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JonathanRP
Topic Author
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:38 pm

Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:08 pm

I've always wondered what happens when aircraft are subbed at the last minute, due to technical or whatever issue - what happens to existing seat allocations, especially if the aircraft have very different layouts or capacities?

I was supposed to fly a VS 744 back from JFK to LHR in 2014, but due to an engine fault they flew an A346 in, and off we went, 6 hours late. I didn't book the flights (my Dad did) so I didn't know about seat allocations, but what would happen normally?

What if you had paid for a preferred seat? What if the seats/product are an older (or newer) version on the replacement aircraft?
 
JonathanRP
Topic Author
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:38 pm

Re: Aircraft substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:08 pm

JonathanRP wrote:
I've always wondered what happens when aircraft are subbed at the last minute, due to technical or whatever issue - what happens to existing seat allocations, especially if the aircraft have very different layouts or capacities?

I was supposed to fly a VS 744 back from JFK to LHR in 2014, but due to an engine fault they flew an A346 in, and off we went, 6 hours late. I didn't book the flights (my Dad did) so I didn't know about seat allocations, but what would happen normally?

What if you had paid for a preferred seat? What if the seats/product are an older (or newer) version on the replacement aircraft?
 
blueflyer
Posts: 4352
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:17 am

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:42 pm

Airlines don't proactively issue refunds if a swap occuring after a reservation is made results in a change in seat design/comfort, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If a passenger has paid for a certain type of seat (e.g. emergency exit seating, premium economy...) and they do not get that seat after the swap, a refund will be issued.

As to seat allocations in general, the answer depends in part on how late the substitution is. If it truly is a last-minute substitution, odds are gate agents will handle any re-allocation necessary for passengers with confirmed seats that no longer exist, and they will assign any open seat available, the ultimate goal being leaving as close to on-time as possible.
 
JonathanRP
Topic Author
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:38 pm

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:27 am

blueflyer wrote:
Airlines don't proactively issue refunds if a swap occuring after a reservation is made results in a change in seat design/comfort, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If a passenger has paid for a certain type of seat (e.g. emergency exit seating, premium economy...) and they do not get that seat after the swap, a refund will be issued.

As to seat allocations in general, the answer depends in part on how late the substitution is. If it truly is a last-minute substitution, odds are gate agents will handle any re-allocation necessary for passengers with confirmed seats that no longer exist, and they will assign any open seat available, the ultimate goal being leaving as close to on-time as possible.


Ah okay, thanks for that insight!
 
hoons90
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Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 10:15 pm

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:00 am

I flew on CX434 HKG-ICN (in business) last year, and selected seat 18K on the 3-class 77W at the time of booking. A few days before departure, it was swapped to a long haul configured 333 with the same type of reverse herringbone seats, and I still got my original assignment of 18K. I guess I was lucky that both seat numbers exist on two different types, otherwise who knows where I would have been allocated.

Wouldn't have been a happy camper if the equipment was swapped to an older plane with recliner seats.
 
Yflyer
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:35 am

United numbers the rows on their narrowbodies such that Economy Plus always starts at row 7, the first exit row is always row 20, and then the rest of Economy increments from there. So they can sub any narrowbody for any other narrowbody and the people who paid for Economy Plus will still be in Economy plus and they people who paid for an exit row will still be in an exit row. The only problem would be when a smaller plane replaces a larger plane, and some people find that their assigned seat no longer exists.
 
debonair
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:53 am

Big disappointment with QATAR - downgrade from A380 to B777. QATAR didn't care about the passengers, what a mess. Couples were split around the cabin, passenger with a window assigned ended up at the center aisle seats etc.!
 
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CrimsonNL
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Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:34 pm

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:20 pm

Last minute changes are always fun for the gate agents.. Not. Say you have an A319 that will switch to an A321. Often it will mean that all original seat assignments will stay the same. But as the 321 is much longer it can mean that the entire aft cabin of the 321 will be empty causing balance problems. Other times when it's say an A320 that gets changed to a Fokker 100 and there will be lots and lots of boarding cards that have to be re-printed. Especially in these days where everyone checks in at home.

Martijn
 
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vhtje
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:07 pm

Is there not verbiage in the Conditions of Carriage of most carriers' tickets that state, in effect, seats and paid class are not guaranteed?

For example, in BA's Conditions of Carriage, it states:

British Airways wrote:
5e) Seating
5e1) We will try to honour advance seating requests.

5e2) We cannot guarantee that you will be able to sit in any particular seat.

5e3) We can change your seat at any time, even after you have boarded the aircraft, as we may need to do this for operational, safety or security reasons.


See http://www.britishairways.com/en-us/inf ... -carriage#

So, in other words... you may request and even pay for a specific seat but BA are not bound to provide that seat.

My partner once paid for a specific WTP seat but a last-minute aircraft substitution and change from a Mid-J to a Low-J configured 744 meant that he was not assigned his paid seat. BA did not automatically refund him; a phone call to the BAEC resulted in being directed to a inordinately complex and arduous refund request process. For £40 (or whatever it was) it was not worth it.
 
