Why Is Advance Seating So Difficult?

Old Nov 29, 08, 12:02 pm
  #1  
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Why Is Advance Seating So Difficult?

Wife & I are flying LAX-SYD this coming Friday on QF 12 (a 380, I think). Ticketed in discount Economy. I am a member of QF's FF program and called their USA number several weeks ago to request aisle seats outbound. The friendly agent said she could not make a seat assignment and had to send a message to Australia to get seats! So I called again today and no response whatsoever from Headquarters to the seat request and, as of now, only "scattered" seats available. Agent said she would send another message but doubted there would be a response and we would probably have to await airport check-in to get seats. She also said this was an ongoing PR problem for the USA office. I don't get it--why is seating such a big issue with company? I wanted to fly the 380 but if had known about this hassle and attitude I would have gone with E+ on United.
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Old Nov 29, 08, 1:12 pm
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I dare say the aircraft has reached the pre-allocation limit for seating. When this occurs the seats become on request only, hence the message to Australia. You could try calling Australia on +61 3 9834 6479 during Australian office hours (call after 5pm Sunday Virginia time) to see if they can assist.

Friday night flights from LAX are usually oversold and I am sure the demand for the A380 add to this.
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Old Nov 29, 08, 5:14 pm
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Originally Posted by nonce View Post
I dare say the aircraft has reached the pre-allocation limit for seating. ...
This limit is about ¼ of the cabin in Economy.

It is not enforced on those with Qantas status above Bronze.

I believe the cabin is very full as E/F returns no Economy seatmap and is showing:

R7 F0 A0 J9 C0 D0 I0 W0 T0 B9 H9 K9 M9 L0 V0 S0 N0 Q0 O0 X0 E0
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Old Nov 29, 08, 9:30 pm
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I understand about their allocation system (only 1/4 of the aircraft?) but why do they do it? Why hassle the passengers like this--just give them a seat (and I'm not talking about the best seats, such as exit row)?! It seems very bureaucratic and arcane and not customer-friendly. In any event, I made my request nearly two months ago and no one in OZ even bothered to respond to the agent's inquiry/request on my behalf. I'm stuck now but unlikely to come back to QF.
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Old Nov 29, 08, 10:14 pm
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Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
I understand about their allocation system (only 1/4 of the aircraft?) but why do they do it? Why hassle the passengers like this--just give them a seat (and I'm not talking about the best seats, such as exit row)?! It seems very bureaucratic and arcane and not customer-friendly.
These comments seem very selfish, and uninformed.
Why don't you think about the reasons for this before complaining about not getting what you want.
How about those families who arrive at the airport and want to be seated together?
What about those who turn up to the airport and are found to be mobility challenged and need to be seated in a different location.


Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
I'm stuck now but unlikely to come back to QF.
Great, more seat availabilty for me.
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Old Nov 29, 08, 11:01 pm
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QF32-"Selfish & uninformed"? Hardly. Most American carriers will allow any passenger to choose a seat with a click of a button or a simple telephone call. The few exceptions are "elite" seating, exit rows and a limited number of seats set aside for the disabled. Although some U.S. carriers may require an extra fee for prime seats, most everything else is available on a first come, first served basis even through online check-in. Families seated together? How about (in my case) husband and wife? An airbus 380--the largest aircraft afloat--and only 1/4 of the seats are available for pre-assignment? As I said--arcane and bureaucratic.
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Old Nov 29, 08, 11:34 pm
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I perhap wouldn't use the words selfish and uninformed. But I'm pretty sure this issue has been debated many times before. QF don't necessarily operate on a first come first served basis, and tend to favour elite members of their FF program, which does leave pax without status somewhat of a lesser opportunity. Like it or not that's the way QF choose to manage this, I wouldn't say it's arcane but very deliberate part of the overall loyalyu management. For better service you may want to try the Australian number, sometime it is easier to deal with home base rather than an outpost!

Serfty - is it once the 1/4 of the seats have been allocatedd that preallocation stops or is it that once only 1/4 of the seats in Y remain unallocated that the preallocations stops? There's a big difference between the two and the latter entirely reasonable. The former, maybe not so much.
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Old Nov 29, 08, 11:50 pm
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Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
QF32-"Selfish & uninformed"? Hardly. Most American carriers will allow any passenger to choose a seat with a click of a button or a simple telephone call.
starting a post 'Most American carriers will ...' is probably not a good way of convincing people you are about to offer a good idea.
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Old Nov 30, 08, 12:28 am
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Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
An airbus 380--the largest aircraft afloat--and only 1/4 of the seats are available for pre-assignment? As I said--arcane and bureaucratic.
Actually the threshold is 75% allocation, or 1/4 left which I am sure Sefty meant in his post. I have found many posts on this subject with a quick search.

