Avoiding middle seats as PM

Old Oct 18, 19, 12:26 pm
  #1  
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Avoiding middle seats as PM

Hi all,
I have been a long term Platinum member of AAdvantage and am now challenging over to Delta. I have temporary PM status during the challenge. One of the big differences that I have found between AA and Delta is that on AA as a midlevel elite I never ever (like not once in 20 years) sat in a middle seat. On Delta, I have been assigned middle seats on about 1/4 of the flights I have flown or arranged so far, with no non-middle seats visible on the seat map. So I guess I have two questions: 1) Is this typical for midlevel elites on Delta, or have I just gotten very very unlucky? 2) If there is some trick to avoiding middle seats on Delta, I would love to learn it.

FWIW, I have been mostly flying from ABQ to the east coast, but this post is generated by the fact that I am facing an ATL-AMS flight tomorrow in a middle seat, which I am not looking forward to with joy. The seat map for this flight, on an A330 I guess, has exactly one seat available in coach and comfort+, and it is of course a middle seat.

Thanks,
saunders111
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:35 pm
  #2  
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I normally look at the seat map before booking to note the availability of window or aisle sets in the C+ (shorthand in this forum for Comfort Plus) and also the general cabin. As a PM, you can pre-select any open seat in the main cabin that meets your needs and ask for an upgrade into C+ if you think there's open window or aisle seats. Once confirmed into a seat, remember that seats do open now and then as other passenger's travel plans change. A lot of changes and desirable C+ seats tend to open up around 100 hours before departure for domestic flights as upgrades start to clear. I check seat maps often until I am in a seat I am happy with (and then check to make sure I haven't lost it before departure).
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:38 pm
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PM here and I haven't flown in a middle seat all year.

A few questions:
1. Do you do your own bookings and pick you seats when you book? I assume you're not booking basic economy.
2. Are you selecting complimentary C+ upgrades at booking?
3. How far in advanced are you booking?

For myself, I do the vast majoring of my bookings no more than 3-4 days in advance, and often times within 2 days of departure. I look at the seatmap for every segment and make sure there are non-middle options. On more than a few occasions, I've taken longer routings/connections to avoid a long segment in a middle seat. I also look at C+ availability when I'm booking and will only select the upgrade if I'm confident it will put me in a window or aisle C+. Otherwise, I wait til check-in when I can select window/aisle only C+ upgrades. TATL journeys I usually am able to book a little further in advance but not much, and again have had no problem, so it just seems like your ATL-AMS is especially full in Y.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:38 pm
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if your plane only has middle seats open, then you're going to be sitting in a middle seat even if you're a DM or 360.

If you want to avoid middle seats:

1) don't buy tickets at the last minute
2) look at the seatmap for your flight before you actually buy a ticket
3) don't do SDC/SDS
4) opt out of automatic C+ upgrades
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:45 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by TuxTom View Post
PM here and I haven't flown in a middle seat all year.

A few questions:
1. Do you do your own bookings and pick you seats when you book? I assume you're not booking basic economy.
2. Are you selecting complimentary C+ upgrades at booking?
3. How far in advanced are you booking?

For myself, I do the vast majoring of my bookings no more than 3-4 days in advance, and often times within 2 days of departure. I look at the seatmap for every segment and make sure there are non-middle options. On more than a few occasions, I've taken longer routings/connections to avoid a long segment in a middle seat. I also look at C+ availability when I'm booking and will only select the upgrade if I'm confident it will put me in a window or aisle C+. Otherwise, I wait til check-in when I can select window/aisle only C+ upgrades. TATL journeys I usually am able to book a little further in advance but not much, and again have had no problem, so it just seems like your ATL-AMS is especially full in Y.
Hey thanks for the replies all.

1) About half are booked by me, about half by Concur. No Basic economy at all.
2) Yes, I am selecting C+ upgrades at booking. Maybe that's a mistake, since I personally would prefer a coach window seat to a C+ middle seat. But of course when booked by Concur, that's not really a choice I get to make.
3) About two to six weeks.

