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

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

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Old Mar 21, 19, 8:31 am   -   Wikipost
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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}
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Old Feb 21, 19, 7:43 am
  #661  
 
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Booked on a TPAC 77W, chose 1A at booking (two months out). At T-24 hours, I got a text message that my seat has been changed to 1D "due to an aircraft swap."

Since this route uses 77W exclusively and there is only one version of J seating, I was doubtful. I called GS and they said, "We're very sorry, but the airport made the change and there's nothing we can do. It's either a broken seat or an air marshal." (Very surprised they'd say it could be a FAM!) As it turns out, 9A was still available so I swapped to that and I'm happy to have a bulkhead window. You can be sure I'll check out the owner of 1A...
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Old Feb 21, 19, 8:25 am
  #662  
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Originally Posted by wxguy View Post
You can be sure I'll check out the owner of 1A...
Bet it's a 30-50 year old dude with short hair.
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Old Feb 21, 19, 9:15 am
  #663  
 
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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.)
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Old Feb 21, 19, 9:21 am
  #664  
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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.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 11:37 am
  #665  
 
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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?
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Old Feb 25, 19, 11:51 am
  #666  
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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
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Old Feb 25, 19, 12:11 pm
  #667  
 
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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.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 2:12 pm
  #668  
 
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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.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 4:20 am
  #669  
 
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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?
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Old Mar 9, 19, 6:25 am
  #670  
 
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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.)
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Old Mar 9, 19, 11:55 am
  #671  
 
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...and the deciding factor is what mood the GA is in.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 1:44 pm
  #672  
 
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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.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 2:29 pm
  #673  
 
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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!
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Old Mar 12, 19, 7:30 am
  #674  
 
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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.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 12:35 pm
  #675  
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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
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