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Allocated Seating

Old 13th Jul 2008, 12:30
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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Allocated Seating

I was recently browsing casually through some of the latest entries for easyJet on www.airlinequality.com and was struck by the number of writers who commented negatively on the airline's "free" seating. Now I know that easyJet is not the only airline which operates in this way but this got me thinking: would a low cost carrier which currently has such seating gain competitive advantage by introducing allocated seating? Would knowing where you'll be sitting in advance of boarding make it more likely that you'd choose to book with an airline offering such a service or would it make no difference? And what about the airlines' perspective: would getting rid of "free" seating really impact on punctuality or add to their costs in other ways?

Last edited by Seat62K; 13th Jul 2008 at 12:50. Reason: spelling
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 12:45
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Join Date: Feb 2000
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There are a number of LCCs (although I would use the term "low cost" advisedly these days ) that do provide seat allocation, TUIfly, Air Berlin, Flybe to name just a few in Europe. I may be wrong, but I think Germanwings have introduced it too. The argument used by RYR and EZY is that free-for-all seating expedites the boarding process and enables them to meet their short turnaround times. This might be true when using front and rear exits on remote stands, but not when using a single airbridge. For me the most efficient system (when using an an airbridge) is seat allocation with boarding by row number groups, starting from the rear. I experienced this with Westjet in Canada and it worked well - thanks to organised ground staff and disciplined passengers!
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 13:28
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This subject has been through this 'cabin' many times. Firstly, the cost of issuing allocated seating and then monitoring it's execution is high - even if they start selling some aspects of it. FR sell 'priority boarding' that can be defeated if pax are bussed and BE sell seat allocation.

Secondly, and far more crucially, there are many UK pax that are intent on ignoring boarding sequence. Observe main line carriers at major airports, with allocated seating:- In the gate you can hear the call for "Rows 55 to 50" or "Boarding cards group A" or whatever, and observe a massive surge of 75% of pax towards the quaking agents.

You can then see that the agents have learnt it is better to allow them all through because of the verbal abuse they get if they try to make pax wait their turn. On board, the aisle is then blocked in the usual way with someone in Row 33 (say) preventing 50/100 people from getting to the back.

A very large reason for this happening, in my view, is NOT to bag a 'good' seat but to bag space for their bag in the lockers. Since people tend to bring too much with them (and are often not challenged about it for the same reason of verbal abuse) they now need to grab space for their bag so as to maximise their convenience. This is why they stop part way down the a/c in places where few people have taken seats - not for the seats but for the locker space. For those with allocated seating, they want to fill up the locker space before the other pax for that row arrive. We all know the problem of finding the locker full and having to go to locker either side to hope for space, thus compounding the problem.

Meanwhile, in the departure gate, the agents will continue to call out the rows/groups for boarding as per procedure - even though everyone knows that it is pointless.

This might sound cynical but paxing in the UK for 40 years (with LHR and LTN as my local fields) can have that effect on one.

Last edited by PAXboy; 13th Jul 2008 at 13:41.
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Old 17th Jul 2008, 16:00
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Benahavis, Malaga, Spain
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Eh...., flyglobespan have had allocated seating since day one.

They don't seem to shout about it though which I think is a missed opportunity.
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Old 18th Jul 2008, 12:15
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: munich
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Allocated seating would definitely figure in my choice of airline. It's much less stressful for the passenger, particularly when travelling in company or with the family. Unless of course you want to get stressed out about the overhead lockers...
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