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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 Jun 22, 22, 1:31 pm   -   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 Dec 18, 19, 7:24 pm
  #91  
 
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Paid for Economy Plus subscription for my son going to school back in Boston. Had 9C on flight tomorrow since September. Looked this morning and he was put in 35D! Call UA and they couldn't explain it except for possible aircraft change. Supervising agent said when that occurs the "system" reassigns seats based on original seat (i.e, aisle/window) but it is not based on Econ Plus or status. Is this really the case? Can't see a 1K in front getting reassigned automatically a seat all the way in the back.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 12:52 am
  #92  
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
Is this really the case? Can't see a 1K in front getting reassigned automatically a seat all the way in the back.
Although agents make things up, this doesn't seem to be that far off. If you skim this thread, you'll find that there are plenty of complaints from users about being moved out of their seats for no readily apparent reason, status or no.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 7:28 am
  #93  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Although agents make things up, this doesn't seem to be that far off. If you skim this thread, you'll find that there are plenty of complaints from users about being moved out of their seats for no readily apparent reason, status or no.
I would also believe "E+ subscriptions" is a corner case where the shuffler forgets to account for your E+ entitlement.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 8:58 am
  #94  
 
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
Paid for Economy Plus subscription for my son going to school back in Boston. Had 9C on flight tomorrow since September. Looked this morning and he was put in 35D! Call UA and they couldn't explain it except for possible aircraft change. Supervising agent said when that occurs the "system" reassigns seats based on original seat (i.e, aisle/window) but it is not based on Econ Plus or status. Is this really the case? Can't see a 1K in front getting reassigned automatically a seat all the way in the back.
I strongly suspect that this is one--possibly the only--area where UA's IT development being built "around" SHARES rather than "in" SHARES shows its weaknesses. Based on a bug/loophole I observed back in the CO days (I really don't want to give details even though it is long resolved) it implies that SHARES awareness of "special" seats in the same cabin (Exit Row, E+, ...) is, at best, limited, and enforced at a different layer outside of the 'core' SHARES environment.

And as a 1K I have wound up in awful/back-of-the-(Air)bus seats after a shuffle, but both obsessively watching my reservations and having agents that look out for me, I've only very rarely actually flown in that seat.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 1:01 pm
  #95  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
I would also believe "E+ subscriptions" is a corner case where the shuffler forgets to account for your E+ entitlement.
I agree that perhaps the program doesn't account for E+ subscriptions but the agent said that status (which would entitle a flyer in E+) was a not a factor in reshuffling of seats. That was the reasoning that didn't make sense. If status was not a factor then how do people get put back into E+ after an aircraft change? What else besides status qualifies a flyer to be assigned an E+ seat that the system would decide upon?
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Old Dec 19, 19, 1:16 pm
  #96  
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
I agree that perhaps the program doesn't account for E+ subscriptions but the agent said that status (which would entitle a flyer in E+) was a not a factor in reshuffling of seats. That was the reasoning that didn't make sense. ...
It should not make sense because it is wrong. Most phones agents (including so-called supervisors) don't have a clue how certain operational issues are handled and either make it up to get you off the phone or heard it someone who made it up. If the aircraft change reduce the E+ seat count, then a non-status passenger is going to lose out.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 1:22 pm
  #97  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
It should not make sense because it is wrong. Most phones agents (including so-called supervisors) don't have a clue how certain operational issues are handled and either make it up to get you off the phone or heard it someone who made it up. If the aircraft change reduce the E+ seat count, then a non-status passenger is going to lose out.
I wouldn't make any such blanket statement. IME, there doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason; the best guess is that if you're in a seat that doesn't exist in the new config, of course you'll get moved, and it could be anywhere -- but sometimes, even if the seat exists in the new config, you'll still get moved, and it could still be to anywhere. Nearby rows are most common, but if they're going to a smaller config -- I'm not convinced there's a particularly well-defined process in place.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 1:28 pm
  #98  
 
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
I agree that perhaps the program doesn't account for E+ subscriptions but the agent said that status (which would entitle a flyer in E+) was a not a factor in reshuffling of seats. That was the reasoning that didn't make sense. If status was not a factor then how do people get put back into E+ after an aircraft change?
"The system" appears to generally try to match seat number to seat number (7A to 7A) -- incidentally, my spidey sense tells me the odd seat numbering adopted post merger was a low-tech effort to work around this and minimize oddness for aircraft swaps within the same family (narrow body to narrow body, etc.) -- if row 21 is "always" the exit row and the system shoves you back in the seat you came from you wind up in a exit row post-swap. The most obvious way things fall apart is if that seat is unavailable for some reason (block, not existing, etc.) -- UAs somewhat recent introduction of preferred seating for corporate customers blurs this a bit and that may have driven changes in seating reassignment algorithms.

Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
What else besides status qualifies a flyer to be assigned an E+ seat that the system would decide upon?
So there are a few things to keep in mind here. First "the system" isn't a single monolith... There's SHARES at the bottom of the pile and lots of layers and interfaces built on top of and next to SHARES; things that govern assignment of seats manually (e.g. by an agent or through the web) don't necessarily impact automatic (re)assignments that are kicked off in a different silo -- and the reassignment silo may quite legitimately have no idea what E+ is (not saying that that's the way it should be, but that's the way it seems to be)

