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Answered Virgin Platinum seat selection on Etihad

Stealthflyer

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After reading this post, I tried to find some more information about Etihad's seat selection fees but also found this info lacking.

For those with upcoming Etihad Y bookings, could you perhaps post a screenshot (or just a list) here please of what the airline is asking in seat selection fees for each leg and different seat type? I would be interested to know exactly what these fees are, and I'm sure others would be too.
My upcoming flights MEL - AUH and AUH- MXP:

MEL-AUH
“Standard seats” rows 17- 23: A$242.10
24-26: $66
27-45: $44
Exit row 31: $242.10

AUH -MXP:
“Standard seats” rows 17- 23: A$168.70
24-26: $51.40
27-45: $22
Exit row 31: $168.70

Until your request, Matt, I had clicked on the most expensive standard seat and assumed by the name that it was the price of all standard seats. It seems that the top tier of standard seats is the equivalent of SQ’s forward seat. Still, $242.10 just to be further towards the front!
3B0E1A8F-1FF2-4DFA-A0F3-1ACF8773DD1B.png C2C32D19-2CF6-4C61-9BF1-52EB70275294.png
 

Stealthflyer

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This seat selection thing is driving me insane. I set my alarm for the max online check in time this morning so that I could select seats. Etihad sent me an email saying “check in now”, even though I know that I can’t because my first leg is operated by Virgin. I was super motivated to change the seats because they inexplicably selected terrible ones for me last night. The ones on the third leg -42A and 42B - are possibly the worst conjoined seats I could think of: a window and middle seat on the second to last row that’s missing a window. I couldn’t change them for free, even though check in had been announced so I rang the customer service line (on a side note, there was no wait! It was amazing) and they said they could change the middle seats on the second leg to my preferred aisle, but that check in for the third leg hadn’t opened yet so if I want to change it it would incur a cost. I know on other carriers seat selection for all the flights is free at the point of first flight check in, so it’s annoying to have to log on multiple times.

Do you think they faux “assign” people the worst seats on the plane in order to get people to panic buy better ones?

It’s made me feel some affection for VA because they auto assigned me an economy x aisle.

Edit: I know this sounds like a bit of a first world problem rant, but I have a bad back and have to stand every hour (drs instructions) and so I get nervous about not being on the aisle.
 
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klm597

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This seat selection thing is driving me insane. I set my alarm for the max online check in time this morning so that I could select seats. Etihad sent me an email saying “check in now”, even though I know that I can’t because my first leg is operated by Virgin. I was super motivated to change the seats because they inexplicably selected terrible ones for me last night. The ones on the third leg -42A and 42B - are possibly the worst conjoined seats I could think of: a window and middle seat on the second to last row that’s missing a window. I couldn’t change them for free, even though check in had been announced so I rang the customer service line (on a side note, there was no wait! It was amazing) and they said they could change the middle seats on the second leg to my preferred aisle, but that check in for the third leg hadn’t opened yet so if I want to change it it would incur a cost. I know on other carriers seat selection for all the flights is free at the point of first flight check in, so it’s annoying to have to log on multiple times.

Do you think they faux “assign” people the worst seats on the plane in order to get people to panic buy better ones?
Sorry to hear you couldn't select seats online after the check-in window opens but I'm glad to hear you could do it via a call.

Very surprised they couldn't / wouldn't do the same for the later legs in the same journey, I would have pushed a little on that front. I could definitely select seats for the 2nd leg of a journey (with a departure time of more than 30 hours away) during the online check-in process. Did you end up calling again within the 30-hour window for your second Etihad flight to select seats?

I doubt they faux assign terrible seats deliberately. I observed on Expert Flyer their system always tried to evenly spread the automatic seat assignments across the entire cabin - so someone always has to end up down the very back! I was always automatically allocated a middle or aisle seat halfway down the aircraft for my flights which I quickly changed to a window which I prefer. :cool:
 

Must...Fly!

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I'm flying on Sunday with Etihad, will report back on my experiences. There is on way known I'm paying their ridiculous fees for selecting a seat as a Platinum.

