British Airways Seating

Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:31 PM
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British Airways Seating

Three of us are flying to Heathrow from Phoenix, Arizona. British Airways fare is about $858 right now for non-stop flights 2nd week in May. I like the price but am concerned with not being able to pick our seats until 24 hours before flight. Anyone had any problem with getting seats they want with BA? Or not having their party able to get seats together because of this policy? I really have to have an aisle seat for such a long flight. We are also considering flying out of LAX with either Virgin or Air France. Those fares are about $683 plus of course our airfares from Phoenix to LA which I've priced at about $100 or so. These prices do include taxes and fees. Flown Virgin before but know nothing about Air France. Want to book soon as I think these fares will be the best we can get. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 11:53 PM
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If everyone is on the same booking, you will be allocated seats together. If the 3 book separately you will be seated separately. BA allocates the seats in advance but you can only see them 24 hours before at which point you can change them should any be available. If it's a late booking or the flight is very full, it might not always go to this plan, but then again, prebooking a seat at time of reservation doesn't guarantee that you will get that seat (in cases of aircraft changes etc)

VS is a great option but if the UK is the destination I wouldn't choose AF via PAR since there are so many direct services.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 12:10 AM
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It's funny that. I am thinking of flying INTO Phoenix, late April/early May. The fares from AMS are cheaper to Phoenix than to LAX or Las Vegas, which we also considered.

As far as the seating goes, as Odin said, if all the tickets are booked at the same time you will be assigned seats together. Just make sure you check-in, online, 24 hours before your flight to see which seats you've been assigned and change them if you wish/can.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 02:04 AM
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To be honest, I think you will find that, if you check in at very close to the T-24 deadline (try at T-30 and T-25 to see if it opens early), you may have a BETTER choice of seats than you think. Remember that the only people who get to choose are elites and those on full-fare tickets. Since it is basically impossible for a frequent coach flier to get elite status, and because nobody would buy full-fare coach when they could get Premium Economy, neither pool of fliers should be very large.

Now, an important caveat is that this is only true for coach seating. For the other cabins, you will have a very hard time getting good seats and can even have a hard time getting seats together. This is because BA seating doesn't work exactly like some others have described it. Indeed, BA does not allocate seats ahead of time. As an elite level flier I can pre-book my seats. Any time before check-in, I can go in and choose a seat. Usually, the vast majority of the seats are still available for selection. They do not block large numbers of seats off. Indeed, this means that booking late shouldn't impact whether you are seated together as the auto-allocation is made pretty late in the process.

If enough folks are elite, then they can choose so many seats, such that all that is left are singles scattered throughout the cabin. On something like the 777 business cabin, where the middle seats are largely despised, a family of 3 without pre-selection will often find that only the middle seats are open and that there are no 3 adjacent seats that are open. Similar problems occur in the premium economy cabin, since it is so small.

Like I said, I don't think this is much of a risk in the coach cabin, but should be considered before a non-elite flier books into a premium BA cabin.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 02:24 AM
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Very good advice above on the seating. I haven't ever flown BA with a group, so don't have any experience with that. I don't like BA and that seating thing is one reason, but there are many others, so I don't fly them unless desperate.

I like Virgin better so I'd go with them. I also like Air France and usually fly them to/from France, but can't see any reason why you would choose them over a nonstop flight on Virgin. Or any airline that wasn't nonstop. I'd even choose BA over a flight with connections, even though I hate BA.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 03:29 AM
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You ought to check the fares right now. There is a sale going on.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 04:55 AM
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I think that fare sale is for travel through the end of March.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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I am also concerned about seating in the 777 frrom Atl to LGW. We are a party of 5 adults, and I cringe thinking how we are going to be seated. I will be checking in on line the minute I can! I ahve flown BA, but this is the 1st time I have encountered this seat selection process. Travelgourmet, please reassure me?
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 06:53 AM
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Air France is starting a new direct service from LAX to LHR beginning in March. That's why the OP is considering them. They're offering a great sale right now for travel through May.

I haven't flown with them before. Do they offer assigned seating?
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 07:02 AM
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I have flown BA 5x Seattle/London. I hate it that you cannot get seat assignments (it didn't used to be this way my first few trips). Yes I have been lucky to get an aisle seat each time, but not knowing for sure really made me nervous, pre-trip. Enough so I would fly a different airline with advance assigned seating next time.

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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 07:06 AM
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Judyrem:

As stated above, there are no guarantees, but if you are flying in coach, then I would be shocked if there are that many folks with status or who paid full fares, so I would think the odds are pretty low that you will not get seats together.

Remember, the automated process is likely to be more efficient than having every individual with their hand in the process. I mean, booking the aisle and window of a 3-across set of seats is a trick I employ all the time, but it plays havoc when everyone does this and a strip of middle seats is all that is left. And, let's face it, such strategies are difficult with a group of 5, because you are suddenly looking for 4 or 5 seats to remain free, rather than just 1.

You may not get your "preferred" seats, but with the exception of row 26, there are no good seats in coach on a BA 777, anyway. And, with a group of 5, you can't get everyone a good seat and sit together. In short, I would think that you will be auto-assigned seats together and that these seats will be as good as any others.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 07:28 AM
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Thanks so much for your quick replies. Yes AF and Virgin are having sales out of LA right now, nonstop flights; and I'm also a "nervous nelly" pretrip. I've done the PHX to LAX to LHR using my American Express points; and was perfectly satisfied. I would probably prefer to go that route; but will have to confer with my travel partners. Let's face it traveling coach on any international flight is the pits. Virgin is also offering a premium economy upgrade for a few hundred dollars more, is that worth it? As always great and helpful info. Thanks.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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We stopped flying with British Airways due to the lack of making reservations at the time of booking when we were split up on our last flight. Why run the risk if you have other options?
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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rasmesfin: premium economy on Virgin is a substantial step up - more room, better food, dedicated check-in. Depending how low that "few hundred" is, I would book it without hesitation. Particularly from the West Coast.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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I'm surprised AF would fly nonstop to London, must be something new (is that what is meant by "direct"?) Direct really means you don't have to change planes, I think.

Yes, AF has assigned seats. I've never flown any airline other than BA from the US to Europe that did not have assigned seats.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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Because of the new US-EU "Open Skies" agreement going into effect at end of March, AF will introduce non-stop LAX-LHR service and BA's planning non-stop flights from New York to Paris.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 05:25 PM
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We have flown BA from ATL to LGW many times and haven't had problems getting the seats we wish. We both want aisle seats and have always been able to get them except for the times we were "bumped" up to Premium Economy. Of course, I always check in and re-do our seats online as soon as check in opens.

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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 01:04 AM
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I've only had bad experiences with BA and seating.

As someone with a disability there are regulations on where I can and can't sit. Eg I shouldn't be next to the emergency exit because I can't open it and I'm not allowed to sit in an aisle seat for take off and landing. None of this bothers BA, and yes I do tell them.

The only reason I ever fly with BA is if there is no other option.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 04:55 AM
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It would seem to me that choosing one's seat is an incentive to book early. I fail to understand BA's reluctance to understand that.
It seems to cause BA a lot of ill-will.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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robjame: BA does it because they don't care about ill-will from infrequent coach fliers. If they did, they wouldn't have 25% mileage earning rates on cheap flights. They want you to buy up to premium cabins, even premium economy. On the flip side, BA treats their elite passengers very well. Very well.

Not saying I agree with the strategy, but that is the way it is and BA won't be changing it anytime soon. And, FWIW, the rest of the European carriers are starting to dramatically degrade coach tickets too, so BA isn't alone.
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