One of my most popular stories to date was when I ran a clever Southwest Airlines tip from Taylor Swift; she shared it during her commencement speech at NYU. I guess it’s not surprising since whatever Taylor Swift does or is featured in seems to turn to gold. RELATED: Taylor Swift Fan Makes Request of Southwest Airlines Pilot and Guess What? He Obliges
Taylor’s tip was the first thing I thought of when I read about this new dirty trick that Southwest Airlines (SWA) passengers are pulling on fellow passengers. As Taylor and SWA frequent fliers know, the airline doesn’t pre-assign seats, so it’s first-come first-serve. It’s their way to speed up the boarding process so passengers don’t spend a lot of time trying to locate their seat assignments.
But as all travelers know, not all seats are created equal, which is why some will pay a premium ($30 to $80) to get Southwest Airlines Boarding Group A, so they can board the plane first and snag the exit row seats, bulkhead, or aisle or window seats closest to the front of the cabin, so they can be one of the first to deplane.
But according to some social media posts, some passengers traveling with friends or family are playing a dirty little trick. Just one member of their party will pay for Group A and then they will save seats for the others. “@AkakHorn: @SouthwestAir PLEASE stop early A group boarders from “claiming” a row of exit row seats for family boarding in later groups- you just infuriated a few Business Class ticket holders by letting this continue to happen.”
Perhaps the craziest part of this is that Southwest Airlines doesn’t have a policy for or against this practice. They replied to AkakHorn, saying: “We regret any disappointment during the boarding process today. All Southwest flights are open seating, and we don’t have a specific policy for or against saving seats. Still, we apologize for any frustration and hope for smoother sailing in the future.” See embedded tweet below.
We regret any disappointment during the boarding process today. All Southwest flights are open seating, and we don’t have a specific policy for or against saving seats. Still, we apologize for any frustration and hope for smoother sailing in the future. -Jhericca
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) September 21, 2023
Another post on Reddit showed something similar. “MDW-DEN this afternoon. Full flight announcement made prior. Karen in row 5 aisle seat with bags on middle/window seat. I asked if I could take the window to which she replied “they’re taken but you can take middle seat on the other side of the aisle with my 2 girlfriend” 🙄
But as some social media users pointed out:
@JavierDFW: Why would people buy “business select”? It seems there’s no point paying to board first if people can hoard the best seats like this for others in the lower boarding groups.
@lyndamariern: This happened to me too. I just got an Alaska airline and United credit cards because @SouthwestAir keeps allowing this crap. I’ll fly on another airline.
@parkerspolitics: I have picked up that bag, and sat myself down. I hate confrontation, but this is beyond the pale, and ppl trying to “save” a seat can’t justify it. It’s unacceptable. Why do other passengers allow it?
Although it’s not against airline policy, it’s a trend that is certainly going to continue. It’s similar to the lax laws in California where thieves can steal up to $950 worth of goods and basically have nothing happen to them. Why pay for something when you can get it for free? I know this is an extreme example but that’s how it feels to me.
Either SWA needs to step up and enforce this rule or it’s going to get out of hand. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see more air rage cases scenarios like this. The good news is that since the plane is still on the ground during the boarding process, they can easily kick the irate passengers off without inconveniencing the whole flight.
Fortunately, some SWA flight attendants do enforce the rule as passengers have reported on Reddit:
Jetsonjudo: “Was on a full flight a few days ago. FA said. Seats are open. This flight is full. If ur bag is in the middle seat move it. I will be coming around to make sure those seats are open. So stop saving seats. Man. Best FA announcement ever. This was while b was boarding. Everyone got seated pretty quickly!”
MrBill12: “On a flight yesterday the announcement avoided no seat saving, but they flat out announced repeatedly beginning about the middle of B, “Southwest has an open seating policy, if there is not a person sitting in the seat, it is available. If you’re already seated and have a belongings on another seat Move them Now, this is a full flight, there will be no empty middles. For those in the aisle if you see an open seat, make it yours!”
Believe it or not, this isn’t the only thing you have to watch out for when flying Southwest Airlines. One of my friends and a frequent flier recently had her seat kidnapped! I can’t believe it’s a thing either but here’s what to do if it happens to you while traveling.
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