Southwest adds a twist to open seating system

Southwest Airlines Co. continues to let passengers choose their own seats instead of being allocated one.

Southwest said Wednesday that customers prefer its 36-year-old “open-seating” policy, which is speedier.

The airline will give numbers to passengers in its three boarding groups in early November to tweak the procedure. 

Southwest will no longer prioritize young families. Starting Oct. 2, families will board after the first 60 passengers without a “A” boarding card.

CEO Gary Kelly said it was unfair for families who arrived just before takeoff to go ahead of other customers in line.

Southwest has debated their boarding rules like Hamlet for years. Kelly said the airline was considering allocated seating until it surveyed 

Kelly said Southwest contemplated a hybrid strategy — charging passengers for assigned seats — but decided it would be too difficult.

It chose a smaller adjustment. In addition to A, B, or C, passes will have numbers. Even if B-16 runs from the food court as boarding begins

According to Executive Vice President Bob Jordan, consumers wait 45–60 minutes at the gate to avoid the back of the line.

Southwest has the most domestic passengers (96.3 million last year) and operates 3,300 flights a day, making seating changes difficult. 

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