The "advantages" of assigned seating

Old May 18, 17, 9:32 pm
  #76  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: LAX
Posts: 9,402
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 am a-list actually through some corporate promo and the fact that driving to LAX vs BUR annoys me more than WN seating policy...

a couple times very recently i was at the gate about 20 min before departure and they were boarding C..
another positive for assigned seating is that i can often ask for seats without seatmates at the end of boarding (obviously if the flight is not packed) while on WN this is completely outside my control..

imo having assigned seating would make wn more appealing especially on longer flights
azepine00 is offline  
Old May 18, 17, 9:38 pm
  #77  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: North America
Posts: 2,067
Open seating or assigned seating, there will always be the non-frequent-traveler losers who will get shafted with a middle seat on a legacy airline or a middle seat on Southwest. Those of us 'in the know' do OK with either setups because we know what to do and when to do it.
CodeAdam10 is offline  
Old May 18, 17, 11:37 pm
  #78  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Traveling the World
Posts: 5,357
I don't mind the open seating on Southwest if the fare is cheaper than Delta or other legacy carriers then I am totally fine with Southwest open seating I do like being able to chose my seat but then again if I am flying on Southwest you don't pay extra for a window , Emergency Exit or front of the plane window.

Its very fair that they have the A-B-C 1-60 boarding group and if you don't want to pay for Early Checkin then checking in 24 hours in advance still gives you a good seat then that is fine.
danielonn is offline  
Old May 19, 17, 4:27 pm
  #79  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: STL / MCI
Posts: 92
For me, advantages of assigned seats include:

1) Ability to choose your seat in advance

2) ~95% chance you won't have trouble keeping your seat if you board late provided some other passenger doesn't decide to snatch it from you before you get on (see my write up on seat poaching below).

3) In many cases, some of the better seats cost more, but you get more leg room. In business and first class, you typically get more legroom and more services.

Disadvantages of assigned seats:

1) Equipment swaps. Probably won't be an issue on Southwest as much as other airlines because they uses 737's. However, if your plane goes from a 752 to a 739, for example, now the seats are all jumbled up, and that wonderful bulkhead aisle you booked in advanced is now a middle seat several rows back. I won't even begin to get into the whole kerfuffle with groups (usually families with children) who have been separated due to an equipment swap.

2) Seat poaching. This is where someone is sitting in your seat (and this is one reason I personally try to board ASAP on AA when I fly it so I am far less likely to deal with this). Sometimes it's a mistake, sometimes, they will sit there no matter what. If you have an unsympathetic flight attendant, you will be forced to sit where the poacher was supposed to sit, and it's usually the middle further back.

3) Drama surrounding "will you please trade me seats?" People will make up reasons or will try to guilt trip you in taking an inferior seat. Happens all the time.

Anyway, regarding seat poaching and seat trading, there are many threads outside of the Southwest RR subforum that are dedicated to these very issues. They span dozens of pages in many cases. Here is one of them:

Seat Swapping, Seat Poaching and Seating Etiquette: The Definitive Thread
Poker2012chu is offline  
Old May 19, 17, 5:42 pm
  #80  
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Blue Ridge, GA
Posts: 4,654
Originally Posted by poker2012chu View Post
(2) ~95% chance you won't have trouble keeping your seat if you board late provided some other passenger doesn't decide to snatch it from you before you get on (see my write up on seat poaching below).
How does this drama "happen all the time" with such a small incident percentage?

​​​
LegalTender is online now  
Old May 19, 17, 11:04 pm
  #81  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1,171
I'm less than convinced that unsympathetic FAs allow seat poaching even kind of often on assigned seating flights. I'm pretty non-confrontational, and if someone poached rudely, I swear i'd leave a plane before being unfairly displaced, especially with a short connection. If it actually came to that, I'm quite sure I'd be well compensated by AA/DL for the issue.

