Well, that may be smart, but then again, it may not. If I'm coming back from a cruise and don't wish to spend the better part of the day at the port city, and most people want to get home after a cruise, I know I'm not going to be among the first people to arrive at the airport. That being the case, it seems a given that Southwest wouldn't be my first choice for a flight home if I wanted a particular seating. Also, planes aren't delayed by passengers. If you're not there when they're ready to go, you missed your flight. Planes are delayed by the airlines themselves due to weather or mechanical problems, not by late passengers. I just don't agree that it's a smart company that gives it clients another reason to consider the competition. They're successful because they're providing a needed service at a good price, but that in no way means there's no room for improvement and as far as I'm concerned, assigned seating is an improvement.
look at this another way...the cruiselines work very closely with SWA to schedule and time their flights (when possible) to accomodate the cruise crowd and because of the high frequency and SWA liberal (compared to the majors) policy about paying a penalty and take the next flight, it seems to work. SWA has a major scheduling advantage over the majors..they fly alot of their schedule in a closed pattern( meaning their planes go point to point more and the crews stay together) where the majors schedule in such a way that the airplane might go point a to b to x and change crews)which means SWA can usually recover quicker if there is a mechanical or cancellaion, The customer has a heck of alot more options then on a major carrier. You might reconsider about SWA not being your first choice, if something happens they give you more options..It's a trade off flexibility for convience. They have a corporate mantra of keeping it real simple for the customer
fyi, for large groups of customers going international (when it may be the only flight of the day and nothing avaiable for the next day or two or the last flight of the day) who may misconnect, as long as there is not a crew problem, airlines will wait. If there is another option, they won't
I have a good friend that works for southwest and I use to date a flight attendant for a major airline (not SWA).
Assign seating on a flight for less than 2 hours IMHO is highly overrated. if I'm paying a low fare..A flight 3 hours or more I agree a seat assignment is good (unless your assigned seat is in the middle on a full flight
Southwest's crew assignment structure actually cuts both ways, venice: They're more nimble in some ways and less nimble in others, so the net-result is a draw. Major airlines can often pull crews together more readily than Southwest. Add to that the lack of an interline agreement and, as good as Southwest can make thing in other respects, they've got a major hole. Still, not as bad as some would like others to believe.
You did hit the nail on the head with respect to why people are willing to give Southwest the cost-advantage they yield from not offering reserved seats: Low fares. It's a win-win situation.
Well, everyone has their opinion and it's unlikely we're going to change that opinion since it's based on our individual experiences. I'm sure your preferences are as right for you as mine are for me. However, I didn't really understand the significance of the "closed pattern" reference since firstly, I'm not familiar with your explanation, but it seems to equate with "airline hub", and secondly, I always book my flights within appropriate time restraints so there isn't a problem making the flight. I also didn't understand the reference to international flights since when I travel outside the continental U.S., I only fly one airline from home to destination so as to eliminate connections with other airlines and luggage complications and I don't believe Southwest is an international airline, so they wouldn't fit the bill for me anyway. Of course, I'll still use Southwest when their flights fit the bill at the right price, but I still prefer assigned seating and I can tell you from my experience of returning from a cruise just in time to make the flight, assigned seating is not overrated at all.
Think about this, if Southwest were to change their policy and offer to have assigned seats at time of booking, obviously, all the window and aisle seats would be taken. Leaving all but middle seats. If people see that only middle seats are available, they will opt for another flight or another airline. Hence, Southwest would have to raise their fares to make up for the losses. Currently though, you book a cheap fare and don't get an assigned seat with the hope that when you get to the airport, you'll get whatever seat you want when boarding the plane. This is mainly how they keep their costs down.
Major carriers can pre-assign seats because they can take the big hit when they don't fill up the plane. They're making money in other areas to make up for that, like change fees, standby fees, selling meals, etc...
Yeah I don't like the cattle call mentality either but it makes a big difference in fares most of the time. Plus, if they continue to offer lower fares, they're setting up competition for the major carriers which also start cutting their fares to compete with them. Yeah Southwest and a major carrier is like comparing apples to oranges but look at Philadelphia. Before Southwest was there, flights between Philadelphia and Dallas/Ft. Worth were pricing at over $800.00 nonstop! One week after Southwest came in, USAir dropped their fares to about $270.00 round trip!!
So it has it's pros and cons...
No, that's not correct. For the middle seat to be left vacant while the window and aisle seats are full, makes the assumption that everyone traveling is by themselves. Now you know as well as I, that most travelers are friends traveling together, associates, couples and families, and they're going to sit together utilizing the middle seat. Also, if there was any justification for that suggestion, how do you explain the success of other low cost carriers such as Frontier, Ted, Spirit, AmerWest, Song, Jet Blue and others. And even if by some stretch of the imagination, your contention of the middle seats were left vacant on a given flight, as unlikely as that is, is that any worse than a family of 4 getting to the airport just in time for the husband to get seat 5B, the wife to get 8E, the son to get 12E and the daughter to get 20B. I don't think so and I don't think you do either. Assigned seating is just as relevent on a flight as if you were buying tickets to an entertainment performance.
Many seasoned travelers traveling together book the aisle and window, knowing that it will increase their likelihood of having the row to themselves, and that they'd never have any trouble convincing the poor person stuck in the middle seat to switch with either window or aisle seat, at flight-time.
