How does American Airlines assign seats?


Old May 28, 10, 1:34 pm
#1
Original Poster

Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 546
How does American Airlines assign seats?

I have a flight tomorrow to Honolulu so I login early - 24hrs prior now to check in, I try to select my seats and there is only 1 seat showing as available in the entire plane and it's a middle seat Prior to this I could not select a seat as it said "seat cannot be selected prior to check in".

I called AA and asked them why there are no seats showing as available in the entire plan this early out and they told me that I should go to the airport early to swap the seat with a window/aisle because almost all the seat allotments are reserved to be assigned at the airport.

Is this some kind of new system? I have flown AA before and was able to choose from various seats.

What is the point of online checkin if all the seat assignments are done at the airport? I don't understand this logic.

Strangely my return flight already has a window seat assigned, it's only my outbound flight that was in a "Seat unassigned" state. I booked this flight a month and a half in advance so it's not last minute.
k374 is offline
Old May 28, 10, 2:55 pm
#2
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this is another perk for AA elites. all seats are to be picked over by elites. you no elite, you dirt. all carry on storage is reserved for elites. they get on first they carry however much they want onboard. your stuff gets gate checked, even if you have medical emergency stuff in it. you no elite, you dirt. i quite flying AA, because i am not an elite.

the GA's control the baggage. first 60 people(mostly elites) get on a dc9(or whatever they call it), and they start gate checking bags. i say why? "well, that's 99 bags, and that's all we allow". note 60 people, 99 bags. even i can count 1 bag per person. yes, AA elites are allowed 2 bags PP. i think some even have3.

a travel agent can see and get you a seat.
slawecki is offline
Old May 28, 10, 3:14 pm
#3

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k374 - AA allows about 2/3 of their economy seats to be selected anytime after ticket purchase by any passenger. Once these 2/3 of the seats are gone, seats can no longer be chosen until the airport.

The other 1/3 of the economy seats are only available ahead of time to elite passengers. On planes where there are fewer elites flyers, there may be many seats remaining. These seats become available to all passengers at the airport. This elite benefit is one way American lures the business of those who spend the most money on plane tickets to their airline. The average fare an elite pays is also higher (average) than non-elites. Good businesses extend perks to their best customers.

AA is not alone in this practice. MOST US airlines have the same or a very similar policy.

slawecki - Your understanding is incorrect. AA allows all passengers, including elites, one carry on + a second personal item that can fit under your seat and does not need to take overhead bin space. Many/Most elite flyers bring both a carry on + personal item and do not check any bags. This saves AA money (not having to handle as many bags). slawecki - when the plane is full, only large carry ons that you cannot put under your seats need to be checked. I suggest you bring a second smaller item so that you will always be able to keep things like medication with you.
wanaflyforless is offline
Old May 28, 10, 3:34 pm
#4

Join Date: May 2010
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Originally Posted by k374 View Post
I have a flight tomorrow to Honolulu so I login early - 24hrs prior now to check in, I try to select my seats and there is only 1 seat showing as available in the entire plane and it's a middle seat Prior to this I could not select a seat as it said "seat cannot be selected prior to check in".

I called AA and asked them why there are no seats showing as available in the entire plan this early out and they told me that I should go to the airport early to swap the seat with a window/aisle because almost all the seat allotments are reserved to be assigned at the airport.

Is this some kind of new system? I have flown AA before and was able to choose from various seats.

What is the point of online checkin if all the seat assignments are done at the airport? I don't understand this logic.

Strangely my return flight already has a window seat assigned, it's only my outbound flight that was in a "Seat unassigned" state. I booked this flight a month and a half in advance so it's not last minute.
What AA flight is this?
Acheivement is offline
Old May 28, 10, 3:41 pm
#5

Join Date: May 2010
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Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
this is another perk for AA elites. all seats are to be picked over by elites. you no elite, you dirt. all carry on storage is reserved for elites. they get on first they carry however much they want onboard. your stuff gets gate checked, even if you have medical emergency stuff in it. you no elite, you dirt. i quite flying AA, because i am not an elite.

the GA's control the baggage. first 60 people(mostly elites) get on a dc9(or whatever they call it), and they start gate checking bags. i say why? "well, that's 99 bags, and that's all we allow". note 60 people, 99 bags. even i can count 1 bag per person. yes, AA elites are allowed 2 bags PP. i think some even have3.

a travel agent can see and get you a seat.
You're wrong. According to AA website, seat selection is not just reserved for elites. "** Preferred seats are available to AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Gold, AAirpass members and all passengers holding tickets with a Y or B booking code." I believe regular seats can be selected by anyone. Also, check your spelling before you post.
Acheivement is offline
Old May 28, 10, 6:31 pm
#6
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Originally Posted by Acheivement View Post
You're wrong. According to AA website, seat selection is not just reserved for elites. "** Preferred seats are available to AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Gold, AAirpass members and all passengers holding tickets with a Y or B booking code." I believe regular seats can be selected by anyone. Also, check your spelling before you post.
what of the above is not elite, or premium price? check the price of a Y ticket dca-dfw. AF1 is cheaper.

what misspeel? speel kecker shw no mizspl. AA website is a lying bunch <redacted>. on the md80 on dca-dfw-dca, first seat available for meat is about 2/3rds of way back row 23 or 24 on an md 80, where you live with the finest from p&w . the fa's end up back there. how they avoid osha noise regs for employees is beyond me.

Last edited by dstan; May 29, 10 at 2:09 pm Reason: inappropriate for FlyerTalk
slawecki is offline
Old May 28, 10, 6:51 pm
#7

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Welll you DID say it was ONLY elites who got good seat choices...

...so now that it has been pointed out that such an assertion was actually incorrect you change your story... and we find that it is NOT just elites.. as you said in your first post, but also "Premium price" seat choices that you object to...

Tell us... how SHOULD airlines allocate the better seats (if not by status or fare paid)... other than giving YOU the first choice which seems to be what you want, given this statement:

"first seat available for meat (sic, presumably meaning "me") is about 2/3rds of way back"

You are aware that ALL airlines have some form of "elite" treatment aren't you?

You should go after concert promoters too... (or Footbal/Baseball Stadiums) THEY charge HUGE premiums for the best seats... I suppose you think that can't be fair either....
trooper is offline
Old May 28, 10, 6:51 pm
#8
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Originally Posted by wanaflyforless View Post
k374 - AA allows about 2/3 of their economy seats to be selected anytime after ticket purchase by any passenger. Once these 2/3 of the seats are gone, seats can no longer be chosen until the airport.
/B]

slawecki - Your understanding is incorrect. AA allows all passengers, including elites, one carry on + a second personal item that can fit under your seat and does not need to take overhead bin space. Many/Most elite flyers bring both a carry on + personal item and do not check any bags. This saves AA money (not having to handle as many bags). slawecki - when the plane is full, only large carry ons that you cannot put under your seats need to be checked. I suggest you bring a second smaller item so that you will always be able to keep things like medication with you.
that is just not correct. nice talk. they carry a smaller second that is a 22" tall bag. look at what they carry!!! they do not hold 2/3rds for regular seats. i chose dca-dfw-dca for mid sept. and you are correct. 49 of about 110 seats are available. guess that is 2/3rds by AA stds.
slawecki is offline
Old May 28, 10, 8:03 pm
#9
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ok, so the way I understand it is that when I booked this flight a month and a half in advance 70% of the flight was already sold out which is why a seat assignment could not be made? After that the other 30% can only be assigned at the airport?
k374 is offline
Old May 28, 10, 8:09 pm
#10

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Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
first 60 people(mostly elites) get on a dc9(or whatever they call it)
Haven't flown on AA in a while I see.
BLI-Flyer is offline
Old May 28, 10, 8:16 pm
#11
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Please continue to follow this discussion in the AA Forum.
Thanks..
Obscure2k
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Old May 28, 10, 8:29 pm
#12
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Originally Posted by k374 View Post
ok, so the way I understand it is that when I booked this flight a month and a half in advance 70% of the flight was already sold out which is why a seat assignment could not be made? After that the other 30% can only be assigned at the airport?
That's partially it; yes. You are traveling to Hawaii on Memorial Day weekend, its a very popular destination. In addition, AA holds certain preferred seats for elite travelers so there are likely excellent seats available but you can't see them on your reservation.


Which HNL flight is it?
bdemaria is offline
Old May 28, 10, 9:16 pm
#13

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Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
that is just not correct. nice talk. 49 of about 110 seats are available. guess that is 2/3rds by AA stds.
Logic: A mid Sept flight already has passengers booked on it. You are not alone in this world. 49 of 110 seats would be the number of remaining seats available to cheap non-elites, not the total seats AA made available for that plane when they loaded the schedule.

Want to find out how many seats AA makes available to cheap non-elites?

Look at AA761 on Apr 24, 2011. Almost no one has bought tickets for Apr 24, 2011 yet, so you can see how many seats AA makes available by looking at AA's seat maps for Apr 24th flights. 87 economy seats are available to cheap non-elites, 37 economy seats are reserved for AA's best customers on this MD83 plane. 87 of 124 seats is 70%, more than two thirds.

Last edited by wanaflyforless; May 28, 10 at 9:36 pm
wanaflyforless is offline
Old May 29, 10, 3:08 am
#14
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I too have always wondered how AA systems pick seats especially for Elite passengers. I have noticed in nearly every of flights especially those code-share ones on the 777 or the 767 that the fwd economy cabin are also filled with passengers connecting from other non-AA flights or non-status passengers.

I know that these seats were not available for selection even a couple of weeks ahead and the plane is not full. So, when I board and see that these seats are occupied by these code-share or non-status passengers I do wonder.

What I am certain is that the computer system will ALWAYS assign me a seat outside of the Elite access seat when booking despite my logging into my AA profile. Why, I don't understand?

I have never understood how the AA seating assignment works..
nldogbert is offline
Old May 29, 10, 6:06 am
#15

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Originally Posted by nldogbert View Post
I have never understood how the AA seating assignment works..
It works best when I go to aa.com, modify my itinerary, and select the seat of my choosing.
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