Bad seat assignment or wait?

Old Jul 20th, 2004, 03:32 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 547
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bad seat assignment or wait?

I am a very inexperienced flier, particularly with flights that have seat assignments. I just called United to inquire about seat assignments for our flights back from Bangkok to LA (BKK to Narita, Narita to LAX). I was told that the flight is VERY overbooked and they don't have two seats together. I asked the woman for advice due to my inexperience and she said that I couldn't do any worse than right now getting two separted seats, but if I wait, I might be able to get better (bumped up or someone else bumped up opening up two seats together, etc.). Does this sound like the best plan of action? Should I just wait until I check in to inquire about a seat assignment? Or call a few days beforehand?

btw, I'm not *that* concerned about being bumped from our flight since it's the end of our vacation and I'll still be off work for three weeks when I return. What kind of compensation could I expect if we're bumped? Voluntarily versus involuntarily?

Thanks!!
jlaughs is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2004, 03:42 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,491
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Take the assigned seats for now, call back every so often (when do you leave) and ask if you can switch, just in case something opens up. Then make sure you are at the airport as early as you can possibly stand it -- 2 hrs. minimum but maybe more -- and make an urgent but humble plea to be moved. A fair number of seats are controlled by the airport agents at the desk or, more often, at the gate.

As for being bumped to another flight, you might have a little more leverage about where you're seated on your "new" flights BUT you also might have no choice whatsoever if those flights are as overbooked as yours.

As discussed in another thread, involuntary bumping is rare and mainly happens to late check-ins who didn't have assigned seats. Voluntary bumping is another thing, and you can certainly mention your willingness to be bumped when you check in --- BUT: you still have to be packed and ready to go in case there are enough seats, AND if you let them know "too early" that you're willing to be bumped, they don't have to offer you the most attractive inducements because they know they have you. Search here on "auction" and you should find a really good description of the bumping "game" comparing it to any auction.

Good luck.
soccr is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 05:11 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Even if you are not successful in switching seats in advance or at the gate, ask the cabin attendant if they can help you; often on crowded flights the cabin attendants spend the minutes before taxiing trying to accomodate all the people who have separated seats.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 12:00 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 547
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Funny thing is, when I told my daughter about the situation of maybe not being able to sit together coming home, she said, "Good. We'll probably be sick of each other by then." LOL - Well, I guess that's a case of finding the silver lining in the situation!
jlaughs is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 01:04 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,073
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you know the flights is highly overbooked, and you don't mind staying in BKK or NRT for an extra day or two, then I suggest you go to the airport early in BKK on the day of return, and let the check-in agent know you want to be put on the waitlist for bumping. Pack your essential personal stuff as carry-on, as they may have problem pulling your bags, etc...

And do call before you leave the US to see if they have seats together for assignment. If not, then again a few days before your return flight in BKK. Still no, then go to the airport early, whether you want to get bumped or not. The bulkhead seats are usually not assigned until the last minute. And even if you have assigned seats, do ask again every time you call UA, and at the airport whether they can give you a "Economy Plus" seat with more legroom. This applies to your outgoing flights as well.

And to answer your original question, I'd take a seat assignment if they can give you aisle/window seats. If they are middle seats, then don't bother.

I guess my point is that do call the airline often, if you want to get good seats. And ask them all the time.

I have not used united.com to book overseas flights, so I don't know if you can pull your itinerary on it, or to change seats online. If that's possible, then you can check your reservations often (like daily, or even more frequently). Seats can get opened up anytime.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 01:53 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 117
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think it is unusual that United would tell you over the phone that a flight is over-booked. Telling passengers that will often make them over anxious, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the process and are then paranoid about being refused boarding on their flight for the next week or so.

You may have been unable to get pre-assigned seats when you called because usually the full quota of seats to assign is not released until check in for the flight becomes active. Pre-assignment may only include 30-50% of the aircraft. The rest of the seats at allocated at check in so that when people arrive who have particular needs such as being 6ft 9, have a leg in plaster or are incontinent and need a clear run to the bathroom, there is still availability to seat these people adequately.

You should (but by no means guaranteed) get seats together when you check in at the airport when the full quota is available.
cosmic_toadstool is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 04:54 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 547
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
cosmic_toadstool: As unusual as it may be for the airline rep to say that a flight is overbooked, that is exactly what the woman told me. I even asked her if we would have a problem getting seats (whether together or not) due to the overbooking. She explained that airlines overbook to compensate for "no shows" and that bumping does occur, however, they try not to let that happen. After looking at the website about flight bumping (can't remember the url), I found that United had the most incidents, which I would assume means that they overbook the most or by more passengers with fewer "no shows".
jlaughs is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:08 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,073
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Most airlines overbook, and data shows that Delta bumps the most people recently. But I don't think why any traveller needs to worry about this. There are numerous travellers on each flight that LOVE to be bumped, and would volunteer their seats in a second. People usually get disappointed that the airlines don't need to bump them, not the other way around.

So, stop worrying about bumping. It's an non-issue unless it's the day before Thanksgiving.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2004, 11:49 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 547
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I actually am not that concerned about being bumped from the flight, as I said in my original post. I just wondered about the best "strategy" to get the best benefit given the circumstances and my situation.
jlaughs is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2004, 12:35 PM
  #10  
Cassandra
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Do let us know how it all unfolds...
 
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
dwsjas89
United States
5
Aug 16th, 2006 11:27 AM
bat
Africa & the Middle East
4
Nov 4th, 2005 05:32 PM
chuckann
Australia & the Pacific
6
May 12th, 2005 10:36 AM
lotsolove
Europe
7
May 12th, 2003 09:04 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -