The "advantages" of assigned seating

Old May 16, 17, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by dinanm3atl View Post
I was replying to the person saying someone had not flown WN in 20 years if he thinks people are lining up early. They are. From 5, 10 or 30min early. Whatever their reasoning is they are doing it.
I sometimes line up 5 minutes early because I want to stretch my legs or because there's nowhere to sit in the gate area (I often arrive to the gate area 5-10 mins before boarding starts and those who arrived 2 hours in advance or whatever have spread out over all the seats). Standing in my boarding position is no better or worse than standing elsewhere in the terminal.

The point is that you don't have to line up early. There's no advantage to doing so. You can line up for A when they're boarding BS and you will be on board in < 2 mins.
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Old May 16, 17, 6:57 am
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It's the age old game show...playing with numbers!

Originally Posted by LegalTender View Post
40% of WN flyers surveyed a decade ago wanted open seating gone. Given seat density and load factors of today, it's hard to think that disposition shrank.
In other words, 60% liked open seating. Why would a company say "The majority of people like something...so let's get rid of it!"? We've seen the results of the vocal minority trying to get their way, and succeeding, only to find out that many of those people never used the service often anyway, were one-time users of the service, or didn't even use the service but said they did.

In the meantime, the frequent users of the system suffer, and the company itself suffers because now the people that liked the company are now mad at the changes.
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Old May 16, 17, 7:37 am
  #48  
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Originally Posted by dinanm3atl View Post
I was replying to the person saying someone had not flown WN in 20 years if he thinks people are lining up early. They are. From 5, 10 or 30min early. Whatever their reasoning is they are doing it.
But it's worse on legacies. There's a large clump of gate lice surrounding every UA/AA/DL gate long before they call for first-class boarding. If you're in first class, you often have to push through the clump of people. On Southwest, the A's can line up whenever they like, but they're out of the way. And if you *don't* want to line up, just show up 30 seconds before they start boarding.

As for the example of sitting in the lounge until the door is about to close (as opposed to when boarding starts), who really does this? I've only done it twice - both times flying LH when their agent was taking me directly to the aircraft - and I even then, knowing the LH doesn't just let their first-class passengers miss flights willy nilly, I was nervous as hell about it. (Hey, shouldn't we go now? No, not yet?)

If I'm flying AA and hanging out in the lounge, I still find my way to the gate 30 minutes prior to boarding. Most gates don't really operate the priority queue as a truly separate queue, so showing up late ends up being a pain even if you're in F. The WN process is actually superior to the typical legacy process, whether you have elite status or not.
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Old May 16, 17, 8:23 am
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Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
I sometimes line up 5 minutes early because I want to stretch my legs or because there's nowhere to sit in the gate area (I often arrive to the gate area 5-10 mins before boarding starts and those who arrived 2 hours in advance or whatever have spread out over all the seats). Standing in my boarding position is no better or worse than standing elsewhere in the terminal.

The point is that you don't have to line up early. There's no advantage to doing so. You can line up for A when they're boarding BS and you will be on board in < 2 mins.
I usually get to the concourse 30 minutes before boarding to allow for traffic getting to the airport. I usually get to the gate at about the time listed on the BP, which is usually 5-10 minutes before boarding starts. I usually line up when the OA askes people to start lining up. I like to streatch my legs before boarding and being stuck in the seat during the flight. However I also find that if you are A 16-30, they often board immediately behind BS, especially when there are only a few BS. Sometines they even call A 1-30 at the same time allowing no time to get ino line. If you miss your place in the queue, you may not get your favorite seat. I once let the Archbishop of New Orleans cut in front of me (he had the number after mine). He got my favorite exit row aisle seat.
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Old May 16, 17, 8:29 am
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Originally Posted by jeffandnicole View Post
In other words, 60% liked open seating. Why would a company say "The majority of people like something...so let's get rid of it!"? We've seen the results of the vocal minority trying to get their way, and succeeding, only to find out that many of those people never used the service often anyway, were one-time users of the service, or didn't even use the service but said they did.
Only RR program members participated. Doubtful that many had never flown Southwest.

In 2006, 60% preferred "some form of open seating" while 40% wanted assigned seating.

Airlines are squeezing people into smaller seats, making passengers cramped, cranky and craving comfort.

They need to ask again.
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Old May 16, 17, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by LegalTender View Post
Only RR program members participated. Doubtful that many had never flown Southwest.

In 2006, 60% preferred "some form of open seating" while 40% wanted assigned seating.

Airlines are squeezing people into smaller seats, making passengers cramped, cranky and craving comfort.

They need to ask again.
Why would the people responding to such a survey think that assigned seating would somehow lead them to *greater* comfort?

In terms of comfort, it's open seating that works in my favor: I know I'm never going to occupy a middle seat. I'm *almost* always going to get the seat I want. Even when T-24 check-in results in B30, and I get a little worried about maybe having to take a window instead of an aisle...I still get an aisle.

Assigned seating on a near-in booking would leave me with more windows (assuming I have status) or middles (if I don't have status).
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Old May 16, 17, 9:00 am
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
In terms of comfort, it's open seating that works in my favor: I know I'm never going to occupy a middle seat. I'm *almost* always going to get the seat I want. Even when T-24 check-in results in B30, and I get a little worried about maybe having to take a window instead of an aisle...I still get an aisle.
This is great because it works for your situation, I assume you don't connect often.

I don't want assigned seating either.

But it really sucks to overpay for BS or otherwise have a decent boarding position and been stuck in the middle for a transcon or other lengthy flight because your 1 hour hop is late.

That needs to be fixed somehow.
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Old May 16, 17, 9:06 am
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Why would the people responding to such a survey think that assigned seating would somehow lead them to *greater* comfort? .
Because selling an extra-legroom option with free-for-all boarding is difficult.

