The "advantages" of assigned seating

Old May 14, 17, 10:42 am
  #16  
 
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Connections are definitely where WN fails their elites and people willing to pay for EBCI - for a nonstop flight, it really isn't a bad system. I show up just before boarding begins, and I get in line when they call for preboards. Even when I have a companion boarding significantly after me, I've had a literal 100% success rate getting him an aisle with extra legroom and still gotten myself a window (my preference) a little further back. Often the FA essentially 'saves' the middle exit seat beside me and we're able to sit together. When I'm alone, I've never failed to get a window seat on the first leg of a trip.

Connections are a completely different story, and I don't see a solution. WN's schedule tends to only allow for one connecting flight to destinations within the four hour period, and that means I end up in a rear middle far too often, even on otherwise reasonable connections. I've personally come to the conclusion that I'd rather sit in a lounge for several hours - I fully understand why that's not a real solution for many travelers. I don't actually understand how/why business travellers without direct flights can stand to fly WN. As someone else said, might be time to talk to your headhunter...

When time matters, I suck it up and take the middles or I just book another airline. Honestly, WN isn't any cheaper than the other legacies. If it weren't for CP I don't imagine I'd stick with them.

I got kinda rambly there, but my basic point is that I agree the system works well for knowledgeable travelers booking direct flights, but it has no way to protect those travelers on connecting flights, which is a major fail.
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Old May 14, 17, 11:04 am
  #17  
 
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
You obviously haven't flown WN in 20 years or you'd know you have to line up only 2-3 minutes before you board.
Not only that but letter + number assignment means no or few "gate lice". I have never had any trouble with Southwest's boarding system. It's just different.
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Old May 14, 17, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by djk7 View Post
Here's the seatmap for my flight on Monday, with only one really bad seat available without paying $40 more more for E+:

Link to picture if inline doesn't display
Hey, at least it's not a middle!
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Old May 14, 17, 11:55 am
  #19  
 
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Originally Posted by djk7 View Post
It seems that on a regular basis posters exclaim the wonders of assigned seating and bemoan the fact that WN doesn't assign.

Here's the seatmap for my flight on Monday, with only one really bad seat available without paying $40 more more for E+:


Link to picture if inline doesn't display

Every flight I take on WN, I have a wide variety of seats available, and can always get an aisle, just by checking in at 24 hours before the flight. That seems a minor inconvenience to not sit 12 inches from a toilet. It baffles me that people think it's better to have a cra**y assigned seat rather than a selection of good ones.
This is a pretty hard apples to oranges comparison. It seems you have found a VERY full flight to make a point which doesn't apply. I jumped on Delta.com and didn't login and chose a Wed-Sun ATL->LAX. Chose the cheapest flights. 757 out with nice IFE and you can choose Aisle or Middle or either side of the plane from the middle back. Return is a 739 and middle to back is 100% open. You can choose Aisle, Middle or Window on either side from ~Row 22 and all the way to the back.

It's easy to find a full or semi full flight and take the stance to 'pick what you want' is better on Southwest. I'd completely disagree. I was a heavy Delta flyer and went to AirTran. As we know Southwest bought them out and as the highest tier AirTran I was given highest tier(no companion pass) on Southwest. It is what is essentially a worthless loyalty program for my business travel. 40+ Weekends a year. There were flights that if I didn't pay for the top boarding numbers I didn't have a window or aisle in an exit row.

The SAME travel(It is basically the same work schedule every year) on Delta I have Platinum Medallion and I get Comfort+ 99.99% of the time RIGHT after ticketing. I also, even in ATL, do see First Class upgrades. I have the last two years monitored pricing from what I paid the one year I flew Southwest and it's hardly any cheaper int he grand scheme of things. AND when I fly for fun/vacation my status applies to my wife AND I have miles and such to burn internationally. On Southwest I have nothing unless I want to go to Mexico/Caribbean.



Originally Posted by bitterproffit View Post
IMO the WN system works great for point to point travel. On busy flights you get OLCI. Even if you are in the high B boarding group you can sometimes snag exit row. If not, you can always snag an aisle seat.

