Can anyone tell me how to find out the number of seats remaining on a flight with a site like orbitz? I remember reading how to do it on this site but now I can't find it via search
When searching for flights you should see a link that says "view seats". You will then get a seat map which shows you which seat have been taken. Be advised that not everyone who has purchased a ticket for a flight has been assigned a seat yet, so if you see lots of empty seat that doesn't always mean the plane will be empty on the day of your flight. Also on flights within Europe you usually can't select you seat ahead of time so this feature won't be available.
And to add to Michael's post, sometimes airlines block off "choice" seats if they feel their top tier customers--full fare business travelers--might book the flight last minute.
So, if you see a flight well in advance with no good seats, you might want to keep checking it to see if seats are released.
Why the question? Because I don't think you can get an accurate answer anywhere. You can looked at the assigned seat map but that is often after you have purchased the ticket. You will also find seats blocked out for use by the gate check in but you have no idea if those seats have been sold. Orbitz will often indicate the the number of tickets available at a certain price BUT have no idea if that is accurate or not.
Remember on a recent international flight I checked the map a couple of days prior to departure and it looked like less than half of the seats were assigned. Thought -- great, we can spread out. --- Wrong, the plane was packed.
Most travel sites allow you to view the seat map before you go through the booking process. They do this so families can choose a flight that allows the whole group to sit together. Also, even if you choose a seat with the seat selector, the airline has the right to move you to another seat at any time- even after you have printed out your boarding pass.
Michale, I will defer to you. For some reason I thought the seat map came up after the purchase. I guess I don't look for it before. More than once I have had my seat rearranged after I selected.
Another factor to consider is when you click "view seats" that doesn't mean there aren't more seats available - just the ones in your price category. If there is an option for unrestricted fare (usually more expensive) and then click "view seats you will see alot more.
Same with United - you can't see the economy plus seats availability.
Also remember that just because the seats are available, doesn't mean they are all the same price. The map on Orbitz (and many others) depends on the individual flight. Sometimes you can see everything well in advance, sometimes even the same flight on a different day will say, "seats assigned at check in", etc.
Best answer is just to call the airline you're considering, and ask.
The airline will not/can not tell you exactly how many seats are available. All they will say is "seats are available."
It's of no benefit to them to tell you exactly how many seats are available.
Frank - not sure where you get that information from, but in my years as a travel agent, I've never had a problem getting airlines to give you the number of sets left, and many even post link to their seat maps up online, allowing you to choose your own seat, which pretty much shows you the majority of the availability. What many are reluctant to do is tell you how many are left at a certain price. But that is a different thing entirely.
PS - That's calling on the regular old customer lines too. Not the travel agent numbers.
Those "seat maps" are not real....if the "computers" show that x percentage of seats on a certain flight on a certain day of the week are usually sold to last minute customers, then that percentage will be blocked out. This, of course, changes daily.
And if you call the airline and ask how many seats are available, they are not going to say "87" if those many seats are available because that information won't be available to the agents. Only that "seats" are available.
I've actually tried it by first booking a seat on a flight with the lowest fare possible. A certain number of seats showed up as empty. Then I rebooked at full fare. Surprisingly, some of the seats shown aa taken on the discount screen miraculously became available at full fare.
Frank - airline ticket and phone agents have full access to the airlines seat maps, and travel agencies have access to the majority of it. There are no airlines that hide seat maps from their own agents. If you call and ask if there are 87 seats available, any front line agent who isn't brand new will be able to tell you.
As has been mentioned above the airline will limit seat map availability online based on the ticket you bought, if you're a frequent flyer, your class of service, etc, and some seats are reserved for the gates agents.
Hence the suggestion to call.
PS - Even if the airline has a policy not allowing agents to disclose the number of seats, just tell them our booking for a group of ___ (say 30), and ask if it's available. They'll answer. Hope that helps you Ben!
