Blocking adjacent seat to elite member?

Old May 15, 13, 4:37 pm
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Blocking adjacent seat to elite member?

I remember that United used to block the middle seat next to elite members some time back. Is this benefit back?

Earlier this week I was flying SFO-EWR and on the flight status page, it showed the middle seat next to me as taken. However, when I displayed the seat map on the check-in page, it displayed the seat next to me as available and selectable. Even up until departure the flight status page (as well as at the gate) showed the seat as taken, but yet no one actually sat next to me.

I didn't think that SHARES had the capability to do that, so I wouldn't be surprised if it were some fluke in the system.
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Old May 15, 13, 4:56 pm
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Was it a bulkhead seat or something similar?
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Old May 15, 13, 4:59 pm
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Maybe someone missed their connection? Or a standby was auto-cleared into the seat and the GA manually moved them at the last second? (There are still some GAs who will manually change standby seat assignments based on status of pax or that of their would-be seatmate.)
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Old May 15, 13, 5:59 pm
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On several occasions, I asked at check-in if they could block the middle seat next to me (row of 3). I was told it's not possible but almost every time, It was indeed empty. This was on TATL flights.

Originally Posted by TakeTheATrain View Post
I remember that United used to block the middle seat next to elite members some time back. Is this benefit back?

Earlier this week I was flying SFO-EWR and on the flight status page, it showed the middle seat next to me as taken. However, when I displayed the seat map on the check-in page, it displayed the seat next to me as available and selectable. Even up until departure the flight status page (as well as at the gate) showed the seat as taken, but yet no one actually sat next to me.

I didn't think that SHARES had the capability to do that, so I wouldn't be surprised if it were some fluke in the system.
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Old May 15, 13, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by TakeTheATrain View Post
I remember that United used to block the middle seat next to elite members some time back. Is this benefit back?

Earlier this week I was flying SFO-EWR and on the flight status page, it showed the middle seat next to me as taken. However, when I displayed the seat map on the check-in page, it displayed the seat next to me as available and selectable. Even up until departure the flight status page (as well as at the gate) showed the seat as taken, but yet no one actually sat next to me.

I didn't think that SHARES had the capability to do that, so I wouldn't be surprised if it were some fluke in the system.
I've seen that a few times. I believe all of them were on the CO 752, and I was in 8F. 8D and E remain blocked typically until check-in, but for whatever reason E showed up as able to be selected but seat map showed it occupied. I've had it end up both empty and occupied. Not sure what the reason is--maybe just a fluke, as you say.
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Old May 15, 13, 6:21 pm
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Could be the pax misconnected. Or got an upgrade. Or switched seats, and the GA didn't update the seat assignment prior to departure (e.g. she wrote it on the BP to save time).
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Old May 15, 13, 7:16 pm
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IME not too common these days with ~85% load factors
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Old May 15, 13, 7:34 pm
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
IME not too common these days with ~85% load factors
Hmm. Even if load factors are that high, an Elite in an E+ seat is less likely to have someone next to him/her. GAs have been good about not giving E+ to standbys, except for non-revs.

At least that's my experience on those flights where I'm not upgraded.
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Old May 15, 13, 8:18 pm
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Pretty sure this is just the normal disabled passenger seat blocking.

OP: Was it a bulkhead seat? What seat on what aircraft?
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Old May 15, 13, 8:53 pm
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i book exit rows and when the plane goes out almost full, i often have an empty middle next to me. UA seems to put pax there only as a last resort. given the amount of time i have spent in steerage this year my sample size is pretty good.
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Old May 15, 13, 9:02 pm
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
IME not too common these days with ~85% load factors
+1
I have almost always had someone sitting next to me in E+, even in the exit row.

However, I haven been upgraded on every segment except one (SFO-SAN) since I became 1K last year. On that segment, I was in 21C. I was #2 on the upgrade list. The passenger who was #1 was sitting in 21A, and he was upgraded just before the doors closed. I then became #1 without an open seat in First Class, but the person in 21B moved over and left the middle seat empty. That's the first empty middle seat I had seen in a long time.
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Old May 15, 13, 9:30 pm
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UA indeed used to have the blocked middle as a published elite benefit; of course, load factors also weren't 85%+ at the time. IIRC, they quietly phased that out sometime around 2007 or 2008.


Originally Posted by ddrost1 View Post
i book exit rows and when the plane goes out almost full, i often have an empty middle next to me. UA seems to put pax there only as a last resort. given the amount of time i have spent in steerage this year my sample size is pretty good.
In the past, that was the opposite of my experience with UA. Exit rows seemed to fill up very quickly and be in demand--even when they could only be reserved by Gold and higher. I found that there would often be empty middles in E+, but the exit rows, even if they had empties at check-in, would go out full.
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Old May 15, 13, 9:42 pm
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I remember the days when, if someone was put in the middle seat, either the gate agent or the FA would actually give me a little apology for it.

Those days went away a long time ago.
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Old May 15, 13, 9:57 pm
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Originally Posted by TakeTheATrain View Post

Even up until departure the flight status page (as well as at the gate) showed the seat as taken, but yet no one actually sat next to me. .

Its possible that the seat was occupied by the FT'er that goes by the user name of "invisible".
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Old May 16, 13, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
Pretty sure this is just the normal disabled passenger seat blocking.

OP: Was it a bulkhead seat? What seat on what aircraft?
It was a 737-800 without an E+ section and the lavatories after the F section. I was sitting at the bulkhead in 7C.


Originally Posted by GoAmtrak View Post
Maybe someone missed their connection? Or a standby was auto-cleared into the seat and the GA manually moved them at the last second? (There are still some GAs who will manually change standby seat assignments based on status of pax or that of their would-be seatmate.)
The interesting thing was that I was able to select the middle seat when doing reprint boarding pass on the iPhone app. However on the flight status page, it showed the seat as occupied.
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