There are lots of things to love about Southwest Airlines but its decades-old open seating policy has to be one of the most controversial aspects of flying with Southwest that some passengers still love but a growing number are learning to hate.
Rather than being assigned a seat at check-in, passengers can select any available seat upon boarding the airplane. But Southwest boards passengers in strict boarding group order so you either want to pay extra to get an early boarding group or check-in before anyone else.
Getting onboard the airplane before anyone else obviously gives you access to the cream of the crop seats but there’s no guarantee that someone else isn’t going to ruin your day by sitting next to you when other passengers have a spare seat next to them.
And that conundrum has resulted in a number of different viral hacks being developed.
A Southwest passenger has recently shown off his simple hack to avoid losing the open seating lottery by making it look like someone is already occupying the middle seat beside him.
Zach Prengler shared a video on TikTok in which other passengers bypass the middle seat next to him because they mistakenly think a person is already sitting in the seat.
Not so, however. In fact, the ‘ghost person’ is actually just Zach’s arm pushed into a hoodie, with a baseball cap on top. It’s a remarkably simple trick but Zach says it actually worked.
Many people commentating on his video, applauded Zach for his ‘ingenious’ hack but one person cautioned that it could cause an incorrect passenger count and lead to delays.
Others pointed out that the hack is only going to work when the flight isn’t full.
Last month, another Southwest passenger shared his own seating hack which involves gently patting the empty seat next to them, while staring at passengers passing down the aisle.
Strangely enough, the tactic unnerved other passengers who quickly kept on walking to find another empty seat.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.