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Airline seating availability

It’s been nearly two years since I last booked international flights :( so I was a bit surprised the other day when I was unable to see available seating prior to booking/purchasing tickets. In the past I’d take a peak at the # of available seats (should I buy quickly or risk not being able to get a ticket? or, can I count on being able to sit together with my companion, etc.). I’ve looked at flights on AA, Iberia, and Orbitz with the same results - no access to seating until the ticket is purchased.

Posted by
7193 posts

How far out is the flight? Many who have traveled during Covid have reported flight changes after booking tickets (this happened to me when I booked a ticket on Delta to Italy in June and I just took the refund and then re-booked with another airline; I just returned from Italy yesterday on United Airlines who offered seat selection). Moreover, sometimes the aircraft type changes so that would upset your seat selection. Normally if you book a flight with a companion on the same reservation you are automatically seated together.

Posted by
79 posts

I don’t know what websites you are using but today I was able to see seat availability for Delta and United flights to Europe on their websites without actually booking a flight.

Posted by
21070 posts

It can be trickier to make a seat reservation if you're booking through a US airline's website and flying on a partner airline. Not all of them, just some. I don't know whether that is affecting what you're seeing. I've never looked at seat availability on a flight until after I've bought a ticket.

Posted by
231 posts

You may have to take it all the way up to the moment of purchase to see the seats on some airlines. I recently looked at seat availability on Delta / Air France seats to Paris on the Delta website and had no problem getting to that stage without entering passenger info, CC, and the rest of that jazz. Could be different on other airlines, so much has changed during the pandemic.

Posted by
8628 posts

Are you looking at the super cheap economy fare that has the airline designate the seats when you check in?

Posted by
2017 posts

I have never booked a flight without first checking for seat availability. I just played around on AA and I can see seats there unless I pick the Basic Economy option (which is the main reason I don't fly them... To Europe in the middle seat.. No thanks!)
I notice on that you can't see BA seats if that's your code share

Posted by
11251 posts

It could be as others have are booking the cheapest ticket possible that doesn't allow pre-booking seats. Try booking at a higher fare category. (You don't have to buy, just look.)

Posted by
57 posts

I have been haunting the American Airlines website lately and have had no trouble seeing available seating. I do not select a particular class of travel, but just click on the “seats” choice for a particular flight.

Posted by
251 posts

Wow! Thanks to everyone!
Clearly, it must be my error, etc. so I will try again with a variety of “approaches” ( a desktop browser, an iOS travel app or two, and using the airlines web site and/or App (vs. Kayak or Orbitz).

Posted by
92 posts

We are doing the RS BOE 14 day May 2022. We had no trouble looking at the seats online but we're going business class. Since we want to fly business both ways, a couple of weeks ago we noted that half the outbound seats were already booked on the flight we wanted. I spoke with an AA ticket agent because I wanted to use a combination of miles and dollars and couldn't do it online. The agent told me that people have been plunking down cash to buy business and first class seats. She's never seen anything like it. She said any of the former rules for booking are out the window and the prices are varying daily. We ended up booking that day since the price was better than we had been seeing. We normally don't book that far ahead but we didn't want to bet that the airlines would add more flights that would work for us. It has not come down since we booked but I'm not going to keep looking and making myself crazy over it.