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Questions About Airline Seat Availability  
User currently offlineFranxSIN From Singapore, joined Jun 2007, 32 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 1 month 18 hours ago) and read 7921 times:

I know people have previously asked for websites that allow individual travellers to check on seat availability by fare classes. These include www.seatcounter.com and www.expertflyer.com, etc. I have the following questions to ask those who might be in the know in this forum.

a) Is it possible for private individuals to have access to computer reservation systems like Amadeus, Abacus or Galileo just like travel agents do?

b) Do websites such as Seat Counter show the same seat availability as say Amadeus or the actual airline reservation system itself?

Once I needed to change my flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Singapore. When I checked seat availability through Seat Counter, it showed that only Y class had seats available; I was booked on Q. So, I gave Bangkok reservation centre a call. I asked if the specific flight was full in that specific class. The agent looked at the flight and told me to wait. After a while, he informed me that there was 1 seat available for Q class. Quickly, I told him to grab that seat for me.

It made me wonder if availability shown on websites differ a little from actual airline availability. I also wondered if the airline agent had tried to overbook the fare class by confirming me, if he had the autonomy to do so. I happened to be connecting from a flight from Japan. Did it make a difference whether I had a connecting flight, assuming that he indeed try to make it possible for me to complete the journey? Of course, it could be a simple case of availability situations being dynamic, hence, the resulting available seat.

c) Might it be possible for private individuals to be able to book and issue tickets through any system besides travel portals and airline websites, either now or in future? I have read some reports on this forum about some members pricing reservations themselves and then ticketing themselves. They might be travel agents themselves or have access to systems that allow them to do so.

Would appreciate any response to the questions above.

Cheers.

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 3982 posts, RR: 34
Reply 1, posted (7 years 1 month 17 hours ago) and read 7908 times:

Quoting FranxSIN (Thread starter):
The agent looked at the flight and told me to wait. After a while, he informed me that there was 1 seat available for Q class.

If there is a seat available in the correct cabin, but not in the correct class, an airline employee can, by calling space control, get the seat released into another class and then sell it to you. He probably called space control, and told them what you wanted, and they agreed. This will never happen on a web site, so a call can sometimes work.


User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 1 month 17 hours ago) and read 7893 times:

Quoting FranxSIN (Thread starter):
b) Do websites such as Seat Counter show the same seat availability as say Amadeus or the actual airline reservation system itself?

Possibly, yes, depending on the source of their information. For 154 airlines (including TG), Amadeus is the actual airline reservations system, so any website taking availability from Amadeus would see what the airline agent sees. Of course the more sophisticated airline inventory systems have point of sale controls that determine where the request is coming from and adjust what availability is shown accordingly.

Quoting FranxSIN (Thread starter):
Once I needed to change my flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Singapore. When I checked seat availability through Seat Counter, it showed that only Y class had seats available; I was booked on Q. So, I gave Bangkok reservation centre a call. I asked if the specific flight was full in that specific class. The agent looked at the flight and told me to wait. After a while, he informed me that there was 1 seat available for Q class. Quickly, I told him to grab that seat for me.

Y is full fare economy, and is normally the last selling class to close (in fact most carriers will apply most of their overbooking in Y class). Q class is a much cheaper class, and so it is unlikely the same level of availability will be offered for Q class as Y. However if 1 seat was available, you lucked out and the agent was able to book it for you.

Quoting FranxSIN (Thread starter):
It made me wonder if availability shown on websites differ a little from actual airline availability. I also wondered if the airline agent had tried to overbook the fare class by confirming me, if he had the autonomy to do so.

Call centre agents normally don't have authority to overbook, but some airlines for top tier frequent flyers will guarantee space availability in some selling classes, and allow the system to overbook for these passengers.

Quoting FranxSIN (Thread starter):
I happened to be connecting from a flight from Japan. Did it make a difference whether I had a connecting flight, assuming that he indeed try to make it possible for me to complete the journey? Of course, it could be a simple case of availability situations being dynamic, hence, the resulting available seat.

Some airline inventory systems do take into account the whole journey when calculating availability, however TG's ROYAL inventory system does not to the best of my knowledge.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24891 posts, RR: 22
Reply 3, posted (7 years 1 month 15 hours ago) and read 7853 times:

Quoting FranxSIN (Thread starter):
It made me wonder if availability shown on websites differ a little from actual airline availability.

Airline staff can also see the exact seat availibility in all classes, at least on their own flights. Availability in most agency systems and websites is programmed to show only a maximum number of available seats per class (e.g. 6 or 8 etc.) so when you see that 8 seats are available in that booking class you have no idea where the real availability is 8 or 250. This type of information would be very vaulable to competitors so airlines don't want to make it available externally.


User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 3982 posts, RR: 34
Reply 4, posted (7 years 1 month 14 hours ago) and read 7839 times:

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 2):
Call centre agents normally don't have authority to overbook

On our computor system it is impossible to overbook. If the availability is zero in that class, you cannot book a seat. What some agents do is cheat by booking you in the wrong class, but the airline will notice this and ask questions. All an agent can do is to ask for a seat to be released in the class they want. The airline's yield control centre will then decide what to do.


User currently offlineRivet42 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 818 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (7 years 1 month 9 hours ago) and read 7776 times:

I would say it's always worth calling, just in case. My recent experience with EK supports this view: I was flying back to LON from HKG via DXB, and had enough f/f miles to qualify for an upgrade for the DXB-LON leg. However, on the EK website, which does have an option for requesting an upgrade, it showed no upgrade availability on the flight I was after - i.e. there were seats available for upgrade on other flights, but not that particular flight (presumably there is a specific business class code for this). Nevertheless, I called their res' centre in HKG, and funnily enough the agent 'found' 1 seat, which I gladly took. My guess is that she called load control, and they freed up a seat from another allocation. As it turned out, business class was full on that flight, so it was a very good move on my part to call, and not just to accept the info on the website as set in concrete.

A point that should be considered is that independent websites (i.e. not airlines, Amadeus, Galileo, etc) may take their availability data as a periodic feed, maybe once a day, so their data is unlikely to be as accurate as that viewed directly via airline websites.



I travel, therefore I am.
User currently offlineFranxSIN From Singapore, joined Jun 2007, 32 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 1 month 6 hours ago) and read 7705 times:

Great. Thanks to all who responded and provided additional insights to the whole complicated issue about airline seat availability. So, we now know that call centre agents may be able to help should a particular fare class be booked out. Though there's no guarantee, it's always worth trying if you really want the seat.

Cheers.


User currently offlineBoston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (7 years 1 month 6 hours ago) and read 7686 times:

I use www.seatcounter.com to see if an Upgrade to First Class is available (UA), and it is always spot-on, which is why I wonder the UA CSA's say that that information is classified when I ask them... I just say okay and go look it up myself.


"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5569 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 7500 times:

Quoting Boston92 (Reply 7):
I use www.seatcounter.com to see if an Upgrade to First Class is available (UA), and it is always spot-on, which is why I wonder the UA CSA's say that that information is classified when I ask them... I just say okay and go look it up myself.

With first class generally having so few seats, and the fallout from causing a premium-paying passenger to be bumped or thrown in coach, the availability will almost always be the actual seats available.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
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