Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

Random seat changes to UA itineraries after having an assigned seat [Consolidated]

Random seat changes to UA itineraries after having an assigned seat [Consolidated]

    Hide Wikipost
Old Jun 22, 22, 1:31 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: sexykitten7
Wiki Link
Archive thread - Random seat changes to UA itineraries after they are booked & purchased [ARCHIVE]

Potential causes {draft list -- needs work}
  • Aircraft equipment changes (appears can be an issue even if the new aircraft is the same type)
  • Computer "glitch" -- common explanation, real source unknown
  • Weight & Balance issues
  • Federal Air Marshal {FAM}
  • Seats needed for passenger with medical / disability / .... issues {particularly a bulkhead issue}
  • Pet in cabin {no bulkhead}
  • Accommodating an high elite or VIP {somewhat unlikely, not standard company policy, and more likely to occur in a premium cabin}
  • Accommodating a family group {not very likely and not standard company policy}
Print Wikipost

Old Feb 21, 19, 9:15 am
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Programs: UA 1K 1MMer & LT UC (when flying UA); Hyatt Credit Cardist; HHonors Gold; Marriott Gold via UA 1K
Posts: 6,751
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Bet it's a 30-50 year old dude with short hair.
And a constantly-replenished water glass. (Unless it's a lazy crew.)
SS255 is offline  
Old Feb 21, 19, 9:21 am
  #17  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: LAX/TPE
Programs: CO Platinum 1K, United 1K, SPG LT Platinum, National Executive Elite, Platinum TSA Hater
Posts: 38,012
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Bet it's a 30-50 year old dude with short hair.
Yes, please let us know.

I was the victim of one of these nonsense seat changes last week on a reservation where I booked an ExtraSeat! I had two seats together for months, then I did a random check only to find my ExtraSeat was now two rows forward on the other side of the aircraft! I did check the person in the middle/window/aisle in my original row but they were all unrelated to each other so it did not appear a GS called to scream and whine about booting my middle ES to accommodate their companion.
bocastephen is offline  
Old Feb 25, 19, 11:37 am
  #18  
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 21
I am flying EWR to NRT and a few days out my seat was changed from 20A, which is a Premium Plus available for free as an E+ seat since I am UA Gold, to 33A. I was not texted or given any notice of the seat change. I went on the app an moved back up to Premium Plus in 21K. I was so happy to have a window seat in Premium Plus and am really disappointed to be in the aisle.

I called to find out what happened and was told A) seat changes happen all the time and they "don't tell us why" B) "We are reconfiguring all of our aircraft to have Polaris seats which is likely what happened here" (this plane has had Polaris since I booked it) C) "they only move people for a reason so maybe it was needed for crew, an air marshal, or a disabled passenger."

I asked if there was an aircraft change and the agent said there were no aircraft or schedule changes.

Is it normal to have your seat changed with no notice?
Why would they move an elite traveler for crew, a disabled passenger, or an air marshal when E+ is 50% empty?
Should I be worried about losing my seat again?
UAEWR is offline  
Old Feb 25, 19, 11:51 am
  #19  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat 1.85MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Plat
Posts: 59,490
Originally Posted by UAEWR View Post
I am flying EWR to NRT and a few days out my seat was changed from 20A, which is a Premium Plus available for free as an E+ seat since I am UA Gold, ...?
Only until end of March 2019 -- after that it will be extra $$$

Originally Posted by UAEWR View Post
.... Is it normal to have your seat changed with no notice? ...
Short Answer - Yes it can happen -- but since you have flown UA before, it is not a regular event.
Longer answer -- see this thread

With the reconfigured planes there is a lot of seat shuffling as configurations get swapped in and out
Interim 77x seatmaps with Polaris seats & potentially Premium Economy (2018-19))
Originally Posted by UAEWR View Post
....Why would they move an elite traveler for crew, ...
Not done in economy
There are special contractual issues for premium cabin seating for pilots -- but rare to actually move a passenger.

