a rapid rewards and A List member I did write a report and received a response. The writer was able to tell me that I did get my window seat and the usual template garbage followed in the response. I personally will keep my business with SWA despite this, every airline has flight attendants that are hesitant to do their job when required. The majority of of these folks are excellent and that is the reason why I will stay.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:44 pm
by redflyer
I'll fly WN when I fly solo for business; otherwise, I just don't fly them anymore. Last time I flew them with family it was my wife, father-in-law, and me. We walked up to the gate agent and asked if my FIL, who was 87 at the time, could pre-board. The gal handed my wife and FIL pre-board passes and then was about to hand one to me, but I declined. That type of "generosity" is what causes this issue. They'll literally give preboard passes to anyone who asks for one, no questions asked.

But one of my pet peeves about flying - any airline - is that they allow preboarders on first to give them more time, yet when the flight gets to the destination they allow the preboarders to get off with everyone else. And if they really are handicapped it delays the offloading tremendously. My thought is that if you preboard early because you need more time then you should stay in your seat to let everyone else off first.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:50 pm
by kgaiflyer
"You've never heard of "miracle flights?" Florida flights are notorious for them. Wheelchair pre-boards at the point of departure, and then the pax are miraculously cured upon arrival and are able to nearly sprint off the aircraft when disembarking. It must be that warm humid air when they open the cabin door......"

And the opposite - I've alighted at PBI and couldn't ever get up the jetbridge because of all the wheelchairs.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:51 pm
by n471wn
I love the seating process at SWA and I always get my seat which is 4 rows from the back by the window. Why that seat you ask? Well I noticed a lot of non-rev's in that seat over many flights so I wondered why. Then I sat in the seat and my shoulder went right into the widow well and wow what a difference in width!! If someone is in my seat I offer them $5 or a free drink and they think I am nuts but they move. I take 50 SWA flights a year and this seat is my "air home."

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:58 pm
by stlgph
n471wn wrote:
I love the seating process at SWA and I always get my seat which is 4 rows from the back by the window. Why that seat you ask? Well I noticed a lot of non-rev's in that seat over many flights so I wondered why. Then I sat in the seat and my shoulder went right into the widow well and wow what a difference in width!! If someone is in my seat I offer them $5 or a free drink and they think I am nuts but they move. I take 50 SWA flights a year and this seat is my "air home."


If I'm not in the front or the exit row, I prefer the back of the plane, too. Often times, as you mentioned, you'll find SWA employees back there, and other non-revs, off duty crew, or on duty crew. Can't tell you the number of times I've gone to open a book and haven't even made it past the first page because their little pop up community wanted me to be included, too. Made a few great new friends that way. And great chance to chat up the crew during the boarding process, and during the flight. Lots of free drinks and helluva lot of peanuts.

As for someone saying the seat is saved, as I said above, not by how I play ball. So you can either choose to let someone else dictate you, or just say no and take it per your convenience.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:01 am
by masgniw
Points 1 & 2 really are applicable to any airline. I think you've gotta look inwardly and realize that buying marginal upgrades like "early boarding" and "priority security" are really just the airlines bilking you for extra money without providing you a real service. You gave in, got burned, and learned your lesson.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:50 pm
by Woodreau
tjwgrr wrote:
You've never heard of "miracle flights?" Florida flights are notorious for them. Wheelchair pre-boards at the point of departure, and then the pax are miraculously cured upon arrival and are able to nearly sprint off the aircraft when disembarking. It must be that warm humid air when they open the cabin door......


