Best way to get seat assignments....

Old Apr 14th, 2003, 08:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19
Best way to get seat assignments....

Huaband and I are traveling with infant son to Florida in May. I just booked the tickets yesterday and was told that I could not receive seat assignments until the day before. Since we did not purchase a seat for my son it will be a nightmare if we do not sit together. On the return flight we do have seat assignments but they are not together either. Does anyone know the best way to book these seats together? Would it be helpful to go to O'Hare in person the day before? We only live 10 minutes away so it will not be inconvenient. Thanks for any advice!!!!
KathleenK is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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Sounds like the plane is overbooked. I would call the airline and stay on the phone until you get seat assignments.

Have you thought about buying a seat for your infant son?

Good luck and I hope it works out for you!
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,637
Kathleen, you don't say what airline you're flying. I usually fly United and book all my flights online. I am prompted to select a seat. If it doesn't prompt me, I call the reservations person right after booking and they will give me a seat assignment. Make sure you are registered with their FF program. I think they treat registered flyers a little better.
Grasshopper is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 09:52 AM
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Just get to the airport early. Then ask for seats together. At least 80% of the time I don't have my seating assignment until I get to the airport, either.

Even if you don't get seated together, I'm sure you can get the person next to you to trade with your husband. Hate to say it, but people don't want to sit next to a baby!
suzanne is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 10:11 AM
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The plane is almost certainly overbooked (you can check via or on your airline's website if they allow you to pick out a seat before you purchase the ticket -- if "seating map unavailable" comes up, it's overbooked).

This means that there are still at least a couple of rows and usually the bulkhead reserved to be assigned by the airport ticket agent on the day of departure. This is blocked in the computer and the "regular" reservations agents you talk to on the phone cannot override it. However, supervisers can. SO:

Call the airline back and ask to speak to a superviser. This may not work, but then again it may. Explain that you have an infant and need to be together, etc. etc. etc. just as you did with the regular agents. The worst she/he can do is tell you to check in as early as possible - which you should do anyway because the flight is overbooked and there will be a scramble for seating throughout the check-in process.

The "super" may tell you there's already a notation in your record about the infant and the gate people will do all they can to help you out. This is very nice, but I can tell you that those notations may count for very little on an overbooked flight. Be very very nice, apologetic, but persistant.

When I needed some special arrangement, I've been known to call back on different days and speak to different agents until I get one who will make the seat assignment.

Finally: you absolutely positively certainly should have bought a seat for your infant, on safety grounds alone. However, it also would have increased the chances that you would be seated together, since they'd be unlikely to seat an infant by himself.

Good luck, and if all else fails, check in at dawn!
soccr is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 10:12 AM
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Sorry, I think it's spelled "supervisor." duh.
soccr is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 10:12 AM
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Not only do I work in the industry, I travel every week and have NEVER been told to wait until the day prior. If the flight is oversold, those with seat assignments have a guaranteed seat!
What airline told you this?
Did they say there were no seats together and you would have to try again... or something like that?
If that's the case, confirm your seats, ANY seats and continue to try and change them until your day of departure.
TxTravelPro is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 10:55 AM
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Just returned from a trip in which I had to take a total of 4 flights. I made the reservations in November, and was flying in March/April. When I called for seat assignments in either January or February, I received all but the flight from LA to New Orleans. I was told to wait until I got to the airport. However, I called back at the end of February, and I was told the seating assignments had not yet been "released" and to call back 24 hours before the flight. As I talked to the agent, she told me she could put in a request for desired seating. When I called back 24 hours before departure, I was told I had the seats I wanted. This was United. But it does happen. (I think some one once told me it has to do with how many seats are available via the internet and how many have been given to travel agents, but I'm not certain)

Usually, if you put in a request far enough in advance, the airlines will do their best to honor it. Might be worth it to call and find out if you can do that. I don't think you would have to go to the airport, though. Calling them should be sufficient.

