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Are early boarding fees fair to other passengers?

L.A. Times 2013/01/21 19:00:00
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The add-on fee trend among the nation's airlines continues as Southwest Airlines announced Monday a new $40 fee to let passengers board early. Southwest, the nation's most popular domestic carrier, already charges $10 for its Early Bird Check-In service, which improves a passenger's position in the boarding queue.

But the new $40 fee guarantees that passengers get to be among the first 15 in line, letting them stow away carry-on bags in the overhead bin and pick seats with more legroom. The new boarding option can be purchased at the gate, up to 45 minutes before boarding, and only when space is available, according to Southwest officials.

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Read More: http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-sou...

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Top Opinion

  • twhiting9275 2013/01/21 23:50:19
    Yes
    twhiting9275
    +8
    ABSOLUTELY
    Hey, this is just like 'first class'. They're not saying you HAVE to pay it, they're saying you CAN pay it and get in faster. Deal with it!

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  • TKramar 2013/01/23 17:30:23
    Yes
    TKramar
    +1
    If you're stupid enough to pay even MORE money, then have at it.
  • Silverlocust 2013/01/23 14:07:00
    Yes
    Silverlocust
    +1
    It's "fair" in a capitalist society - or at least common practice.
    Better schools, better cars, better houses, even better wives (or at least better looking wives) all come with having more money. What's so unusual about this situation?
  • Concerned Citizen 2013/01/23 11:17:36
    No
    Concerned Citizen
    +2
    No matter what Southwest does,....their generic seating and treatment will always leave passengers with the sensation of flying in some cattle car.
  • askmike Concern... 2013/01/24 05:30:51
    askmike
    +2
    Southwest continues to make profits year after year. The Heritage airlines lose buckets of bucks every year.
  • Marcus Clark 2013/01/23 09:38:34
    Yes
    Marcus Clark
    +2
    It is totally fair. If you want to be among the first 15 to board, pay it. If not then don't. All others still board in the A B or C group as normal. When I fly, I'll still do my normal and get online for my preflight check in exactly 24 hours prior and be part of the A group, just not among the first 15.
    I've never had a bad experience on SW. It is definitely my preferred airline if they go where I want to go. #2 is Alaska.
  • Faith ~American Patriot~ 2013/01/23 08:18:24
    Yes
    Faith ~American Patriot~
    Of course they are
  • Civic Minded 2013/01/23 07:13:19
    No
    Civic Minded
    +3
    SW has historically assigned you a number based on your order of check-in. That seems fair enough. If lots of people pay to go on early, are they going to charge those who need extra time, like the elderly or families with small children? If a lot of people pay the fee, it's like hiking the price on most of the passengers. Frankly, SW prices are not very competitive, at least they haven't been to the places I've wanted to fly. I suspect they won't have many takers anyway.
  • Marcus ... Civic M... 2013/01/23 09:24:34
    Marcus Clark
    +1
    Provided the info stated above is accurate, it is limited to the first 15.
  • askmike Civic M... 2013/01/24 05:35:25
    askmike
    It is a voluntary add-on for up to 15 passengers on the flight. Southwest is not hiking the price on most of the passengers. Southwest gives each passenger who pays the early boarding fee a coupon that is redeemable in flight for a premium beverage, so what Southwest is doing is providing first class service without creating a first class cabin on their aircraft.
  • littleb... Civic M... 2013/01/24 17:13:20
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    I am curious.Southwest does not offer per-boarding for those with a special need for it?
  • Dan 2013/01/23 05:31:41
    Yes
    Dan
    +2
    But what if everybody wants to pay the fee?
  • Faith ~... Dan 2013/01/23 08:02:38
    Faith ~American Patriot~
    +1
    It says there are 15 spots, and to take advantage of early boarding there has to be space available within those 15.
  • Dan Faith ~... 2013/01/28 01:08:10
    Dan
    So basically it's first come first serve. It's one more incentive for customers to pay more to the airline. I don't see anything dishonest or unfair about it. The way I see it, the plane doesn't leave until everyone has boarded and since the seats at the gate are usually more comfortable than the ones on the plane, I'll just pay the standard fee and wait.
  • Faith ~... Dan 2013/01/28 04:12:40
    Faith ~American Patriot~
    The difference with southwest is that they don't give seat assignments. So, while you of course can choose to wait, if you do you're likely going to be in a middle seat.
  • Dan Faith ~... 2013/01/28 04:23:47
    Dan
    I usually am anyway. I'm cheap;) But I can see how unassigned seats would change things.
  • Faith ~... Dan 2013/01/28 13:06:29
    Faith ~American Patriot~
    All you have to do is check in exactly 24 hours before your flight. We never do early bird or whatever. As long as we're in A or B group we know we'll get the seats that we want
  • Dan Faith ~... 2013/01/28 17:20:54
    Dan
    It seems like they usually want me to sit on the engine. Not a big deal stateside but when we travel overseas it gets to be a bit like torture.
  • Faith ~... Dan 2013/01/28 17:38:43
  • lolitalovely 2013/01/23 00:25:03
    Yes
    lolitalovely
    +1
    You don't have to pay it. Honestly,I don't care if I board early. I'm waiting around anyway. All I have to do with my bags is stow them. That takes ten seconds. You make wise decisions with your money, you get luxuries.