Except international arrivals into Fort Lauderdale, then all of a sudden everyone needs wheelchairs, so that they get wheeled to the front of the customs/immigration line and not have to wait standing in line with all the able-bodied folk.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:29 pm
by PI4EVER
Early Bird is also ranked by the date you request it. I have family flying to LAS in February with EB. Anyone booking after them now will be below them when EB is assigned 36 hours in advance.
Also double-check if your flight originates in your departure city. Through passengers will remain on board or re-board ahead of everyone else.
I flew a TPA-RDU flight which originated in FLL. There were 40 through passengers already on board and seated when the first person in TPA boarded.
I did have an EB that "fell off" my booking due to a schedule change, which was discovered at check-in. There was nothing WN could do about my lost "slot" for EB, but they did refund the $15 charge and I boarded in group B whatever # and was able to sit with my family who did "block" the center seat for me. No one wanted it or needed it anyway up to the point I came aboard.
I understand if you choose to not purchase EB, it is most common now to have a B group number when you request it at the 24 hour mark. EB is popular because the group is assigned for you, and you can check-in at any time, and print your BP from a kiosk at the airport. Its very convenient and a reasonable fee if you have no access to a computer for the precise 24 hour check-in mark like if on a cruise ship or traveling during that 24 hour period.
Otherwise go with the flow and in most cases you'll end up in an acceptable seat. If all else fails, pick the last row. It comes with all kinds of perks sitting back there with the crew. I've enjoyed free booze and extra snacks. Almost like a party back there sometimes.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:14 pm
by ultrapig
irelayer wrote:
The wheelchair abuse happens on every airline, anywhere I've ever been in the world.

So that being excepted, all the other things you mention are designed to improve the customer experience. Having family pre-board (even preteens) keeps families together and allows parents to do all the adjusting and what not so they aren't slowing down the boarding process. Also, it happens after A boarding, so it's not like it's much of a benefit. It's moreso a family of 4 (two adults, two toddlers) have a good chance of sitting together.

And saving seats? Fair game. Here's the thing. Whether you like it or not some people LIKE the way WN does seating. They like being able to choose their own seat. If you are travelling for fun, with a group of people, it's hard to sit together on many airlines, and you often have to sift through multiple reservations and move a lot of people around to make it happen. So not ideal. Also, if you somehow make the case that it's an open seat and sit there, the group is still going to talk amongst themselves or whatever, and it's going to bother you. There will be backlash in most cases. So if that's the case, if you were WN, would you make this explicitly illegal and police it? No way. It's a free way to make customers happy, and policing it is a fruitless waste of time that has no positives for either party.

To address your point about buying Early Bird. It's not worth it. Travelling alone I have NEVER EVER had to sit in a middle seat on WN, and I've checked in at the airport before and gotten C30s before. If you are willing to go all the way to the back you will get something. The people who are complaining about the As and what not are usually the people who have very specific requirements for seating (must be in the front, aisle, not close to kids). Yeah of course, if you narrow it down to that it's unlikely you will get something if you aren't A. But if you consider that you have a 66.6% chance of getting either an aisle or a window, that's pretty good odds. That's not even factoring in that some people will occupy the middle seats voluntarily because they are travelling in pairs. Once again, this is a positive on WN for me. Yes I'm not guaranteed anything but I might luck out and get a exit row, or a bulkhead. And worst case I'm in the last row in a window or aisle. Also they will gate check your bags for free, so no worries there.


Wasn't meaning to sound like an angry old guy! And as i say i appreciate that SWA tries to keep things simple. I just saying that people ought to be a bit more courteous. I also agree with the
other poster about miracle wheelchairs. Of course I have no objection to disabled persons geting accomadated but I'm suspicious about some of them not being disabled.

-IR

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:16 am
by KentB27
I actually try not to fly WN if I can help it simply because I dislike their boarding process. It's so much more stressful to me than an assigned seat boarding procedure. It does have it's advantages and it's not that bad for short flights but I simply prefer to pick my seat in advance and sometimes I want more options than just all economy class.

Also, it's hilarious to watch the A-listers and frequent fliers nearly have a stroke when they get on a WN plane that is continuing onto another destination and almost all of the good seats are already taken.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:54 pm
by longhauler
I recall reading in the book "Nuts!" about Southwest Airlines, that the biggest complaint most Customers had was their seating policy.

