catiii
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Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:23 am

From the WSJ (fair use): "Seat fees are the latest iteration of the airline industry's new normal. Carriers are blocking more seats from advance-seat selection, especially for low-fare passengers. More crowded planes also make it tougher to get a desirable seat. As a result, more travelers are feeling pressured to pay a fee and reserve a seat rather settle for an assigned one—which could be a middle seat or not located next to their family members. Worse, those without assigned seats stand a higher chance of getting bumped from a flight."

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RamblinMan
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:42 am

Not surprised. I have one flight coming up with "no seats currently available for complimentary assignment" and a message suggesting that I can either receive an assignment at checkin or I should maybe pay for an "extra legroom" seat.

Don't care, not taking the bait. Would actually love to get bumped as I'm going to be arriving 26 hours before I need to anyhow, and I'd jump to grab the compensation voucher!

Wish they'd all just switch to open seating, then they could sell priority boarding and have it as an elite perk.
 
DLPMMM
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:56 am

Quoting RamblinMan (Reply 1):

If you like that arrangement, just fly WN.

I prefer an assigned seat, so I do not fly WN.

That is the beauty of a market economy, different airlines can adjust their models to cater to different market segments.
 
genybustrvlr
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:17 am

This goes beyond premium seat fees. With higher load factors, airlines need to prevent low-yielding advance purchasers from snapping up preferable seating. When I'm purchasing a last minute domestic coach ticket for work, I simply move on to another flight/airline if I can't pick a seat. Given that I'm paying 4-5x what the average traveler is paying, I certainly deserve my choice of seat...
 
spacecadet
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:31 am

Quoting genybustrvlr (Reply 3):
With higher load factors, airlines need to prevent low-yielding advance purchasers from snapping up preferable seating.

I understand that, but what's considered "preferred" seating is ridiculous these days. It's one thing to block off exit rows and bulkheads, but the last time I flew Delta, for example, every single aisle and window seat was blocked. Every one. I know this because my brother, who is Silver Medallion, tried to book the same flight just to see if that was the case, and sure enough, he could book any of those seats.

When you basically can't even book a seat unless you have status, something is wrong.

Also, I've basically given up on Delta, after thinking I was going to try to build up some miles with them. I'm flying JetBlue all the time now.
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Mir
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:42 am

Quoting genybustrvlr (Reply 3):
When I'm purchasing a last minute domestic coach ticket for work, I simply move on to another flight/airline if I can't pick a seat. Given that I'm paying 4-5x what the average traveler is paying, I certainly deserve my choice of seat...

So I don't deserve a choice of seat just because I know my travel plans several weeks ahead of you? The reason you're paying so much is simply supply and demand, not because you're getting anything extra.

-Mir
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genybustrvlr
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:59 am

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
When you basically can't even book a seat unless you have status, something is wrong.
Quoting Mir (Reply 5):
So I don't deserve a choice of seat just because I know my travel plans several weeks ahead of you?

Nothing wrong IMO. You're not being penalized because you know your travel plans. It's because you're not a significant revenue generator for the airline . The reality is there are far less seats to go around (which means far more elites on each plane to please with a good seat) and airlines are going to make sure the good seats are available to loyal customers. This is good business. Airlines would be foolish not to implement this practice. If you want good seat, pay up or fly more.
 
DL747400
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:24 am

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
I understand that, but what's considered "preferred" seating is ridiculous these days. It's one thing to block off exit rows and bulkheads, but the last time I flew Delta, for example, every single aisle and window seat was blocked. Every one. I know this because my brother, who is Silver Medallion, tried to book the same flight just to see if that was the case, and sure enough, he could book any of those seats.

It's not at all ridiculous if you understand that an elite-level frequent flyer (or anyone traveling on less restrictive or unrestricted coach fare) booking close to departure is likely to pay big $$$. It is very common for these customers to have elite status and similar perks in several airline loyalty programs. These customers vote with their Platinum credit cards and will purchase from the airline(s) which demonstrate the ability to provide the highly-desired aisle/window/exit seats, even to late-booking customers. Some airlines have finally awakened to the fact that preserving these valuable assets for these customers can translate into big revenue gains versus those carriers who are unable/unwilling to do so.

As a passenger, you may not like that, especially if you are one who consistently buys the least expensive and most restrictive fare tickets. But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000+ ticket, or the customer who buys-up into the Premium cabin. Don't get me wrong, every set of revenue-producing cheeks filling an airline seat is important. But not every set of revenue-producing cheeks brings the same value to the business. Value is increasingly a two-way street. Imagine yourself as an airline CEO, CFO, COO, etc. Your goal is to make a profit. Why would you not want to manage your most valuable business assets as wisely as possible in order to protect and maximize your revenue?
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smoot4208
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:12 am

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
As a passenger, you may not like that, especially if you are one who consistently buys the least expensive and most restrictive fare tickets. But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000+ ticket, or the customer who buys-up into the Premium cabin. Don't get me wrong, every set of revenue-producing cheeks filling an airline seat is important. But not every set of revenue-producing cheeks brings the same value to the business. Value is increasingly a two-way street. Imagine yourself as an airline CEO, CFO, COO, etc. Your goal is to make a profit. Why would you not want to manage your most valuable business assets as wisely as possible in order to protect and maximize your revenue?

              

That is a spot on analysis. I really hope everyone reads your comment before they post if they disagreement with why airlines are doing this.
 
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Tugger
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:33 am

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
It's not at all ridiculous if you understand that an elite-level frequent flyer (or anyone traveling on less restrictive or unrestricted coach fare) booking close to departure is likely to pay big $$$. It is very common for these customers to have elite status and similar perks in several airline loyalty programs. These customers vote with their Platinum credit cards and will purchase from the airline(s) which demonstrate the ability to provide the highly-desired aisle/window/exit seats, even to late-booking customers. Some airlines have finally awakened to the fact that preserving these valuable assets for these customers can translate into big revenue gains versus those carriers who are unable/unwilling to do so.

As a passenger, you may not like that, especially if you are one who consistently buys the least expensive and most restrictive fare tickets. But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000 ticket, or the customer who buys-up into the Premium cabin. Don't get me wrong, every set of revenue-producing cheeks filling an airline seat is important. But not every set of revenue-producing cheeks brings the same value to the business. Value is increasingly a two-way street. Imagine yourself as an airline CEO, CFO, COO, etc. Your goal is to make a profit. Why would you not want to manage your most valuable business assets as wisely as possible in order to protect and maximize your revenue?
Quoting smoot4208 (Reply 8):
That is a spot on analysis. I really hope everyone reads your comment before they post if they disagreement with why airlines are doing this.

Actually he is wrong.

The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer. If he was right then that would mean that airlines are being stupid in selling those low priced seats and all airlines should be selling high priced, high-margin seats only instead. He try's to claim that "every set of revenue producing cheeks is important" but then goes on to state that they are not. And of course that is why so many people think First class pays for a flight or that FF's are "better than" non FF's. All the passengers are important, equally, for different reasons.

Advanced sale seats are vital for an airline to be able to plan their flights, as they say "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". The simple fact is this is a business and the airlines manage their inventory very carefully and preslales and Y passengers are critically important to an airline and flight, just as are the last minute and corporate flying passengers. They are all BALANCED out within the airlines planning and management systems to work to make a profitable flight and airline. But it is the $99.00, non-refundable ticket money that is in the bank and can be counted on two-three weeks before the flight, while the high cost, last minute tickets are still part of the "risk-value assessment" calculation that the airlines rely on (something they relay on to "plan" for overselling a flight knowing via analysis of historic data that a reliable percentage of passengers likely won't show up for any given flight).

Right now airlines are working out the "new" flying situation, where new fees are being created and applied, capacity is tighter, new regulations have been imposed. and for some costs have been tempered due to bankruptcy related procedures. But ultimately any airline spurning the "lower class" flying customer does so at their own risk. Airlines do not want to lose any customers, even lower margin ones, to competitors. For flying, volume is everything.

We'll have to see how these new sales tactics and seat fees work out. Right now it is great,profits arelooking good. But things can change if careful attention is not paid. You are only as profitable as your last quarter.

Tugg
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ghifty
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:51 am

If you don't want to buy a premium seat, then don't. The airline is not forcing you to. This is nothing new either. Last summer when I flew into SEA on AS, my flight (at date of ticket purchase) had no window seats available for booking. This remained the case, until midnight the day of the flight. Suddenly a large number of window (and other) seats opened up. All the while, during this entire fiasco the Business cabin was entirely unbooked.. until midnight, at which half the seats "disappeared."

Translation: AS's booking system hid economy seats that weren't purchased (available) making them not available (not for sale). Business seats were all available, though some may have been purchased.

I don't see how they're in the wrong. The seat-map(s) that show the "Available" seats do just that, show the available seats. Available doesn't have to mean "unpurchased seats" or "seats that have been purchased, but still being sold because the original purchaser might not show up." It can mean anything.. in such a case, "available" merely means that they're selling that seat. "Unavailable" means that they're not selling that seat--regardless of whether or not it is already purchased.

And, of course, some of these "available" seats might be "unavailable" based on your membership with the airline. Once someone has taken the bait and invested a few $$$'s into the airline, the airline wants that person to get what they want.. making available seats unavailable would be a good way to do so.. and, IMO, these members are the people who are the most likely to actually care about where they sit.

