Is boarding really faster?

Old Jan 22, 2022, 11:41 am
  #1  
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Is boarding really faster?

One thing I commonly hear from people who fly SWA regularly is that the boarding process is faster than other airlines. I personally haven't found this to be true, in fact, sometimes I find boarding to be slower because people grab the first available seats which clogs up the jet bridge and aisle. I suppose having two free checked bags does help with boarding times because it encourages people to check bags rather than cram a roller into the overhead.

What is your experience with SWA boarding? Is it faster than other airlines?
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Old Jan 22, 2022, 11:46 am
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This has been discussed ad nauseum on this forum. Lots of variables, but IME yes it's faster.
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Old Jan 22, 2022, 12:10 pm
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The questionable 2014 "Mythbusters" staging enactment found open seating beats assigned seating. Boarding window/middle/aisle was almost as good, but no airline I know does it that way. The mock passengers on “Mythbusters” also deemed the free-for-all method to be 'least pleasant.'

Open seating is polarizing. Its fans won't have it any other way. Others loathe it in ways that are not quantifiable.

To revive business travel, Bob Jordan will consult data on their boarding order preference. I doubt it will be conclusive. I also doubt he has the grit and daring to fundamentally alter much.
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Old Jan 22, 2022, 12:18 pm
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This argument has been going on for years with the only one that gets more posts being "seat saving".

The process works. They are the #1 domestic airline for a good reason.
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Old Jan 22, 2022, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere
This argument has been going on for years with the only one that gets more posts being "seat saving".

The process works. They are the #1 domestic airline for a good reason.
Boarding integrity not up for debate. Unprofessional.

Sound argument.
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Old Jan 22, 2022, 9:32 pm
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Originally Posted by poisson
I find boarding to be slower because people grab the first available seats which clogs up the jet bridge and aisle.
People clogging up the aisle happens regardless of assigned or no assigned seating. All it takes is one person to get into confusion with their family about who gets window/aisle and what needs to go in overhead and what doesn't.

For every one person that clogs up the aisle, you have a good 10+ people who take the first available seat, which speeds up the process greatly. Open seating = faster boarding process.
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Old Jan 22, 2022, 10:01 pm
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Originally Posted by LegalTender
Others loathe it in ways that are not quantifiable.

Not directed at you because I have no idea your thought on open seating. But I have to admit hearing people that loathe open seating really cracks me up in general, mainly because there are so many things you can do to prevent the agony if you don't be lazy and follow the rules.

If you play the Southwest "game", you are rewarded. If you are lazy, you are in for a world of hurt. And playing the game isn't even that difficult. Book early and try to refare down by monitoring the flight fare (definitely do this with points). Try to avoid booking last minute because WN will always crush you on the fare. Try to accumulate points through CC bonus offers and other spend so you have added points flexibility on refareing / changing flights. Check in at 24 hours so you get the seat you need (If i do this I already get the aisle seat I want practically every time). Pay for EBCI if you have mega paranoid anxiety and can't figure out how to set an alarm clock (waste of money IMO but to each their own). Line up when called and take any open seat. If you are the type that frequently changes flights (days/times) open seating is a godsend because I will still get my aisle by checking 24 hours prior even if I booked the flight last minute. Re-faring on a mostly full AA/DL flight a few days before probably lands me a middle seat. Ironic isn't it.

God I hope they never go to assigned seating because there is literally zero to gain. Could you imagine the delays they will see across the board from this confusion? The only good thing is WN's "IT Department" probably has no way of even programming assigned seating to their system. They can barely run a reservation system the way it is.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 8:33 am
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I never looked at it to be faster. I look at WN boarding to be less frustrating. And I believe it is simply because there's no gate lice to push through, to wonder if you're actually in line or not, etc. Getting boarding space numbers seems quite childish, but the alternative used by all other airlines is somehow even less civilized.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 9:18 am
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I would be very interested to see academic studies of boarding/deplaning speed across major airlines!

Anecdotally (I've flown the vast majority of my lifetime segments on WN), boarding and deplaning just seem slower on WN planes. It's likely a combo platter of internal bias (WN literally gives me anxiety and stresses me out) and situational bias (I'm typically seated farther back on a WN plane).

