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Why are airline seats sometimes not assigned until departure?

Why are airline seats sometimes not assigned until departure?

Mar 4th, 2009, 05:29 PM
Original Poster
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Why are airline seats sometimes not assigned until departure?

Please enlighten me.............Thanx
margochanning is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 08:04 PM
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The airlines will hold back some seats for assignment so that the gate agent have some leeway to put family traveling together, passengers with special needs, etc.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 08:41 PM
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And some airlines want to be able to give full-fare late bookers preferred seats, since they're paying lots more for their tickets.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 4th, 2009, 09:32 PM
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rk / gardy, actually, I believe you are both wrong in your response for coach seats.

I've been an AA FF "premium" flyer for over 20 years. I get to choose the seats, any seats upon reservation, that you folks don't even see as being available.

When I look at a seat without giving my FF login, I see what 'normal passenger' sees as available.

Once I login, I have my choice of seating throughout the cabin. That means exit rows, the first 2-3 rows of coach, and several more nicer seats.

As far as families traveling together, etc... the airlines are pretty much saying tough sht. No early boarding, no special assistance. I used to see a family of 7 get on first for one baby. Not any more, particularly on SWA.

It turns out that the FF is becoming the 'king' of the vast amount of specialized boarding. Just like any other customer, airlines reward their FF long before they accomodate any other customer.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 09:41 PM
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Yeah, what I said is one of many scenarios. And each airlines have different practices, and can also vary flight to flight.

An elite FF member will have more choices to seat assignments, and top level elites even better. All true.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 09:52 PM
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Then why did you make your first post that said nothing about this 'fact'?
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 06:49 AM
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Rastaguytoday, the OP's comment was generic. AA does allow advance seat selection, even for non-elite pax, not just those who have elite status (which I also have BTW.) In fact, I'm not sure which if any legacy US carriers don't.

However some international carriers, most notably British Airways, do not allow advance seat selection (or not until 24h before flight time) for non-elite pax, even in premium cabins, unless one is paying full fare. It's those airlines to which I was referring, and I presume RKK was doing the same.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 5th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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There are times, especially when there are plane changes, when all seats disappear, and they are held to be assigned at check-in, regardless of most FF statuses (I'm Gold on the airlines I fly). On one international flight I took recently, I called the Help Desk for FF's, and asked if they could book me an assigned seat - and even they couldn't. I think usually, for the airlines that allow seat assignment, it's there - but there are times when that all goes away. Based on what the agent told me, it does sometimes happen when they change the plane type. It's probably a system problem, but I know it happens.... Other times, even when they change the plane, you can go in and select....
Debi is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 08:09 AM
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If there is any kind of equipment change, I'm notified immediately by AA email.

I'm surprised that some of the airlines don't take better care of their premium passengers.

AA has always been very kind to me, and has gone out of their way to accomodate me.

They've been particularly good since I "broke" a million miles with them, as it give me a lifetime premium FF status.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 08:54 AM
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you are wrong.

AA does a pretty good job allowing their elites get preferred seats, YET, they do hold about 10-15% of seats for airport assignment ONLY. No matter what your status is. I have been Executive Plat for years and I still could not get the first 2 rows in economy on MD80 assigned . There were couple of other rows "blocked" as well. What I could get was exit row seats and some preferred forward rows that a no-status flier could not see on the seat map during reservation. At the end, it didn't matter because my free upgrades always cleared but lets call spade a spade.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 09:20 AM
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When I go to book a seat, after logging on, the only seats not available are usually 1-2 seats, usually in Business class, that are initially reserved for long-haul crew relief.

I booked a trip from SFO-JFK 2 months ago for a flight next week, and I had a choice of all of the seats in coach. Nothing was blocked.

I do know that they try to hold back 2-3 First / Business seats for potential Ex-Plats last minute booking, but not in coach.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 09:34 AM
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okay Rastaguytoday,

do me a favor and sign in on aa.com, do a dummy(hold) booking for flight 1214 on November 19 TPA-ORD and do the hold. Then try to change your seat to either row 7 or 8 or the last 2 rows in the back. Come back and tell us your experience.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 09:39 AM
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and just so you can't come back and tell us that it's possible row 7 and 8 were already assigned for that date, try November 20, 21, 22 and so on.....
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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Rastaguy, you've gotten into the hair of the wrong dudes here; never presume to be an AA expert with this crowd - it sets their antennae quivering.
HKP is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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There are other examples when even top elites cannot get a particular seat.

For example, on Continental, if you look a seatmap (even after you've bought a seat as a Plat Elite) on any ultra-longhaul 777-200 flight, you will not see 16/17/45DEF and whole rows of 36 and 37. Those seats exist on the plane, but no one can get them assigned until about 3 days prior to flight.

The 16/17/45DEF may be used for crew rest, though less and less so. But Rows 36/37 are simply held back to be assigned later, as those are never used for crew rest, and are always opened up to passengers.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 6th, 2009, 03:33 PM
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Actually, AAFrequentFlyer you are correct about the first 2 rows. For me, the bulkhead is not a row I ever look at, unless all that is left is by the toilet. I usually look at either exit rows or 2-3 rows in front of an exit row. I try hard to book early. If you've ever flown AA 1499 on a Friday afternoon from DFW to SJC, you'd understand the total zoo element.

I once flew an Eva Air (through AA) to / from Taiwan. I went to Eva's office in Taiwan to see about better seat accomodations. They said that they would 'upgrade' me. They put me in the same class in the aisle seat next to the toilet on a 14 hour flight. Because it was an exit row, people kept stepping on my feet the entire flight. Ungodly flight.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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Anecdotal ... I have no brand loyalty (except SWA for short intra-USA flights), and will choose flights on basis of lowest price & carrier rating for the particular route.

Often I can only get a seat assigned at the gate, at baggage check-in, or at website within 24 hrs of departure. Sometimes I am separated from wife, although the flight attendant or gate agent "may" be able to change this.

Almost always the choice of seats offered is mediocre, eg lots of rear cabin, near lavatory, or seats rated "bleow average" by SeatGuru.com
tom_h is offline  
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