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stephanier.1765

Airplane etiquette question

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I like to fly Southwest for a number of reasons, from the destination airport to their usual flight times, when visiting my son. Because I like the aisle seat to help not feel claustrophobic and because they have open seating, I pay extra so I can board earlier and have my choice of seats. The last couple of times I've flown a few people who boarded ahead of me would save seats for friends or family by putting bags, coats or other items on the seats. A few would take the full row. My last flight, in particular, had three people hog 3 different rows and this was a flight where I specifically wanted to sit near the front so I could de-board faster. I think it's rude to save seats for people in the C group when people in the A group paid extra. I was sorely tempted to insist on the seat I wanted but chickened out and didn't. Is there an unwritten etiquette about saving seats or requesting to use seats that have been saved? There are a lot of unwritten rules I haven't figured out yet.

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I would have mentioned this to the flight attendants. DH and I are flying SW soon. We paid extra so we could board earlier. I’ll be upset if I saw this taking place.

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I don't really have any advice on what one should do in those scenarios, but I would like to point out that so many people pay to board early now that it often exceeds the A boarding group. So I wouldn't assume those in B or C didn't pay also. Last time dh flew Southwest (which he hates because of no reserved seats) I paid extra but he was still at the end of B boarding. 🤷‍♀️

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No, that is not right for people to board with Early Bird and save seats. Those people should have paid the $15-20 like the others did. So I would ask if the person is on the plane, pick up the jacket, and hand it to them or the steward. But you know, I pay for Earlybird with my ds who has ASD even though they would let us board early without paying. So me, I paid a lot to be on there, paying for 2 both ways, and I'm just not gonna be messed with. If they're saving seats, it's sorry they're not here, take the seat you want. 

And fwiw, I haven't had to do that and I almost always get really close to the front. My ds wants a window seat, and we're usually in the first 3 rows. So it may just be incredibly rude people on the itineraries you're going on. But no, they're not right and I would pick up the stuff and sit right down. 

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1 minute ago, Joker said:

I don't really have any advice on what one should do in those scenarios, but I would like to point out that so many people pay to board early now that it often exceeds the A boarding group. So I wouldn't assume those in B or C didn't pay also. Last time dh flew Southwest (which he hates because of no reserved seats) I paid extra but he was still at the end of B boarding. 🤷‍♀️

Oh dear. Did you buy your tix late by chance? That doesn't even seem reasonable that they would continue selling past the As, mercy. Your boarding position is by how early you buy the Early Bird, so buying the tickets and EB the day they become available can help.  I would have complained to the person at the counter if my boarding position was end of the Bs when I paid EB. That's crazy. 

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3 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Oh dear. Did you buy your tix late by chance? That doesn't even seem reasonable that they would continue selling past the As, mercy. Your boarding position is by how early you buy the Early Bird, so buying the tickets and EB the day they become available can help.  I would have complained to the person at the counter if my boarding position was end of the Bs when I paid EB. That's crazy. 

No, we didn't purchase late. It happened when both dc flew alone together too. It was on their return flight and I was worried they wouldn't get to sit together but they did. I've heard others complain of the same thing.

Southwest even states it doesn't guarantee you A boarding group.

Edited by Joker
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1 minute ago, Joker said:

No, we didn't purchase late. It happened when both dc flew alone together too. It was on their return flight and I was worried they wouldn't get to sit together but they did. I've heard others complain of the same thing.

Wow, I don't know. I've done maybe 7 round trip flights over the last couple years, Orlando, FLL, Houston, never had that issue. Sounds horrible and I would be very upset. Definitely doesn't mean the expectation of why you buy EB. We're flying to LA next, haven't bought those tix yet. I assume we'll go Southwest, but yeah I hope that doesn't happen, mercy. 

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SW does not have a policy on seat saving, you get to resolve the conflict yourself.  I have a policy that children aged 5 to 10 traveling with me sit next to me, so did not fly SW those years (too old for family boarding).  If a person is saving seats so that they can have an empty seat next to them or so they don't have to sit next to an undesireable, well its too middle schoolish for me and that says I really shouldn't be on that airline.  

 

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Yeah, I actually just spent some time on Google and Southwest has no official policy and even seems to suggest saving seats for those boarding later. So, I would doubt the flight attendants would be much help.