Regarding the rest, Southwest is by far the most successful budget carrier. 'nuf sed.
Yes, I do understand that many people do travel together but I was merely trying to make it a point to suggest that one of the reasons their fares are low is because there is no pre-assigned seating. Among other reasons...
I still think the program is great and it shows a lot of what not to do when you fly, like show up 20 minutes before your flight.
It kind of sheds some light on what the travel industry goes through on a daily basis and how people become irate because they're upset at themselves but are dishing it out to other people who are not at fault.
Bicker and Buttercup, yes those are valid points and as I said previously, I still fly Southwest when it serves my needs to do so. And yes, their employees are among the most courteous I've encountered. I've only flown Southwest twice since their flights aren't all that convenient to me from the Dallas area, but both times I've been a witness to a family being separated due to the available seats, so I suspect that situation is not that rare. One time it was a couple and the other time it was a family of 4. The time involving the family of 4, the daughter was seated next to me and I could see she was distressed at being separated from her family. Rather than see her in that state, I swapped seats with her mother so she wouldn't be separated from both parents, but no one else seemed eager to give up their seats on that flight or the other one either. I'm sorry, but I just can't find anything positive to say in favor of first come-first serve seating, especially when dealing with family members of all ages. And in the unlikely event of an incident involving the plane, can you imagine a juvenile in the position of not being able to be comforted by a parent due to a seating arrangement. Everything considered, I can see why assigned seating is the industry norm, rather than the exception. But as I said, Southwest is a fine airline, but there's always room for improvement for everyone and Southwest is no exception. I still vote for assigned seating.
I must respectfully disagree. They do not reward early arrivals. They encourage cheaters to say they are disabled when they are not, thus giving them boarding preference, Even if you are there first which we often are, there are numerous children(claimed to be younger than they are) with huge entourages of adults & then the alleged handicapped--many of whom then jump out of their seats at the other end & race to claim their luggage. That's why it's called Miracle Airlines. If the handicapped & children were boarded last, the numbers of same would significantly be reduced. I would pay more for a reserved seat. & often did when we had Delta out here. Now SW is our only local airline so we are stuck unless we want to deal with JFK , city traffic & extra costs for a limo.
Yes, I often refer to Southwest as "Lourdes Airline" because so many wheelchair bound individulas are miraculously cured after a brief 3 hour flight. They have such an amazing record that medical schools would be better off sending graduates to intern at Southwest rather than sending them to be residents in hospitals.
All kidding aside, hcat is correct, their policy vis-a-vie preboarding encourages dishonesty and deceipt as well increasing stress level and general aggrivation. With the exception of their failure to assigned passengers a seat I find them to be everything one could hope for in a discount carrier. However, this one simple fact would drive me away in a minute if I had another option out of our local airport.
I agree, they should require some kind of doctor's note in order to pre-board. Even a handicapped parking pass, as they sometimes issue these for certain injuries. I had one for my knee a few years back which was only valid for 6 weeks anyways.
I agree some people definitely take advantage of the pre-board sequence because of the cattle call lines. There are pros and cons to every airline, just like cruise ships..
I spoke with someone @ Southwest today. According to her, the reason that they do not use assigned seats is that it takes longer to board when using assigned seats. Southwest shoots for a 25 min turn around of their planes and believes that by not assigning seats the process moves more quickly. I'm not sure if this is true, but that's what I was told.
ps I also mentioned "Lourdes Airlines". She laughed and told me that they have to take peoples word for their need to pre-board and cannot question any claims of being handicapped because of the threat of lawsuits.
I did not know that. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to have a 25 minute turn around. I've taken a lot of flights on a lot of different airlines and I don't believe I have ever seen a plane roll up to the gate, unload a plane full of passengers and their luggage, then walk the aisles to check for lost items, file their new flight plan and refuel, reload the plane with new passengers and their luggage, perform their preflight check and roll out from the gate for their taxi clearance in 25 minutes. It took me 10 minutes just to perform my preflight check when I was flying a fighter in the Air Force and I didn't carry passengers and luggage and my plane was already fueled up. If these guys can do a 25 minute turn around dealing with 2 plane loads of passengers, they need to be working with Nascar. I hope they do all their safety checks in that turn around race. Other than that, I can't visualize why it would take any more time to board an aircraft because I have an assigned seat. Usually while I'm sitting in my seat waiting for flight precheck to be completed, they're still loading luggage on the aircraft. Strange!
Well, like I said Whiteknight, I don't know if this is true or not, but that's what I was told.
I'm flying Southwest from Islip to Florida in early August, on a plane which will arrive in Islip from Provedince before continuing on to Tampa. I shall time how long it takes from arrival untill pushaway and get back to you.
I remember one flight where it was running late for arrival at our location. We were boarded through the rear of the plane, via a stairway while they simultaneously off- loaded passengers from the front (just can't recall if that was SW or DElta which used to be at our airport) We just got $74 one way to Fla so I guess we have to put up with the no-reserved seats--
Well, we're back from Florida. Southwest was damn close to their target turnaround time of 25 mins. The plane arrived at the gate in Islip at 9:11am, unloaded a group of passengers and their luggage, loaded us and our luggage, and pushed away at 9:37 am.