Traveler From Canada, joined Jul 2001, 241 posts, RR: 1 Posted (12 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2250 times:
I am leaving for Rome next Thursday with a group of 32 students (aged 14-16)
I was supposed to leave with CSA (Czech airlines) which is an excellent company by the way. However our flight was cancelled and they have re-booked us on ACA YUL-YYZ-FCO.
First, I have tried for 2 days to contact them over the phone in order to confirm my group (pax names)....impossible to get in touch with them. I spent over 5 hours on the phone, not a single voice. (I could not believe it)
I finally reached them 3 days later and it was impossible for them to confirm the seats for my students. IMPOSSIBLE. So, I have asked them to understand that I was travelling with young teens that had never taken a plane before, that it was their first trip and that I would have preferred the group to be seated together for the reasons I mentionned. They could do nothing nothing nothing. "you have to wait at the airport and be there 3 hours before departure, not before" an agent told me.
Finally, I cannot believe that in 2003 major airline companies like Air Canada cannot confirm seats for a group of children travelling together. I assure you that I will never choose to travel with ACA in the future even if they offer a non-stop flight to Rome next year.
Tango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3813 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (12 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2174 times:
It is altogether possible that seats together were not available to the agent you spoke with at the time of your call to Air Canada. Weeks in advance, seat "selection" even for a party of two is often, in reality, "which middle seat do you prefer and let's see if how close in we can get you in different rows." At least that's the way it works in North America.
The reasons for "pre-reserved seating" being such a sham is due partly to the defacto caste system practiced by North America's "full-service" airlines where typically 30-50% of seats in coach will not be assigned (prior to check-in) unless one happens to be a member of the airline's "elite" caste. Other seats are "off limits" before check in so they will be available for special needs pax who may require the features unique to specific seats. One more reason is probably for the very reason your group can afford to make the trip--cheap fares--for which the tradeoff is packed planes, hence limited choices when requesting pre-assigned seating.
Not to lose any sleep over the matter, however. Chances are excellent that many or most of the seats held until day of departure for the airline's "elite" caste and special needs pax will not be occupied and, by checking in 3 hours before departure, as suggested by ACA's agent, all of your group will probably be able to be seated together in at least fours or eights or even more--as long as you treat the agent(s) who check in your group with the same respect and consideration you expect from them.