The vintage 1971 "nobody is special" culture is obsolete.
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Old May 16, 17, 9:44 am
  #54  
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Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
This is great because it works for your situation, I assume you don't connect often.
Often? On WN, it's almost never. That's the entire value of a point-to-point carrier. If I have to use a hub, I begrudgingly use AA's hubs.

But it really sucks to overpay for BS or otherwise have a decent boarding position and been stuck in the middle for a transcon or other lengthy flight because your 1 hour hop is late.

That needs to be fixed somehow.
I empathize, but I'm not sure what the fix is. It's kind of a niche problem for which dumping their entire boarding process is a bit overkill.

Originally Posted by LegalTender
Because selling an extra-legroom option with free-for-all boarding is difficult.
Has Southwest brought back the discussion of implementing F, E+, or something similar? I wasn't aware this was on the table. With flights close to 100% full, it might not be a high priority to do this. I know it gets talked about here every few years...it seems like Southwest studies it and decides not to do it.

The vintage 1971 "nobody is special" culture is obsolete.
I disagree: I think the pendulum could swing the other direction. Just this spring, I've seen more and more articles written about "calculated misery" - airlines intentionally making things hard for travelers in order to coax them into striving for elite status or buying add-ons. I've long thought that airlines have all the technology and data necessary to correctly staff call centers and airport check-in desks to minimize queues - but purposely choose not to because the misery inflicted on those passengers enhances the value of status, upgraded service, etc.

But as more and more people become consciously aware of this, I think a relatively egalitarian carrier like Southwest could benefit. Especially in markets where Southwest's base fare aligns closely (or identically) to the base AA/UA/DL fare.

Of course WN isn't 100% egalitarian, but the implementation of AL and AL+ are softer than a legacy status: they aren't used to beat up non-elites too badly. That's in stark contrast to the legacies, where flying as a non-elite is, well, miserable in every way.
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Old May 16, 17, 10:52 am
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Open seating problems aren't "niche" issues.

GK floated assigned seating in conjunction with the $500 million IT upgrade. He always walks it back, and then later boasts how the new system is ideally suited.

Not all markets are WN-dominant like MCI.

It's daydreaming to think WN can poach flyers in markets filled with comfort seating options with open seating. I think they're at a crossroads.
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Old May 16, 17, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Has Southwest brought back the discussion of implementing F, E+, or something similar? I wasn't aware this was on the table. With flights close to 100% full, it might not be a high priority to do this. I know it gets talked about here every few years...it seems like Southwest studies it and decides not to do it.
Well, every time they've studied it before they probably used the obsolete reservation system as a factor in deciding not to do it.

But now that they've got a new reservation system, some decisions they decided one way may get decided in a different way the next time they look at them, because a "crippled" reservation system won't be an excuse any more not to do it.

Having said that, don't hold your breath. They have to be confident that the new reservation system works well first, and then they have to first use it to tailor schedules more than they could in the past and stuff like that (which doesn't involve changing the interior of planes). Decisions that would change the interior of planes are presumably much further off from being revisited, simply because there are so many other changes the new reservation system makes possible that don't change the interior of planes, and they'll presumably focus on those first.
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Old May 16, 17, 2:02 pm
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Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
This is great because it works for your situation, I assume you don't connect often.

I don't want assigned seating either.

But it really sucks to overpay for BS or otherwise have a decent boarding position and been stuck in the middle for a transcon or other lengthy flight because your 1 hour hop is late.

That needs to be fixed somehow.
I recommended that the first few rows be reserved for BS passengers, but apparently the "disabled" pre-boarders take priority.
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Old May 16, 17, 2:13 pm
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Originally Posted by LegalTender View Post
It's daydreaming to think WN can poach flyers in markets filled with comfort seating options with open seating. I think they're at a crossroads.
Assigned seating may win some travelers, but getting rid of open seating may also lose a lot of business travelers who buy their tickets 3 to 7 days from departure. Those travelers - who today would often be stuck with no choices at all until OLCI - at least know they can get aisle seats on WN.

The EXP/1K type flier is already lost or won based on things besides the seating process. They either want the global route map and *real* premium cabins (long-haul) on their legacy carrier, or they like the specific point-to-points that Southwest has.

I don't have a huge dog in the fight...other than to say if Southwest moves to assigned seating, I'd probably move a lot of my LGA, PHX, and CHI travel over to AA. With Lifetime Gold there, I can sometimes see decent seats ahead of time, and then move to MCE during OLCI.
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Old May 16, 17, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Assigned seating may win some travelers, but getting rid of open seating may also lose a lot of business travelers who buy their tickets 3 to 7 days from departure. Those travelers - who today would often be stuck with no choices at all until OLCI - at least know they can get aisle seats on WN.
It is probably quite manageable. If you give Elites free seat selection and charged for seat selection including charging more for Exit Row or Bulkhead even possibly for seating in front of the Exit Row experience on many airlines shows that a great many people will not purchase seats and get a seat assigned at check in. Airtran, Spirit, Frontier and others use or used some variation of this. On Airtran you could bookmark the seat map and literally look as the seating chart as it filled up. Seldom were many seats selected before check-in and a surprising number of people never bothered to check in before they got to the airport.
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Old May 16, 17, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
I don't have a huge dog in the fight...other than to say if Southwest moves to assigned seating, I'd probably move a lot of my LGA, PHX, and CHI travel over to AA. With Lifetime Gold there, I can sometimes see decent seats ahead of time, and then move to MCE during OLCI.
Southwest can do almost anything EXCEPT impose change fees and I'll stay loyal.
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