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Some people are a fan of Southwest airlines, but I’m not. I have only flown them a few times, and was not terribly enamored of the third-world feel of the whole thing. I often wonder why there are not goats and chickens runing around freely in the aisles on their planes. My guess is the only reason there are none is that hungry passengers, denied meals or snacks, would snatch them up and grill them on a makeshift spit set up in the back of the plane, near the lavatory.

Now, I am definitely not a fan of any of the major American airlines, and I am definitely not a fan of the seat selection process, but at least—at least—if you get a crappy seat when you buy your ticket, you can choose another flight, or, if you have no choice, you have a while to get resigned to the fact that you will be crammed in a middle seat between two unsavory types who eat their pork rinds with their elbows sticking into you, way in the back row where the seats do not even recline, and where the smoke from the goat spit will water your eyes.

If you go through Southwest’s new seating game (reprinted below in case it goes away on their site), it’s like choosing a seat on the school bus all over again.

Southwest seating cheat sheet

When I read this, all I can think is, “Why not just assign the seats? Why go through this rigmarole?” The whole thing is nedlessly complicated for a seating system that is meant to be simple. Seating people in the order they checked in sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t. People should be seated in the order they bought their tickets. If you purchased your fare months in advance, why should you not get the better choice of seats than the guy who just got his ticket online last night and got to check in at the same time?

It’s the burden, I guess. Putting the burden on the passenger. You already had to go through hoops aflame with hellfire to get a ticket for a decent price at times you can live with, but now you have to go back again to check in online to secure a decent seat. And this is not just Southwest. Lately, the airlines have not allowed me to have pre-assigned seats for work travel. I have no choice but to check in online the day before and hope something good in the way of uncomfortable seating is still free. God forbid I can’t get to the site in a reasonable amount of time or, worse, that I forget, and have to accept the dregs that are leftover for me when I get to the airport.

To be honest, I have enjoyed being able to check in online. It’s helpful in other ways, like using the kiosks with the shorter lines once you got to the airport to check your bags. But to not be able to get my seat when I actually buy the ticket is a terrible trend. Flying has become so unpleasant anyway, why make it worse? We’ll see how Southwest’s new scheme goes over. Maybe it’ll be a smashing success. If not… more goats and chickens!

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