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How/when can I select "preferred" seats as Oneworld Sapphire

How/when can I select "preferred" seats as Oneworld Sapphire

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Old Jan 20, 19, 3:18 pm
  #1  
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How/when can I select "preferred" seats as Oneworld Sapphire

I tried a number of searches here trying to find an answer and came up blank, so I'm hoping perhaps some of you can help.

I live in the US (Austin, TX) and am exploring flight options for a family vacation to Australia/New Zealand in August for my family of four. I'm Platinum Pro on American Airlines, which translates to Oneworld Sapphire. I'm considering three airlines: American, Qantas, and United. I have no status on United, but they offer a non-stop between Houston and Sydney with a quite reasonable (imho) charge to upgrade from economy to premium economy (roughly USD $250/pp). American has the advantage of being the airline with which I have status and which would let me select "Main Cabin Extra" seats (halfway between regular Economy and Premium Economy), but they offer the least desirable flight options (two or three stops with a significant layover in LAX each way). Which brings me to Qantas...

Qantas offers non-stop service from Dallas to Sydney. Both Dallas and Houston are a ~3-hour drive from Austin, so reasonably convenient and much cheaper than flying out of Austin proper. The Qantas flight has roughly the same base cost as the United flight, but a much higher cost of upgrading to premium economy. According to this Qantas page, Oneworld Sapphire members flying on Qantas are eligible for "Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating." When I started to go through the booking process on Qantas, to test the waters, I could not find a way to indicate that I was Oneworld Sapphire (I entered my AA FF# but the website did not acknowledge that this meant I was Sapphire). As a result, I was not able to determine what seats I would be able to access as Sapphire, which makes it hard to compare against the other options (AA and United).

So (finally), my questions are:
  • How/when during (or after) booking flights directly with Qantas does a non-Qantas Oneworld Sapphire member get access to selecting "preferred seats"? Do I need to book the tickets then call back (or return to the website) to take advantage of the Oneworld Sapphire benefit?
  • What constitutes "preferred seats" on Qantas long-haul flights like DFW-SYD? Is it only the very small number of seats at the front of each section of Economy? Or Premium Economy? If the former, that's not very appealing. If the latter, that's very appealing.
  • Any other advice you might have to offer for maximizing value-to-comfort for those flights? I'd love to be able to afford Business Class, but I'm not seeing any reasonably priced biz tickets or upgrades available (sigh).
Thank you!
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Last edited by cz4ever; Jan 20, 19 at 3:25 pm
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Old Jan 20, 19, 4:00 pm
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QF preferred seats are only a bunch of seats closer to the front. The higher your status, the further to the front you can go. If you REALLY want the best seats out of what is presented in the seating diagram (after you pay for the ticket), you'll have to pay for them (eg aisle or exit rows). Preferred economy seats won't get you Premium Economy. At T-80 hours more unclaimed seats will/may open up. This way you can move further up in the cabin or you may get an aisle.

If you want cheap Business seats then you'd be better off looking further afield - eg the Chinese airlines, PR, FJ, and so on. It'll involve stopping over somewhere but you'll be paying less. Sometimes DL or UA might start heavy discounting and QF matches a few days later - for a few days only. Good luck!
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Old Jan 20, 19, 4:00 pm
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With QF you cannot select seats until after you pay. To me a major disincentive with QF, unlike many other airlines where you can select seats before payment.

PE is a separate class and you do not get for free. Is not "preferred seating"
Exit rows also require payment, but if your family (kids?) are young you may not be eligible.

You cannot upgrade QF flights with AA ff miles.

SYD is not the only international airport in Australia. BNE & MEL also have flights ex USA. If SYD is not the main destination, also consider Air NZ IAH-AKL-Aussie. AKL to XXX in Australia is just as easy as SYD to XXX. DL & VA also fly LAX Australia.
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jan 20, 19 at 4:05 pm
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Old Jan 20, 19, 4:12 pm
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I think that you may be misunderstanding/misinterpreting what UA is offering at $250

I think that that is only for Economy Plus seating, not for premium economy. Premium plus is just economy seats with extra legroom. Other airlines also offer the option to purchase extra legroom seating

Premium Economy is a different class of service altogether with wider seats and more legroom and larger recline. something more akin to domestic US flight 1st class seating than economy

If you travel on Qantas, you will be able to purchase extra legroom seating and will likely cost something similar to what United is charging for Economy Plus

I would start by price/schedule/conveniance - so would , based on what you say, be looking at Qantas or United

I would suggest pricing up both carriers based on cost of extra legroom seating on Qantas vs Economy plus on United
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Old Jan 20, 19, 4:40 pm
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Thank you all (og, Mwenenzi, and Dave Noble)! I very much appreciate the quick, clear responses! They clear up a lot of mysteries, especially with regard to what qualifies as "preferred seating" (pretty unappealing on QF) and the reason why I could not select seats (that policy is odd, Mwenenzi).

