This week we look at the dynamics of check in and getting the right seat. A passenger is presented with many options when traveling in Economy class, but there seems to be a fewer options when travelling in Business class.

Despite the hefty cost of Business class travel, one of our members discovers that’s no guarantee you will sit with your wife.

Flying to Vancouver on Air Canada, I was on their online check in site as soon as it opened 24 hours before the flight. Flying their Business Class I find my wife and I were allocated seats 4 rows apart and when I attempted to change that there were only 3 seats in a 42 seat business class section available. All other seats were “not available”. How do the other seats get taken when check in is only just opened? Is it agents making pre-check in requests or something similar? And as the booking has been in their system since December and we are both on one booking, surely an initial allocation should have been done with us sitting together.

Seat selection is now done well before check in. For most airlines, the option of seat selection is available at the time of booking. Many airlines charge Economy passengers for this privilege, but its usually free for Business class passengers. However, it might be up to your travel agent to do it on your behalf. With high-status passengers selecting the best seats as soon as they can, it’s always possible that few options will be available at check in time. This seems to be the case here. Perhaps it was a case of the agent being keen for the money, without providing the service.

IMHO that’s pretty poor on the TA’s part as it’s something they should have done for you without you even asking. It would’ve only taken them 30 seconds to do. I doubt the AC call centre can do anything at this late stage as the flight would be under airport control by now.

Once check in opens, be it online or at the airport, the booking is locked for control by the airport. With our member separated from his wife at the time of online check in, it’s suggested perhaps things will sort themselves out when the bags are dropped off. This is usually the case when flights are not full, as often the better seats that are reserved for potential last-minute premium passengers are released at this time. Sadly, it seems it’s too late to make changes for the first leg.

Checking staff were not able to do anything as the flight is full. I did manage to preselect for flight back in 3 weeks after learning here that I could. Thanks to all for the good replies. TA will get a rocket when we get back.

Airline systems have evolved over time. Checking in does not necessarily ensure a good seat. If you have not taken advantage of seat pre-selection, you may well find your options limited when you check in. Have you been lucky at check in, or for you is it merely a confirmation of preferences already communicated? Follow the discussion HERE.

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