    Either way SW is not my preferred airline. They've either failed to get more efficient planes or they overestimate what they're worth to me, because their prices are always higher than others.
  • Red Omega 2013/01/22 22:44:13
    Yes
    Red Omega
    +1
    Isn't that part of Capitalism? But what kind of airline doesn't assign you, or allow you to pick your seat before you get to the gate?!
  • askmike Red Omega 2013/01/24 05:39:00
    askmike
    That kind of airline does not have expensive computers that are required to assign seats. The traveling public likes Southwest. The proof is the high load factors and the profits they rack up when the Heritage carriers are losing buckets of bucks.
  • Red Omega askmike 2013/01/24 18:16:27
    Red Omega
    'expensive computers'? Firstly, most can do it online. But most importantly, it's about the systems at the airport, when you check in. All the computers would be the same behind the desk, regardless of the airline. It's the basic system of checking someone in. They know who is on the flight and at where. They can do alot from their computers.
  • askmike Red Omega 2013/01/25 02:19:39
    askmike
    Yes, expensive. The computer would need to track every single seat on every flight that was open for sale or boarding. It would need to do that for every flight that is as much as 10 months or more in the future.
  • Red Omega askmike 2013/01/25 15:55:06
    Red Omega
    That is not a big deal. The computers are not bought by the airline. They are the same throughout whatever airport.
  • askmike Red Omega 2013/01/25 17:51:28
    askmike
    Dream on. Every airline has its own computer programs that include frequent flier data, special needs data, confirmed reservations and waitlisted reservation requests, car reservations, seat data which includes premium frequent fliers to have access to preferred seats non-premium cannot reserve, and dozens of specific codes that each airline computer system has. I work for a Heritage airline.
  • Red Omega askmike 2013/01/25 19:32:31
    Red Omega
    Then you should know how widespread those systems are, and how much you can do with one computer. You can check in to a connecting flight with a different airline. Seat allocation is a fundamental basic with airline check in. If you want to play that card, both my parents have worked for OneWorld airlines for over 25 years each. That is not the point though. When you look at other budget airlines, for example Easyjet in Europe, there is seat allocation on al routes, available online when you book your ticket. It is not a big venture for 21st century air travel.
  • askmike Red Omega 2013/01/25 19:36:26
    askmike
    Southwest does not have the expense and they are a very successful airline that continued to make a profit when the Heritage carriers were bleeding money. Fundamental basic? That is knee slapping funny! You mean like movies, meals, pillows, free baggage, free beverages?
  • Red Omega askmike 2013/01/25 19:51:50
    Red Omega
    What? That is laughable! They have a website that allows you to book and check in, yet is is too expensive to allow seat allocation!? And they are successful yet they don't have that expense? Yes, being given a seat number is a BASIC when you go to a check in desk . BASIC. No, not like food and drink ad baggage, or they wouldn't be a budget airline. I'm talking about the simplist of processes that every airline partakes in.
  • askmike Red Omega 2013/01/25 19:57:21
    askmike
    EasyJet does not allow passengers to pre-select seats, and their policy is similar to that of Southwest Airlines. By paying an annual fee of 149 pounds a passenger may purchase Jet Plus Membership that permits them to be among the first to board.
  • Red Omega askmike 2013/01/25 20:05:36
    Red Omega
    Yes it does. You don't have to pay £149, you pay if you want to choose your seat, which is around £3 something, otherwise it will be allocated for you, before you get to the gate. The membership is something else, but if you are a member, you do not pay the extra fee. It is on their website: http://easyjet.custhelp.com/a...

    You have royally be proven wrong.
  • askmike Red Omega 2013/01/28 04:47:59
    askmike
    EasyJet has always had open seating. It now has a fee that varies from 3 pounds to 7.5 pounds for the first 20 passengers who want to board early, and thus get a preferred seat. Strange, but true, and exactly what Southwest is doing. The fee of 149 pounds is for a year and it is for passengers who fly very frequently. It is called JetPlus Membership and it pretty much guarantees those JetPlus members will be the first to board. In other words, EasyJet does not have a computer that pre-assigns seats when passengers book their reservations.
  • Red Omega askmike 2013/01/28 18:50:10
    Red Omega
    Oh for God sakes, yes they do. When you book your ticket, you get to choose you seat if you want. Otherwise you get an allocated seat. Once upon a time it might have been like Southwest, but not anymore. Flybe, thomson, Monarch, Fly2 - they all have allocated seating.
  • baby cakes 826 2013/01/22 22:41:06
    No
    baby cakes 826
    +2
    Tickets are so expensive as it is... why do airlines have to squeeze every last penny out of us?
  • Faith ~... baby ca... 2013/01/23 08:03:27
    Faith ~American Patriot~
    +2
    You can choose not to fly.
  • baby ca... Faith ~... 2013/01/23 14:44:42
    baby cakes 826
    +1
    I usually don't fly, unless I go to visit my aunt in Georgia.
  • littleb... baby ca... 2013/01/24 17:16:25
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    You need to look at the price of fuel the price of aircraft trained personnel....etc. The price of landing fees, gate leases and compliance with federal regulations.
  • baby ca... littleb... 2013/01/24 17:30:33 (edited)
    baby cakes 826
    +2
    I guess that's true, but when you pay $3 to 4 hundred round trip. It gets really expensive rather quickly.
  • littleb... baby ca... 2013/01/24 17:35:02
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    It does! But the reality is even the successful airlines with a good business work on very low profits.

    A dilemma here in the US is also the lack of cost effective rail service as an alternative. In Europe that exists.
  • Todd Parsons 2013/01/22 19:58:54 (edited)
    Yes
    Todd Parsons
    +1
    They could pay too if they wanted ..... Or is this looked at as RACIST too
  • Brave & Crazy 2013/01/22 19:47:21
    Yes
    Brave & Crazy
    +2
    If you don't want to pay for the upgrade then you don't have to. I don't think it has anything to do with being fair to the other passengers. When I book a massage I add on an extended foot rub; is that unfair to the other people who book massages who don't opt for the extended foot rub? No.

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