TAP automatic seat assignment

Old Oct 24, 2023, 2:08 pm
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: YHZ
Posts: 91
Checking back in to add my datapoint. Thanks taway for taking the time to answer my questions! Much appreciated.

We are in Canada and were able to access OLCI at T-36 hrs. (Route was YUL-LIS-FAO-LIS-YUL, we were flying economy.) On our return, we had a 24 hr stopover in Lisbon, and I was surprised that at T-36 the FAO-LIS flight, the final leg (LIS-YUL) was also available for check in, a full 60 hrs before it was scheduled to fly. I expect connecting flights to be generally available at the same time as first flight for OLCI, but with that long a stopover, I was a little surprised that the full itinerary was open.

On all four flights, yes, we had been assigned seats together. There was some weirdness with the boarding passes, in some cases the seats weren't shown, but were visible on the app, and in one case we had something like seats D & E at OLCI but E & F in the same row at airport checkin. Weird, but not significant. 3/4 times the seats were fine. Not the best, not the worst, so I had no need to try to change in that small "open" window before take off. On the 4th flt, as OLCI opened, we had been assigned the very worst seats on the plane. You guessed it, back row, no recline, right next to the toilets. That takes a special kind of malicious algorithm. I had had enough of TAP's shenanigans at that point so I paid to buy two seats further up the plane. To add insult to injury, when we took off, the flight was maybe 70% sold, and the moment they closed the doors, everyone got up and found a seat they liked better. Honestly, the flight crew was great, we didn't have to share our row, and I'd had a great lunch in Lisbon, so what are you going to do at that point, other than sit back and enjoy the ride?

FWIW, I won't chose TAP again if I can help it; as all the questions and responses here indicate, there is too much trouble understanding how things work, and too many practices that are more LCC than national airline. Between checking baggage (when I actually carried less than on our last trip to Europe, when we flew LH carryon only), to avoiding being assigned the actual worst seat on the plane, oh, and then there was the 4 hr delay with no information and no staff available to talk to--yeah, no.

But again, thanks for the help of this forum, and happy travels to all.
coastgirl is offline  
Old Oct 25, 2023, 7:48 am
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: BER
Programs: OW Sapphire, *A Gold
Posts: 952
As a *A Gold on an eco classic fare, shouldn't I be able to reserve exit row seats for free? I'm more used to OW, where this is the case.
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Old Nov 18, 2023, 9:54 pm
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Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Gold (1MM), Marriott Amb (LTT)
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For JFK-LIS *G and booked my first ever TAP flight on their website. OLCI opened and I used their app which is relatively painless. Except for a mistake I was making which kept leading to a red banner saying my check-in could not be completed until an agent checked my bag (I was clicking "yes" to whether somebody tampered with my bag out of muscle memory of where I thought the "no" button should be), things went smoothly.

They assigned me the dead last row aisle. Somebody checking in around the same time as me was auto assigned a middle seat in the row in front of me (based on ExpertFlyer seat map refresh during the process). Guess I should be thankful I didn't get a middle? I just don't get how TAP's auto assignment works and certainly why it's not taking my known *G status into account.

Anyway, I completed check-in for both segments and saved the BPs to my wallet. Now I went back in and selected the true Extra Legroom seat I want in the exit row and so far it's being held for me. Will log back in tomrw at 1hr4mins ahead of departure and do the swap out and swap back in to that seat and hopefully it is free. If not I'm not sure what seat I'll be flying in as the seat map shows my seat that I have a BP for unoccupied.

PS - I just realized on my connecting flight they put me in the exit row window which is my #1 preferred seat. So how did I get auto assigned one of the worst seats on the long haul and one of the best seats on the short haul? So weird.


Last edited by RobOnLI; Nov 19, 2023 at 10:12 am Reason: Added note about connecting flight
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Old Nov 20, 2023, 3:50 pm
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Originally Posted by taway
Can confirm that it's still 1h4m prior to departure when the free seats drop (PDL-LIS today).

My recommended MO (if flying without checked-in bags):

1. Check in early with assigned seats, get boarding pass so you can pass through security/go to lounge, etc.
2. Modify the check-in (make sure you already have your boarding pass) and select the seats you actually want. If traveling as a couple and the flight doesn't seem too full I usually pick a window + aisle seat in Economy Xtra and hope no one picks the middle seat. Works about 80-90% of the time. 100% of the time it doesn't work whoever ended up in the middle was happy to switch for the aisle seat.
3. Click the confirm button, but obviously don't pay for your seats. Just leave the check-in flow.
4. Set an alarm for 1 hour and 5 minutes prior to departure.
5. At 1 hour and 4 minutes prior to departure, modify your check-in again. Swap the seats around and they should now be free. (You need to change the seat, if not it will still be listed as paid... If traveling alone, select another seat, confirm, then immediately pick the seat you actually wanted againwhich is now free.)

The only risk with this method is that if you fail to change your seats before boarding starts you may be asked to pay for the seat(s) you selected. If you wouldn't be willing to pay in case you miss this rather slim window it may be better to skip steps 2 and 3 and hope there are still Economy Xtra seats left when you get to step 5.
I just wanted to comment that this failed spectacularly for me on JFK-LIS. I checked in, got an awful seat (see previous post), got the BP and then went back in and selected the exit row window seat. At exactly 1:04 before I logged in again through the TAP App for OLCI. This time I had a big yellow banner saying my check-in is restricted and there's a 'service alert'. I kept trying to change my check-in but the JFK-LIS segment was untouchable. Knowing I would have problems boarding with my bad BP (because that seat was already given to somebody else), I went to the gate and hung around for a minute. Eventually my name got paged because they needed to do a doc check. I think that's a huge issue at least for ex-North America routes to LIS. They have to do doc checks if you don't physically show it to someone at the check-in counter. And if you do that then they will collect the exit row or Extra Legroom seat fees on the spot. As the agent was checking my BP she said my exit row seat was good but the guy behind her kept saying "unpaid fees". She couldn't print me a BP. She literally asked three other people to work on it - all of whom got "busy" thirty seconds into trying to help me. Finally a supervisor had come over and she asked him to fix it. He fixed it by printing me a BP for a regular economy seat. I asked for the exit row back and he had to ask two other people if they had unblocked the seats. How the heck can't he see this on his screen? EF told me the seats were unblocked at T-58m. Anyway, finally got the exit row window that I originally held and he didn't charge me for it. But lesson to all...I don't think this method is meant to work (or work all that well) at any airport that must do doc checks before boarding. Or maybe I got unlucky?

For LIS-xxx Intra-Europe I did the same thing but this time ti worked. At 1h04m from the LIS lounge I went back into my itinerary and selected a different seat and then right back into the exit row window. Unfortunately the airline had done an equipment swap so my originally assigned 25A was no longer an exit row. I moved up to 17A on the A321-Neo. Interestingly...when I scanned the Apple Wallet BP that had 17A on it it beeped "Seat Invalid". Agent grumbled and had to do a bit of typing but just let me on the plane. No idea what that was about.

So I'm feeling like I'm 0 for 2 or 0.5 for 2.

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Old Dec 5, 2023, 4:56 pm
Join Date: Dec 2022
Programs: UA1K
Posts: 370
T-1:04 worked perfectly for me on a pair of flights this weekend! Did not do all the extra steps (discount fares booked through OTA, so wanted to minimize any potential for mishaps), and ended up scoring an empty row on the first flight and an aisle next to an empty middle on the second. Is this a *G benefit, or does it work for anyone? Didn't seem like anyone else knew about this, or else I'm sure the seats I got would've been gone by the time I signed on.
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