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Takeaways From My First Southwest Experience

Takeaways From My First Southwest Experience

Old Oct 21, 18, 11:22 am
  #1  
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Takeaways From My First Southwest Experience

I have been an ATL based DL DM and PM for many years. A client recently booked me on my first SW flight and my number one takeaway was how pleasurable the boarding process was.

No gate lice to deal with. I did not pay for early boarding and I checked in online at exactly T-24. I got a number in the high A section and everyone lined up in a very orderly fashion. Boarding was so simple. Why canít DL simply give everyone a number based on status/fare paid, etc. given that the current zones obviously arenít working?

My second takeaway was how much easier things can be with no reserved seats. As I boarded I noticed that the majority of windows and aisles were taken with most middle seats empty. Having reserved seats must add a huge additional burden for DL and passengers get upset when seat assignments change, families arenít seated together, etc.

My third takeaway was how nice it must be for those who check luggage (I never do) not to have to pay for it.

Overall I see the disadvantages of being stuck in Y on a long flight but I would definitely fly SW again if I had to.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 12:32 pm
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I prefer Delta overall compared to the other big US airlines. But having relocated from Atlanta to a 10 minute Uber ride from DCA, I probably fly AA and UA more than anyone else. That said, my MO has become that if I'm not booking some other airline in first class, I prefer Southwest and their boarding process to all of them. Just my opinion.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 12:41 pm
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Itís the extremely poor IROPS experiences Iíve had that keep from flying WN not the in flight/boarding process.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 12:49 pm
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I always think WN is great for intra-state flights. But, I like knowing where I sit on anything longer than that.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 1:13 pm
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Funny, I was thinking of posting something similar... on Friday I had my 2nd SW flight of 2018 but only my 3rd in ~10 years.

I've been a DL Plat nearly all of that time but begrudgingly took SW where I needed a non-stop, logistically, to make a tight work schedule.

Honestly, I hated the boarding process.

While it was nice to have people, for the most part, remain seated until their time instead of swarming the gate, I've experienced a great deal of gamesmanship within the lineup.

Friday's episode was the person who appeared to be a seasoned road warrior, "obliviously" hanging around B10 while trying to conceal the ~B30 on her mobile boarding pass.

The gate agents appear to be most concerned with pleasantly, respectfully and rapidly boarding everyone regardless of numerical position, so non-enforcement seems to encourage cheating.

On each flight I have encountered pairs playing the empty-middle-game as well, with a touch of passive aggression when I ask if the seat is available.

That having been said, I do love that middle seats in row 1, in my experience, tend to go unfilled during B group, so I can board as a commoner and enjoy almost better leg room than I do in F or C+ on DL.

I've found that, as a tall fella in a row 1 middle on SW, that I can just lean forward, close my eyes, and dream that I am on DL to pass the time while enduring the short SW flight. 😊

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Old Oct 21, 18, 1:47 pm
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Sure, if you're someone that always shows up early to the gate then the Southwest process will work. However if you prefer to have the option to board 15 minutes prior to departure (many people don't mind having to check their carry on), then that's not an option with Southwest unless you want to end up in the worst possible seat.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by ATLMike1234 View Post
Sure, if you're someone that always shows up early to the gate then the Southwest process will work. However if you prefer to have the option to board 15 minutes prior to departure (many people don't mind having to check their carry on), then that's not an option with Southwest unless you want to end up in the worst possible seat.
Why? Once you're checked in, you're assigned a Boarding line number. Doesn't matter if you show up while the line is boarding, you can still take your assigned spot. I've done this. What you can't do, is prance on in, wave some card around and demand to be boarded out of order because of status.
Without EBCI, if you check in at T-24 your boarding spot will almost always get you a aisle or window.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 2:17 pm
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Why? Once you're checked in, you're assigned a Boarding line number. Doesn't matter if you show up while the line is boarding, you can still take your assigned spot. I've done this. What you can't do, is prance on in, wave some card around and demand to be boarded out of order because of status.
Without EBCI, if you check in at T-24 your boarding spot will almost always get you a aisle or window.
Because you also can't prance on in and demand someone to be booted out of an aisle or window once they're already seated. Instead of picking your window/aisle/exit row easily on an app, you have to physically be there to board with your group instead of knowing that the seat is reserved for you.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by ATLMike1234 View Post
Because you also can't prance on in and demand someone to be booted out of an aisle or window once they're already seated. Instead of picking your window/aisle/exit row easily on an app, you have to physically be there to board with your group instead of knowing that the seat is reserved for you.
Yep... You don't want to fly WN. But if that stresses you, IRROPS on your chosen carrier must send you right round the bend.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by trentryan View Post
Itís the extremely poor IROPS experiences Iíve had that keep from flying WN not the in flight/boarding process.