One of these days I want to verify this theory by purchasing a seat, say 10A, on my laptop. And then going to my friend's house and trying to purchase seat 10A. It'll probably sell... twice.



Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
As a passenger, you may not like that, especially if you are one who consistently buys the least expensive and most restrictive fare tickets. But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000+ ticket, or the customer who buys-up into the Premium cabin. Don't get me wrong, every set of revenue-producing cheeks filling an airline seat is important. But not every set of revenue-producing cheeks brings the same value to the business. Value is increasingly a two-way street. Imagine yourself as an airline CEO, CFO, COO, etc. Your goal is to make a profit. Why would you not want to manage your most valuable business assets as wisely as possible in order to protect and maximize your revenue?

Exactly! An airline, in a contemporary context, is nothing more than a corporation designed to get their passengers from A to B, while maximising their own profit. Too bad, so sad.

[Edited 2011-11-02 23:54:22]
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BOS2LAF
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:04 am

One thing that some here are overlooking is the Air Carrier Access Act.

Airlines are required to designate a certain number of seats as a kind of specially reserved seating for passengers with disabilities who request these seats. If no one requests these seats, they get released at the gate (at least thats how it works at the carrier I work for). This is why you might not get a seat assignment at checkin if everyone else has preselected the available seats, and you opt not to pay for a premium seat.

Airlines are also required to offer onboard wheelchair stowage upon request, and in the cases of aircraft without a large enough closet, this means stowing the wheelchair in passenger seats. On a full flight, this means denied boardings. These seats are also only released at the gate, that way if a passenger has requested onboard stowage, you don't have the ugly task of bumping people from their seats, as those seats won't have been assigned yet.

Again, I'm basing most of this on the way it works at the company I work for; the actual requirements under the ACAA may be different.

Another thing to consider is crew rest seats. At the foreign carrier that I formerly worked for, the f/a contract designated certain seats as crew rest that were not to be given out under any circumstances unless the flight was fully booked. These seats were also not released until the passenger got to the departure gate.

So before everyone starts going on about this evil conspiracy to force you to buy a premium seat, consider that there are other factors at play here. Have I seen people pay for a premium seat on a 6 hour flight to guarantee an aisle or window rather than get the luck of the draw? Sure, but that's their choice. When a flight is full, somebody's gotta sit in that middle seat, like it or not.
 
rising
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:11 am

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):

  

Excellent analysis. As you said, "all passengers are important, equally, for different reasons."

Quoting bos2laf (Reply 11):
So before everyone starts going on about this evil conspiracy to force you to buy a premium seat, consider that there are other factors at play here.

Another excellent post.

The media loves these types of stories because they excite the general public and, to be frank, sell. To prove it, we're even talking about it.
If it doesn't make sense, it's because it's not true.
 
EDICHC
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:17 pm

Quoting smoot4208 (Reply 8):
That is a spot on analysis. I really hope everyone reads your comment before they post if they disagreement with why airlines are doing this.

So if I fly with my family (all 6 of us) and happen to book in advance and get a relatively cheap fare, we should be separated throughout the cabin to accommodate the last minute FF? We might not have the status of some of these business travellers but we are still potentially returning customers. Fortunately I only regularly fly NZ and SQ and they have more respect for ALL their customers....oh and they are profitable.
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aajfksjubklyn
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:24 pm

I got news for you, AA is doing it. As an Exec. Plat for 5 years now, suddenly seats that would normally be available are considered Preferred Plus something. The first two rows of coach are always blocked out, except on a 757. MD80 and 737's have these rows blocked off even for premium customers, as they are being sold as a premium to everyone.
 
xdlx
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:29 pm

JAX had the highest % of "medallions" in the DL system a few years back.
It is so funny to go to the airport on Monday AM and see the boarding call for "medallions" on the
first 2 or 3 flights.
I counted 107 "medallions" boarding on a morning MD88 departure ??? WTF is that 85% of capacity?

So the boarding call should be ... Medallions and others.....

Can anyone tell me if they arrive any earlier to destination? More rested? ....
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Cubsrule
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:49 pm

Quoting genybustrvlr (Reply 6):
It's because you're not a significant revenue generator for the airline .

Hang on. When I buy an $800 H or M class ticket on ATL-BNA (~50 cents/mile), I'm not a "significant revenue generator?" If I do that 3 or 4 days before departure, I frequently cannot select a seat.

I think your thesis is right, but at least at Delta, the implementation of it isn't.
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incitatus
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:06 pm

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):
The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer


  
That goes as joke of the day.
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Horstroad
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:28 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
When you basically can't even book a seat unless you have status, something is wrong.

no it´s not. you just payed for the fare. so the carrier can place you whereever he wants. if you wan´t a specific seat, buy it. that´s how the great capitalism works. as an airline CEO you would do the same
 
emseeeye
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:41 pm

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):

As a passenger, you may not like that, especially if you are one who consistently buys the least expensive and most restrictive fare tickets. But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000+ ticket, or the customer who buys-up into the Premium cabin.