It can fall apart rapidly on a connection though. You pay for OLCI, your flight is a little (or a lot) late arriving, and by the time you hot foot it over to your next flight, pretty much everyone else has boarded and you are stuck in a middle seat.

If I can get an assigned seat with 'even more room' with Jet Blue for about the same price as WN plus OLCI, I will go for it. On my BNA-BOS route that I take a lot, sometimes WN wins, sometimes JetBlue wins.
This was a major problem I ran into when I flew them. Direct flights no real issue(although no guarantee of exit row). If you connect and have any issues you could have a high number(one you may have PAID for) and it's value is suddenly worthless.


Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Time is money. If you think that standing in line at a gate like a 4th grader in order to get the seat of your choice is worth what you could be making sitting in the UA/AA/DL Club/Lounge, you need to be speaking with your head hunter.

But, to each his own.
Agreed 100%. When I get the lucky upgrade to FC I show up sometime during boarding while enjoying the SkyClub. I know if the FC bins are full my bag will go into the closet up front. And if I have my standard C+ seats the app says "Boarding" and that means 5-10min and walk to gate.


Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
You obviously haven't flown WN in 20 years or you'd know you have to line up only 2-3 minutes before you board.
I flew it 2 years ago and the actual gate agents say it 2-3min before but the gate lice show up FAR earlier than that. 30+ minutes people in the A group are already there. I see it every time in ATL when I am in those terminals and walk past.

Originally Posted by synergistic View Post

When time matters, I suck it up and take the middles or I just book another airline. Honestly, WN isn't any cheaper than the other legacies. If it weren't for CP I don't imagine I'd stick with them.

I got kinda rambly there, but my basic point is that I agree the system works well for knowledgeable travelers booking direct flights, but it has no way to protect those travelers on connecting flights, which is a major fail.
Agreed.
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Old May 14, 17, 12:06 pm
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Last edited by bitterproffit; May 14, 17 at 12:20 pm Reason: deleted
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Old May 14, 17, 12:22 pm
  #21  
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There is no reason whatsoever to line up for WN boarding more than 15 seconds ahead. Just because other people do so does not mean it makes sense.

I have never purchased anything other than WGA and have never bought EBCI. Check in at T-24. Never once in 20 years have I failed to get my preferred aisle. Very often get exit row infinite.
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Old May 14, 17, 12:45 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by toomanybooks View Post
There is no reason whatsoever to line up for WN boarding more than 15 seconds ahead. Just because other people do so does not mean it makes sense.

I have never purchased anything other than WGA and have never bought EBCI. Check in at T-24. Never once in 20 years have I failed to get my preferred aisle. Very often get exit row infinite.
Well, yes, obviously, with such simple preferences (any aisle seat on the whole plane), it's going to work for you.

But other people have harder-to-match preferences, like one of the first rows on the plane (and yet still not a middle seat). And if you're not boarding at the first stop of the day (ie, if there are thru passengers already on the plane), it doesn't matter how much $$$$ you paid, you're not likely to get the row 1 bulkhead if that was your preference (because what matters to you most is being one of the first people off of the plane when it lands). That's because with open seating (and point-to-point-to-point routes, and no requirement that passengers deplane at every stop), thru passengers who paid the lowest fare trump the passenger at a subsequent stop who paid the highest fare.
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Old May 14, 17, 12:56 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
You obviously haven't flown WN in 20 years or you'd know you have to line up only 2-3 minutes before you board.
He said 30 minutes before DEPARTURE. It's actually about 20 minutes, but the point remains that with assigned seating you can arrive at the gate later than you can on Southwest. Unless the flight is oversold, in which case several airlines will drop you from the flight 20 minutes before departure.
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Old May 14, 17, 12:58 pm
  #24  
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Originally Posted by dinanm3atl View Post
There were flights that if I didn't pay for the top boarding numbers I didn't have a window or aisle in an exit row.
Southwest has only a few seats with extra legroom. This wasn't a big problem until they added a row of seats. Now it's a deal breaker for people like you. I fully understand.
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Old May 14, 17, 1:50 pm
  #25  
 
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There are pros and cons.

It's frustrating when I buy BS and the entire front of the plane is full of through pax or when my family can't board with my A+ boarding pass and we have to go to the back to get three seats together.

I would say it is definitely a positive for people without status but I like how I can have economy plus for the whole family and all board first group together on United.
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Old May 14, 17, 5:27 pm
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I'm stating the obvious here, but I prefer the Legacies when having status. Assigned F with saved bin space (UA only Legacy that doesn't appear to save F bin space), I'd prefer being the last to board.

Without status, I prefer WN. Efficient, quick, and no confusion. Only complaint is that I have to show up 20 min before boarding, but the experience without status (or non F) on the Legacies are worse.
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Old May 14, 17, 7:23 pm
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Originally Posted by stampchez View Post
There are pros and cons.

It's frustrating when I buy BS and the entire front of the plane is full of through pax or when my family can't board with my A+ boarding pass and we have to go to the back to get three seats together.

I would say it is definitely a positive for people without status but I like how I can have economy plus for the whole family and all board first group together on United.
I totally forgot about this. I flew with my wife one time on Southwest with the top status and was completely floored that I could not board with my wife(IE bring her on with me). That is just completely stupid. Fast Forward to today and my family(wife and kids). We are flying to Orlando from Atlanta I already have our seats together in Comfort+ on Delta. Less than 200 each round trip. The C+ upgrades cleared instantly AND my wife is aligned with what is essentially Platinum Medallion traveling with me.

I get the positives of the operation and how it fits for a lot. After a year of using them though it was just too many negatives for me. Another major issue was zero lounges. I travel a good bit and have connections or colleagues coming in to same airports. Can't align travel 100% so spending 45min in a lounge is far better than 45min in the baggage area waiting for them.
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Old May 14, 17, 7:32 pm
  #28  
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Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
Not only that but letter + number assignment means no or few "gate lice". I have never had any trouble with Southwest's boarding system. It's just different.
This is definitely a benefit of the WN system, IMO. In discussions on other FT forums about the WN system inevitably someone makes a derisive remark about "cattle call" but it seems like for whatever reason fewer people cheat this way.

OTOH even on non-DL airlines where I have zero status I have been able to book decent seats of my choice when booking in advance, so shrug.
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Old May 14, 17, 8:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
You obviously haven't flown WN in 20 years or you'd know you have to line up only 2-3 minutes before you board.
Lining up and boarding starts 30 minutes before departure. If you are in the A group you must be in the gate 30 minutes before departure or you risk losing you best chance at a good seat, even if you are A-List. If you have status on other carriers you can select your seat in advance and board whenever you like.
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Old May 14, 17, 9:11 pm
  #30  
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Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
Well, yes, obviously, with such simple preferences (any aisle seat on the whole plane), it's going to work for you.

But other people have harder-to-match preferences, like one of the first rows on the plane (and yet still not a middle seat). And if you're not boarding at the first stop of the day (ie, if there are thru passengers already on the plane), it doesn't matter how much $$$$ you paid, you're not likely to get the row 1 bulkhead if that was your preference (because what matters to you most is being one of the first people off of the plane when it lands). That's because with open seating (and point-to-point-to-point routes, and no requirement that passengers deplane at every stop), thru passengers who paid the lowest fare trump the passenger at a subsequent stop who paid the highest fare.
Well, yeah.

As has been stated in this forum probably 10000 times over the years, if you have status on a legacy it's probably better than WN for you. And if you don't, WN is often preferable.

If a specific seat or first class or meals or Europe or twenty other things are important to you, do not fly WN. If free cancelability or free refaring or Companion Pass or free bags or twenty DIFFERENT things are important, fly WN.

If you fly WN, don't gripe about open seating or losing your boarding position when your connection is late. Go elsewhere.

It's like buying a Smart car and complaining about not having room for 20 bags of mulch.

Vanilla, chocolate. Spicy, mild. Sedan, SUV. Choose.
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