The "advantages" of assigned seating

Old May 16, 17, 7:03 pm
  #61  
 
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
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.
Yes. It is bad on Legacies. Real bad. This is mostly because like I said earlier there is zero enforcement to boarding zones so everyone knows they can just crowd gate and when SKY(on DL) is called just bury yourself in the line and get on.

DL is trying in ATL to fix this. They have Southwest like pillars that say PREM, SKY, Z1-3. And they ask to get into your queue area away from the actual GA and gate entrance.

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 understand that. Again I'd like to reiterate I was only replying to the one comment that 'you haven't flown Southwest in 20 years then' like no one lines up early. It does happen.

Originally Posted by rsteinmetz70112 View Post
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.
Can definitely vouch for this on AirTran. I was Delta -> AirTran -> Southwest -> Delta. On AirTran I started by paying to choose seat and quickly gained their highest loyalty tier and chose exit rows for free. I'd see the seatmap until 2-4 hours before flight was basically wide open while the flight was 'sold out' except for First Class.

And for me who checks-in early at T24 the upgrade system was awesome. First one to check-in was P1 for upgrade. One time a few years ago(last year before Southwest merger) I was upgraded 15ish times in a row. Most people weren't buying AirTran FC. It was great.

Originally Posted by nsx View Post
Southwest can do almost anything EXCEPT impose change fees and I'll stay loyal.
I think you are the majority as well. Southwest for sure has loyal travelers and even baggage fees or assigned seating wouldn't alter it.
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Old May 17, 17, 5:33 am
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Originally Posted by dinanm3atl View Post
How often were you actually seeing 'seat poaching' or seat swap request? I was in Seat 3D IND-ATL on Saturday this week on an upgrade. The first time in at least two years I was asked to switch(to seat 2D). The guy wanted to sit next to his business partner.
It used to happen frequently enough that it was noticeable. Family of four buys tickets late and all that's left are middle seats. They board, and decide single-guy me looks like a good candidate to trade with. They offer me little Timmy's middle seat at the back of the plane. Then little Timmy starts crying when I say no, and suddenly the FA and other nearby passengers are pleading with me to move so little Timmy can sit with daddy. Am I exaggerating? Maybe a little, but like I said, it happened often enough to be annoying.

At least on Southwest, if they are at least a little attentive they can check in early enough to get a decent shot at seats together even if its at the back of the plane. Or pay for EBCI if they want to. But the best part is, they're no longer attached to the single middle seat next to me and thus they will keep looking elsewhere.
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Old May 17, 17, 5:42 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?
I am thinking that maybe the survey was illustrated with a picture of the Unlimited Legroom seat... "Ooohh, look at that awesome seat! If that's what we'll get with assigned seating, sign me up!"

Maybe both camps will be satisfied if the Unlimited Legroom seat came with a barrier around it that can be unlocked by inserting a $20 bill. Or $50.
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Old May 17, 17, 7:04 am
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Locating some older articles about surveys and such, apparently Southwest did a lot of studying around 2006/2007 in regards to open seating, assigned seating, family sections, etc.

The fact that nothing got implemented on a permanent basis, and that the planes are probably more full now than ever, seems to indicate that people are fine with the current system.
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Old May 17, 17, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by jeffandnicole View Post
The fact that nothing got implemented on a permanent basis, and that the planes are probably more full now than ever, seems to indicate that people are fine with the current system.
Not following your logic.

Packed planes amplify seat saving complaints, pre-board cons, on-board through volatility and boarding anxiety in general. All inherent in open seating.

It's not the same airline is was eleven years ago. By many multiples.
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Old May 17, 17, 3:37 pm
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Originally Posted by LegalTender View Post
Not following your logic.

Packed planes amplify seat saving complaints, pre-board cons, on-board through volatility and boarding anxiety in general. All inherent in open seating.

It's not the same airline is was eleven years ago. By many multiples.
I think what he's getting at is people might complain but they are still buying tickets so why would the airline want to change anything.
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Old May 17, 17, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by rsteinmetz70112 View Post

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.
i find you still need to show up somewhat early to get space for the roller bag. Yes advantage legacy but I rarely use it
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Old May 17, 17, 3:42 pm
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And the amplified complaints about seat-poaching, preboard cons, and the like *might* be a more of a Flyertalk phenomenon than an actual deluge of emails at Southwest HQ.