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34 minutes ago, Joker said:

Yeah, I actually just spent some time on Google and Southwest has no official policy and even seems to suggest saving seats for those boarding later. So, I would doubt the flight attendants would be much help.

That's just not cool! What's the point of me paying extra to board early when someone further back in the line gets the seat I want? Ugh. I might have to do some complaining online to SW.

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1 hour ago, May said:

I would have mentioned this to the flight attendants. DH and I are flying SW soon. We paid extra so we could board earlier. I’ll be upset if I saw this taking place.

 

Agree. The flight attendants should not permit it. I would ask for a refund if you paid that extra amount to preboard. 

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Early Bird does not guarantee A-group boarding, it only guarantees that you will board before those who did not pay for EB. A1-15 are reserved for Business Select, and then the numbers are automatically assigned 36 hours before the flight in this order: A-List Preferred in order of the date the ticket was bought; A-List in order of the date the ticket was bought; Early Bird in order of the date the ticket was bought; regular fare in order of the time of online check-in (beginning 24 hrs before the flight).

Back when I didn't fly as much, I occasionally ended up in the B group even though I paid for EB. Now that I fly enough to be A-List Preferred, I'm generally between A16 and A30. I don't mind people saving a single seat for someone, because the extra seat is usually a middle seat, and no one wants those anyway. And sometimes both the person saving the seat and the one coming later are both EB, or one is A-List and the other is EB, so I wouldn't assume that the issue was being too cheap to pay for EB. When I fly with DS, I always pay for EB on his ticket, but he still ends up behind me in the A group. So I take the window seat until he gets there, then I switch to the middle seat that no one wants anyway so he can have the window.

It does bother me to see someone saving a whole row, and occasionally I've seen families where 2 people get EB and then save 2 whole rows, and I think that's definitely rude. 

Edited by Corraleno
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28 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

I fly enough to be A-List Preferred

How do you know if you're A list preferred? Indeed, only in the early days were we later in A (40-60). Last few flights I think we were in that 15-30 range. 

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Thank you for posting this.   I would be REALLY mad.   IMO Southwest is one of the best of the large U.S. carriers, but their not having specific seat assignments available when making a reservation, would probably push me to another carrier.

I understand the reasons why SPIRIT Airlines, for example, has seats that are "Pre Reclined". It speeds up Boarding and Deplaning and prevents a lot of arguments.  

And, I understand that Southwest knows that in general, it speeds up their Boarding and Deplaning of the typical flight, to board passengers by section. I have no issue with that.

The issue you have described is something that Southwest should not permit. I hope you will contact their Customer Service, on Twitter or on Facebook, and file a complaint.

If one pays extra for something, one should receive that, without needing to get into an argument with another passenger, which could at worst become a fatal experience.

We paid extra for DD to have a "Big Front Seat" on each of her flights from CLO to RDU when we made the reservation for her. Had we wanted to, for less $ we could have selected her seats, among the regular seats, for less $, but we chose to pay to have her in the Big Front Seats. And we paid for a Carry-On Bag (which during the check-in we requested be sent in the belly as a 2nd Checked Bag) and the first Checked Bag. Had she not received any of the extra cost options we paid for, I would not plan for her (or us) to fly on SPIRIT again. If you pay extra, for something you need and/or want, then you should receive it, without risking a fight with another passenger. 

Edited by Lanny
Correction: Change Checked to Carry-On
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This kind of thing is getting more and more common and more and more irritating.

We like to picnic by a lake that is fairly popular.  There is tons of free parking, but it's crowded.  The last 2 years people have started to stand in parking spaces to save them while the vehicle goes over to the unloading area and others can take out all the loads of stuff that folks now find necessary to bring along, much to the detriment of others.  I mean, there are barbeques, but people bring big, hardly movable propane ones.  There are picnic tables in shade and in sun, but people bring huge canopies that they set up in the sun while ALSO hogging shady picnic tables and benches 'just in case'--blocking others' views completely and hogging tables, separate benches, AND prime spots in the sand that they are using maybe one of at a time.  

So those guys who are blocking parking spots might have to stand in them for over an hour while the other stuff is being unloaded and arranged in three separate other areas that are only being used one at a time.  It's unbelievably entitled and selfish.