Originally Posted by UAEWR View Post
...a disabled passenger, or an air marshal when E+ is 50% empty? ...
Disable passenger -- because only select E+ seats -- such as bulkheads are appropriate depending on the disability.
FAM -- by federal regulation, the FAM selects the seat and UA must move the passenger if the seat was assigned. The airline has no choice in the matter.
Originally Posted by UAEWR View Post
...Should I be worried about losing my seat again?
It could happen but low odds

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Feb 25, 19 at 11:57 am Reason: link
WineCountryUA is offline  
Old Feb 25, 19, 12:11 pm
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Programs: BA Bronze, United 1K, HH Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 3,476
Originally Posted by UAEWR View Post
I am flying EWR to NRT and a few days out my seat was changed from 20A
Should I be worried about losing my seat again?
Yes, they can change your plane until the time of boarding. You need to do like the rest of us and keep checking the seat map. It's good that your flight is only a few days away. I have been repeatedly checking my seats for a trip to Europe that is still a month away. Another reason for you to keep checking is that the seat 20A that you liked might free itself if the passenger decides not to fly, misses the connection in EWR or is upgraded.
StuckinITH is offline  
Old Feb 25, 19, 2:12 pm
  #21  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: United 1K MM, Marriott Gold
Posts: 417
I booked MCO-SFO on a B737-900. Three weeks before the travel date I found that I was kicked out of my favorite E+ aisle seat and moved to the corresponding E+ seat 1 row behind while > 90% of the E+ seats were open. I thought I would want to see and admire the high elite or FAM who shared the same taste with me.

Being a good practicing FT'er I keep checking the itinerary everyday. Five days later I found my favorite E+ aisle seat opened up again. Without hesitation I grab the seat again.

The downside is that I missed an opportunity to "know" an influential or interesting person.
Neil35 is offline  
Old Mar 9, 19, 4:20 am
  #22  
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Programs: United Global Services, Amtrak Select Executive
Posts: 3,586
If FAM takes seat in full premium cabin, do they just downgrade whose seat got taken? Or do they move that pax and select pax to downgrade based on status? Or on fare class?
physioprof is offline  
Old Mar 9, 19, 6:25 am
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
Programs: Honors LT Diamond; United 1K; Hertz PC
Posts: 3,239
Originally Posted by physioprof View Post
If FAM takes seat in full premium cabin, do they just downgrade whose seat got taken? Or do they move that pax and select pax to downgrade based on status? Or on fare class?
As with any case when the premium cabin becomes overfull there's the "right way" and the "fast way".

The correct approach is to downgrade (or offer alternate flights) in inverse order of fare class (with status being one of the tie-breakers, IIRC, time of check-in is another) and then put the FAM-displaced pax in whichever seat opened up. This takes time and most GAs won't (from a non-scientific sample size) necessarily do this, especially as it gets closer to departure.

The fast way is to just DG the displaced passenger and hope they don't raise too much of a fuss. (see also proactive vouchers, etc.)
findark and physioprof like this.
lincolnjkc is offline  
Old Mar 9, 19, 11:55 am
  #24  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: DL PM, UA Gold, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 12,369
...and the deciding factor is what mood the GA is in.
findark is offline  
Old Mar 9, 19, 1:44 pm
  #25  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: NYC
Programs: UA GS (1MM), DL Gold, Marriott Plat, Hyatt Globalist, Avis CC
Posts: 519
Weird one - spouse and I (GS/Plat) flying together on separate PNRs but both in J on transcon 787-10 in seats 3D and 3F. We both get emails yesterday saying that an equipment swap required a seat change. I'm moved to 7D. Weirdly, his email says the new seat was 3F - the same seat! When I went online, my original 3D was still open, so I just moved back to it. So weird and fairly obnoxious. IT needs to get that together. If I was a novice traveler, I'd be livid if I showed up and our seats were mysteriously separated.
SteveHK is offline  
Old Mar 9, 19, 2:29 pm
  #26  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Programs: UA 1K, 1MM, Marriott Gold
Posts: 2,566
Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
As with any case when the premium cabin becomes overfull there's the "right way" and the "fast way".

The correct approach is to downgrade (or offer alternate flights) in inverse order of fare class (with status being one of the tie-breakers, IIRC, time of check-in is another) and then put the FAM-displaced pax in whichever seat opened up. This takes time and most GAs won't (from a non-scientific sample size) necessarily do this, especially as it gets closer to departure.

