No free seat assignments for Star Golds?

Old Jul 16, 16, 11:05 am
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 15,815
No free seat assignments for Star Golds?

My wife and I, both UA 1Ks bought cheap (B class apparently) coach seats from the USA to JNB on SAA. They want to charge us $25 US for seat assignments. Is there any way around this? Obviously, these flights are very long and we don't want to get stuck with middle seats. On the other hand, paying for basic seats assignments -- as a Star Gold no less -- is pretty ridiculous. I'm guessing there's nothing in the Star Alliance rules that requires them to give us free seat assignments? If an alliance isn't good for that, what is it good for? I mean, I can get into their lounge, but I can't get a seat assignment? That's crazy.

I suppose the thing to do is monitor the flight and, if it's busy, pay the $25 a few weeks before departure? Is there an easy way to tell how crowded the flight is?

Last edited by iahphx; Jul 18, 16 at 4:05 pm Reason: sp
iahphx is offline  
Old Jul 18, 16, 11:25 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Exile
Posts: 14,748
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
I mean, I can get into their lounge, but I can get a seat assignment? That's crazy.
Don't worry, they also make it difficult to get into their lounges! Especially Cape Town domestic where I have had multiple battles with the dragons.
B747-437B is offline  
Old Jul 18, 16, 4:04 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 15,815
Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
Don't worry, they also make it difficult to get into their lounges! Especially Cape Town domestic where I have had multiple battles with the dragons.
What's the problem with that? I've used the SAA lounges in JNB multiple times without incident on a variety of fares/award tickets. My only regret is that they're not as nice as the local Slow lounges.
iahphx is offline  
Old Jul 19, 16, 1:57 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Exile
Posts: 14,748
I’ve had two negative incidents in Cape Town, both with the same lady ironically but with different issues.

The first was when she insisted on seeing my *G card in order to grant access to a guest. She said that even though the system showed I was *G, she had to swipe the card to allow a guest. After 30 minutes of argument and waiting for her supervisor, we were finally granted entry.

The second time she insisted that *G on purely domestic itineraries booked in “G” class were not allowed lounge access. After I reminded her of the previous issue we had about lounge access and how she turned out to be wrong, she offered to allow me access as a “one time exception”. I said that wasn’t good enough and insisted that the supervisor was called. Same supervisor who recognised me from my previous issue months earlier and chided her for once again making up rules. Lots of apologies and a comment to the agent that “we’ll talk about this later with xyz” (presumably their boss).

I’ve also had more issues with access to the SAA Johannesburg lounges than I can remember – to the point where actually getting access without an argument is more comment worthy than the alternative. Excuses range from “Ethiopian Airlines flights are not Star Alliance flights unless the boarding pass is printed on cardboard with the *A logo” (which the kiosk boarding passes don’t print obviously) to “I know your flight is 2 hours delayed but it is past the boarding time printed on your boarding pass so I can’t let you enter” to “flights to Malawi on Mondays are not eligible for lounge access, but the flights on Wednesday and Saturday are ok”.

I couldn’t make these up if I tried.
B747-437B is offline  
Old Jul 19, 16, 4:56 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: N/A
Programs: UA 1K, BA Gold, LH/SN/LX Senator
Posts: 426
Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
The first was when she insisted on seeing my *G card in order to grant access to a guest. She said that even though the system showed I was *G, she had to swipe the card to allow a guest. After 30 minutes of argument and waiting for her supervisor, we were finally granted entry.
This is seemingly not an SAA specific issue. Swiss require to see your card for lounge access, even for their own customers!
evanb is offline  
Old Jul 19, 16, 5:00 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: N/A
Programs: UA 1K, BA Gold, LH/SN/LX Senator
Posts: 426
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
My wife and I, both UA 1Ks bought cheap (B class apparently) coach seats from the USA to JNB on SAA. They want to charge us $25 US for seat assignments. Is there any way around this? Obviously, these flights are very long and we don't want to get stuck with middle seats. On the other hand, paying for basic seats assignments -- as a Star Gold no less -- is pretty ridiculous. I'm guessing there's nothing in the Star Alliance rules that requires them to give us free seat assignments? If an alliance isn't good for that, what is it good for? I mean, I can get into their lounge, but I can't get a seat assignment? That's crazy.
They don't offer pre selection of seating with no charge to their own Gold members, so why would they offer it to Star Alliance Gold?
evanb is offline  
Old Jul 19, 16, 6:17 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Exile
Posts: 14,748
Originally Posted by evanb View Post
This is seemingly not an SAA specific issue. Swiss require to see your card for lounge access, even for their own customers!
Well, it was actually a bit more complex in this case. I had a TK*G card that had expired a few days earlier and I hadn't yet received the new card (it was waiting in the mail back at home). The old card worked fine when she swiped it and her system showed I was valid *G (as did my boarding pass), but the card itself showed an expiry date that had passed. I was able to also show them the renewed status on the TK app but she refused to allow entry to the guest because of the date on the card (but was willing to allow me entry which made no sense - I am either *G or I'm not *G - if the former then I get lounge with a guest and if the latter then I get nothing).

Supervisor clarified the situation immediately once she arrived and I got the distinct feeling that this was not the first time (and definitely not the last) that particular agent had similar issues.
B747-437B is offline  
Old Jul 26, 16, 12:31 am
  #8  
cur
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Programs: fwp diamond, dykwia elite
Posts: 7,036
Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
Don't worry, they also make it difficult to get into their lounges! Especially Cape Town domestic where I have had multiple battles with the dragons.
how? my bp always says UA*G and they let me in without any issues. multiple times they say not to bother showing my card. if your bp doesn't say UA*G then you need to show a card, just like any other airline.

Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
My wife and I, both UA 1Ks bought cheap (B class apparently) coach seats from the USA to JNB on SAA. They want to charge us $25 US for seat assignments. Is there any way around this? Obviously, these flights are very long and we don't want to get stuck with middle seats. On the other hand, paying for basic seats assignments -- as a Star Gold no less -- is pretty ridiculous.
welcome to south africa. you think the corporate greed and fleecing of consumers in north america is bad...

Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
Well, it was actually a bit more complex in this case. I had a TK*G card that had expired a few days earlier and I hadn't yet received the new card (it was waiting in the mail back at home). The old card worked fine when she swiped it and her system showed I was valid *G (as did my boarding pass), but the card itself showed an expiry date that had passed. I was able to also show them the renewed status on the TK app but she refused to allow entry to the guest because of the date on the card (but was willing to allow me entry which made no sense - I am either *G or I'm not *G - if the former then I get lounge with a guest and if the latter then I get nothing).

Supervisor clarified the situation immediately once she arrived and I got the distinct feeling that this was not the first time (and definitely not the last) that particular agent had similar issues.
i've never seen them swipe a card

i just show them my card on the united app

one time an agent said that wasn't good enough, she needed the physical card

i said "i live in south africa, do you honestly think the card they mailed me from the usa wasn't thrown in the trash or stolen by sapo?"

lip suck and she just gave up
cur is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread