Southwest gives assigned seating a tryout

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: If you've ever flown Southwest, you know about the mad rush. Well, today, Southwest is trying some flights without the cattle call. Here's Annie Baxter:


ANNIE BAXTER: Southwest is the only major airline that uses open boarding, but starting today the company is testing assigned seating on a handful of flights out of San Diego.

Travel expert Terry Trippler of Vacation Passport says the experiment is significant.

TERRY TRIPPLER: This a real crack in the old southwest vernacular, because they've increased fares four times this year, now they're assigning seats.

Trippler says the move reflects a trend among low cost carriers. Many of them are starting to offer more of the frills and higher fares typically associated with the legacy carriers.

But at the same time, many legacy carriers are cutting out frills to save money. Trippler says it's a strange moment to watch:

TRIPPLER: We hope they all will meet in the middle.

A Southwest spokesperson says despite the seating change and the recent fare increases, the carrier plans to keep its rates below those charged by the legacy airlines.

I'm Annie Baxter, for Marketplace.

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