I’m new to this whole blogosphere thing but I have really enjoyed
reading all of the comments and am humbled that so many people are as
enthusiastic and nuts about Southwest as we are.
I wanted to address some of the recent comments about Southwest’s
seating policy. There’s been quite a bit of buzz both in the media and
on this blog about our current open seating policy and my recent
comments (at Shareholder’s Day on May 17) about our consideration of
changing to assigned seating in the future. So, as the saying goes,
here’s the scoop “straight from the horse’s mouth.”
At Southwest, quick, efficient operations and our desire to give the
Customer what they want have been the keys to our 35 years of success.
Everything we do at Southwest takes into account maintaining the
delicate balance between operational efficiency and providing the
Positively Outrageous Service that our Customers have come to expect
from Southwest. One of the most common requests for change from our
Customers is to add assigned seating. Obviously, many of our current
Customers enjoy the open seating, so it’s not a unanimous request.
However, we do listen intently to our Customers and do our best to give
them what they want so it only makes sense to extensively research and
evaluate this possibility.
Open seating has allowed us to build a highly efficient operation by
keeping the time our aircraft are sitting at our gate to a minimum.
Aircraft on the ground don’t make money! But it’s no secret that all
airlines – even Southwest – are facing extensive cost pressures due to
the rising price of fuel and we have to find ways to generate
Our Customer Service technology has evolved to the point that
assigning seats may prove to be an efficient way for Southwest to board
the aircraft. Our computer reservation system is undergoing an upgrade
and, while we are in the “remodeling” effort, we are adding the
technical capability to assign seats. This does not mean we will;
rather, it means we will be prepared to assign seats, if we so choose.
We are currently conducting extensive research and if our research and testing (which some of you may be involved with)
proves that we can bring in more Customers (without alienating our
existing Customers) and increase overall Customer satisfaction, but at
the same time not increase our boarding times or our costs, then I
don’t see a reason not to do it. I haven’t given any time frame – just
that it won’t happen next year.
I know that several of you have commented that you don’t want the
current seating policy to go away because you see it as a part of what
makes Southwest “Southwest,” but I’ll remind you that many people felt
the same way when we transitioned from plastic boarding cards to
electronic boarding cards. Things change and we can’t ignore that fact.
One thing that will never change, however, is our dedication to you –
our Customer – and we will always make decisions with your best
interests in mind.
So, stay tuned…we promise to keep you informed of this and all of
the changes at Southwest. And keep telling us what you want, we LUV
hearing from you and we appreciate your business!