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ojjunior
Posts: 1041
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:48 am

Had this with KL at AMS to GRU which changed from 77W to 772, had bought Premium Economy and luckily I got upgraded, no complaints at all!
:)
 
Scinfaxi
Posts: 17
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:17 am

We've had a few changes from Q400s to E75s or E95s and vice versa (all Y seating) so 78/88/118 seats. The system, when you ship assign, automatically reaccommodates checked in passengers to the same seat (unless the new seat is an emergency exit row when it wasn't on previous aircraft). I'd refund an advanced seat assignment if I had to move for trim on new aircraft, but not for aircraft change in general where for example seat 6D doesn't exist because it's now 6F or similar.

We once had a Q400 change to ATR72-200. Q400 obviously boarding through front doors and ATR72 boarding through a rear door. A businessman decided he needed a refund for his seat 3D which he had chosen on the Q400....only he had seat 3D on the ATR so the seat was the same number. He said "I chose 3D to be sat near the front!!!!" I told him he was still sat at the front....only he'd have to walk the entire length of the cabin to get there unless he wanted a boost into the FWD cargo hold :D
 
davescj
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:46 am

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:01 am

It also depends what method you used to pay if you've an upgrade. If you had a complimentary upgrade, it could be lost. On DL, they advise if you accept a lower class of service than purchased, you will not get a refund. Which can put you in the situation of paying for J and sitting in Y(though I suspect that is pretty rare).
 
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KLMatSJC
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Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:16 am

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:27 am

debonair wrote:
Big disappointment with QATAR - downgrade from A380 to B777. QATAR didn't care about the passengers, what a mess. Couples were split around the cabin, passenger with a window assigned ended up at the center aisle seats etc.!


I had a QR flight downgrade from a 77L to a 788 a few days before the flight. QR knocked off all the seat assignments and I chose mine from essentially an empty plane. I'm guessing everyone got their assignments at check-in.
 
AR385
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2003 8:25 am

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:01 pm

This happened to me in 1993. Things may be different now. I was flying an SR MD-80 ZRH-MAD and the plane went tech. They immediately brought an A310-300 configured for long-haul (No complaints here :) ) They said at the gate that all seat assignments were void and to seat wherever we fancied in the respective class people had paid. Of course, F was closed. I sat towards the very back of the aircraft and had a Spanish businessman come to me and angrily demand I move as I was "occupying HIS seat," I ignored him.
 
Danny319
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Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:48 am

Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:44 am

This happened to me two weeks ago on a trip from Shanghai to Singapore.

Was not overly fussed as I was allocated the same seat which I pre booked months ago - 52K but on a 777-300ER rather than the A330 I was booked on. It was a short sector but I did wonder how often it happens, what happened to the original A330 crew and how the crew rotation would work on the 777 if it was a last minute substitution. By that I mean, are there standby crews and aircraft for this type of thing?
 
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longhauler
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:53 am

I think one of the funniest things I witnessed, was when a B767 was reassigned with an A321 on a transcon flight. I was standing at the gate when an obese passenger came to the agent for his reassignment. He had purchased two Y seats together for his (and someone else's) comfort.

"I'm awfully sorry Mr. X, we don't have two seats together, your new seats are 22A and 27C."

He looked at me, and the two of us burst out laughing. (It got sorted out).
 
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garpd
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:52 am

I was booked onto AA90 from DFW to LHR in September this year. About 25 minute before boarding the pilots detected a fault in the radios which grounded the aircraft. Luckily another AA 777 was at the gate beside it and was not scheduled to fly anywhere, so they switched us over to that one. The problem was that it was a domestic configured aircraft with a different seat configuration to the international configured one. This meant re-allocating the seating while ramp rats refuelled the aircraft and moved the cargo and luggage from the grounded plane to the hastily requisitioned replacement.

Utter chaos is all I can say to it. The re-allocating of seating took the better part of 2 hours. I kid you not.
There appeared to be no system in place and people seemed to get re-allocated in a "first to the post" manner.

I went from first row of Main Cabin Extra to the second to last row of economy. Meanwhile, people who were in economy got re-seated up in business class seats (but received economy service). I was very, very annoyed at this.
 
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Polot
Posts: 12096
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Re: Aircraft are substituted last-minute, seat allocations?

Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:06 pm

garpd wrote:
The problem was that it was a domestic configured aircraft with a different seat configuration to the international configured one. This meant re-allocating the seating while ramp rats refuelled the aircraft and moved the cargo and luggage from the grounded plane to the hastily requisitioned replacement.

AA doesn't have any domestic 777s (you are thinking of UA), you switched from one of the newly configured 777s to one of the older ones (or vice versa).


Anyways the only switch I have experienced was a last minute change from a 734 to a A319 on US a couple of years ago due to maintenance issues with the 734. Everyone kept their seat assignments and the unlucky people in the last 3 or so rows of economy that no longer exist were placed on standby. I heard one of the agents mention that they got enough volunteers to get everyone in the standby list who wanted to fly on the flight onboard though, fortunately we were in CLT and not an outstation so there were more options available.

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