But historically, open seating was required for fast turns increasing aircraft utilization. The reason for the "10 minute turn" was the 50 minutes it took to get from HOU to DAL and flights left every hour. As Herb Kelleher said, if it took 45 minutes to get from HOU to DAL, we'd be doing 15 minute turns.

Then, a couple decades later, the seating policy was still under review and a study was done. Apparently, if advanced seat selection was used, then it would take say 10 minutes longer to board, and Southwest claimed what would require about 10 more aircraft in the fleet.

So those on the inside of Southwest. 45+ years later. Is scheduling still that tight, that this policy is still relevent?

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:54 pm
by evank516
longhauler wrote:
I recall reading in the book "Nuts!" about Southwest Airlines, that the biggest complaint most Customers had was their seating policy.

But historically, open seating was required for fast turns increasing aircraft utilization. The reason for the "10 minute turn" was the 50 minutes it took to get from HOU to DAL and flights left every hour. As Herb Kelleher said, if it took 45 minutes to get from HOU to DAL, we'd be doing 15 minute turns.

Then, a couple decades later, the seating policy was still under review and a study was done. Apparently, if advanced seat selection was used, then it would take say 10 minutes longer to board, and Southwest claimed what would require about 10 more aircraft in the fleet.

So those on the inside of Southwest. 45+ years later. Is scheduling still that tight, that this policy is still relevent?


What's funny is that I had increased my travel with Southwest over the last few years once I ended up making regular trips to MCI (I'm switching to DL after Thanksgiving). Not once have I seen the boarding process take less than other airlines. Most begin boarding about 30 mins prior to departure. WN is no different nowadays.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:50 pm
by BobbyPSP
A recent WN flight I took was a late morning departure from Tucson to LAX. I always spring for the early bird as I like to get on, settled and not deal with waiting in the aisle.

If I'm going point to point without a schedule or a long layover, I'll head straight back and lately for some reason I seem to hop in 21A. I try to be courteous; carry on in bin and backpack under seat.

What got me on this flight is the whole A group was trying to sit in the first few rows. It was lunacy. Even the gate agent came down and couldn't believe how such a small group (less than 20 total) caused this huge backlog. They weren't even moving as far back as the exit rows.

Once I got through I bantered with the FA in the back that it wasn't worth it and easier to head straight to the back and get out of the way. The crew must have really appreciated it as I ordered a Bloody Mary and the same FA just waived off my request to pay.

Note: if on an award ticket check in is I believe at 24 hours

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:12 pm
by Chemist
So here are a few reasons from my perspective why the SWA boarding is better. I realize that YMMV and particularly if you are flying a major and have status, upgrades in class can be very compelling (but I understand those things are getting harder every day):
1 - Status gives you earlier boarding on SWA, so you can almost always pick a seat you like
2 - If you say show up early and try to take the earlier flight, with status even though I might get a boarding position of C05, I still get to board after the A group and therefore still get a good seat, even when I show up and get on a flight at last minute
3 - Much less tension/cramming of people at the gate since the line is essentially ordered electronically by boarding position
4 - I often fly into Burbank, which planes/deplanes from both front and rear doors. When I get onto a BUR-bound flight, since seating is not assigned, I head directly to the rear of the aircraft and sit in one of the last rows. When I get to BUR, I am off the plane in no time.

As an aside, when in BUR one day my flight came into the gate and I timed it. It was a 737-700, seemed pretty full. It unloaded, we loaded, and we pushed 23 minutes after the aircraft arrived. Our outgoing flight had only perhaps 5 seats open, nearly full. I'm sure the dual door process helps but that is fast.

Re: SWA Seating

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:17 am
by ASTROJET707
I'm usually a reader not a poster. Regarding preboards...I fly to ABQ, BOS, OAK and PBI on Southwest to visit family and friends from HOU.

My last three flights to/from ABQ and BOS there the were 21 preboards from HOU and 19 on the return. In July to BOS there were 20 and return 22. I do understand people need preboard but it seems to be abused so I stopped paying the fee to upgrade to a better number. I enjoy flying WN inspite of the large number of preboards.