Any idiot with a computer can get access to an airline seat map. (Thus no need for a travel agent.) What I'm trying to make you understand is that not all the seats shown as "taken" on the seat map are actually taken. Some are reserved for gate agents, some are reserved for FF's, and some are expected sales to last minute full fare customers. So, if the seat map shows seat 9C as taken...do you know if it's really taken by looking at the seat map or has it been shown as taken by the airline because that's a popular seat to last minute fliers?
That the airline will not tell you.
You can get an approximation of how many seats are available but you'll never get the exact number.
Frank - the thing you are failing to understand is that the seat map a -cusomter- is allowed to see, and the seat map an airline agent in able to see in SABRE/W-SPAN/Apollo at two entirely different things.
Just because you can't see the seat availability on a web page does not mean the airline agent, or even a travel agent can not see it in their systems. Two entirely different things. The airline is Not going to deny it's ticket agents access to seat map availability to see tickets on the off chance a frequent flyer might want seat 9C.
Your full fare example is off base. I know the concept is difficult to understand, but full fare is a Class of Service (Y), not a specific seat or seats. Though they may allow passengers who book full fares greater access to pre-assiging seats. However, the airlines do not have seat Z thru X reserved for full Y class fares, they have a certain number of FARES that are full fare, but those seats that go with those fare can be anywhere in coach. They would not deny a ticket agent a sale, on the off chance a frequent flyer might come by and get a ticket. Business 101.
The airlines can restrict travel agencies and customers from seeing the full seat map, but they do not deny this ability to their employees. If you get one of the phone that can't do it (these systems are complicated), call back and hope for a better agent.
Frank - you're right, any idiot can see the limited seat map the airlines allow to be seen online or by travel agencies. But only special idiots - ones who work for the airlines get the full map. ;)
Ben - the airline agents can see the full seat map. If you have any question please send me a private message.
I think the confusion here is "seats" vs Class of Service. While there is some connection, they are two entirely different things.
I'm not going to argue with you Chris, because if there's one thing I've learned after years of working in the travel industry, is never argue with a travel agent. It's like arguing with a religious zealot--they're sure they're right and everyone else is wrong.
Frank, I'm not a travel agent. I worked Executive level customer service for the World's largest travel company, and was the help desk for the help desk, for the help desk for travel agents. I'm fairly confident I know my stuff on the inner workings of the airline booking engines, and I can say with 100% certainty that airline front line agents can see the seat map. If you'd like longer explanations please feel free to ask.
But my advice stands, Ben call the airline and ask to get the best answer.
Just curious what your experience is with the booking engines, Frank.
Sabre...and I stand with what I said. A travel agent and a ticket agent see a full seat map. However, neither can see if a "taken" seat is actually a passenger or a seat blocked by airline marketing.
Gate agents and management can access the "real" seat map to see who is in that seat--pax name and travel info. No travel agent can do that.
As an example, when I booked groups, I might request a block of 30 seats. These seats were not "taken" but were blocked off and had to be either guaranteed or released by a certain date. If you looked on the seat map, those 30 seats would look "taken." And the reason they're blocked off in the seat map is because we wanted the group together and not spread out in middle seats(depending on type of aircraft.)
By looking at a seat map, you can get an approximation of how many seats are available, but no airline is going to let anyone outside the airline know exactly how many seats are available. It's bad business. Just like no hotel will tell you exactly how many rooms it has available. If you need 30 rooms, and I'm the manager, I'll tell you if I have those 30 rooms, but I'm not going to say, I have 72 available. That's stupid. If I'm negotiating rooms, and I know you 72 avail and I need 30, I going to want a lower price. But if I don't know if I'm getting your last 30 or 30 of that 72, the hotel is in better bargaining power.
As for the airline, if I know exactly how many seats are available, I might wait if I know the flight is empty to see if they lower prices to fill seats. The airline doesn't want that.
So, what I was trying to get across is that you can get an approximation of how many seats are available but you will rarely, if ever, get the exact true number on a reservation screen.