Last summer I ran up to the lake for an outdoor church service, and pulled into one of those saved spots.  The guy that was standing there got out of the way, but he said, this is my spot.  I told him, There  is no saving parking spots, and I will only be an hour.  When I got back afterwards, the truck he was saving the spot for was still unloading.  Ridiculous amounts of crap, and ridiculous selfishness.  Ugh.
 

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

How do you know if you're A list preferred? Indeed, only in the early days were we later in A (40-60). Last few flights I think we were in that 15-30 range. 

It's based on the number of miles you fly each year, plus if you have a SW-branded Chase Visa, some of those points count towards A-list status as well. The number of miles flown and your A-list status are listed in your Rapid Rewards account. It's possible to get a boarding pass in the low As if you book early, pay for Early Bird, and there aren't a lot of A-listers on the flight. But no matter how early you book, if there happen to be a lot of people with A-List or A-List Preferred status on that flight, they will be ahead of all the Early Bird boarders.

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Another vote to speak to the attendant. And just hold up the line to get them. Which I know is rude, but if they have enough people doing it, then they'll change their practice. If you want to board together, pay together.

Part of the groups on SW is based on when you check in as well - or at least, it was the last time I flew SW. So that's the other trick - set a timer to check in online right when the check in opens 24 hours before the flight. You get a better number within the level you've paid for that way as well.

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9 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Part of the groups on SW is based on when you check in as well - or at least, it was the last time I flew SW. So that's the other trick - set a timer to check in online right when the check in opens 24 hours before the flight. You get a better number within the level you've paid for that way as well.

I did this last week because I was afraid I would forget to check in and then when the alarm went off I forgot why I set it.  🤦‍♀️

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54 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Another vote to speak to the attendant. And just hold up the line to get them. Which I know is rude, but if they have enough people doing it, then they'll change their practice. If you want to board together, pay together.

Part of the groups on SW is based on when you check in as well - or at least, it was the last time I flew SW. So that's the other trick - set a timer to check in online right when the check in opens 24 hours before the flight. You get a better number within the level you've paid for that way as well.

That only works for passengers who don't pay for Early Bird. The point of Early Bird Check-In is that SW automatically checks you in and assigns a boarding number before the non-EB passengers can check in online. So you might get a B-level boarding pass if you check in the minute it opens but it won't get you ahead of the A-List Preferred, A-List, or Early Bird passengers.

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4 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

That only works for passengers who don't pay for Early Bird. The point of Early Bird Check-In is that SW automatically checks you in and assigns a boarding number before the non-EB passengers can check in online. So you might get a B-level boarding pass if you check in the minute it opens but it won't get you ahead of the A-List Preferred, A-List, or Early Bird passengers.

Ah. I see. I've never paid for it so I didn't realize. I knew there was some tier below whatever the standard one was and one above, but I didn't know the benefits. That makes it all the more obnoxious that people are doing that to save seats.

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On every SW flight there will be a couple of people who save a couple of seats, it's really not a huge problem and SW has no issue with it. Suggestions that passengers get angry, complain to the flight attendants, hold up the line, etc., will not be effective and will just piss off the attendants and everyone in line behind them. The attendants will just tell you to choose another seat. Paying a little extra for Early Bird boarding does not guarantee an A-level boarding pass or a front seat or an aisle seat or anything. Anyone who feels the need to have a very specific seat can either pay for a Business Select ticket, or pay at the gate for an upgrade to Business Select (usually about $30-40 if it's available), or consider flying an airline that lets you choose your exact seat in advance. That's not how SW works, and I don't think they have any intention of changing things because the vast majority of passengers are perfectly fine with the way it works.

Edited by Corraleno
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On 2/18/2020 at 6:26 PM, Farrar said:

Another vote to speak to the attendant. And just hold up the line to get them. Which I know is rude, but if they have enough people doing it, then they'll change their practice. If you want to board together, pay together.

Part of the groups on SW is based on when you check in as well - or at least, it was the last time I flew SW. So that's the other trick - set a timer to check in online right when the check in opens 24 hours before the flight. You get a better number within the level you've paid for that way as well.

 

I like the idea of holding up the line to get the flight attendants’ attention. I mean, it seems rude, but.... just cause. Someone (hopefully many) has to be the one to break this rude habit of others saving seats they didn’t pay to reserve. 

