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COMPLAINT: Seat assignment policy?

 
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  #1  
Old Apr 7, 2008, 5:01 PM
Emichelson Emichelson is offline
 
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My wife and I were recently treated to American Airlines brand of hospitality and CS when we traveled POSITIVE SPACE from SAN-DFW-MIA. Sometime enroute between SAN-DFW someone, somewhere decided to change our preassigned seats together to more that 20 rows apart! As we boarded our connecting flight to MIA, the boarding agent noticed the seating change in the computer, but said "sorry, but she was "helpless" in correcting the change back to the original seating we had, but encouraged us to "beg" other passengers to move around to accomodate us once on the plane. Huh? Unbelievably embarrassing, especially since my wife is an American frequent business flyer. Then to add insult to injury, on our return flights, an agent in MIA refused to assign us seats at all even though we were at the gate 1 hour before departure! She just ****** our tickets from our hands and snapped that she will call us. Uh-Okay? Our multiple pleas to ask for our boarding passes/seat assignments were met with apathy and indifference. A quick trip to the "American Airlines Customer Service Information Desk" nearby the gate proved to be a fruitless adventure also, with no reasonable explanation offered defending the behavior by the gate agent in question. Then, once she commenced boarding, just my wife was assigned a seat while I was apparently forgotten in the last minute mad dash to seat a now over-booked flight. I had to now wait and watch while everyone else got seat assignments, then I was thrown in a seat 20 rows again away from my wife! Just like getting treated when I non-rev but I paid for this! So much for the "get to the gate early if you want to sit together" theory. I see why so many of us are ashamed of our own industry these days. All this seating debacle was in addition to a 5 hour aircraft maintenance delay due to a last minute MD-80 fleet grounding for missed maintenance paperwork deadlines, a 30 minute delay waiting for a gate to open up in DFW (I think half that flight missed their connections), then, a 2 hour gate delay in DFW on our last leg home because no flight crew available! (understaffing issues anyone?) A total of 7.5 hour s of delays accumulated by my count. All preventable had due diligence and anticipation been used. What a frustrating, stressful experience to go through for a simple domestic trip! Is this really the best the airlines can do anymore? If we don't speak up about these issues, even as a fellow airline employees, whom I happen to be, and who understand how things are supposed to work, how are things ever going to improve for anyone. I guess I'll just go back to nonreving -at least I can expect the abuse without having to pay for it first!

Capt. E. Michelson
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  #2  
Old Apr 10, 2008, 5:39 PM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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As agents, we cannot go in and change seats, if the seat is not available.
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  #3  
Old Apr 10, 2008, 7:58 PM
Emichelson Emichelson is offline
 
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The funny thing is, we had seat assigments together already shown on our boarding passes for that flight segment, and then they were changed in DFW. Even the agent there couldn't understand why that happened. The other instance was the fact that they wouldn't even seat us together on a flight when it was obvious that many single travelers were being accomodated and assigned seats as we watched eventhough we were at the gate an hour early and after pleading with a ticket counter agent before that to help us get seats together. You can hide behind any policy you want, but that's just looks bad for bad for customer service, and isn't that what business the Airlines are supposed to be about?
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  #4  
Old Apr 10, 2008, 9:10 PM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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I have a question, out of curiosity. Were you a "non-rev" passenger? When you say "positive space", that is what it implies, to me. In other words, you didn't pay for your ticket, but were being flown somewhere by American, or by another company that has an agreement with American, to send their employees on American, positive space, but as a "non-rev" - meaning, they don't have to pay. I assume you are a pilot, hence signing your complaint, "Captain", and were being positioned, possibly, by your company, or American, to some location. For example, when you go for an interview for American, or travel for business, for an Airline, they will "positive space" you, to get you there. Some corporate flight departments, charter airlines, and fractional airlines, have agreements to positive space their employees, on airlines, to position them to certain locations, when needed.

IF the above is true, than this may be why your seat was changed. The airline is going to cater toward revenue customers, before non revenue customers, whether they are positive space, or not. Positive space means that you are guaranteed space/seat on the airplane, but not a specific seat. As an airline employee, I non-rev all of the time, and that is just part of the deal. As a non-rev, you get the short end of the stick, most of the time. It may have been that someone, maybe husband and wife, as well, were trying to sit together, and they saw two positive space (non-rev) passengers on the flight, and moved one (your wife) to allow the paying customers to sit together.

As far as hiding behind a policy. People like to say that when an agent says they can, or cannot do something. The fact is, I am an employee of an airline (not American), and as an employee I have to uphold the policies that I am told. If I don't, I lose my job, like anybody, in any business. BUT, the seat change thing is really not a policy. The computer system my airline uses, will literally not allow an agent to put a passenger into a seat that is already assigned. I've worked for two airlines, and it was the same for both, and I assume for all airlines, as well. I can move people around, such as remove someone from one seat, to another, so I can put you into that seat, but that is where policy comes into play. I can't just start moving people, without cause, unless I am moving a "non-rev" passenger, to accomodate a revenue passenger.

I could be wrong about what you mean by "positive space", in your circumstance, but that is a term in the airline industry to mean that you are a non-revenue customer, who is guaranteed space on the airplane, BUT, not a specific seat. In fact, in most cases, positive space doesn't guarantee you space on a specific flight, just that you are guaranteed space on a flight, by the last flight of the day.
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  #5  
Old Aug 14, 2008, 8:59 PM
Eagleguy Eagleguy is offline
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Emichelson, if you did want to see what happened to your seats then you need to go into your PNR and do *H and that will tell you who did what and at what time. But, after reading a lot of these complaints about American I want to know who the heck we have hired?! So many of these situations I could have fixed myself. Or at least have the courage to override the system and later on explain to my boss the reason why I did it. Just this morning, one of my flights that I dispatched as a gate agent came right back to the gate and was going to be delayed. As everyone was deplaning I had already rebooked them for the next flight leaving in 30 minutes and had their boarding passes waiting for when they came to me. I even took the time to make sure that one couple had seats together on their new flights. Granted I was in an ideal situation where we had enough seats available. Maybe I should come down to DFW or ORD and show them a thing or two. Actually as a funny story, I was non-revving to LAX and was way down on the list. So I asked the gate agent to transfer my listing to a flight to SNA. She just looked at me and actually said, "You're not on this standby list." I responded, "Yes I am" "What's your name again?" "XXXX" "No, I don't see you" So I walked over to another gate that was not occupied and pulled up the standby list and walked back to her and said, "I'm number 34". Still not knowing what I was asking I told her the entry! [email protected] flight number. Still couldn't get it to work. I finally just said, "Will you PLEASE let me do it myself!" You'd think at the hubs at least they would know their jobs. They do it for 8 hours a day non stop flight after flight after flight.
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  #6  
Old Sep 29, 2008, 4:44 AM
airhead airhead is offline
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Eagleguy: Many of us are not properly trained and many more of us do not have the experience. Some managers do not see it it fit to spend the money to train us. The computer simulated training is a joke because more than half of the command entries are incorrect or outdated and one has to continually stop in the middle of a lesson to help a passenger. Hardly a training session worthy of competent agents.

Under these circumstances I can see why so many employees quit under such stress. Leaving room for more new hires to start the cycle over again.
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  #7  
Old Jun 16, 2010, 9:46 PM
richjoe richjoe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Emichelson View Post
The funny thing is, we had seat assigments together already shown on our boarding passes for that flight segment, and then they were changed in DFW. Even the agent there couldn't understand why that happened. The other instance was the fact that they wouldn't even seat us together on a flight when it was obvious that many single travelers were being accomodated and assigned seats as we watched eventhough we were at the gate an hour early and after pleading with a ticket counter agent before that to help us get seats together. You can hide behind any policy you want, but that's just looks bad for bad for customer service, and isn't that what business the Airlines are supposed to be about?
A gate agent can see who made the seat change in the reservation; the gate agent just had to take the time to look in the reservation as it IDs the employee making the change.
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  #8  
Old Jun 18, 2010, 4:38 AM
airhead airhead is offline
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A properly trained agent can indeed look up who made what changes. But can an agent who who has no traning left alone at the ticket counter with no coworkers at a small airport do it? Any suggestions to help other agents who are left in the cold Richjoe? Have you worked for an airline and did they train you? Are you fimiliar with SABRE and the long form command entries under stress with no traning?
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  #9  
Old Jun 18, 2010, 3:10 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
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Positive Space seating usually is something provided for employees and families. It means they cannot get bumped from the flight just like they were a full rev fare.

Now, that might only mean they are guaranteed a seat, but not necessarily where. Depends on the airline.
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  #10  
Old Jun 11, 2012, 10:54 PM
GypsyFlyer GypsyFlyer is offline
 
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I had a comparable experience this past weekend (regarding seat assignments on American Airlines) on a flight from Birmingham to Dallas and back. I had had my reservations for a month. When I went to choose a seat, only one showed as available, so I picked it, though it was in between the aisle and window at the back of the plane. When I got on the plane, the aisle seat next to me was empty, as was the entire row of 3 seats behind me. Why, I wonder did those not show up when I went to pick my seat—was it because AA wanted me to pay $14 for “preferred seating”?
On the return trip, things were worse. I arrived at the airport 5 hours ahead of flight time, but the kiosk would not issue a boarding pass or seat assignment, only a piece of paper that said to check on seating at the gate. So, I went there, but no agent showed up until 40 minutes before the flight. The agent said she could not give me a seat assignment yet; she had to “change some other seating.” I waited nervously, talked to several others in the same situation. We went back to the counter; the agent again said she could not yet seat us. I said I had had reservations for a month, why the delay? She was, as emichelson said, indifferent and apathetic, even contemptuous. She would not look us in the eye. This game continued until time for the flight to depart. Then suddenly she called us and gave us seats. I found this whole situation incredibly and unnecessarily stressful because there was no explanation and no assurance that our tickets would in fact be honored. Why is this??? American Airlines can consider me an unhappy customer who plans to spread the word.
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