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Theoretical Seating master thread: Blocked seats and status

Theoretical Seating master thread: Blocked seats and status

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Old Sep 5, 18, 4:07 am   -   Wikipost
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This thread examines BA's use of Amadeus' Theoretical Seating module. This kicks in at T-72 hours before departure, so this thread is primarily of interest to those travelling within the next few days.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 7:52 am
  #1  
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Theoretical Seating master thread: Blocked seats and status

Theoretical Seating is the name of a module in FLY which allows BA to allocate seating by status. FLY being BA's new global dispatch control system used at airports to allocate, check-in and reconcile passengers and bags to flights. This thread gives background to this topic, a worked example and some references. By all means comment or post questions about your own experiences.

I need to thank BLHD in particular, DrGee, irishmanlev, Scottiebhoy, Bat 21, gustavmahler, aidy, TheMajor and V10 for their help and assistance with this thread.

The best description I've seen of theoretical seating was in this post by Reality_Czech. In summary, from 72 hours before departure seating options will be restricted to enable better seating arrangements for high value customers. This is defined as Gold and Silver (plus oneworld Emerald and Sapphire) passengers, however on fuller services it is the Gold passengers who benefit significantly more than Silvers. On less full flights Silvers will also get some favourable treatment.

Now this is a big difference from before: in the past certain rows were kept for Goldcardholders, such as front row CE, front row(s) on Domestic, but at T-72 an active Silver could often find a better seat further forward on the aircraft. The pre-72 hour situation persists, and Silvers will see good seat options to that point, towards but not necessarily at the front of the cabin; But at T-72 there won't necessarily be any improvement options, and on fuller services, while Golds will get some good choices, Silver cardholders may not get access to these forward seats. See the next post for a worked example.

Implications in summary:
- If Gold, even if you book late you should get a good seat.
- If Gold there's a much higher chance of getting a blocked/empty seat next to you
- If Silver you best ensure you have a good seat before T-72. you can't assume you can improve on it after 72 hours. On the other hand you will get more seat options then than Blue or Bronze cardholders
- If Silver and in company then Theoretical Seating does open up adjoining seats if necessary
- If Silver and single, after T-72 while the seats on offer may be further back, it is possible that the passenger will have an empty seat next to them on less full flights.
- Silver cardholders face two downsides: not just losing the ability to get front row seats at T-72 in some cases, but also sometimes not being offered exit row seats which could be offered to Bronze passengers.
- If using ExpertFlyer, there is an option in My Account / My Account to enter your BAEC number. This will then show more accurately the seat options open to you. See the the worked example for details below.
- Bronze doesn't seem to get the benefit of seat blocking but may give access to good seats, sometimes better than Silver (exit rows) and better seating than Blue.
- Unsurprisingly, improvements to status passengers must have a disadvantage somewhere, and to Blue / no status passengers, who will find it much more difficult to get an empty seat next to them. However the back of an aircraft is probably still the place to find that.
- Be very careful not to split your travel companion on to a separate booking if their BAEC/oneworld status is different to your own: you may find it nearly impossible to get seats next to each other. Golds/Emeralds can ring up BA to get seats together under the TCP provision, a somewhat clunky and manual process. But otherwise if on 2 PNRs and one passenger has no status, you may well want to pay for a seat early on, if you want to sit together.
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Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Sep 8, 16 at 2:52 pm
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Old Aug 30, 16, 7:53 am
  #2  
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This is a worked example of one flight, just below 48 hours from departure, BA1321, Newcastle to Heathrow, it departs at 06:00 hrs. I've chosen this since the flight is quite busy, and it does illustrate the benefits and disadvantages of Theoretical Seating. Being a domestic service there is only one class of seating, but the general principles apply to other flights too.

For Gold/Emerald passengers, at around 10:00 hrs, the seatmap showed these options.



Which isn't bad, it gives some good seats (e.g. 1A) and some evidence of seat blocking at the front, so long as not too many Gold passengers reserve at the last moment. Initially no rear seats were shown, some came up a few hours later.

For Silver/Sapphire, at pretty much the same time, only these seats were available:



So much further back, but with a chance of a blocked seat next to them. If booked for 2 passengers, a number of middle seats also opened up, e.g. in row 22. Before T-72 Silvers would have had access to row 6, in fact it looks like they have blocked out 2 and a half rows fully (rows 6, 7 and part of 8), including the middle, so anyone in these seats could get themselves more space, so long as they went further back. At this point Gold cardholders were not offered these seats. A few hours later, when some of the front seats got allocated then these seats were offered up.

For Bronze/Ruby/Blue and no status passengers there was just one option:



Quite a good option, an exit row seat which would be free to Bronze and a £10 fee to Blue. This was for a Plus fare, so normally there is some free seating available at T48 but that didn't really materialise on this fairly full flight. This exit row seat was NOT offered to Silvers, or indeed to Golds, at the time, but it was offered a few hours later and then was snapped up.

In ExpertFlyer there is an ability to add your BAEC number in Your Account. This then gives more information on the options open to you and whether you will have a blocked seat next to you. Without a BAEC number attached you see this:


which isn't entirely helpful.

