Friday, July 11, 2014

Seat Assignments on OneWorld Award Tickets

For those of you booking flights with AAdvantage miles, BA Avios, or other Oneworld award currency, you've probably experienced the recent trend of certain airlines charging for seat assignments or withholding seat assignments until the last minute.  For example, AirBerlin is now charging $16 to pre-select a seat on an upcoming paid European flight:

Unlike with a paid reservation, booking an award ticket should get you a seat assignment.  Depending on the operating and ticketing airlines, you may or may not be able to to select a seat when you book your flight online.  However, if you are unable to select a seat upon booking, you can typically call the airline who ticketed your reservation and request a seat, and they'll put the request through for you (free of charge).

So, what should you do if the agent can't put your request through, or you simply don't want to call and wait on hold?  Here's a step-by-step guide:
  1. First, you need your Amadeus record locator.  In many cases, this will be provided when you book your ticket, or you can ask the agent.  For Avios bookings, the 6-charater BA record locator is your Amadeus record locator.  For AAdvantage bookings, you may need to ask for any alternate record locators because AA will use their own.
  2. Go to and look at the tails across the top of the site:

    Almost all of these airlines will allow you to pull up your reservation by simply entering your Amadeus record locator and last name.  Here's an example from Sri Lankan airlines' site (coincidentally, the last "tail" on the list):

  3. Put in your record locator and last name to pull up your reservation.  Typically, you'll find that you're redirected to Amadeus.  In some cases, you'll be given access to modify your reservation or select seats:
  4. Select your seat and confirm it went through - easy peasy.
Important: This trick typically does not work with Sri Lankan airlines' website (or AA or BA, for that matter).  So, which airlines' site should you use?  I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader -- a bit of a "treasure hunt", if you will.  What I will tell you is that at least two OneWorld partners allow seat selection across all OneWorld airlines.

Also Important: Calling for a seat assignment is still the safer way to get a seat, and (as stated above) you should not be charged for seat assignment on partner award tickets.

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