I don't necessarily agree with this. I know in my own case, I'm the pee-on employee who buys the cheapest ticket or else I hear about it. Calling someone who buys a lowest fare ticket a "leisure" traveler isn't a correct assumption.

Buying the lowest fare seat (especially in this economy) is "good business." If the airline doesn't like me purchasing a lowest / cheapest fare then they shouldn't be selling it.

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
Imagine yourself as an airline CEO, CFO, COO, etc. Your goal is to make a profit. Why would you not want to manage your most valuable business assets as wisely as possible in order to protect and maximize your revenue?

Imagine yourself as the CEO, CFO, COO, etc. trying to contain costs for your business. Wouldn't you want to maximize your savings by having your employee's buy the lowest fare tickets?

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):
The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer.

B.S.
 
mcdu
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:50 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
When you basically can't even book a seat unless you have status, something is wrong.

But YOU can select a seat. It is just that will cost you $$$ for the privilege. The airlines are created to generate revenue. If you absolutely want that seat you can PAY for it.

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):
The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer.

The 99.00 traveler is a much less a bit player. They are the reason for fees and other ancillary revenue. They want all the perks of a FF and big contributor but don't want to pay or give loyalty to the carrier. If the passenger wants those seats they can become a LOYAL flyer, use the credit card program and reap the rewards. Otherwise they can continue to shop Orbitz from the far left column of fares. You are not without options.

Quoting EDICHC (Reply 13):
So if I fly with my family (all 6 of us) and happen to book in advance and get a relatively cheap fare, we should be separated throughout the cabin to accommodate the last minute FF?

See above. Those seats can be yours if you really want them. If it is not important to you then don't pay the fees and just complain about them.
 
airbazar
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:53 pm

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):
The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer.
Quoting incitatus (Reply 18):
That goes as joke of the day.

Why? How many all-business class airlines do you know that are around?
You can't fly a route without those $99 fare customers. The only reason the airline is even getting that $1,000.00 customer is because the $99 customers exist to make the route viable. The loads of LCC's have proven that you can have a viable and successful airline without charging $1,000 fares so I agree with his statement.
 
blueflyer
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:56 pm

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):
The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer.

I understand your reasoning, but you are wrong. The $99 traveler may have a much higher importance than the face value of the ticket lets on as you explained, but he isn't worth as much. The $99 passenger will primarily shop based on price, with convenience a secondary concern, and availability of choice seat way down the line (unless he reads this). Airlines will make some efforts, mostly through targeted advertising, to attract this passenger if only because its seat might remain empty thanks to yield management, but they'll do more efforts to attract the bigger ticket passengers because they don't shop merely on price, but put convenience and/or schedule much higher up the list of factors, which makes them more fickle.

With that said, airlines can go ahead and seat all their $99 passengers in the back next to the lavatories, most of them won't notice, care, or even know ahead of time (again, unless they read this), and give the big ticket customer the better seat in the house because he expects more for his ticket (he knows there are people who paid $99 in the back and he wants to believe he is getting more than they are) and because he will switch to another airline that will give him all that he wants even if he pays a little more.
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Cubsrule
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:03 pm

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 23):
and give the big ticket customer the better seat in the house because he expects more for his ticket (he knows there are people who paid $99 in the back and he wants to believe he is getting more than they are) and because he will switch to another airline that will give him all that he wants even if he pays a little more.

I think this is wrong in most cases. On bundled carriers (i.e. legacies), I - and I think many if not most business travelers - buy the cheapest ticket I can in view of when I'm buying and what flexibility I need. I'd gladly pay $10 or $25 or probably even $50 for a good seat (I do it on WN routinely via business select). But most legacies don't give me that option, as by the time I'm buying, the "choice" seats are often full of elites. That's the beauty of WN. No matter how late you buy, you can still pay for a better seat. That's not true a lot of times on legacies.

[Edited 2011-11-03 07:18:17]
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hiflyeras
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:03 pm

I saw the same recently with AA...bought a ticket with the seats to be assigned at the airport. Checked in at the kiosk and it gave me a lousy middle seat. When I requested to change the seat it charged me extra for an aisle or a middle seat. That fee now added to the checked luggage fee and I was handing over an extra $100. I didn't realize I was flying Spirit!
 
mogandoCI
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:16 pm

if i were in that situation, i'd check-in later

the worse case scenario is that i'll get a middle seat - same outcome as early check-in

best case scenario is enough non-elite pax checked-in that all the middle seats are filled and i managed to check-in right before it starts overflowing and go to involuntary standby, then i might score the window/aisle seat

at least UA/CO's treatment is nicer - those non-elites just get seats in the back of the plane - window/middle/aisle - first come, first serve
 
Flighty
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:41 pm

At check-in time hopefully these seats are not blocked. Seems like it is more during advance bookings that this occurs. Your best bet is to check-in early and pick your seat then.
 
