Would You Dare? The ‘Wet Seat’ Gamble on Southwest Airlines

The holy grail of airline seating is to have an open seat next to you to spread out. An empty row is the dream. Southwest Airlines lets you pick your own seat when you board. Would you pick this window seat, where the middle and aisle next to it are guaranteed to remain empty – because they’re out of service for being “wet”…?

The signs say “do not occupy” on the aisle and middle seats. You’re probably not going to spread your stuff out on those seats, but there won’t be any passengers spreading out into your space or fighting you for the armrest. But they are… Wet. With. Something.

Do you take the window seat next to the “wet” seats?
byu/Zorbaing inSouthwestAirlines

I was once seated next to a passenger on an American Airlines flight where, upon boarding, the woman in the middle seat next to me realized that her seat cushion was wet. She told a flight attendant, “oh it’s just water.” The woman’s white pants had turned yellow where she sat. We had a brief delay while they swapped out the seat cushion on this full flight. She didn’t have a choice to make about where she sat – just about whether she’d take the flight, with the new cushion, while traveling in now-wet pants? (She did.)

Planes are frequently turned quickly, and they’re barely cleaned between flights. If someone “spilled” at that seat they may not have said anything to the airline, so nobody noticed. At least Southwest was aware of the condition of its seats, warned passengers, and didn’t let anyone sit in those. Next to them? Sure. Do so at your own risk and benefit!

Airlines won’t want to delay a flight to address a cleanliness issue if they can avoid it. Go in knowing that wherever you’re sitting hasn’t been cleaned. That’s up to you, if you care. Maybe just shower when you get home, wash your hands frequently, and bring a change of clothes in your carry on?

(HT: Points and PDBs)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I love a wet seat it really helps keep me loyal and wondering what it might be
    Keeps things exciting especially if it has a mysterious odor

  2. Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) may have had the right idea…”Bus Pants”.

    (Just looked this up and was surprised that they were not as I assumed (special pants worn only on the bus so as to spare one’s nicer clothes). Sources indicate they were worn OVER one’s normal pants…)

  3. People are such garbage. Counting on others to be polite and respectful of others is obviously asking too much, so just give me my assigned seat.
    Yet another reason to not ever fly SWA.

  4. Mantis- A spill can happen at any seat, whether it has been pre assigned or not. In that case, you would not be flying ” in your assigned seat”.

  5. AirTran used to have a “Save Our Seat” program where each plane carried a couple of extra seat cushion covers that were leather on top and inside had some sort of plastic-type lining to place over a soiled seat. The “over cover” met fire resistance time standards same as the regular seat, but it would, unless a serious soiling, get the plane back to Atlanta/Milwaukee/Orlando where the cushion would be swapped. Rule was not just the cover, the entire cushion comes off the plane for inspection.

  6. I would occupy it. Because it’s fake, it’s not really wet or poo poo’d. But first of all, I would not fily SWA because of their open seat policy.

  7. Ever consider it could be dripping condensation from the AC nozzle? A pretty common occurrence.

    So the National Enquirer of travel blogs now taking leads from the absolute drivel of social media & conspiracy theorists, reddit?

    How low can you go?

  8. I would sit on it. It’s probably a fake call by someone who wants the seat next to them unoccupied. Selfish.

  9. And that’s why I never fly with clean clothes on. Now this gives me the idea to bring a plastic sheet to cover, to put on top of the seat. But also, I won’t fly SW for their open seat, “selfish” seat policy.

  10. There’s a good “Depends”” joke here somewhere. I’ve never touched a seat before prior to sitting down to test if it was wet or not, but I probably will from now on. One more thing to add to the misery of flying.

  11. I’ve caused the wet seat before. I lost half my bladder to a congenital condition 12 years ago. And I really love a good IPA. And airports have a lot of IPAs. So when you land and you are jolted awake by the engines in full reverse and the brakes on hard, and you realize what happened, the last thing you want to do is tell somebody all about it. You take your carry on luggage to the nearest family restroom, wallow in your misery and embarrassment for a moment, change and carry on. The moral of my story is: never sit in the wet seat. ever.

  12. I am an avid reader of your columns. I am amazed at all the aircraft being ordered.
    It is almost impossible to keep track of them.

    Would it be possible for you to recap ALL the orders in one of your columns??
    It would be most appreciated.

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