Same - IRROPS is the number 1 reason, and the fact that they fly to about 50% of the places I travel is a distant second
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Old Oct 21, 18, 2:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Hipplewm View Post
Same - IRROPS is the number 1 reason, and the fact that they fly to about 50% of the places I travel is a distant second
IME, IRROPS aren't terrific on WN because they don't have any interline agreements. So you're pretty much limited to whatever they have going out of airport you're stuck in. And space available. About a decade ago, I noticed a significant reduction in flights per day per route and it's concomitant increase in cabin load per flight.
OTOH, they almost always fly if they can because they need the planes positioned along the route. OTOoH, I mostly fly the West Coast with WN and WEX is almost non-existent out here.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 5:32 pm
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
IME, IRROPS aren't terrific on WN because they don't have any interline agreements. So you're pretty much limited to whatever they have going out of airport you're stuck in. And space available. About a decade ago, I noticed a significant reduction in flights per day per route and it's concomitant increase in cabin load per flight.
OTOH, they almost always fly if they can because they need the planes positioned along the route. OTOoH, I mostly fly the West Coast with WN and WEX is almost non-existent out here.
In fairness, how is that different now from the new SOP of not cancelling, but delaying 10-12-14hrs, and not allowing pax to interline? Or only interlining if absolutely necessary?

Oddly, I actually looked to WN as an out of pocket alternative.
Folks are quick to mention WN IROPS, but having spent the last two major IT failures in ATL, and arriving at the destination at 4am were suboptimal.
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Last edited by Ysitincoach; Oct 21, 18 at 5:43 pm
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Old Oct 21, 18, 5:56 pm
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Originally Posted by bcphitau View Post
On each flight I have encountered pairs playing the empty-middle-game as well, with a touch of passive aggression when I ask if the seat is available.
Why would you have to ask if a seat was available? No butt in the seat..... then itís available.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 6:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Ysitincoach View Post
In fairness, how is that different now from the new SOP of not cancelling, but delaying 10-12-14hrs, and not allowing pax to interline? Or only interlining if absolutely necessary?

Oddly, I actually looked to WN as an out of pocket alternative.
Folks are quick to mention WN IROPS, but having spent the last two major IT failures in ATL, and arriving at the destination at 4am were suboptimal.
I *think* we're agreeing. WN isn't great or even that good at IRROPS.
My point beyond that was that on the routes I fly IRROPS are so rare and resolution is so easy when it does go pear-shaped (because they fly many flights a day on these routes, and in pinch even more flights if you are willing to make a cxn) that it's not even a real consideration when I select a carrier.
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Old Oct 21, 18, 6:06 pm
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Originally Posted by sydneyracquelle View Post
I have been an ATL based DL DM and PM for many years. A client recently booked me on my first SW flight and my number one takeaway was how pleasurable the boarding process was.

No gate lice to deal with. I did not pay for early boarding and I checked in online at exactly T-24. I got a number in the high A section and everyone lined up in a very orderly fashion. Boarding was so simple. Why can’t DL simply give everyone a number based on status/fare paid, etc. given that the current zones obviously aren’t working?

My second takeaway was how much easier things can be with no reserved seats. As I boarded I noticed that the majority of windows and aisles were taken with most middle seats empty. Having reserved seats must add a huge additional burden for DL and passengers get upset when seat assignments change, families aren’t seated together, etc.

My third takeaway was how nice it must be for those who check luggage (I never do) not to have to pay for it.

Overall I see the disadvantages of being stuck in Y on a long flight but I would definitely fly SW again if I had to.
This is a fluke. I can remember once when this happened to me on WN, but it only happened once. Typically, checking in right at T24 lands you in the upper half of B, or maybe the bottom of A.

And don't be seduced by this. The first time you have IRROPS on WN, the bloom will be off the rose--believe me.
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