Just so we’re all on the same page before I start this rant, I need to make sure you’re all in the know about how Southwest Airlines assigns seats. They don’t assign seats at all! It’s an open seating policy. First come, first served.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Upon checking in for flights, passengers are assigned a boarding group, A, B, or C, and a boarding position, 1-60.
The boarding group and position determine when you board the plane, and thus how many seats you will be able to choose from.
I haven’t had the occasion to take a Southwest flight in a very long time. Recently, though I decided, since I had so many Southwest points and travel funds in my stash due to flights being rescheduled during the no-travel pandemic years, to give Southwest my business.
I do recall that one of the irritating things that used to happen on Southwest flights was the saving of seats, especially in the front of the plane.
One of the options if you want to board early is to pay for an early boarding position. This can be done at the gate. It assures you a boarding number in the A group, number 1-15. This is the first group that boards the flight. Southwest saves those boarding group numbers hoping that people will pay for them.
My flight was packed and I had scored a C group boarding position when I checked in. So did the friends I was traveling with. When we got to the gate we decided to splurge and buy early boarding in the A 1-15 group.
There I was happily seated towards the front of the plane when I noticed something interesting. The woman in the seat in front of me started behaving…….how shall I put this……..territorial! She was in the window seat, her backpack was on the aisle seat, and her legs were sprawled across all three seats. I lost count of how many people asked to sit there, and I watched her tell passenger after passenger the seats were taken.
I could jump to conclusions here and suggest that she paid for the A5 boarding number and her two family members did not, so she saved them seats. But regardless of how she ended up boarding 15 -20 minutes ahead of her family, the point is she was saving seats and the whole scene bothered me.
It’s just not cool.
The flight attendants made several announcements about how the flight was full so please just take the first open seat you find. These were open seats and people were just trying to get seated. Plus, who doesn’t want to sit towards the front of the plane in row 5, right?
How Did The Southwest Crew Respond To The Seat Hog?
In speaking with the Southwest crew, they told me they, the crew, won’t say anything to a passenger who is saving seats but if anyone wanted to sit there they could have. Easy enough for the crew to take this approach.
Sure, it may not be Southwest’s policy to have their crew handle seat-saving. Seems a bit of a cop-out, though, when they are watching someone save seats and lying to other passengers about the seats being occupied. I kept hoping someone would challenge her and just take the seats, but no one did.
Okay, frequent Southwest travelers reading this rant, do you see this on every flight? Was I just witnessing a one-off seat hog testing her mettle and hoping no one would challenge her?
Let’s face it, Southwest’s open seating policy is daunting and for many passengers, confusing enough without having to negotiate with a fellow passenger who looks you straight in the eye and in effect tells you to keep moving along, these seats are taken!
Just don’t be that guy, or in this case that gal. Give your seat-saving games a rest, and just play seat mate roulette on Southwest!
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