But with a Gold/Emerald cardholder added to EF then you see this:

which was accurate at the time (the back seats had opened up for Golds when this screenshot was taken, and 12C had been taken).

Now there are some glitches in this. I think the Silver cardholders should have had access to the Exit row seat, I can see why maybe a Gold cardholder would not have access since they had other options. There are swings and roundabouts, it's actually quite complex in operation, and changes rapidly. But clearly a benefit to Gold cardholders overall.

The working outs are in this thread:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...time-only.html

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Aug 30, 16 at 8:25 am
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Old Aug 30, 16, 7:53 am
  #3  
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I created this post since every few days of late there have been queries about this functionality, scattered around many different threads. Consequently the knowledge base is a bit scattered, but there are some previous references.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/26811659-post300.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...algorithm.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...-cw-seats.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ked-seats.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...w-bru-lhr.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ed-silver.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...g-flights.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ment-wife.html


Main FLY thread
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ol-system.html


By all means comment on your own experiences and impressions in this thread.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Reserved
But for Lifetime Golds only, I presume?
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:04 am
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Thanks for taking the time to do this, CWS. It's really useful to have the information.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:11 am
  #6  
 
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As another data point, and based on two ET bookings in the last couple of months, two Golds booking together are initially auto-placed onto the A and F seats (or A/D ex LCY) sides of the aircraft in the same rows.
I had to go back into MMB to put my wife and myself together again.

We are currently in E/F exit rows for our LHR departures - I will be interested to see whether we get the D seat free to expand into when we actually fly.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:20 am
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Great work! Thank you.

This thread should be linked in the dashboard.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:24 am
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It does seem to be the case that FLY pays more attention to status than keeping bookings together - my husband and I, both gold, have recently found that when booking together, we are as default split up and have to reunite our seats using MMB (haven't done an HBO recently so not sure if still a problem with that) but that also on a recent flight (both tickets booked together though ba.com on same PNR (about as simple as it gets)), my husband was upgraded to CE and I wasn't which isn't something we have seen before. The gate staff and cabin crew seemed relatively unsurprised at this (perhaps indicating that it is happening more?) as my husband voluntarily gave up his seat to sit with me.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:34 am
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Be very careful not to split your travel companion on to a separate booking if their BAEC/oneworld status is different to your own: you may find it nearly impossible to get seats next to each other. Golds/Emeralds can ring up BA to get seats together under the TCP provision, a somewhat clunky and manual process. But otherwise if on 2 PNRs and one passenger has no status, you may well want to pay for a seat early on, if you want to sit together.
We noticed this on a recent flight. Not only can the lowly blue not see any decent seats, but the gold can't see any seats near the back.

Add the seat blocking of B/E and the chances of adjacent seats is further removed.
Tactic: Gold to book A on a row where F is also currently free. Blue books E at T-24 on the same row (B being blocked). On boarding ask the random that has booked F if they would be more comfortable in A next to an empty seat than in F on the same row (that would be next to the blue).
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by EfficientTraveller View Post
It does seem to be the case that FLY pays more attention to status than keeping bookings together - my husband and I, both gold, have recently found that when booking together, we are as default split up and have to reunite our seats using MMB.
I've also been seeing this recently when booking CE with Mr JtO (Silver) in tow - I get put into 1A and he gets 3F (or similar), and I then have to go back into the booking to move him beside me in row 1. Previously he would have been automatically assigned 1C.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:38 am
  #11  
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I'm slightly confused. I'm bronze and hurtling back down to blue (as a result of being permanently based in .be and eurostar now representing a better choice for where I need to be in the UK on the few occasions I need to go back).

But, I was getting offered multiple seats from rows 21 through 25 as noted before, and in fact still do see that when I just checked again. I've not seen the scenario noted above where only the one seat was available for selection.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:40 am
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Very interesting thread, and explains why the back of the plane is not open to me for some flights (not that I'd necessary go there of course!).
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:44 am
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Just a bit of a hypothetical wondering, as to why the exit row might appear for bronze as per the pictures above. Being from a programming background the following potential scenario sprang to mind.

I wonder if the exit rows, open up as availability when there's no other available seating available.

In this case, for whatever reason the seats near the back were earmarked for single OWS/BA-S passengers. When a bronze logs in, those aren't available. It cannot find any more available seats, so then opens up the exit seat as a possible seat.

Now, if that is the case I'd expect there to be a retuning of the selection criteria, in that the OWS reserved seating should have a higher priority (in terms of being opened for lower tier passengers) than exit seating. Since, presumably they are blocked by default to protect potential revenue.

Just a thought anyway.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:45 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by V10 View Post
But, I was getting offered multiple seats from rows 21 through 25 as noted before, and in fact still do see that when I just checked again. I've not seen the scenario noted above where only the one seat was available for selection.
I would guess either the aircraft is not well loaded, or you are more than 72 hours from departure?



I have to say that when I was working with BLHD with the various screenshots it looked like we were dealing with 2 completely different aircraft. In fact BLHD initially suggested we try another service since he thought it was too full to give useful pointers!
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Old Aug 30, 16, 8:52 am
  #15  
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Do I as a Blue still get to choose empty seats amongst the Golds up front at OLCI?
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