VA really need to work with EY to extend this benefit to VA elites. I have confirmed with Etihad this benefit applies only to Etihad Guest members.
 

Thibault

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I'm flying on Sunday with Etihad, will report back on my experiences. There is on way known I'm paying their ridiculous fees for selecting a seat as a Platinum.

VA really need to work with EY to extend this benefit to VA elites. I have confirmed with Etihad this benefit applies only to Etihad Guest members.
If you can’t choose your seat online - just get the correct EY PNR and call to get the correct seat assigned as soon as it is 30h before the flight.

i had to call as my first flight on my EY PNR was a EY codeshare on VA and therefore could not choose my seat.
Had the same case when I had a VA PNR on EY - just call Etihad they are pretty helpful !

I do agree that the charges are outrageous.
I would also appreciate priority seating for EY gold on VA !

EDIT

I must agree that the auto assignment is a bit odd - they show the cabin as totally full however when I flew them back from Europe to Australia - the first leg was totally full however the AUH - BNE was showing as full but in real the flight was totally empty (I moved myself to a Economic Space seat and had the full row for myself!)
 
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Must...Fly!

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A little story of my experience that might help others know what to expect...48 hours before each flight a seat assignment has appeared in EY MMB.

I've been given 26A and 23G, both of which appear to be standard economy seats. Not sure if status has played any role here, but I certainly could have been placed much further back or forward. I am travelling solo.

Online check in has just opened, and my goal was to remove myself from 26A if possible, as I really like to walk and stretch at least every 2 hours on the aircraft being 6'5", I'm usually happy in economy (or more accurately too tight to pay for business!). Bang on 30 hours before the flight I accessed OLCI and changed to 26D without fuss.

However the second flight, apparently being more than 30 hours away, could not be changed without attracting the seat selection fee. So you need to come back 30 hours before each EY sector to change your seat for free. The system also wouldn't allow OLCI for my connecting leg on KLM.

My online boarding passes do show my VA status at Platinum. I wondered if doing OLCI would trigger something different in the seat map, as the furthest row forward I could select is row 26 (15-25 show as unavailable). After going back in again it made no difference at all.
 

Stealthflyer

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Having now completed the outward flights, I’m no wiser about Etihad’s seat selection process. It turned out that I could select a seat online for the third leg once that leg was open for check in, but only the ones not designated as “space seats”. Considering most of the front half of the Y cabin are space seats (and yes, they do seem to have a little more room, but not enough to rationalise the charges), it left me with few options. I would have thought they’d open up all these seats for seat selection at this point. I don’t know if the system registered me as a partner platinum either, or if that would have made a difference even if it did.

On the second leg - MEL to AUH - I was placed in a row of three space seats with my travelling partner, meaning we had an extra seat between us. It wasn’t a full flight, so most of this section had a middle seat free. Because we were assigned the two aisle seats, I can only assume the woman on the telephone had done this deliberately. I was very grateful.

Because I had only been able to choose non-space seats online for the third leg, I’d chosen an aisle and a middle in the middle section. But I’m greedy: I wanted a spare between us. I knew the load was low for this third leg so on arriving in Abu Dhabi, I decided to ask the staff in the 1st class lounge if we could move into a space row with a spare seat. They checked and came back to me “there are many spare seats, but only middle seats. There are also space seats but we have to charge you extra. We can not unlock the seats without payment.” (I thanked her anyway and tucked into my lounge duck and champagne)

It seems extraordinary that lounge staff don’t have the capacity to assign seats on a low-load flight to a partner platinum member. And yet it seems that the woman in the call centre could do so. Considering so much of the Y cabin is taken up with these unremarkable space seats, it seems bizarre that they’d continue to block them at the late stage of two hours until take off.

When we boarded the third leg, the guy sitting on the edge of our row of three was cross that everyone else had a middle seat free, and pounced on a free seat up in the space section before we even took off (our gain too!). There was lots of movement like this around the cabin before we’d taken off. The exit row and bulk head seats remained mostly empty with “reserved” signs on them. Only a few people coughed up the hundreds of dollars to sit in these seats, and Etihad is not giving anything away for free apparently. The FAs pounced on anyone even considering moving to those seats.

My game plan for my return journey is to ring the Australian call centre for seat allocation when I online check in opens. At this stage they seem to have more power than other staff to allocate seats. But this first experience of Etihad seating allocation has been very contradictory and disorganised, so I’m not holding my breath.
 

Must...Fly!

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It would seem to pay off to keep checking via EY OLCI, I just happened to be able to select Row 16 for my second flight (which is the second row of economy).

Whether this is a status based thing or not, I have no idea. Also not sure if it's an economy space seat, but i don't think so.
 

Stealthflyer

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It would seem to pay off to keep checking via EY OLCI, I just happened to be able to select Row 16 for my second flight (which is the second row of economy).

Whether this is a status based thing or not, I have no idea. Also not sure if it's an economy space seat, but i don't think so.
Maybe it’s the type of plane or flight distance? I could only choose 16 if I paid a fee. I flew a 789 each leg. What’s yours?
 

Must...Fly!

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Maybe it’s the type of plane or flight distance? I could only choose 16 if I paid a fee. I flew a 789 each leg. What’s yours?
789 as well. I can't figure out if they have a sub-fleet of 789s used for shorter routes without the space seats. Certainly it's not being sold as such (tried a new dummy booking). Anyway I'll take being further to the front as I have a tight connection once in Europe.
 

jase05

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Is there an opening date for the new AUH Airport yet?
Still no update although it sounds like they are doing trials with staff currently in preparation. Doesn’t look like any of the decent airlines will move into it this year though unfortunately
 

Must...Fly!

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Is there an opening date for the new AUH Airport yet?
They're still installing bridges round the other side from the current terminal, I think it's probably still a year off. Will be cool to see it open though, it's amazing they've made do with the current digs really even taking in to account the reduced EY flying
 

Stealthflyer

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Just took my return flights. No preferential seating. Customers still aren’t coughing up for the expensive bulkhead and exit rows, so they all sat empty with “reserved” signs, while we were all sardined into the regular seats. You’d think they’d assign people to those seats when the cabin is otherwise full!

Needless to say, it was nice to get to my final leg - a domestic VA flight - where I was seated in my favourite 3A.

One thing that may interest other VA status holders is that we were given access to the Air Italia lounge at MXP, even though we were VA WP flying on EY. I assumed we would only be granted access to EY or VA lounges only.
 

henrus

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One thing that may interest other VA status holders is that we were given access to the Air Italia lounge at MXP, even though we were VA WP flying on EY. I assumed we would only be granted access to EY or VA lounges only.
This has always been a unique benefit of the VA/EY partnership. EY contract lounges when flying EY are all accessible for VA Gold/Platinum's. There was a time when Etihad was flying out of Perth and used the Qantas International Business lounge as their contract lounge, meaning velocity gold/platinum got access to the Qantas lounge but only when flying EY.
 

Stealthflyer

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This has always been a unique benefit of the VA/EY partnership. EY contract lounges when flying EY are all accessible for VA Gold/Platinum's. There was a time when Etihad was flying out of Perth and used the Qantas International Business lounge as their contract lounge, meaning velocity gold/platinum got access to the Qantas lounge but only when flying EY.
Just when I thought the lounge access rules for VA status holders couldn’t get more complicated! Thanks for your explanation.
 

Must...Fly!

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The Alitalia lounge in MXP is a good spot to hang out!

Same experience for me, space seats all empty. Given the price, it's little wonder.
 

klm597

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Seems like we've all had the same experiences with the bulkhead economy rows always going out empty on Etihad.

Just when I thought the lounge access rules for VA status holders couldn’t get more complicated!
At least this time it is more complicated in our favour! I can only dream of the day when VA status holders receive third-party lounge access when travelling with their other partners and not just with Etihad.
 
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