But totally agree it's a very different airline than a decade ago. It's not a *bad* airline now, but with the demise of RR1.0 and the drink coupon situation, it became just another airline to me.

Prior to that, it was one of those brands that people once had an emotional connection to. It was a brand that got case-studied in business school almost as much as Nordstrom, Starbucks, Apple, and Costco. Emotional connections to *any* brand might be completely illogical (I won't argue with that), but I do believe with Southwest, that once existed in a way it did not for AA/US/NW/DL/UA/CO.
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Old May 17, 17, 3:52 pm
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Originally Posted by jeffandnicole View Post
The fact that nothing got implemented on a permanent basis, and that the planes are probably more full now than ever, seems to indicate that people are fine with the current system.
Or with 4 majors, a horrendous lack of competition since the last studies, any complaints are falling on deaf ears? When they tend to act lock-step in a race towards the bottom, what's point in listening?
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Old May 17, 17, 5:14 pm
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Bad marketing

Seat maps on American sometimes show every middle seat available from a front row to the back and nothing else. Am I just too touchy by seeing this as an insult to (previously) frequent customers? I switch to United or Delta who do not seem to do this with their nearly empty flights.

Surely this is not very profitable. Lose a customer about to spend a few hundred on a ticket for the chance that they won't be irritated and switch to elsewhere and will even maybe give American a few tens of $ to avoid a middle seat.

Bad for customer relations and probably bad math.
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Old May 18, 17, 6:55 am
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Originally Posted by Marko123 View Post
I think what he's getting at is people might complain but they are still buying tickets so why would the airline want to change anything.
Exactly.

Originally Posted by joshua362 View Post
Or with 4 majors, a horrendous lack of competition since the last studies, any complaints are falling on deaf ears? When they tend to act lock-step in a race towards the bottom, what's point in listening?
When you look at the buyouts, mergers and acquisitions, usually the larger, more powerful company becomes the legacy company. In the Southwest/AirTran merge, either airline could've been the legacy. If it was AirTran, that would signify that people weren't happy with Southwest and AirTran's policies were the better of the two.

Obviously, Southwest was the name they stuck with in that merger, which signifies that any complaints are in the minority. They could have easily gone with AirTran's system of assigned seats instead.
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Old May 18, 17, 8:24 am
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Originally Posted by jeffandnicole View Post
In the Southwest/AirTran merge, either airline could've been the legacy.
Wrong. Southwest bought much smaller AirTran to bulk up, not end its run. They could have killed FL change fees, seat selection fees, bag fees and yanked out J seats, but chose to bank 3 1/2 years of ancillary revenues.

There were never notions of a business class, repainting WN livery or FL as a stand-alone subsidiary. And no factual basis to argue assigned seating was ever eyed as an heirloom.
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Old May 18, 17, 8:45 am
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By the time if the Airtran acquisition, I already thought of Southwest as a "major", national U.S. airline. I never set foot on an Airtran plane and can't recall even *seeing* many of their planes, and I mainly thought of them as a small regional player. I was vaguely aware that they were strong in the southeast, but I was doing all of my travel north, east, and west where I hardly ever even walked past one of their gates.

So I personally find it hard to believe that Airtran could have seriously been considered as the lasting presence. My mix of regular business trips included quite a few major airports where Airtran was a tiny player if they were there at all.

I know there have been mergers where the smaller airline's technology and back-office processes remained in place, even though the larger's brand is more valuable. Apparently HP/US was one of these.
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Old May 18, 17, 9:32 am
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IMO AirTran was a better airline but my opinion is biased. Wish they would have kept a lot of what AirTran did.
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Old May 18, 17, 7:54 pm
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Originally Posted by dinanm3atl View Post
IMO AirTran was a better airline but my opinion is biased. Wish they would have kept a lot of what AirTran did.
I was a ISP WN fan boy since 1999 but a few times a year had to get to ATL and the Airtran business seat was worth every penny and usually priced the same as AT/BS. It was sweet at least 20 times for me.
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