Re getting boarding passes ASAP- this is how we usually do it. However, last time even doing it right away, and one immediately after the other, my tween daughter and I were separated by two boarding groups. I paid for upgrades at the gate counter, but it definitely diminished the savings on our “good” fares. I will not fly SW again with a minor. And that’s saying a lot, because I have big-puffy-heart loved and chosen SW for many years. 

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I never pay for early boarding and I don't care if I sit next to my travel companions. When I traveled with a kid (not a teen), people generally were accomodating. I always take the first available seat which is usually a middle seat in the first few rows.

Occasionally, people are grumpy that they are losing an "empty seat." But most flights are full anyway. And if it really bothers you, fly another airlline.

It is hard to claim you are saving a seat to someone in the C boarding group. And most people don't even try. 

 

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A sort of spin-off, but I've seen people who have back-row seats get on at the right time, but dump their stuff in the more-forward overhead bins...leaving those rows with no space for their stuff.  

And while I am at it...I've also been so careful to get all my stuff into the required items (one small bag, one rolly) for carry-on and then have someone take up the overhead space with a big rolly, a small rolly, and then their satchel and put an enormous handbag under the seat.  

I think the world of flying has become so aggressive that the flight attendants just don't want to deal with it anymore...

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2 hours ago, Seasider too said:

Re getting boarding passes ASAP- this is how we usually do it. However, last time even doing it right away, and one immediately after the other, my tween daughter and I were separated by two boarding groups. I paid for upgrades at the gate counter, but it definitely diminished the savings on our “good” fares. I will not fly SW again with a minor. And that’s saying a lot, because I have big-puffy-heart loved and chosen SW for many years. 

Paying for Business Select upgrades at the gate is always more expensive than just paying for Early Bird. And Early Bird assigns sequential boarding numbers to everyone on the same reservation, so there would never be an issue with a parent and child being in separate boarding groups. I just count the Early Bird fee as part of the cost of the ticket — and it's still often cheaper, or at least the same price, as other airlines. Plus, checked bags are free on SW, and they let you change or cancel any ticket (even the super cheap ones) at the very last minute, with no change fees and full credit towards a future flight for cancellations.

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5 hours ago, Corraleno said:

Paying for Business Select upgrades at the gate is always more expensive than just paying for Early Bird. And Early Bird assigns sequential boarding numbers to everyone on the same reservation, so there would never be an issue with a parent and child being in separate boarding groups. I just count the Early Bird fee as part of the cost of the ticket — and it's still often cheaper, or at least the same price, as other airlines. Plus, checked bags are free on SW, and they let you change or cancel any ticket (even the super cheap ones) at the very last minute, with no change fees and full credit towards a future flight for cancellations.

 

I am trying to remember why we were on separate reservations - probably because one was a rewards ticket and the other not? It’s been a few years. 

Anyway, I felt rather unnerved by it. I’ll fly SW again, just not with a minor. 

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9 hours ago, Seasider too said:

Anyway, I felt rather unnerved by it. I’ll fly SW again, just not with a minor. 

That's funny, because that's why I fly SW, because of my ds11 with ASD. LOL They've always been great for him, and we usually get great boarding positions with EB. And because we travel super heavy (always 3-4 checked bags, for real), SW ends up the same or cheaper. And they (so far) have been really prompt and on time/early. I flew my dd AA for some flights and wow was that a mistake. I can't have things going wrong when I travel with ds, and SW has my back. 

Oh and I checked. We're not A list preferred, but we almost always get seats in the first 3-4 rows, often in the very first row. I can't think of the last time I noticeably saw anyone saving seats, at least on a rude level. The most exciting thing that happened was going to MDW a few weeks ago and there were these huge pro football hall of famers. Like for real. And they're BIG!!! I got on the plane and was like dude, those are the BIGGEST MEN! And they sorta filled the seats, legs extending into the aisles, one in each row, for a number of rows at the front, and honestly I was unsure where we were gonna sit. But when one very nice gentleman (who I think had been 49 with the GreenBay Packers? He had his pic with him) saw we were sitting down, he moved over to give me and my ds room easily together at the window. Totally gracious. And that's the other thing about the SW seating policy, that it allows people to be gracious. I've never had anybody be rude over it. Usually they're just the opposite.

Edited by PeterPan
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