I appreciate your sharing your procedure. I'll try to implement it for upcoming flights. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of Delta options out of ABQ, so my ability to choose routes is limited.

Thanks again,
saunders111
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:48 pm
  #6  
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For travel booked by Concur, the moment the reservation is ticketed, I go into the seat map and move myself, if needed, into a better seat and evaluate if a C+ seat is open that works for me. I never ask for a C+ upgrade if I don't think I can get a window or aisle seat.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by saunders111 View Post
Hey thanks for the replies all.

1) About half are booked by me, about half by Concur. No Basic economy at all.
2) Yes, I am selecting C+ upgrades at booking. Maybe that's a mistake, since I personally would prefer a coach window seat to a C+ middle seat. But of course when booked by Concur, that's not really a choice I get to make.
3) About two to six weeks.

I appreciate your sharing your procedure. I'll try to implement it for upcoming flights. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of Delta options out of ABQ, so my ability to choose routes is limited.

Thanks again,
saunders111
I fly out of RNO, so it's a similar story with limited options. Lots of 1 hour legs to SLC before I can continue on. I fortunately don't have to deal with Concur, but I think as long as your default setting in your SM account has C+ upgrades turned off, then you shouldn't be upgraded to C+ middle on a Concur booking. I always have it off and choose by segment based on C+ availability. I'm sure someone here more familiar with Concur can chime in on making those bookings better.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:55 pm
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Part of the problem might be that you're requesting "upgrades" to C+ when the only available C+ seats are middles.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by saunders111 View Post
2) Yes, I am selecting C+ upgrades at booking. Maybe that's a mistake, since I personally would prefer a coach window seat to a C+ middle seat. But of course when booked by Concur, that's not really a choice I get to make.
Yes, you can still make this choice even if booking in concur. You select this in your Delta profile.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyinHawaiian View Post
For travel booked by Concur, the moment the reservation is ticketed, I go into the seat map and move myself, if needed, into a better seat and evaluate if a C+ seat is open that works for me. I never ask for a C+ upgrade if I don't think I can get a window or aisle seat.
+1. I have my default for no automatic C+ upgrade. I wait for my Concur booking to ticket through AMEX GBT and then go in and look at the seat maps and if there are non-middles available, I request C+ (and typically clear immediately). Otherwise I stick with my regular Y seat (ideally exit row) and stay on the F list until check-in at which point I go back on the C+ plus list but with the "window/aisle seat only" option selected.

Unless I'm truly booking last minute, there are usually at least a couple of window/aisle seats available (though they may be in the back of the plane)
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Old Oct 18, 19, 1:21 pm
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As a Platinum or Diamond, an unwritten policy is that if you call in and ask for one of the window/aisle seats in the last two rows of the plane (usually blocked for gate assignment), they'll assign it to you. That's my go-to for my flights (which have nothing but middles sold out 2+ weeks before departure).
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Old Oct 18, 19, 2:38 pm
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Originally Posted by ethernal View Post
As a Platinum or Diamond, an unwritten policy is that if you call in and ask for one of the window/aisle seats in the last two rows of the plane (usually blocked for gate assignment), they'll assign it to you. That's my go-to for my flights (which have nothing but middles sold out 2+ weeks before departure).
Doesn't this mean that you're surrounded by families with kids, as well as being in the back row? Also, wouldn't you be booted from those seats by the GA if some family wants to sit together?
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Old Oct 18, 19, 2:54 pm
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I am also a new arrival to Delta and had this same experience; once I stopped the automatic C+ upgrades then the situation improved.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 3:23 pm
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Something a new medallion should know is why the advice to turn off auto-upgrade. Basically, since C+ is a different class of service (where MCE is just a paid economy cabin seat), once you're upgraded you can't self downgrade back to your old window/aisle in economy.

And if you do decide to stay in economy on a given flight, at online check-in there is a box to upgrade "only to aisle or window", and you'd be ahead of all us lowly silver medallions at that time too
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