I don't know if there is a temporary issue, but I've always selected my seats thru NWA.com by selecting Manage my Reservations from the main page. You can click on the current seat assignment and it will show you a seat map as well as seats that are reserved for Elite or other priority selection.
Sorry - I didn't pick up the "before I book". I agree with previous posters on how to get the seatmap before booking.
Are you traveling internationally?? Sometimes NWA does not let non-FF select seats until check-in on the international flights. Don't quote me on that, but if that is in fact the case, make sure you check in immediately at 24 hours prior, and you'll be able to select your seat.
WA707atMSP From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2132 posts, RR: 13 Reply 11, posted (6 years 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 1904 times:
On flights that are more than 50% full, NW passengers will not be able to get a seat assignment at the time of ticket purchase unless
(a) they are an Elite member
(b) they pay $15 for a "coach choice" seat
Sometimes, seats are released within 7 days of flight departure, so check NWA.com often.
If seats don't open up within 7 days of departure, NWA.com will arbitrarily assign you a seat when you check in online, regardless of what your profile says.
When NWA.com has arbitrarily assigned me a seat I don't like, I've had to wait until 40 minutes before departure, then ask the gate agent for a seat I like.
In February, Northwest had to reroute me because the aircraft I was originally booked on was weight restricted. Even though there were several available window seats on the flight I was being rebooked on, the gate agent was not able to assign me one of them until 40 minutes before departure.