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mayor
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:00 pm

Quoting smoot4208 (Reply 8):
That is a spot on analysis. I really hope everyone reads your comment before they post if they disagreement with why airlines are doing this.

They won't, specifically those that think the airlines are a public utility rather than a profit making enterprise  
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ADent
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:29 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 27):
At check-in time hopefully these seats are not blocked. Seems like it is more during advance bookings that this occurs. Your best bet is to check-in early and pick your seat then.

UA's policy was to release the E+ seats 1 hour before departure. On many trips I have gotten a departure management card at the ticket counter, then get assigned a seat (in E+) at the gate 1 hour before.

Many reserved seats did open up on UA at 24 hours before departure (so I could pick a window seat in the last two rows many times), but not the E+ seats.


The $99 flyer is not as important, but the whole airline business is now run as if the whole plane is filled with $99 passengers. I paid $1,200 for a 1,000 mi round trip and still got stuck in E- and no free bags, and no pretzels, etc. And our company doesn't reimburse for premium seating (though they do pay bag fees).
 
rising
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:39 pm

The "like it or leave it" type views expressed above - basically saying the airlines only exist to profit by pampering high-roller Elite members, all the while sticking it to those annoying, non-loyal "$99" fare passengers, by hiding seats, fees, etc.- while fun to read, are thankfully not the reality.

While no doubt, the airlines do and should focus on their premium customers, it's a mistake to ignore those who perhaps don't fly an airline on a weekly basis. As stated above by Tugg, and I have to agree, ALL passengers are important, in different ways. And the airlines know this, that's why most carriers offer an Economy section.

Perhaps some airlines are blocking off more seat assignments in advance than before, but to think they are doing it to rip off consumers or squeeze more out of those pesky non-elites, is quite cynical.

[Edited 2011-11-03 08:45:13]
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ScottB
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:41 pm

Quoting DLPMMM (Reply 2):
If you like that arrangement, just fly WN.

I prefer an assigned seat, so I do not fly WN.

The danger of schemes like this is that the marketing value of an assigned seat is diminished if the only assigned seat you can get is a poor one. For the unwashed masses of passengers without status on one or more carriers, WN will end up providing a better value. I suppose the question is: will non-elite passengers eventually remember that they're always assigned a middle seat in the back when flying DL/AA/UA/US, and will that influence their purchasing behavior?

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000+ ticket

What about the substantial number of leisure/business passengers who buy the $599 fare that is profitable, but not "profitable enough?" There is a real risk of these people simply choosing the competition as the level of service is degraded yet again.

Quoting xdlx (Reply 15):
Free Upgrades has destroyed the F/C offerings in this country, I agree on the marketing value of recognizing the High Rollers. But when it is given out for free.... Nothing for free is appreciated!

Yet before the free upgrades, First Class was wide open on many flights -- so it just ended up filled with a bunch of non-revs. IMO the moves to add ever-higher status levels (like Diamond Medallion on Delta or Global Services on United) have helped to drive passenger loyalty by dangling better chances at upgrades when passengers take more business to a single carrier rather than hitting the top status level on one and then building status on another.

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
When you basically can't even book a seat unless you have status, something is wrong.

Also, I've basically given up on Delta, after thinking I was going to try to build up some miles with them. I'm flying JetBlue all the time now.

That's the danger IMO. When you make the product unattractive enough, customers with less loyalty (but who might still be profitable) will go to the competition.
 
Flighty
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:41 pm

Quoting ADent (Reply 29):

UA's policy was to release the E+ seats 1 hour before departure.

Great to know. Of course if everybody checked in before you, there would be nothing good left. But when people do not know this, there are still good seats available (free) at 1 hour prior. Hopefully the newsapapers don't publicize it too much (but these days they do read a.net).
 
CODCAIAH
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:51 pm

Quoting mayor (Reply 28):
a profit making enterprise

Ha! Profit making enterprises that are heavily subsidized by all levels of government and which have access to wonderful bankruptcy arrangements when they're mismanaged!
CO/IAH-loyalist happily driven into the arms of WN/HOU
 
frmrCapCadet
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:05 pm

Of course this all amounts to a huge hidden increase in prices, and one that is hard to pin down. 'Bags fly Free' is not the only way WN and JetBlue are offering not only more service but far better seats. How about the legacies offering a little more truth in advertising? If they are offering only middle seats in the back of the bus next to the loo, maybe it is time for regulations to require airlines to describe what they are offering when they sell a ticket.
Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
 
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mayor
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:10 pm

Quoting CODCAIAH (Reply 33):
Ha! Profit making enterprises that are heavily subsidized by all levels of government and which have access to wonderful bankruptcy arrangements when they're mismanaged!

