Paid for Main Cabin to get reserved seats, but now still need to pay BA for these? No way!

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Dec 11, 2018
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#1
I used my Capital One Visa Rewards points to buy five roundtrip tickets from Seattle-London on Capital One's website. I bought American Airlines tickets, and instead of the cheapest Economy tickets (which come with only carry-on baggage allowance), I paid about $75 more per ticket for Main Cabin, because according to the site, it would give me reserved seats as well as one free checked bag.

When I tried to reserve my seats the next day through American Airlines' site, it popped me over to British Airways' site, because the flights are operated by BA. At that site I was asked to pay another $48pp per flight ($480 for five of us) to reserve my seats. I thought there was a mistake so I called American Airlines and explained the situation. They said that paying more for Main Cabin did not mean I got actual reserved seats because the flight was operated by BA, so the extra money I paid to AA for Main Cabin gave me, in the AA rep's words, "the opportunity to pay for actual reserved seats" with British Airways. Unbelievable. I called Capital One Travel, which is who processed the tickets, and they said there is nothing they can do. So I paid more for Main Cabin tickets to get reserved seats, when in actually I do not get that. I am livid. If I had known AA would do this, I would have just bought the cheapest Economy tickets at original purchase point, and then directly paid BA the $48pp per ticket they required. This way I would end up paying for them twice. So unfair.

What's your desired resolution? My desired resolution would be any of these:
1) American Airlines or Capital One Travel downgrade my seats back to Economy level and refund me the price difference.
2) British Airways give me reserved seats without the $48pp per flight fees, because I already paid for them with AA.
3) American Airlines or Capital One Travel pay for my $48pp per flight reserved seat fees.
4) American Airlines or Capital One Travel do whatever they needed to do to allow me to reserve seats, as I have already paid for this extra.

I am not asking for anything extra. I just want what I paid for. As the consumer, it doesn't matter to me who the flight is operated by. All I know is I paid for something, and I am not getting what I paid for. American Airlines' response was beyond preposterous. I was also unhappy that Capital One Travel could not do anything about it--super lame on their part.

Date of transaction: 05/12/2019
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#2
You would not have been able to purchase seat assignments at all had you done that. People with the lowest category of ticket are assigned seats the day of the flight and you and your family would have gotten left over middle seats scattered all over the back of the plane, somewhere back behind row 40 and the worst seats in the house. (Think next to Lavatories and May not recline)

You have to pay for the seats and you need a category of ticket that allows it. They will not sit your family together!
Paying for the privilege has been the rule for a long time. Sorry you misunderstood how this works.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#3
You paid for the ability to obtain reserved seats for a fee. If you had purchased the lowest fare tickets you would not have been able to reserve seats at all, and would be assigned seats at the gate from the leftovers. If you do not mind random seats not together, almost certainly middle seats, you can try to change your tickets, but even that is probably not allowed since the tickets your did purchase are probably not refundable (for points). You can cancel and pay a fee to redeposit your points, but that will cost more than paying for reserved seats.
Since you booked on CapOne through AA on BA flights this problem would not have been explained in the booking process. If you had booked on BA you may have been able to see the answer to the booking question.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#4
I know where you are coming from, it is very frustrating. The rules are sometimes embedded deeply in the fares and the airlines always change things to try and get more money out of you. The travel agents are often not keeping up on all this stuff, and you end up not getting what you expected. But in this case, although you could file a complaint, I don't think you should expect them to do what you ask financially. Don't let it ruin your trip, just chalk it up to experience and have a wonderful time.
 
Likes: JVillegirl541

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
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Apr 13, 2016
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St. Louis
#5
Purchasing "Basic Economy" doesn't necessarily keep you from paying to reserve specific seating. The gotcha here is that when booking an AA flight with BA as the operating carrier that even with a "Main Cabin" booking, there is no guarantee of a free seating available. Unfortunately, since any seating selection has to be done directly with BA, there is no way to know prior to purchase if BA has any seating inventory is available without additional charge.

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Sep 19, 2015
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#6
If you buy a basic Economy you do not get any chance to chose a seat and have hand baggage only and generally get to Board last. And no chance to make any changes that date etc?

Is that what you want instead?

Did the booking portal say that BA is operating th flight and give you an indication of what you were getting?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#7
BA always charges to reserve seats in advance. Many international airlines don’t offer free seat assignments in advance. You can get free seats by waiting until 24 hours before the flight or being assigned at check in but they do not operate the way US airlines do.

If you want advanced assignments you have to pay for them. The AA website says for main cabin you get seat assignments “when available”. You also get more by buying main cabin than basic economy besides seat assignments . You get a free checked bag and also won’t be in the last boarding group.

You should have known this was a BA flight because when you book, the AA website says it’s an AA flight operated by BA and your confirmation also should have stated that. The DOT requires that disclosure for code shares.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
The operating carrier always is the one in charge of seat assignments.

Travel has become difficult when trying to keep up with rules which is why travel agents exist. I understand that Capital One has a self book portal powered by an OTA — orbitz or something like that.

No one is going to pay for the seat assignments so either pay BA or chose free 24 hours in advance.
BA

This is what travel has become — but from Seattle to London there are few non stop options and BA is the dominant carrier.
 

Neil Maley

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#10
The real issue is to understand when you are flying on an international airline most of them do not offer free seats - you must pay if you want advance seat assignments. Or wait 24 hours before and confirm seats. They do not work the way US airlines do - but get ready because I think US airlines are going to end up going the same way in the not too distance future. They are inching their way towards that.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#11
Just want to add my sympathy ... airlines have been charging for everything for years, and they figure out how to add more all the time. If you haven't flown in a while, this kind of thing is a huge shock. I'm sorry it happened, but don't feel like the Lone Ranger ... everyone is paying extra for everything now. My favorite is British Air who charges people to reserve a seat in business class ... now that's a bit much!
 
