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What happens if you don't make a seat assignment ?

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by dagwood, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. dagwood

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    What happens if you don't make a seat assignment ?

    I was helping a friend (really) who booked an international ticket on American through an OTA. I was showing him how to confirm the ticket directly on American's website. Wanted to make sure the OTA wasn't holding his money without ticketing the reservation.

    On the website I noticed he hadn't yet made seat assignments. Looking at the seating chart the only "available" (free) seats in the main cabin were middle seats. Everything else was main cabin extra or preferred. Both have fees. He decided to check back periodically to see if a "free" window or aisle seat opens up. Yes, I tried to convince him to make a seat assignment but to no avail.

    What I'm wondering is if he waits till check-in and no free seats are available will he get put into one of the main cabin extra or preferred seats ? And would there be a charge ? I always pick seats (and will pay for extra room if necessary) so this is an unfamiliar situation for me. But if only middle seats are available how much worse can his seat assignment get by waiting ?
     
    #1
  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    He'll get a seat. The airlines hold about 20% of seats back from being booked online so there are available seats. Advise him to get to the airport very early - recommended time is 3 hours before an international flight- so he is among the first to get one of the open seats.
     
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  3. Just A Guy

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    He should check in online at the 24 hour mark, and he'll be able to pick a seat then.
     
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  4. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    With Air France he can even do it earlier since their policy is 30 hours before. Grab a seat as soon as that time frame opens.
     
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  5. Jevia

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    Based on my experience with American, chances are he'll just get one of the 'free' middle seats. I had a similar experience a few years ago, when we bought tickets through an OTA and couldn't make a seat assignment through American until a week before the trip. There were lots of available upgrade seats for a fee available or about 6 free middle seats. The only way our family of four could sit anywhere near each other was to pay an extra $500 for the upgraded seats.

    We got to the airport as early as we could, yet, all those "available" upgrade seats were full and we ended up with the middle seats scattered throughout the plane. This is why we don't use OTAs anymore. Or American for that matter (well, this was one reason, there were others)
     
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  6. VoR61

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    Option A: Wait for a window or aisle seat to become available

    He may likely end up with a middle seat at the back of the plane. The overhead bins may be full or near full, adding to his frustration. And he will be among the last to leave.
    Option B: Book a middle seat now and continue looking for a window/aisle seat

    Worst case, he will be closer to the front with more overhead space available nearby (likelihood). And he "may" find a window/aisle seat in the meantime and can switch then.
    How much risk is he willing to take? Understanding that he must become comfortable with the associated consequences.
     
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  7. Just A Guy

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    Not clear why you're blaming the OTA - this was American's policy, it would have been exactly the same situation if you'd booked directly with AA.
     
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  8. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    It is a risk tolerance issue. So many factors come into play; the flight length, the passenger size, the flight departure time.

    If seating is important, or rather seat location, he should buy a good seat now. If he's an easy-going guy, he can risk it until 23hrs and 59minutes before the flight. and hope for the best.

    I like VoR's idea - request a middle seat up front now, and check back every week to see if a better seat opens up.

    When it comes time for the airline to allocate all those seats the day before, passengers who have used an online booking agent will definitely be at the bottom of the list. Taking precedence are loyalty status people, affinity credit card holders, people who paid a lot for their tix, all kinds of others ... and passengers who were charming to the gate agent .
     
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  9. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    And don't forget that AA has those new basic economy tickets that you really get absolutely nothing on. Hope our writer didn't make THAT mistake.
     
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  10. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I am quite surprised that we have not been hit with howls of outrage from people buying these bottom-level tix. Could it be that the airlines are doing a good job pointing out the differences? Or, equally absurd: could it be that travellers are READING the details before they purchase?
     
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