Also heavily taxed by all levels of government. As far as bankruptcy is concerned, they are in no different a situation than ANY corporations in this country. They all have access to the bankruptcy procedure. I don't think the airlines WANT to go thru bankruptcy..........many go thru heaven and hell to try to avoid it, but sometimes there are no alternatives. I really don't believe they want to use it as a normal business practice.....at least some don't.


However, when it all comes down to it, they ARE profit making (or supposed to be) enterprises, NOT public utilities.
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RamblinMan
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:26 pm

Quoting DLPMMM (Reply 2):
If you like that arrangement, just fly WN.
Quoting DLPMMM (Reply 2):
That is the beauty of a market economy, different airlines can adjust their models to cater to different market segments.

Book me a WN ticket to SJO, or anywhere within a 3 hour drive for that matter, and I'll give you $1000.
See... I can write smart*ss one-liners too!

Quoting ScottB (Reply 31):
The danger of schemes like this is that the marketing value of an assigned seat is diminished if the only assigned seat you can get is a poor one.

Exactly.

Quoting mayor (Reply 28):
specifically those that think the airlines are a public utility rather than a profit making enterprise

In no way have I ever said airlines are a public utility. But there comes a point when defecting to ULCCs like Spirit makes sense total sense. I'm not sure what a "good" answer would be...no I don't think it would be good business to give full-fare, last-minute pax the "leftover" seats but at the same time you can't market a "full-service" product which is actually identical to NK's.

Quoting rising (Reply 30):
to think they are doing it to rip off consumers or squeeze more out of those pesky non-elites, is quite cynical.

IMO it's quite naive to think they wouldn't do exactly that.
 
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mayor
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:45 pm

Quoting frmrCapCadet (Reply 34):
'Bags fly Free' is not the only way WN and JetBlue are offering not only more service but far better seats.

But someone on WN and B6 is sitting in those middle seats, correct?
"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
 
NWAROOSTER
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:06 pm

Quoting incitatus (Reply 18):

Quoting tugger (Reply 9):
The $99.00 traveler is very much worth just as much as the $1,000.00 corporate elite customer


  
That goes as joke of the day.

The $99.00 seat is of value to any airline when the aircraft leaves the gate. The airline would really like to sell the seat than see it go empty. The airline may prefer to sell the seat in the last few hours before the flight
An empty seat is lost revenue.......   

[Edited 2011-11-03 10:08:32]
Procrastination Is The Theft Of Time.......
 
RamblinMan
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:19 pm

Quoting mayor (Reply 37):
But someone on WN and B6 is sitting in those middle seats, correct?

Oddly enough, pax on WN don't seem to care as much about seating... on many occasions I've seen a woman with kid(s) board in C group, only middle seats left, and others have always moved around to accommodate.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:22 pm

Quoting genybustrvlr (Reply 6):
Nothing wrong IMO. You're not being penalized because you know your travel plans. It's because you're not a significant revenue generator for the airline . The reality is there are far less seats to go around (which means far more elites on each plane to please with a good seat) and airlines are going to make sure the good seats are available to loyal customers. This is good business. Airlines would be foolish not to implement this practice. If you want good seat, pay up or fly more.

When did I say I didn't want to "pay up"? A lot of people here are making an utterly false assumption.

I can absolutely guarantee that I would have been willing to pay *more* for one of those "preferred" seats than any medallion member would have. Flyers with status generally do not pay the highest fares - in fact I'd be surprised if they don't generally pay the lowest fares. For example, when I flew JFK-PDX a couple months ago at the last minute, my ticket cost me more than $1,000. Someone with status would probably pay less, because they can use miles or points and will get auto-upgraded anyway.

So this has nothing to do with "paying up".

Again, I'm talking about basically blocking off the entire plane except for the middle seats. I'm not complaining about the practice of reserving the "best" seats for those with status. I am talking about making it impossible to get anything but a middle seat in economy even if you pay the same some are paying for first class, and even when nearly all of those seats are unoccupied. In essence, this is basically making the entire airline a closed private club. So, fine, I will fly a different airline and pay them my money instead.

Quoting horstroad (Reply 19):
no it´s not. you just payed for the fare. so the carrier can place you whereever he wants. if you wan´t a specific seat, buy it. that´s how the great capitalism works. as an airline CEO you would do the same

You, like many others in this thread, have completely misunderstood the problem.

You don't pay until you've selected a seat. And if I can't select a seat, I don't pay. That's the deal.

I am perfectly willing to pay for a good seat, if one is actually available. Frequent fliers are not asked to pay more for these seats, and frequently pay less than average.

[Edited 2011-11-03 10:29:40]
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incitatus
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:38 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 22):
Why? How many all-business class airlines do you know that are around?
You can't fly a route without those $99 fare customers. The only reason the airline is even getting that $1,000.00 customer is because the $99 customers exist to make the route viable. The loads of LCC's have proven that you can have a viable and successful airline without charging $1,000 fares so I agree with his statement.

Let's go back to second grade:

$99 * 10 = $990

$1000 * 1 = $1000

So ten $99 customers pay about the same as one $1000. No reason to think they are "very much worth just as much". When you pitch in other variables such as marginal cost of carriage and the greater likelihood that the $1000 travels frequently, the scale sways tremendously in favor of the significance of the $1000 customer.

I am unware of any airline that has survived long-term in a competitive environment keeping walk-up fares similar to deeply discounted ones. Southwest's multiple right now is about 3-to-6 x. JetBlue NY-Florida is about 13 x. Your "proof" does not exist. LCCs have used low starting costs to gain market share with lower walk-up fares while making a small profit. Once the labor force slides up the scale, airplanes age, and the operation becomes more complex, they go for extracting value of customers that buy no-advance and are time sensitive.
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RamblinMan
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:47 pm

Quoting incitatus (Reply 41):
Let's go back to second grade:
$99 * 10 = $990
$1000 * 1 = $1000
So ten $99 customers pay about the same as one $1000. No reason to think they are "very much worth just as much".

What he's saying is that it's not as simple as a multiplication problem. If it were, yield management would not be almost an entire science in itself. The airline depends on both the full-fare pax paying high dollar and the lowest-fare pax filling the remaining seats, and everybody in-between.
 
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lightsaber
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:18 pm

Search engines have forever changed the airline model. The value of being the 1st (lowest priced) ticket shown is immense. Thus everything that can be sold a la cart must be. We all use the search engines... Why pretend there are not unintended consequences. The airlines are dependent on selling tickets by having the lowest displayed fare that milli-second. So they put on the fees.

Note: I prefer my work's search engine. That search engine automatically ranks fares on the assumption of one checked bag and an assigned seat already added into the fare.   Ok, it also adds in the department's and corporation's overhead costs too... (The project/customer and myself just see a ticket priced $X on the credit card statement.)

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
It's not at all ridiculous if you understand that an elite-level frequent flyer (or anyone traveling on less restrictive or unrestricted coach fare) booking close to departure is likely to pay big $$$.

When I buy that last minute $1,400 round trip domestic ticket, I *demand* a decent seat. It isn't as if I usually do not have the choice of 2 or 3 airlines. Oh, I always pick the one I prefer... But I'm not going to prefer it if I'm having to wait at the gate to find out my seat. (So I like my employer forcing buying seats and comparing prices based on that.)

Do I like this practice when I'm the $99 tourist?    But I'm two different customers for the alirnes:
1. Premium last minute business travel or
2. Cheap tourist.

I buy loss leader fares on vacation. For my last trip I paid $30 to make sure my family sat in one row together where I wanted to sit which increased the ticket price by 5%.    I'm sure strangers would have accomodated us, but why worry about it? If one doesn't want to pay... keep comparing fares until one is with the airline where the price/service makes the best sense to that individual/family.

Quoting DL747400 (Reply 7):
But the leisure traveler buying the $99 fare does not have the same value to the airline as the big-spending corporate/elite customer buying the $1000+ ticket, or the customer who buys-up into the Premium cabin. Don't get me wrong, every set of revenue-producing cheeks filling an airline seat is important. But not every set of revenue-producing cheeks brings the same value to the business.

Exactly. I know I'm not the profit on vacation. Dang do I expect a little more when I know the airline is making big bucks off me for business. We're trying to cut travel costs... but sometimes the flight will be last minute.

Quoting Mcdu (Reply 21):
But YOU can select a seat. It is just that will cost you $$$ for the privilege. The airlines are created to generate revenue. If you absolutely want that seat you can PAY for it.
Quoting ScottB (Reply 31):
What about the substantial number of leisure/business passengers who buy the $599 fare that is profitable, but not "profitable enough?"

They have a low cost option to pay ~$10 to $20 more. That is better than paying over $1k/seat. We're not talking about doubling the fare, but rather about 3% of the fare. The wear and tear on the car to and from the airport is more than these costs...

Quoting incitatus (Reply 41):
LCCs have used low starting costs to gain market share with lower walk-up fares while making a small profit.

LCCs use advance purchase 'teaser fares' for the free publicity. As the airline ages or routes 'saturate,' that free publicity disapears (it only lasts a short time anyway). Once the airline has to pay for advertising, that has to be included in the fare.  