Dec 11, 2018
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#13
Thank you for your insights, everyone. I am quite dismayed that this seems to be the new normal. The last time I flew to Europe in Oct 2016 we flew BA, and got main cabin seats reserved with no extra fees. I flew to Manila in Dec 2018 and reserved five seats on ANA with no issues. Airlines seem to be making it worse and worse for 'regular folks' to travel, charging for almost anything they can. Horrid, but obviously we have no choice. (Unless I win the Lotto someday and can always fly Business or First, hah.)
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#14
Thank you for your insights, everyone. I am quite dismayed that this seems to be the new normal. The last time I flew to Europe in Oct 2016 we flew BA, and got main cabin seats reserved with no extra fees. I flew to Manila in Dec 2018 and reserved five seats on ANA with no issues. Airlines seem to be making it worse and worse for 'regular folks' to travel, charging for almost anything they can. Horrid, but obviously we have no choice. (Unless I win the Lotto someday and can always fly Business or First, hah.)
Lol BA now charges for picking even Business Class Seats, only FC is included in the price of the ticket!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#15
Thank you for your insights, everyone. I am quite dismayed that this seems to be the new normal. The last time I flew to Europe in Oct 2016 we flew BA, and got main cabin seats reserved with no extra fees. I flew to Manila in Dec 2018 and reserved five seats on ANA with no issues. Airlines seem to be making it worse and worse for 'regular folks' to travel, charging for almost anything they can. Horrid, but obviously we have no choice. (Unless I win the Lotto someday and can always fly Business or First, hah.)
We totally get it. It’s quite frustrating for everyone. The airlines know they have us over a barrel and it’s take it or leave it. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have the luxury of offering many direct flights that aren’t code shares you can’t even shop around.

BA is one that is particularly galling because they even charge business class customers, who pay thousands for a ticket, for seat assignments.
 
Likes: JVillegirl541
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
Thank you for your insights, everyone. I am quite dismayed that this seems to be the new normal. The last time I flew to Europe in Oct 2016 we flew BA, and got main cabin seats reserved with no extra fees. I flew to Manila in Dec 2018 and reserved five seats on ANA with no issues. Airlines seem to be making it worse and worse for 'regular folks' to travel, charging for almost anything they can. Horrid, but obviously we have no choice. (Unless I win the Lotto someday and can always fly Business or First, hah.)
MGPollock, among the so called major airlines, I have to say that BA is far ahead in the race to the bottom.

On short to medium haul flights on BA everything is buy on board -- not even a cup of coffee. So one can pay $350 r/t London to Glasgow (day trip) and then get nothing on board, no coffee or tea. BA's argument is that they are competing with Ryanair, so ... race to the bottom. But what actually surprised me was the number of people that actually did purchase things on board -- it is more expensive than the MS food shops in the airport.

I try and avoid BA as much as possible, but there are times when one cannot .

And unless one has status, one does have to pay to reserve a seat in advance in business class -- otherwise free reservations 24 hours in advance.

It has been reported that Ryanair has the largest percentage operating profit (may not be the case for 2018 because the strikes) and in the US it may be Allegiant -- so unfortunately the business model is here to stay. And sadly if this is what people want, this is what passengers are offered,
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
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Dec 27, 2014
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#17
MGPollock, among the so called major airlines, I have to say that BA is far ahead in the race to the bottom.

On short to medium haul flights on BA everything is buy on board -- not even a cup of coffee. So one can pay $350 r/t London to Glasgow (day trip) and then get nothing on board, no coffee or tea. BA's argument is that they are competing with Ryanair, so ... race to the bottom. But what actually surprised me was the number of people that actually did purchase things on board -- it is more expensive than the MS food shops in the airport.

I try and avoid BA as much as possible, but there are times when one cannot .

And unless one has status, one does have to pay to reserve a seat in advance in business class -- otherwise free reservations 24 hours in advance.

It has been reported that Ryanair has the largest percentage operating profit (may not be the case for 2018 because the strikes) and in the US it may be Allegiant -- so unfortunately the business model is here to stay. And sadly if this is what people want, this is what passengers are offered,
Except BAs ticket costs are so much higher than RyanAir they really shouldn’t try to say they want yo compete with them.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#18
EXACTLY, Christina! "It has been reported that Ryanair has the largest percentage operating profit (may not be the case for 2018 because the strikes) and in the US it may be Allegiant -- so unfortunately the business model is here to stay. And sadly if this is what people want, this is what passengers are offered". I happen to be a fan of "paying for what you want". It was a great theory, I was able to fly ion coach and pay for exit row seats. But the bean-counters took over completely once the airlines realized how much money they can make on fees. These days, only frequent flyers win because they're the only ones who can keep up with the rule changes. Frequent flyers are the only ones who have a chance at winning the airline game. And unless you're waaaay up the totem pole of airline loyalty, status doesn't mean much either.
 
Likes: Christina H
Sep 19, 2015
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#19
Except BAs ticket costs are so much higher than RyanAir they really shouldn’t try to say they want yo compete with them.
They are competing to offer as little as possible and charge for it. Why hand out a free cup of coffee if the other competitive carriers do not?

The business model of Ryanair is to sell a number of seats below cost -- and make the profit on the sodas, baggage fees, reprint boarding pass fees, early boarding fees, forget to check in online fee...etc

What surprised me on my BA Glasgow to London flight was how many people bought things from the buy on board -- the flight was delayed maybe 30 minutes, so there was time for people to grab something at the airport and this is a short flight less than an hour.

Took Ryanair once, never again
 
Sep 20, 2015
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#20
Most people don't choose an airline because they get a cup of coffee included. They choose based on getting from point A to point B.