Automatic seat block for lap child?

Reply

Old Aug 29, 18, 12:25 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SPG/Marriott PLT
Posts: 270
Automatic seat block for lap child?

Hi fellas,

Summer Vacation! This coming weekend I'm going on a 15 hours flight with wife and almost-2-yo son on a 777-300. Initially I've selected 23A & 23C, with the middle one opened.
This morning when I went into the system, I saw the middle seat is occupied, with about 1/3 of the map still open. This really troubles me, why would anyone pick a middle seat when there's much better options available?
My only explanation is that it was done as a favor by the system? I called EXP line and asked, but no one could tell me whether it was selected by a passenger or system blocked.
I still have to option to go down to 34 A & 34C, but would rather keep 21 A&C if there's a way for me to find out if this is a courtesy block. Thanks.

AA193. Sep 2nd. EXP.
greasy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 12:32 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Programs: AA
Posts: 9,302
I can't find a link, but I know I've seen previous reports of AA automatically blocking a seat/middle seat for a lap infant if a flight isn't full. I can't remember the details well enough to search for the threads discussing it though.
wrp96 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 12:45 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: DTW
Programs: AA EXP, SPG/Marriott Platinum, DL
Posts: 220
They're occupied, not blocked. Only middle seats towards the front of the plane show up as free for those without status, which is also why 23E/G are occupied but not 23D/H.
aacar is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 1:09 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SPG/Marriott PLT
Posts: 270
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
What did AA say when you called to ask?
that they couldn't tell whether it was a block or occupied. Their system doesn't show.
greasy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 1:22 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: TX
Programs: MR: PPE + AMB AA: EXP
Posts: 382
Keep in mind that what you see as "open" as an EXP isn't the same as what someone without status sees as "open".

Last edited by asf-07; Aug 29, 18 at 1:28 pm
asf-07 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 1:35 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Programs: AA GLD, IHG PLT
Posts: 222
I took a peak on Expertflyer, 23B is listed as Occupied, not blocked. The only blocks in Economy are whole rows it looks like.
MathMusic is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 1:39 pm
  #7  
PHL
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: PHL, NYC
Programs: AA Platinum, DL Silver, UA Silver, MR LT Platinum Premier
Posts: 8,335
The EF seat map usually shows "X" for seats that are blocked from selection. In this case, 23B is showing occupied. I'm more inclined to believe someone was assigned the seat between your wife and you.

You can keep moving around the cabin to other trios of seats and hope someone else doesn't grab the seat between you two.

I realize it's a cost savings, but for such a long flight with a 2 year old it would seem prudent to buy the additional seat than roll the dice that you'll have an open flight with the unused seats.
ijgordon and KBMIFlyer like this.
PHL is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 1:43 pm
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 22,323
And you definitely shouldn't ask the person in the middle seat to swap to the window or aisle, that might put them in an awkward position due to the imposition. According to some posters, anyway.
jordyn and Antarius like this.
ijgordon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 3:42 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Stilllwater OK
Programs: AAdvantage Plat Pro, World of Hyatt Globalist, Marriot "member"
Posts: 769
Possible that the person didn't really 'choose' the seat, but rather a travel agent did. And lots of people just book as far up the plane as they can find a seat. If they have no status and a lot of the 'empty seats' are blocked for elites, your middle seat may be the winner.

And since you are trying to get a free third seat, I won't be able to conjure any sympathy if you do end up failing on your mission. I frankly don't know why AA cares to courtesy block ahead of time, exp or not. Whenever my wife and I flew with our lap enfant, we just booked two seats together and lived with our decision to not pay for a third seat -- most of those trips were short, but did include a HNL-DFW trip.
MarkOK is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 18, 9:47 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 69
I had something similar happen a few months ago flying from SFO to ORD - wife (no status) in the window seat, baby as a lap infant, and myself (AA Gold) in the aisle seat on the same PNR and the AA app would show the middle seat as occupied. I tried changing seats to a row where all three seats were empty, and the “occupied” middle seat would follow me around. Then I decided to check EF and it showed that the middle seat was indeed blocked, so it seemed like a courtesy block for a lap infant to me. Didn’t bother calling AA but our flight went out with the middle seat empty which was nice.
bunmango is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 30, 18, 11:49 am
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SPG/Marriott PLT
Posts: 270
Originally Posted by bunmango View Post
I had something similar happen a few months ago flying from SFO to ORD - wife (no status) in the window seat, baby as a lap infant, and myself (AA Gold) in the aisle seat on the same PNR and the AA app would show the middle seat as occupied. I tried changing seats to a row where all three seats were empty, and the “occupied” middle seat would follow me around. Then I decided to check EF and it showed that the middle seat was indeed blocked, so it seemed like a courtesy block for a lap infant to me. Didn’t bother calling AA but our flight went out with the middle seat empty which was nice.
You could be right. I was just trying to move around, and the 'ghost' is indeed following me after a few minutes after I picked en empty 3 seater row.
It sure seems like an automatic block. Learn something nice about AA today.
greasy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 30, 18, 6:21 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: HND
Programs: AA EXP, UA 1K
Posts: 1,025
This has come up before in the past, notably in a post I started as I experienced the same thing several times. No definitive answer from AA and lots of "opinions presented as facts" from folks here, but at the end of the day, the "ghost" in the middle seat followed me around the cabin for long enough I was convinced there was some sort of courtesy block happening. I managed my expectations accordingly that the seat would be filled (since there was no policy guaranteeing such a block) but also stopped trying to escape the ghost.

Ultimately I think the flights ended up going out full in most cases so the block didn't hold.
tylerdurden4543 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 30, 18, 8:27 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: YYF/YLW
Programs: AA, DL, AS MVP, VA
Posts: 4,708
Originally Posted by greasy View Post
You could be right. I was just trying to move around, and the 'ghost' is indeed following me after a few minutes after I picked en empty 3 seater row.
It sure seems like an automatic block. Learn something nice about AA today.
Alaska Airlines consistently blocked the seat next to me whenever I had a lap child, both when my (then-Platinum, back when AA and AS had reciprocal elite recognition) AA number and my (then-no status) AS number were in the record. Speaking to AS agents, they consistently spoke of an "infant block" as policy, though I don't think AS has anything publicly written about that policy. The behavior was exactly as you describe: whenever I changed my seat, the seat map on alaskaair.com showed the seat next to me as occupied while ExpertFlyer showed it as blocked. So I think it's hard to describe this as anything but a deliberate blocking of the seat next to you by AA.

Note that AA (edit: with the pmUS reservation system) never did this for me when I had a lap child.

Last edited by ashill; Aug 30, 18 at 11:09 pm
ashill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 30, 18, 10:09 pm
  #14  
C46
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 66
Back in the LAA/SABRE-days, whenever a flight was not full and a pax had the INF-edit code; the system automatically set an "I"-block for the adjacent seat, in the seat map.

Not sure, if this is still the case nowadays...
C46 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Aug 30, 18, 11:09 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: YYF/YLW
Programs: AA, DL, AS MVP, VA
Posts: 4,708
Originally Posted by C46 View Post
Back in the LAA/SABRE-days, whenever a flight was not full and a pax had the INF-edit code; the system automatically set an "I"-block for the adjacent seat, in the seat map.

Not sure, if this is still the case nowadays...
Hmm. Now that you mention that, most (probably all) of my AA experience flying with a lap child was on pmUS aircraft before US switched to the AA reservation system, so the experience that I never had seat blocks then may not be relevant to today's AA.
ashill is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread