For AC TOP TIER: why no elite perk for seat blocking next to status passengers?
Dear AC Top Tier
Your presence on this board is very valuable and we appreciate having you here. I am hoping you will answer this question as it has been asked many times with no response that I am aware of.
Other airlines offer their higher tier loyalty members of blocking seats next to them on the plane when empty seats are present. Air Canada seats its top tier members in the front of the economy section but then fills up the seats from front to back. So essentially if you are flying on a less then full flight as a top tier you are LESS likely to have an empty seat next to you.
A few examples... I recently flew Swiss in Economy. At the lounge in ZRH, the agent let me know that as a Star Gold they had blocked the seat next to me. I have no status with Swiss besides my Air Canada Super Elite status.
I recently flew YYZ-SAN. Even as a super elite my upgrade did not go through either way (that's not the point). I was travelling with someone else who had bought their own ticket. The flight was fairly packed with only about 5 empty seats or so. As a super elite I got a window but the seat next to me was occupied. My friend, who has NO status with Air Canada, nor even know if he was in a window or aisle had an empty seat next to him. On the way back..believe it or not...exactly same sorry. I actually counted on the return and all the empty seats were in the last 7 rows of the plane...and there were NO empty seats in the first 10 (where all the "loyalty" customers were).
Why can't AC do something as simple as when flying with empty seats to block seats next to Super Elites and/or elites. Seems like some very low hanging fruit in terms of improving customer satisfaction among your most frequent fliers.
This is suuuuch an easy benefit to implement, has no cost to AC, and would would make many happy customers. I don't see any obstacle/difficulty/downside for AC in implementing this.
EDIT: after thinking it through for over 5 seconds, it could get a little messy. At what point can seatblocks be 'overridden'? Obviously if there's more pax than free seats available. But what about a couple travelling together, and due to a bunch of middle seats being blocked there are only singles left. Should it be overridden in that situation? And there's a hundred more examples. IMO it's hard to draw the line for when non-status customers have to choose between available seats, and when the seatblock should be overridden.
Last edited by killuminati; Dec 10, 12 at 11:25 am..
Unless we work in AC IT we really have no idea what the level of effort would be to implement this, nor what the cost would be in terms of IT development cycles.
Well no systems would have to be changed to implement this. Agents already have the ability to seat block. So all they would have to do is verify that the customer has the appropriate status and then block the seat.
Well no systems would have to be changed to implement this.
Systems would absolutely need to change. You'd need define the ruleset, develop the logic engine for automatic seat filling and program it on the platform. Then you'd need to re-design the process flow for agents to assign seats, develop relevant policies and procedures, train staff, run extensive testing and then implement on a live system. Meanwhile, the back end architecture is out of data and kludgy, and you'll need to make sure that these changes don't screw up any other kudges that have been put in place. Plus, you have to schedule the upgrade for a limited dev window (probably quartlerly), and if higher-priority changes are already booked then you're out of luck. When you are dealing with enterprise IT systems there is no such thing as a small change.
It's certainly do-able, and probably something they should do, but not the kind of thing that IT could whip up in a week or two.
Systems would absolutely need to change. You'd need define the ruleset, develop the logic engine for automatic seat filling and program it on the platform. Then you'd need to re-design the process flow for agents to assign seats, develop relevant policies and procedures, train staff, run extensive testing and then implement on a live system. Meanwhile, the back end architecture is out of data and kludgy, and you'll need to make sure that these changes don't screw up any other kudges that have been put in place. It's certainly do-able, but not something that IT could whip up in a week or two.
I was not envisioning an automatic seat blocking system. I was imagining a (half assed?) seat blocking request feature only. As in SE can call in and request to have the seat beside them blocked.
Programs: LH, BA, AC Super Elite, IC Amb, Fairmont President's Club Platinum
Assuming an auto seat blocking feature is difiicult to implement (which indeed could be the case considering how complex the IT system is) there should be only simple tweak which should solve the issue to a large extend:
stop automatically releasing all seats in the premium section at T-24h and only allow check-in agents / gate agents to assign those seats if the plane is full.
As mosly Es/SEs sit in the premium section, this would avoid the scenario where there are empty seats in the back while the forward section is crammed.
This should be a no-brainer. Shouldn't be a really difficult thing to start filling the seats from the back, not the front. I always check when doing OCLI to see if I can grab a seat with a open one next to me. More often than not, its full by the time boarding is complete. Regardless of the difficulties it would present to ACIT, it should be a priority for AC Top Tier.
NZ was able to do it for me as a SA*G on 3 internal NZ flights. Don't know if it was a benefit, but I asked at check in and it was done. On one flight they qualified it to say flight was close to full and they would have to lift the block if it did fill up.