I'll take a look at the other options, especially an Air New Zealand triangle route (IAH-AKL-SYD-IAH), since we would want to visit NZ. SYD seems to be the cheapest option for Australia proper, but I'll definitely keep an eye on MEL and BNE.
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Old Jan 20, 19, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by cz4ever View Post
Thank you all (og, Mwenenzi, and Dave Noble)! I very much appreciate the quick, clear responses! They clear up a lot of mysteries, especially with regard to what qualifies as "preferred seating" (pretty unappealing on QF) and the reason why I could not select seats (that policy is odd, Mwenenzi).

I'll take a look at the other options, especially an Air New Zealand triangle route (IAH-AKL-SYD-IAH), since we would want to visit NZ. SYD seems to be the cheapest option for Australia proper, but I'll definitely keep an eye on MEL and BNE.
Air Sydney (some times know as Qantas) does some strange things.

AA (LAX-AKL) & UA (SFO- AKL) also fly to NZ non stop.
For Aust<---->NZ there are many routes & airlines. And not just from the major cities. But may be cheaper to purchase separately (~3:30hr flight)

With premium economy, economy plus, economy extra, premium plus and other airline jargon need to check what is just an economy seat with more leg room and what is a different class with better seats, better meals and other features (ffp earning).

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jan 20, 19 at 4:53 pm
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Old Jan 20, 19, 5:00 pm
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Originally Posted by cz4ever View Post
Thank you all (og, Mwenenzi, and Dave Noble)! I very much appreciate the quick, clear responses! They clear up a lot of mysteries, especially with regard to what qualifies as "preferred seating" (pretty unappealing on QF) and the reason why I could not select seats (that policy is odd, Mwenenzi).

I'll take a look at the other options, especially an Air New Zealand triangle route (IAH-AKL-SYD-IAH), since we would want to visit NZ. SYD seems to be the cheapest option for Australia proper, but I'll definitely keep an eye on MEL and BNE.
There isn't really anything odd about having to have a ticket in order to be able to select seats - it seems to make sense to me. There are tools such as expert flyer which can enable you to see what seats are available or can phone and ask whether there are exit seats available

It is a long journey - I really recommend picking the best schedules / shortest journey times and it is worth paying for the extra legroom options. Qantas vs UA do not look like that they are too different price wise

If doing AU and NZ , a triangle is definitely the way to go - or US-NZ-AU -- just don't do US-NZ via AU
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Old Jan 20, 19, 6:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
With QF you cannot select seats until after you pay. To me a major disincentive with QF, unlike many other airlines where you can select seats before payment.
...
This is now not the case; it changed in the last 10 months or so.

Seating can indeed be selected before completing the purchase,
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Old Jan 20, 19, 8:31 pm
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Originally Posted by serfty View Post
This is now not the case; it changed in the last 10 months or so.

Seating can indeed be selected before completing the purchase,
Not for me when I bought a QF ticket 2 weeks ago
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Old Jan 20, 19, 10:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
Not for me when I bought a QF ticket 2 weeks ago
It's easy to miss ... especially with the revised booking engine that came with it.

Also, I'll check, but it may be only for simple one way or return bookings.
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Old Jan 21, 19, 3:48 am
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I just did a dummy booking for DPS/MEL/AKL ( a trip I am planning) and I was able to select seats after confirmation of the passenger details. The "Seats - Edit" link is in very small letters though!
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Old Jan 21, 19, 3:55 am
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Originally Posted by serfty View Post
It's easy to miss ... especially with the revised booking engine that came with it..
I missed it even after reading this thread and scouring the web pages for it. But I did see the reference saying it would be possible after entering pax details - but no dice.
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Old Jan 21, 19, 6:56 am
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Dont worry, very soon very seat on the plane will become a payed seat, except for the middle seats in the last 8 rows of the plane
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Old Jan 21, 19, 10:48 am
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Originally Posted by fotographer View Post
Dont worry, very soon very seat on the plane will become a payed seat, except for the middle seats in the last 8 rows of the plane
Probably on the same day that payed replaces paid as an adjective
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Old Jan 21, 19, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by og View Post
I missed it even after reading this thread and scouring the web pages for it. But I did see the reference saying it would be possible after entering pax details - but no dice.
OK, lets try a simple MEL-BNE as a WP - you do need to be logged in for your status to be taken into account.


















On the Passenger Details page near the bottom Right (Yellow highlighted)






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