But I think there are other factors at play here: WN at least has the image of attracting more casual/infrequent flyers (like my parents or colleagues) who may be a bit slower, there are almost definitely more families on WN (family boarding, lack of assigned seating, companion pass, MCO hub, etc.) which also slows down boarding.

I also don't see the free checked bags as really speeding up the process, either; if anything, I've seen people attempting to deadlift ridiculous bags into bins just as much on WN, if not more, than on other airlines that charge for it.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 9:24 am
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Originally Posted by ave1024
Not directed at you because I have no idea your thought on open seating. But I have to admit hearing people that loathe open seating really cracks me up in general, mainly because there are so many things you can do to prevent the agony if you don't be lazy and follow the rules.

If you play the Southwest "game", you are rewarded.
That is precisely the point. Playing the "game" several times a month is why you love WN and some of us find it incredibly tiresome.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by TBD
I never looked at it to be faster. I look at WN boarding to be less frustrating. And I believe it is simply because there's no gate lice to push through, to wonder if you're actually in line or not, etc. Getting boarding space numbers seems quite childish, but the alternative used by all other airlines is somehow even less civilized.
Some here may recall Southwest's system before online check-in. You went to the gate counter to get a plastic boarding card with a sequence number up to 137. You know, before they sqeezed an extra row of seats into those formerly super-comfortable planes. Boarding was organized into three very long lines: 1-45, 46-90, 91-137. People would start lining up 20 or 30 minutes before boarding. People would sit on the floor in line. People like us would sit ready to scramble into line the moment a line started to form. We didn't enjoy standing an extra 20 minutes, but it was that or lose 40 boarding positions.

As bad as the old system was, and it was the part of the travel experience I most disliked, I think it was better than the current group boarding used on other airlines. There is no line, just a crowd of people waiting to rush the ops agent when their group is called. That system is great if you are in First class or have boarding priority, but for most customers it's less pleasant than Southwest's current or prior system. Just my opinion.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 12:45 pm
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Originally Posted by nineworldseries
That is precisely the point. Playing the "game" several times a month is why you love WN and some of us find it incredibly tiresome.

Hate to break the news to you, but life in general is a game. Play it right and you are rewarded. Good job. Good family. Good life. Play it poorly and you get the opposite. If living a life of complacency is your thing then by all means carry on.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 1:25 pm
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Originally Posted by nineworldseries
That is precisely the point. Playing the "game" several times a month is why you love WN and some of us find it incredibly tiresome.
You don't 'play the game' on whatever airline you fly ?
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 1:28 pm
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Who ordained it has to be either/or, assigned or open? Reserved seats for Business Select and open seating for everyone else.

You arrive on a connecting flight and half of the plane is already boarded. It doesnt matter how much you paid or what status you have if you end up being stuck in the middle seat.

Soon-to-be-CEO Bob Jordan is EVP of Corporate Services. He realizes high-value passengers on their connecting flights want to have the same assurance of a decent seat as they get on the rivals. Especially if BS costs the same as domestic first on key routes.
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Old Jan 23, 2022, 8:28 pm
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Originally Posted by LegalTender
Who ordained it has to be either/or, assigned or open? Reserved seats for Business Select and open seating for everyone else.

You arrive on a connecting flight and half of the plane is already boarded. It doesnt matter how much you paid or what status you have if you end up being stuck in the middle seat.

Soon-to-be-CEO Bob Jordan is EVP of Corporate Services. He realizes high-value passengers on their connecting flights want to have the same assurance of a decent seat as they get on the rivals. Especially if BS costs the same as domestic first on key routes.
How would that work? How would you know what seat someone in a BS ticket wants? Maybe they want an exit row seat but WN has designated the first 4 rows of window/aisle for BS. I guess you'd be free to go take that exit row if it was open but then the FA's are somehow going to have to know that a BS seat is now available.

If you allow BS fares to select any seat and reserve it, then the FA's potentially have to police reserved seats all over the cabin.

And not the least of which is you'd be dealing with 2 sets of FAA regs for preboarding.​​​​​​
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