The fast way is to just DG the displaced passenger and hope they don't raise too much of a fuss. (see also proactive vouchers, etc.)
This happned to me once. I had just flown LPQ-BKK-NRT-LAX and was on the last domestic leg home to DFW. They wanted to boot me to the back for a fam who wanted my seat. (Yes it had to be MY seat).
I DID make a fuss and pulled a real DYKWIA and told them they need to find a lower status pax instead...and they did. Man, did I get some serious stink eye from that guy!
chavala is offline  
Old Mar 12, 19, 7:30 am
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Programs: ba executive, AA advantage,
Posts: 55
A few weeks ago PUJ to ORD we had 21 A-D. At about 30 hours out I checked and sure enough was switched to 12 AB and 2 somewhere else. I checked the tail number and made a note. Our original seats were now open. I tried to switch on line but it wanted to charge me again. We had paid for the upgraded seats. About $100 each. I couldn't call the 800 number in Punta Cana with Verizon and the local number was answered by a person with limited English and she couldn't figure out what I wanted. Anyway finally got through and got our seats back. Just so happened I check again in about a hour and low and behold switched to 15 AB. Same line about it being a operational reason.. Same tail number. At about t-10 I get a text. Seats were changed for operational reasons. Again our original seats are empty and the tail number is the same. Again to change online it was another $100 each. I know I could have gotten a refund but why should I go through the hassle and let them have my money for a month or so. So I have not been able to get a answer why they would change our seats three times in less than 24 hours and each time the seats remained empty and the tail number remained the same so no equipment change. And yes the plane we boarded was the one with that tail number. Each time I called I got the same BS story about it being "operational". Of the last 6 flights, and only the return, we have taken in the last 5 years or so with United each time they have changed our seats at least once per trip. Not once was there a equipment change.
dm6214 is offline  
Old Mar 12, 19, 12:35 pm
  #28  
Moderator: Smoking Lounge; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: SFO
Programs: Lifetime (for now) Gold MM, HH Gold, Giving Tootsie Pops to UA employees, & a retired hockey goalie
Posts: 28,728
Originally Posted by dm6214 View Post
A few weeks ago PUJ to ORD we had 21 A-D. At about 30 hours out I checked and sure enough was switched to 12 AB and 2 somewhere else. I checked the tail number and made a note. Our original seats were now open. I tried to switch on line but it wanted to charge me again. We had paid for the upgraded seats. About $100 each. I couldn't call the 800 number in Punta Cana with Verizon and the local number was answered by a person with limited English and she couldn't figure out what I wanted. Anyway finally got through and got our seats back. Just so happened I check again in about a hour and low and behold switched to 15 AB. Same line about it being a operational reason.. Same tail number. At about t-10 I get a text. Seats were changed for operational reasons. Again our original seats are empty and the tail number is the same. Again to change online it was another $100 each. I know I could have gotten a refund but why should I go through the hassle and let them have my money for a month or so. So I have not been able to get a answer why they would change our seats three times in less than 24 hours and each time the seats remained empty and the tail number remained the same so no equipment change. And yes the plane we boarded was the one with that tail number. Each time I called I got the same BS story about it being "operational". Of the last 6 flights, and only the return, we have taken in the last 5 years or so with United each time they have changed our seats at least once per trip. Not once was there a equipment change.
While I can't speak to your specific seat issue, it has been my experience (and probably for many others as well), that if your seats are changed anywhere between t-72 and t-12 hours of flight time and the aircraft itself has not changed (type, reg number &/or etc) AND your were told the seat change was done for "operational reasons", your seat was probably given to/taken by a FAM
goalie is offline  
Old Mar 12, 19, 5:55 pm
  #29  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Programs: BA Bronze, United 1K, HH Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 3,476
Originally Posted by goalie View Post
While I can't speak to your specific seat issue, it has been my experience (and probably for many others as well), that if your seats are changed anywhere between t-72 and t-12 hours of flight time and the aircraft itself has not changed (type, reg number &/or etc) AND your were told the seat change was done for "operational reasons", your seat was probably given to/taken by a FAM
Except that in my experience, the FAMs like to have seats in First Class Domestic or Business Class International. They are not looking to sit in Row 21.......
chavala likes this.
StuckinITH is offline  
Old Mar 12, 19, 6:25 pm
  #30  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
Programs: Honors LT Diamond; United 1K; Hertz PC
Posts: 3,239
Originally Posted by StuckinITH View Post
Except that in my experience, the FAMs like to have seats in First Class Domestic or Business Class International. They are not looking to sit in Row 21.......
I thought it was reported in the recent past (9 months?) that FAMs were going to start to be deployed in the Y cabin for reasons I don't remember at the moment (most disruptions/physical issues happen in Y? TSA wanted to make them miserable for some reason?) and if I was going to ride in Y 21 is where I'd want to ride

That said I don't buy that multiple moves with the original seats being available is a FAM in this case but I could be wrong.
lincolnjkc is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread