Southwest has decided that they are not interested in my business. They informed me today that there is no way, short of my coming to the airport 24 hours ahead of time, for me to get anything better than a “C” seating designation: The group of half a dozen or so people who got last minute tickets and are all guaranteed to have only middle seats available to them.
The problem is that I’m on the Watch List. Normally this is just a mild inconvenience. I’ve never had any extra security screening or hassles once I’ve got my ticket, they just tend to insist that I see an actual person to check in for my flight rather than using a computer. Seems a little silly since I’m going to show my ID anyway, but not a big deal. Sometimes this means extra delays, but the people at Continental just told me in that case to get in the 1st class line and tell them that I’m a selectee. Works for me.
Southwest, however, bases their seating on when you check in, giving priority to those who check in online ahead of time, something they will not allow me to do. Naively, I assumed that since this is a problem that has been going on for several years now, and every ticket agent that I’ve ever dealt with has expressed frustration and sympathy about it, helping me to navigate my way through, that the Southwest ticket agents would have a way around this obvious problem, making me an exception since I had no other choice. Not so. They even seemed a bit put out that I asked about it, telling me “You know you’re on the Watch List, right?” and acting as though I should just assume that flying would be a painful experience no matter what airline I chose or what I did.
But if I really was a security risk, how would forcing me into the middle seat help anyone? Not a bit. Seat assignment is irrelevant. They just want to check my ID but don’t want to take the effort to design a system that would allow me to get in line for a seat without completing the check in process. I mean how hard would it be to just give me a number when I tried to check in saying that I had started the process of checking in, but simply needed to do one more thing at the airport to finish it. Viola! Now I’m treated like a normal person except for the fact that they need to verify that no, I don’t fit the profile of whoever it is that is making things suck for Michael Boyles everywhere.
I don’t mind a little sensible inconvenience in the name of security, but do not force me into permanent second class status because you’re too lazy to adapt on your end.