Arcane and bureaucratic is only your opinion and it seems because you can't get what you want. Mine however is different - many times I have booked late and have been able to get a reasonable seat, patently not possible on the "other" systems, where I would be stuck with a middle seat.

Tell us, have your tried allocating seats on BA?
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Old Nov 30, 08, 2:08 am
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Wouldn't have been able to allocate seats on BA as seat allocation for anything not full fare or close to full fare is done at the airport. This includes D unless OW E or S.

To the OP, I have offered you with a potential solution, my suggestion would be to give it a go and see what happens.

The majority of status based QF PAX like the QF system as it ensures that late bookers with status or higher fare types get a seat. This works for the majority who fly frequently with QF and therefore contribute the most to QF revenue (and on the US route profits). I personally prefer it to say the AA system, especially when I have found myself in a middle seat on AA because that is all that was left, even though I had booked B class. As long as QF keep the true FF happy then the system works.
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Old Nov 30, 08, 2:35 am
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Originally Posted by nonce View Post
Wouldn't have been able to allocate seats on BA as seat allocation for anything not full fare or close to full fare is done at the airport. This includes D unless OW E or S.
Agreed, and hence the question. If the QF method is "very bureaucratic and arcane", I was wondering how the OP would describe BAs method?


Originally Posted by nonce View Post
The majority of status based QF PAX like the QF system as it ensures that late bookers with status or higher fare types get a seat. This works for the majority who fly frequently with QF and therefore contribute the most to QF revenue (and on the US route profits). I personally prefer it to say the AA system, especially when I have found myself in a middle seat on AA because that is all that was left, even though I had booked B class. As long as QF keep the true FF happy then the system works.
^
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Old Nov 30, 08, 4:00 am
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Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
QF32-"Selfish & uninformed"? Hardly. Most American carriers will allow any passenger to choose a seat with a click of a button or a simple telephone call. The few exceptions are "elite" seating, exit rows and a limited number of seats set aside for the disabled. Although some U.S. carriers may require an extra fee for prime seats, most everything else is available on a first come, first served basis even through online check-in. Families seated together? How about (in my case) husband and wife? An airbus 380--the largest aircraft afloat--and only 1/4 of the seats are available for pre-assignment? As I said--arcane and bureaucratic.
The priorities are different. People who book shortly before departure pay a premium price compared to people booking long in advance. Similar, many frequent flyers travel for business on short notice. QF wants to keep those people happy and makes sure that there are enough seats available for them.
US carriers have different priorities. They try to make their FF happy by giving free or cheap upgrades.
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Old Nov 30, 08, 4:28 am
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Likewise, a family group booking fairly close to departure would still be seated together under QF's system - if the entire cabin was available for pre-allocation, they might end up with 47A, 52B, 61G, 71F and 89J. Keeping some of the cabin unallocated allows for groups to be seated together. (And guess what, two aisle seats in the same row doesn't count as "seated together" as far as QF is concerned).

Dave
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Old Nov 30, 08, 6:46 am
  #14  
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Thanks for the various "Down Under" responses. No one seemed to address one of my main points--that I called QF nearly two months ago about this and got no where. I did not wait until the last minute. Plus, even the U.S. agent admitted this policy was a problem for many U.S. flyers. In any event, if I do another trip to Australia it'll probably be on UA (as bad as it can be) since its procedures (seating and otherwise) are more in tune with U.S. customer expectations. It would be nice to have more carrier choices to Australia but I guess the economics work against that.
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Old Nov 30, 08, 7:39 am
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Well I have followed this thread with interest. The reality is that Qantas process their seat allocation in a different fashion from most American carriers. Australians tend to like the way Qantas do it, and Americans are sometimes surprised that it is not done the "American" way.

Jet Away, let me address your last question.

Two months ago you asked the US agent to request Sydney for certain seats.
You did not receive a response. This is a breakdown in service by Qantas, which is not good enough.
However if I did not receive a response, I would have been following it up with Qantas much sooner, and not waiting some two months. At that time ringing Sydney direct would have been the way to go, as others here have suggested. Or at least ringing the US agent.

You may well find that you get allocated seats that suit you on Qantas, either by calling them, or at check in. Good luck and enjoy your trip.
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