Second there are so many ways someone can wind up in an E+ seat -- the vast majority actually don't involve a discreet payment for the seat :
  • FQTV Status
  • Paid E+ one-off purchase**
  • Paid E+ subscription
  • FQTV Companion (on or off PNR; off PNR by manual intervention) -- e.g. my wife is traveling on a MP ticket and I have a revenue ticket. Called res and they put her next to me manually without charge (allegedly documenting the PNR 'in case anyone needs to know why I didn't charge you' but that actually happens maybe 50% of the time)
  • Corporate contract fares where E+ has been negotiated
  • Disability accommodation by the special services desk (particularly, e.g. bulkhead and aisle seats with movable armrests)
  • Certain special services at agent discretion (traveling with a large musical instrument as cabin baggage being the one that immediately comes to mind)
  • Closer to departure, BE and Y passengers without an assigned seat if either the agent is in a good mood or those are the only seats left (or a combination of both)**

** so here's another place that seems to illustrate that E+ is not a core part of the customer service/seat assignment flow. For an agent working in SHARES directly (vs. eg. the Aero overlay which I don't know about) there doesn't seem to be any environment-forced enforcement for E+ fee collection. That is to say from what I've observed SHARES doesn't seem to know/care if the agent is assigning a passenger to an E+ seat out of necessity (no charge) or by request (possibly a charge or not) and when a charge applies that appears to be a separate workflow to collect the charge... But I could be hallucinating
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Old Dec 19, 19, 1:42 pm
  #99  
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
** so here's another place that seems to illustrate that E+ is not a core part of the customer service/seat assignment flow. For an agent working in SHARES directly (vs. eg. the Aero overlay which I don't know about) there doesn't seem to be any environment-forced enforcement for E+ fee collection. That is to say from what I've observed SHARES doesn't seem to know/care if the agent is assigning a passenger to an E+ seat out of necessity (no charge) or by request (possibly a charge or not) and when a charge applies that appears to be a separate workflow to collect the charge... But I could be hallucinating
I agree; seat assignments in SHARES are not cross-checked against the coupon. This is intentional: it allows gate agents to handle op-ups, as well as assignments into E+ when E- is full.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 1:59 pm
  #100  
 
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I appreciate all the comments. It's just a mystery with no agent or supervisor able to give an explanation that seems reasonable. It's a SFO-BOS plane that has 4 rows in Polaris and then starts with E+ as row 7 through 12 with 20 and 21 being the exit row. According to seatguru, there are no other configurations of the 757-200 that are similar where an equipment swap would have deleted seats except for the PS config with 7 rows of PS and then starting with row 20 in E+. If a plane swap did occur, it should have been the exact same configuration with the swap occurring within the last couple of day (the last time I checked).

One thing I found out when speaking to an agent the first time about this was that my son's profile didn't show he had a subscription, but when they tried to choose a E+ middle seat (all that was available) they saw it said no charge. So it sounds like there is some issue with their system of not having an E+ subscription always in a traveler's profile and only checks when selecting a seat.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 2:07 pm
  #101  
 
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
If a plane swap did occur, it should have been the exact same configuration with the swap occurring within the last couple of day (the last time I checked).
Unfortunately should is a key word here. Swaps and swaps back happen all of the time and sometimes someone fat fingers something, or it looks like they'll need to pull a less desirable type and then it turns out the "correct" configuration is available after all; I've seen 757s turn into 767s; a 767 once became a 787, etc. A couple years ago I had a flight that for about 10 minutes looked like it had changed from a 737 to a 777 (on that particular route I'm pretty sure it would take longer to board a 777 than it would to take off and touch down) -- but it got fixed.

Unfortunately the fact is that any agent you'll actually be able to talk to likely doesn't have that much information about how the black box works.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 2:12 pm
  #102  
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
I appreciate all the comments. It's just a mystery with no agent or supervisor able to give an explanation that seems reasonable. It's a SFO-BOS plane that has 4 rows in Polaris and then starts with E+ as row 7 through 12 with 20 and 21 being the exit row. According to seatguru, there are no other configurations of the 757-200 that are similar where an equipment swap would have deleted seats except for the PS config with 7 rows of PS and then starting with row 20 in E+. If a plane swap did occur, it should have been the exact same configuration with the swap occurring within the last couple of day (the last time I checked).
There are actually two different 16J 752 configurations flying, and they are different in Y. 2 frames are slimlined with 16J/42E+/118Y and the other 36 not in mod are 16J/45E+/108Y. If you post which flight someone can look up the tail history (or you can yourself on flight stats).
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Old Dec 19, 19, 3:21 pm
  #103  
 
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Originally Posted by 4BandE View Post
It's just a mystery with no agent or supervisor able to give an explanation that seems reasonable.
That's not their job to explain why a seat swap happened - and I don't see UA training to that level simply because the swaps may not have an exact formula. At best I'd expect them to say - I'm not exactly sure why your seat was swapped, but we do see those situations in change of aircraft situations.

Their primary responsibility in this instance is to move you back to the seat you requested if you can't do it online or the app.
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Old Dec 19, 19, 4:14 pm
  #104  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
There are actually two different 16J 752 configurations flying, and they are different in Y. 2 frames are slimlined with 16J/42E+/118Y and the other 36 not in mod are 16J/45E+/108Y. If you post which flight someone can look up the tail history (or you can yourself on flight stats).
Looks like the flight was changed on the 16th to N17139 (it's UA2400 leaving at 1800 today from BOS). No other information before the 16th is listed on flight stats. So perhaps 3 E+ seats were deleted and my son got the short end of the stick.

Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
Their primary responsibility in this instance is to move you back to the seat you requested if you can't do it online or the app.
The second supervisor I spoke to said whatever I can see on the app or online was what they can see regarding available seating. No more or no less.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Dec 19, 19 at 7:00 pm Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old Dec 19, 19, 4:33 pm
  #105  
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I thought of one other thing... the government kicked all the air marshals back to Y. Stands to reason E+ aisles could now be prime FAM seats.
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