I actually feel like WN puts their FAs in a difficult position, lacking an actual policy re: seat saving. I'd hate to mediate some of the situations I've read about here.
synergistic is offline  
Old May 20, 17, 7:53 pm
  #82  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: home = LAX
Posts: 24,567
Originally Posted by LegalTender View Post
Originally Posted by Poker2012chu View Post
2) ~95% chance you won't have trouble keeping your seat if you board late provided some other passenger doesn't decide to snatch it from you before you get on (see my write up on seat poaching below).​
How does this drama "happen all the time" with such a small incident percentage?​​​
Check your math. 95% would mean 1 out of every 20 boardings (and thus 1 out of every 10 roundtrips, or even 1 out of every 5 roundtrips with a connection in each direction)! That's awful!

(That's why any company which tells you their product is so reliable because it works 99% of the time, that's hogwash meant only to impress the math-averse. Internet which is 99% reliable would still include being down about a third of a day each month. )

I've done many hundreds (if not a thousand or more) of boardings on AA and AS over the past couple decades with never this happening (that wasn't instantly resolved, as in someone had just misunderstood which seat was theirs), but then I virtually always have exit rows reserved (I have enough status to get those free at booking time, and I only book flights which have them available).

If something like that happened to be on 1 out every 20 flights I was on, I would say the seat assignment system was totally broken!
sdsearch is offline  
Old May 21, 17, 12:07 am
  #83  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: GEG
Posts: 95
Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
That's why any company which tells you their product is so reliable because it works 99% of the time, that's hogwash meant only to impress the math-averse. Internet which is 99% reliable would still include being down about a third of a day each month.
That's a good point. It's like when that guy Paul says that Sprint's reliability is within 1% of Verizon. I'm like, "So, you are saying that Verizon is more reliable..." Not a good selling point.
Cruss74 is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 1:45 pm
  #84  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: From MCI, now living in DFW
Programs: AA PLT, AC; Avis PP, Hyatt Plat
Posts: 901
Originally Posted by Cruss74 View Post
That's a good point. It's like when that guy Paul says that Sprint's reliability is within 1% of Verizon. I'm like, "So, you are saying that Verizon is more reliable..." Not a good selling point.
Verizon's selling point has always been that their higher rates are "worth it" because of the better reliability. Sprint's advertising is suggesting that paying 10% more for a 1% improvement in reliability is silly. How rational consumers chose to interpret that and spend money accordingly is their business. Southwest has no checked bag fees, but neither does a Plus or Flex ticket on JetBlue- the difference is how much cash you're willing to shell out for that benefit

Back to the topic at hand, whatever the actual % success rate of seat poachers on Legacies, it's far less than 5% (I'm not including people moving to empty extra legroom seats from regular coach). I've encountered people sitting in my seat when flying legacies on occasion, and they almost always move when asked, or their assigned seat is preferable to me and I sit there. Sure, there are circumstances where someone refuses to move, and the FAs tell you to take their seat because they are under pressure to get the flight out, but for the most part FAs I know are more than happy to tell a pax to take their assigned seat or be removed from the flight.

On the other hand, when I'm flying southwest, I almost always encounter someone being dodgy about their boarding position when I step up to the stanchions and ask so as to position myself correctly. My favorite is hearing "I don't think it really matters" from people holding C30+ BPs who obviously DO think it matters, otherwise they wouldn't be lining up with the A group.
That said, I've also gotten some astonishingly good seats on WN holding a B30+ BP (including 12A), and usually manage an aisle seat.

My takeaway:
Assigned seats = you will most likely sit in the seat on your BP, and there's a minimal chance you wind up more or less comfortable (open seat next to you vs COS next to you)
Open Seating = the range of outcomes is much broader, but you have more control over your seating destiny. You have to be at the gate when your group is called, but so does everyone with a BP ahead of yours. On any given flight, you could be sitting in 12A, 24E, or anywhere in between. Boarding position loosely correlates with seat quality, but there will always be exceptions (couples or groups with low BP#s that want to sit together will take less desirable seats, and preboards and families may get to board ahead of their assigned BP#, getting more desirable seats).

The idea that one method can be objectively and unequivocally proven "better" is silly. It's not like Airline A has a fair and orderly boarding/seating process, and Airline B smacks you in the face with a shovel after scanning your BP.
captaink is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 2:38 pm
  #85  
nsx
Moderator: Southwest Airlines
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: California
Programs: WN Companion Pass, A-list preferred, United Club ex-Lifetime Member
Posts: 19,701
Originally Posted by captaink View Post
The idea that one method can be objectively and unequivocally proven "better" is silly. It's not like Airline A has a fair and orderly boarding/seating process, and Airline B smacks you in the face with a shovel after scanning your BP.
I contend that Southwest's process delivers better seats than assigned seating to the people who care most about it. People who don't care very much and are therefore not motivated to make any effort (such as T-24 checkin or paying EBCI) will do better with assigned seating. And of course, people with status who are upgraded do better on airlines offering that.
nsx is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 4:26 pm
  #86  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,494
Originally Posted by Cruss74 View Post
That's a good point. It's like when that guy Paul says that Sprint's reliability is within 1% of Verizon. I'm like, "So, you are saying that Verizon is more reliable..." Not a good selling point.
At least Sprint seeks to offer a sensible tradeoff for the 1%: rates that are half (or less) than Verizon's.

With airlines, they pretty much all charge the same fare.
pinniped is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 4:37 pm
  #87  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: home = LAX
Posts: 24,567
Originally Posted by captaink View Post
Verizon's selling point has always been that their higher rates are "worth it" because of the better reliability.
No, that may have been their initial selling point, but their selling point in recent years (including current ads) has more often been on coverage differences, which are completely different from reliability differences.

And notice that Sprint's ads never dare compare Sprint's coverage to any other carrier, only their reliability.

Which is sort of akin to grocery store foolishness like bags of sugar touting that they're 0% fat, or bottles of cooking oil saying they are sugar-free.

Ie, companies tend to tout what's in their favor, and conveniently forget to mention other factors which are not in their favor.

In Southwest's arena of open seating: How many times does Southwest tout ways to get early boarding for better access to open seating (including the paid EBCI), but then how few times does Southwest explain that on connecting flights your preferred seat may very well already be taken by "through" passengers?

Last edited by sdsearch; May 23, 17 at 4:44 pm
sdsearch is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 4:39 pm
  #88  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,494
Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
No, that may have been their initial selling point, but their selling point in recent years (including current ads) has more often been on coverage differences, which are completely different from reliability differences.

And notice that Sprint's ads never dare compare Sprint's coverage to any other carrier, only their reliability.

Which is sort of akin to grocery store foolishness like bags of sugar touting that they're 0% fat, or bottles of cooking oil saying they are sugar-free.

Ie, companies tend to tout what's in their favor, and conveniently forget to mention other factors which are not in their favor.
If you want to sell your product to hipsters, just call it "gluten-free". (Even if it's painfully obvious that it never had gluten to begin with.)
pinniped is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 4:42 pm
  #89  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Chicago
Programs: WN A list CP, UA Silver, Marriott Platinum, IHG Spire, National EE
Posts: 312
Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
If you want to sell your product to hipsters, just call it "gluten-free". (Even if it's painfully obvious that it never had gluten to begin with.)
Gluten free airfares?
Putnik is offline  
Old May 23, 17, 6:11 pm
  #90  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: From MCI, now living in DFW
Programs: AA PLT, AC; Avis PP, Hyatt Plat
Posts: 901
Originally Posted by nsx View Post
I contend that Southwest's process delivers better seats than assigned seating to the people who care most about it. People who don't care very much and are therefore not motivated to make any effort (such as T-24 checkin or paying EBCI) will do better with assigned seating. And of course, people with status who are upgraded do better on airlines offering that.
It's well documented here that checking in at T-24 or buying EBCI does not guarantee a specific boarding position or seat will be available, which is why I believe that Open seating means a broader range of outcomes, even for people who are proactive about their BP #. A flight could have 100 Preboards, BS, A-listers, and families, or next to none. EBCI is a $15 wager that most other passengers didn't also buy it, and that no one with a worse boarding position gets to skip your place in line. On some routes, that same $15 will buy you an assigned favorable/extra legroom seat with a Legacy carrier.

That said, if you have an assigned seat, and upon boarding, find that your seatmate/s are objectionable, you'll have a harder time swapping to another seat. On Southwest, unless you are the very last person boarding, you will be able to pick the least bad remaining seat.
captaink is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: