Reserving Seats: To Pay Or Not To Pay...

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by Whatwasthat..., Apr 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Whatwasthat...
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    Whatwasthat... Silver Member

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    Hi. I've been reading various Forums on Milepoint since the Beta Days and it's been (and continues to be) a terrific education! That said, this is my first time posting a question on a Site like this and I'm not very clear on policy & protocol - where to appropriately post, whether it's okay to post a somewhat-narrow question (as opposed to helpful information), and so on. So this is my up-front apology if I'm doing this terribly wrong (and my request for your guidance on how to do this better in the future).

    So my question is about whether/when it makes sense to pay extra to reserve seats.

    Most immediately, I and the Mrs. have booked flights in May on BA in Club World from LAX to FCO (via LHR), with returns from CDG (via LHR) to LAX - thanks to the BA Chase Card 2-4-1 Voucher. We're looking forward to this being our first time traveling Business Class to Europe on BA (did this on AA before and it was an interesting experience for a number of reasons). But we're wondering whether we should pay the extra fees to pre-reserve our seats now (and which seats would be best to reserve together), or just do it the day before our departure for free?

    Any advice you'd be willing to share would be very much appreciated, thanks!
     
    misman, Mikel, East_Yorker and 4 others like this.
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Welcome. You'll notice that you already received 5 points for being active on MP after your first month (actually 30 days) anniversary.

    I don't have expertise with BA, but I think you should start by looking at the seating maps for your flights if you can do so without paying for the reservations. If it looks empty, you might want to just monitor them in hopes of being able to avoid paying the seat reservation fee. Similarly, if there aren't any more pairs of seats together (assuming that you want to sit together) or of the type you want, it would seem pointless to pay for seats that are no better than the leftovers you can get during check in.

    OTOH, if you see only a few of the seats you want remaining, and if the seat type or sitting together matters to you, then you probably want to pay to grab those seats now.
     
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  3. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Hi Whatwasthat...,

    You may also want to look at http://seatexpert.com/ and see what to expect on this aircraft.
    If not cost prohibitive, it's always nice to insure you are seated with your travel companion.
    Since it is your first time in Biz class it may be worth the extra cost.
     
    Mikel likes this.
  4. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Good question!

    I don't think you've posted in the wrong location per say. It's your first question, so the Newbie forum is a nice, welcoming forum to start off in! That being said, I think you might find a better answer for your question in the British Airways forum. You'll find people who fly those planes more often then anyone, and can give you the ins and outs in terms of best seats and the need to pre-book.

    For what it's worth, here are two sites that will give you the run down on BA's seats:

    SeatGuru
    SeatExpert

    As for whether or not to pre-booking, that's hard to say. I'm sure it hinges on what you're looking for. If you want the best possible seats in business class, then I'd say spring for it. If all you want are some seats together, I think you'd have a pretty good shot of getting a pair if you select at the 24 hour mark.

    Good luck!
     
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  5. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    Hi mate and welcome as active poster on MP.
    You are absolutely not breaking any protocol or policies - any questions are welcome here and no question is too wide, too narrow or too stupid.
    Your question is infact a very good question that many are probably wondering about in similar situations.

    Personally, I do not have experience with BA either, but I am always in favor of pre-selecting seats. I have never paid for it though. MSPeconomist have some very good tips. If you are in doubt where to find seat maps you can look here: http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/British_Airways/information.php

    How much does the seat selection cost? I would consider paying if a good seat is open for such a long flight, but the price must be right and for business seats you never get the really crappy seats that us in Economy might end up in so I don't know if I would pay for seat selection in business - in fact I wonder why you must pay to select a seat in business? I thought it was always free in business, but again, I have no experience with BA.
     
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  6. Whatwasthat...
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    Whatwasthat... Silver Member

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    Wow, thank you all for your extremely generous welcome and your timely and helpful responses!!!

    It appears we're flying on a B747-400 (70 Next Generation) in both directions transatlantic. It costs $90 per seat, each way ($125 per seat for the Upper Deck). No free pre-reserving for us Voucher Folks without Status (and I'm afraid we're currently status-challenged). But from your recommendations, I've now found I can easily check availability. Our flight out seems to be about half pre-reserved, with no Upper Deck availability. The flight back seems to have a bit more unreserved, with some Upper Deck space in rows 63 & 64.

    At this point, I think I'm inclined to pay-up. I've also taken your advice and checked the seating charts for this on SeatGuru and SeatExpert (thanks again!). Truly fascinating - they seem to be particularly fond of seats facing the rear in the middle of a center row of four (something about "more privacy"). Do you think I should ask folks on the British Airways forum about their seating experiences/preferences (or is that a silly question at this point)?
     
    Mikel likes this.
  7. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I don't think it would be a bad idea. They might have more insight then the websites. Maybe certain seats get too much sunlight on the way back that bothers sleeping? The order food is delivered? Etc. Seat Guru and Seat Expert are great, but they don't have all the info.

    It sounds like a special trip for you and your wife, why not ask just to make sure? :)
     
  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I would ask and research seats carefully before paying these prices. If you've never flown on the upper deck of a 747, you should use this opportunity to try it.

    Note also that privacy for a single traveller might not be desirable when travelling as a couple.
     
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  9. Whatwasthat...
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    Whatwasthat... Silver Member

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    Thanks again David, I'll try that now!
     
  10. Whatwasthat...
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    Whatwasthat... Silver Member

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    Thank you MSP (I suspect I will wind up pre-reserving the Upper Deck for the trip home, as you say for the experience)!
     
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  11. joanek
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    joanek Silver Member

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    My thought on this is simple: if I really want that seat, I prepay. If I'm willing to sit in something lesser, I'll wait and gamble. It's the same with upgrades---if I'm flying cross-country and want to make sure I'm not in coach, I use miles ahead of time.
     
  12. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This is a good simple rule of thumb, but you can do better (sometimes save money) by using the information you have from the seat maps you can see on line. You could be paying to reserve seats in an empty cabin.
     
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  13. joanek
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    joanek Silver Member

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    True--and who doesn't like saving money? but I'd also keep checking on a regular basis, to make sure there wasn't a huge group invasion or seismic shift of some kind. (In all honesty, the few times I've had to do it, the dollar figure was under 40 bucks---usually something like lhr-ams or a flight of that type.)
    That said, if I really want a premium seat of some kind---exit row, aisle on a crowded flight, two or three together, I wouldn't wait.
     
  14. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Of course, my strategy involves checking back regularly and does carry some risk of sudden changes such as the group invasion you mention, although groups frequently don't book seats in advance or attempt to get the best seats.
     

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