Oh, and the flight between LA and New Orleans was indeed booked to capacity, so just a thought to consider, as your flight might be fully booked or there might be a possibility of overbooking.
Chele60 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Thanks for the tips - I am flying on United using ff miles and they did say that a request had been entered for two seats together. I am going to call customer service today and express my concerns regarding being bumped from an appearantly crowded flight. I do feel I must defend my decision for not purchasing a seat for my son - I knew that he would not sit in a seat but would prefer to sit on our laps for the flight and I would therefore waste the money / miles for the seat.
KathleenK is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 11:41 AM
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I had a flight Friday and was unable to get a prereserved seat.I asked a supervisor at the airport and she explained that most airlines hold between 40-45% of all seats on any given flight for "airport checkin".Regarding being overbooked, I was told that if I have a confirmed reservation, I will be accomodated.Lacking a prereserved seat is not a basis for being bumped, according to the supervisor.All of this oif course was "in general".I am sure there will be someone who will change to allow you to sit together.
BeachBoi is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 508 need to defend your position,just as no need for someone to tell you what to do. I'm sure most parents who have flown with infants have at one time or another had them on their lap.
doc_ is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 11:45 AM
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United can be very nice, esp. if you are encouraging to them on the phone. But I don't think you have to worry about being bumped -- that's not what people are saying here. It's just that the bulkhead and sometimes a few other rows are reserved for premier-class late ticketing and can't be "released" until the day of flight. So that's what they mean by saying the seats aren't "released" -- all other seats are taken/reserved, and the only remaining available seats are for special priorities. What you are doing by calling back and calling back is making your family a special case, basically. As others have said, it's not enough that there's a notation in your record. That'll help if you are among the first to check in for the flight, but it's useless if some special priority people have already gotten to the newly released seats.

As to buying a seat for your son: the issue isn't his comfort or preference or your pocketbook. It's that he becomes a flying projectile in heavy turbulence or (worse) a crash. You may think you can hold him tightly enough, but something very strong and very sudden could easily be more than you could overcome. If you put him in a carseat in a car, he should be in the same sort of seat for take off and landing at the very least, and for as much of the rest of the flight as possible.
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 12:16 PM
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Posts: 3,139
Even if you can't to get seat assignments until the day of the flight, don't worry, you'll be able to sit together. As previously noted, the airlines always hold some seats in reserve. You may end up in the back of the plane, which will actually be easier for you, as you'll be able to get up and hold the baby in the back kitchen area.

We've travelled quite a bit with our 2 young kids, sometimes without seat assignments in advance, and never been separated. The only time they couldn't get us seats assigned together before boarding, they paged the person sitting next to 2 of us, and asked him (prior to boarding) if he was willing to trade seats with one of us (which he very graciously was).

On getting a seat for your baby, I'm also a strong proponent of buying a seat for babies, for safety reasons. With my own children, as they were accustomed to and familiar with their infant seats (which they sat in every time they rode in the car), they were comforted by being in their own infant seats. They were much more inclined to fall asleep there. From what I've seen of other people's babies, they may be happier in mom or dad's lap, but they squirm a lot more, and nobody gets much rest.
Lexma90 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 02:09 PM
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I hope I can help a bit. I'm a travel agent (ok I know most people hate us on this forum), but I do have the facts on this for you. It seems as if people have given you bits of the correct information, but not all. First of all, just because you cannot get seat assingments does not mean the flight is overbooked. The person that stated that 40-45% of the plane is held for airport checkin is correct. Also, the whole front of the plane is held for their frequent flyers, so sometimes it is difficult to get a ticket and the 24 hour thing was probably stated because that's when a lot of the airlines frequent flyers are upgraded to first class, thus opening up coach seats. Second, yes it is DEFINITELY correct that if the flight is indeed oversold, the ones without seat assignments and people who check in very late will be the first ones bumped off the flight. Now for my last point, I don't want to scare you, but non-revenue seats (which is what you are on, frequent flyers) are the VERY first to be bumped off an oversold flight. So please don't listen to people saying you have nothing to worry about. It is something you definitely need to keep in mind. This is the exact reason I never use agent tickets when I fly, because the same thing can happen. Now the chances of you being bumped off are probably quite small, as there always seems to be people willing to give up their seats. I hope this helps a bit.
harmony29 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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You've gotten lots of advice here, but I'll add my two cents. Even if the airline does not help you out ahead of time with the seat assignment, you will surely be able to trade seats so your husband can be next to you. I agree with a previous post. It may not sound nice, and don't take it the wrong way, but no one wants to sit next to a baby! The person next to you will be more than happy to trade seats. (I love kids and have four of my own, but even I would just as soon not sit next to a baby.) Most likely, though, you won't even need to get into this seat trading stuff. Most airline employees go out of their way to help people traveling with babies and you can probably get your seats improved when you check in, if you are unable to do anything ahead of time. I would advise checking in very early, as this will help you avoid getting bumped while maximizing the chance of improving your seats.
Miranda is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2003, 03:20 PM
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Kathleen, I am certainly not trying to tell you what to do but the reason I asked if you had gotten a seat for your son was a safety reason.

I fly quite frequently and often encounter people who have lap children. Last June while flying into LGA, our plane encountered quite a bit of turbulence making the initial approach. The father had a horrible time trying to hang on to his child because of the intertia. The mother, father, and child were as close to hysteria as I've ever seen anyone. Remember, a 20 pound child becomes 5 times his or her weight in turbulence or deceleration.

Have a great trip and I hope the seat assignment works out for you.
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