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Why do US airlines no longer have assigned seats?

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Over December and January, we flew on three different airlines - United, JetBlue, and American.

During all the flights, we were not assigned seats until we got to the gate. Two of the tickets were booked six months in advance; the other two a few weeks in advance.

It was irritating that we could not sit together on the AA flight.

We also flew an Asian airline (ANA) - we had assigned seats for those flights.

What is going on?

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