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Saving Seats

MrJamieMorgan
New Arrival

My family (husband/wife/10 year old son, 12 year old daughter) flew from Arizona to Milwaukee. We checked in 24 hours early and received a relatively good boarding positon.  At the designated time we boarded and as we approached the rear of the plane we saw there were 6 open seats - we thought perfect.  Well turns out the seats reserved by one person – he put articles of clothes (pre-planned) on each seat “reserving” them for his family.  I asked the flight attendant and the person reserving the six seats in an assertive tone about “I thought Southwest doesn't allow reserving seats” and they both just shrugged their shoulders and looked the other way. 

 

The man reserving the seats then said “my family is behind you”.  What he did was cheated the system by paying for 1 early boarding fee for himself and then saving the other 5 for his family who boarded normally without paying a fee – and whom was behind me in boarding order.  Not wanting to cause a scene and after observing the flight attendant was not going to help - *my* family split up into very different parts of the cabin. 


My family scrambled and seperated apart grabbing random seats.  I personally ended up being the very last person on the plane to find a seat because I had to reverse my path, and all those behind me grabbed the forward seats as I now became the “last person” with the path reversed - even though I initially started by having a good boarding position.  After searching up and down the aisle and not being able to find a seat, eventually it was figured out that a lap baby was supposed to be on the parents lap.  


To Southwest:

Give your flight crew more training in watching for the “reserving” of seats with articles of clothing and be an *advocate* for passengers to seat based on boarding order.  Don't just turn your head and ignore your policy of no reserved seats.


I agree with another customer who suggested:

 

1) Post a policy on your website, pushing for the early boarding privilege;

2) Include a summation of the policy, i.e., NO SEATS MAY BE SAVED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, on the confirmation Email when the purchase is made; and

3) Include the statement via public address when you invite lines to form for boarding.

You have to expect them to conform to principles for the good of everyone or be willing to cut them loose as a selfish customer who shouldn't belong to the SWA family. There's no half way about it.

4) Have the flight crew actively look for those violating the policy and enforce it.

 

Your failure to act will lead to consequences for everyone involved, including yourself. It's merely a matter of time.  

 

Sincerely disturbed customer,
Jamie Morgan

 

44 REPLIES 44

Re: Saving Seats

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

Unfortunately, there's no policy to enforce. Officially, Southwest "has no policy for or against seat saving," and in practice actively allows it. Reps will even suggest that passengers save seats for later boarding companions. I agree that seat saving shouldn't be allowed, however Southwest feels differently. 

Re: Saving Seats

MrJamieMorgan
New Arrival

Ah, but they do have a policy that says they have "open seating".  Open would be the opposite of reserved.  If that weren't the case and I was first on the plane, I could theoretically reserve every seat on the plane by throwing pre-printed "reserved" pieces of paper on all the seats.  Heck, maybe then I could take the highest bidders for the up front seats.   A black market on airlines seats per say - it must be okay since I don't see a policy against selling my "reserved" seats.  Right?  Or maybe I don't sell them, I just give them away to those I prefer to sit by because I don't want "bothersome" neighbors.  You can see the problem with that logic.  I defer back to my original post with suggestions of changes for them to make.

Re: Saving Seats

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

Yes, you would think that "open seating" would equal "no seat saving," however that's not how Southwest sees it.

 

Your suggestions are great. But customers have been making similar requests for literally years, with no changes made or expected to be forthcoming. Smiley Sad

 

 

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Re: Saving Seats

MrJamieMorgan
New Arrival

Hopefully it will reach the "tipping point" (great book by the way) and they will change it.  All I can do is log my experience/displeasure and share it with others.  The only real way to vote and get change on the issue is with the wallet.  I for one will be seriously considering a new airline going forward.  I have been loyal to this point, but this one seems like an easy fix and they just want to ignore it like it doesn't exist.  Let all the cheaters be on one airline - they can fight it out.  Not worth the headache to me. 

 

Competition and competitive advantages is what drives these bad policies out. If I were in a competitor airline marketing department, I'd be running commercial after commercial showing the real world experiences people get with seating and why they should choose them.  I'd theme it "Southwest, disappointment before your flight leaves the ground - fly xxxxxxxx instead".  I'd even have one that plays the "muscial chairs" game (played on a plane) and say "where will you sit today?".  It so ludricrous.   

 

My guess is it started off as a "good idea" to get extra money for paying to get a good seat or for that matter a seat together with your family.  But people are good at taking advantage of the system and finding the workarounds to those good intentions - and now it's a train out of control with nobody empowered to make a change, except the CEO who doesn't have to fly coach anyway - heck I'm sure the executives have private business planes.  He/She only sees the additional revenue from the "early boarding" - I don't think they realize the money they are losing from loyal people switching airlines (much harder to measure). 

 

The person reporting up the chain doesn't want their "brilliant" revenue generating seating program they came up with to be a failure so they "sugar coat" it with "everything is going great" to the head honcho, they get a bonus, and all is good.   

 

Re: Saving Seats

RulesBroken
New Arrival

I saw a lady misuse the fact that her sister needed an emotional support animal to get free pre-boarding instead of just letting her sister get the free pre-boarding while she paid for business select. On top of that, I had seen her sister (an adult) running around the airport all day with and without her pet, so I think the whole "emotional support" thing was a lie. Also, because the dog was so big, she got a whole row to herself.

Re: Saving Seats

MrJamieMorgan
New Arrival

Yeah, I see people are abusing the disability stuff to load first and also reserve seats.  Each medical case should require a doctor note to the airline containing:

 

  • Doctor's name
  • Address of the doctor's practice with medical ID number.
  • Phone number of doctor's practice 
  • Name of person requesting the special boarding.
  • Statement indicating the guest has a disability or other qualifying impairment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or applicable state law that prevents the guest from waiting in a standard queue.
  • Valid time period of disability 
  • Doctor's signature
  • The note must NOT describe or indicate the nature of the disability.

Re: Saving Seats

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

ADA has nothing to do with pre-boarding. The relevant law is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and it's requirements -- both what it allows as well as prohibits -- are very clear.

 

If you disagree with that, contact your congressman. Smiley Wink

Re: Saving Seats

MrJamieMorgan
New Arrival

Intrersting, didn't know that.  Looks like I don't need to write my congressman as there is already a clause in the ACAA stating pretty much the same as I suggested, with regard to serivce animals.  How many airlines actually enforce it is probably slim.  I also wonder if it could apply also to non-service animals - ie... just someone going up and saying I have a disability.  Can they ask for proof the same as it appears they can for service animals.

 

https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/P3.SA_.HUD%20Matrix.6-28-6.pdf

 

If a passenger seeks to travel with an animal that is used as an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, carriers are not required to accept the animal for transportation in the cabin unless the passenger provides you current documentation (i.e., no older than one year from the date of the passenger's scheduled initial flight) on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional (e.g., psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker including a medical doctor specifically treating the passenger's mental or emotional disability) stating the following:

 

(1) The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-- Fourth Edition (DSM IV);

 

(2) The passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger's destination;

 

(3) The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional, and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and

 

(4) The date and type of the mental health professional's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.

 

Re: Saving Seats

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

I thought this thread was about seat saving?