Lightsaber
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airbazar
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:49 pm

Quoting incitatus (Reply 41):
Let's go back to second grade:
$99 * 10 = $990
$1000 * 1 = $1000

Fortunately it takes more than 2nd grade to run an airline. Your over-simplistic approach does not equal reality.
You need those 10x $99 passengers just as much as the single $1000 passenger or you'll end up in bankrupcy. Some people may argue that the cheap fare passengers are even more important because they're the ones who are more easily poached by the competition.
 
boilerla
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:54 pm

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 23):
I think this is wrong in most cases. On bundled carriers (i.e. legacies), I - and I think many if not most business travelers - buy the cheapest ticket I can in view of when I'm buying and what flexibility I need. I'd gladly pay $10 or $25 or probably even $50 for a good seat (I do it on WN routinely via business select). But most legacies don't give me that option, as by the time I'm buying, the "choice" seats are often full of elites. That's the beauty of WN. No matter how late you buy, you can still pay for a better seat. That's not true a lot of times on legacies.

Not sure I'd agree. The legacies have unbundled even more than WN. If the average WN ticket is $20-$40 more (which it is many times these days), fine. But the legacies let you choose a seat type. If you want a middle seat you pay what you booked. If you want an window or aisle seat, you pay more. If you want a a bulkhead or exit row seat, you pay even more. You want to be seated first, you pay even more. The legacies are the ultimate un-bundlers.

UA doesn't charge extra for aisle or window seats, but at the time of purcahse they ask if you want (all seperaetly)
Extra legroom (E+)
Early boarding
A discounted upgrade to 1st class (when available)
Extra miles

You can also buy any of those at check-in as well, so no matter when you bought you can still upgrade the seat as long as it's available. DL and AA have similar policies.
 
RamblinMan
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:10 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 43):
Some people may argue that the cheap fare passengers are even more important because they're the ones who are more easily poached by the competition.

They're also the ones who can't get their money back...good for the airline, have to pony up $150 to change their ticket...good for the airline, buy weeks or months in advance...good for the airline, and whose bags are not included...good for the airline.

The full-Y passenger can demand his money back at any time and the seat will go empty, could change his flight several times, and doesn't book until the last minute.

So both types of passenger provide a benefit to the airline. With the cheap seats they get modest but guaranteed revenue, and the expectation of some ancillary revenue. With the more expensive seats they get larger, but less regular, revenue. Having a good mix is important.
 
pnqiad
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:21 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 43):
Fortunately it takes more than 2nd grade to run an airline. Your over-simplistic approach does not equal reality.
You need those 10x $99 passengers just as much as the single $1000 passenger or you'll end up in bankrupcy. Some people may argue that the cheap fare passengers are even more important because they're the ones who are more easily poached by the competition.

Absolutely. I have time and again heard the theory from arm-chair pundits how premium fare pax (let's assume full Y + F and J collectively are the same) usually subsidize the discount fare pax. I personally believe this theory is non-sense because if an airline was "losing" money on each of these deeply discounted fares - why would they bother to sell a single seat at "losing" money price? Would you rather not fly only with "premium" fare paying seats so you are only making money? As someone mentioned earlier - there would be no $1000 fares without ten $99 fares - demand and supply...simple as that.
 
airbazar
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:38 pm

Quoting RamblinMan (Reply 45):
They're also the ones who can't get their money back...good for the airline, have to pony up $150 to change their ticket...good for the airline, buy weeks or months in advance...good for the airline, and whose bags are not included...good for the airline.

That's shortsighted. I was referring to losing the customer even before the ticket is bought. That's not good for any airline. Price sensitive customers have very little incentive to pick anything more than the cheapeast fare available, meaning an airline can lose a customer by as little as 50 cents. With some airlines barely breaking even on so many routes, losing any customer could mean the difference between surviving or going belly up.
 
EDICHC
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:40 pm

Quoting Mcdu (Reply 20):
See above. Those seats can be yours if you really want them. If it is not important to you then don't pay the fees and just complain about them.

But we're not looking for specific seats, just to be able to sit together. Not an unreasonable expectation when you book early and check-in early. Thankfully this has never been a problem on the carriers I regularly fly.
A300/319/320/346 ATR72 B722/732/3/4/5/6/8/742/4/752/762/3/772/3 BAC111 BAe146 C172 DHC1/6/8 HS121 MD80 PA28
 
catiii
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RE: Airlines Hiding Seats To Push Pax To Premium Seats

Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:30 pm

Quoting CODCAIAH (Reply 32):
that are heavily subsidized by all levels of government
Quoting mayor (Reply 34):
Also heavily taxed by all levels of government.

I agree with Mayor. Show me how they are "heavily subsidized by all levels of government?"

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