Of all the times I've been on Whitney, I've used the lottery/advance system but once, even when I lived on the East Coast. On that one occasion I got reservations for my party on my first date choice, so my limited experience was positive. All the other times I've gotten walk-ins the day before - the closest I've ever come to not getting a permit was a couple of years ago when I got the next-to-last dayhike permit.

Anyway, so long as there's a mechanism for getting a permit the day before at no cost then I really don't care how the USFS administers the Whitney system.

What I don't like is the current system for St Helens. They now have a private contractor since it was reopened after a period of increased volcanic activity, and ALL permits are issued in advance via the contractor. While the permit is validated at a nearby store (Jack's) they used to have a daily lottery system for no-shows. Not any longer, and that's not a good system. I hope Whitney never adopts that method.

My hunch is there are a fair number of stealth hikers on St Helens as a result of that method.