Armchair Traveller

Armchair Traveller

Qantas seat allocation scam

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Qantas rolls out new seat allocation system that puts budget passengers and early-birders between a rock and an aisle.

My good friend Cheryl over at molt:n learned on a recent flight to the US that the flying kangaroo has quietly instituted a new seat allocation program that is both deplorable from a passenger experience perspective, and fair in a "Hey, ya pay for what ya get" kind of way.

The new system took effect in October apparently, and since then, your seat allocation has been based entirely on the fare you've paid for your ticket. Show up at the airport as early as you like, friends, but if your flight was a bargain you can bet your bottom dollar you'll be given a middle seat.

Complicated algorithms pre-assign seats so hot-deal holders get slotted in the middle, and premium prices earn priority seating. Check-in staff claim they aren't able to override the system, which was put into place because of abuse dished out by passengers upon learning they got the short straw.

While the system might be deemed "more fair" by some, it exempts Qantas staff from any customer service responsibility when it comes to seat allocation. The check-in clerk might be sympathetic if you're two-metres high and show up four hours early for your flight, but they won't be able to help you.

What do you think of this new system? Is it fair to get what you pay for, or do you think passengers arriving early deserve some sort of priority?

User comments
Seating by qantas is a scam. Nobody told us that such seating arrangement exist. We only found when we board QF94 on the 31st of Aug 2012 from LA. We can not check in online because we do not have internet, so we came so early at LAX to check in and get the boarding passes. Nobody contacted us about the seating arrangement that qantas have. Found out also that you have to pay $20 each for good seats. When we bought the tickets and paid $4000 for me and my husband, nothing was mentioned. During boarding time we were told to stay beside. Nothing been said and we felt we were treated like criminals. The guy at the boarding gate just took our boarding pass with no explanation and gave us new boarding pass which were at the back of the plane. Anybody reading these, is it ok the way we were treated. If you were in our shoes, will you not be upset. Changes in the seating should be done prior to boarding time not when you are boarding. We are 65 & 66 years of age and travelled wi
Mr G Smith as per above I believe probably doesn't do much travelling. I am 6'4" & quite long between the hip & the knee. Having travelled on approx. 110 single legs in a single 12 month period & being a Platinum Frequent Flyer, I have found it sometimes extremely difficult to get a seat that I fit into. I have found that Qantas does NOT adhere to its own policy at all & in fact, I have arrived early at Melbourne airport & found that NO exit or bulk head seats were available, only to find later that they had all been taken up by a football team. It should be noted that I had checked in & then approx. 15Minutes later the football team arrived. I had obviously arrived prior to them & Qantas had seen fit to allocate exit seats to pleople that they had NOT sited prior at all. I have many, many other instances where I have bee put in harms way due to Qantas's Belligerence with regard to seating arrangements. After 10 years, it is still a problem with no solution in sight.
I recently travelled on a Qantas CityFlyer service operated by Qantaslink, Booked both early on a sale fare and although I could not change my seat at checkin I was allocated a good one at the rear of the aircraft (good on a Dash 8-400 as because as its away from the propellors it isnt as noisy) in a row with a spare seat next to me and i couldnt complain one bit! Return flight again almost full flight and again seated with a spare seat next to me, I couldnt complain!
My husband and I travelled with many airline companies and were able to request our seating when we paided for our tickets, with no problems. Its appauling that the above family travelling to the US were made to seat separetly. When you book your tickets together as a family you earn the right to be seated together. It shouldn't matter how early you are at the airport and it shouldn't matter how much you pay for your ticket. Cheap tickets are great if you can get them. Also being a frequent flyer should give members some benefits, if not, why then Qantas do you encourage this membership, especially when there are ongoing fees on credits cards for membership.The best part of travelling is the plane trip, so why upset your customers. I don't know of any other airline that has this system. Unfortunetly for Qantas loosing it's reputation and credibility with new systems like these!
I agree with the new allocation system . You should pay for what you get. So if premium passengers fork out extra cash for the privileges than good luck to them. If you cant afford to pay for choice than just stop complaining ,get on the flight ,get what you pay for and count yourself lucky that you are privileged enough to afford air travel as some people can only dream about it. And why should airline staff take responsibility for seat allocation? Having myself worked in this industry, I can tell you they don't get paid enough to satisfy everyone.
In reply to Sandy "I was going to complain when we got back but what would it have done?" It would have done more than the nothing you did at the time. If you and I and others don't complain at the time, don't be surprised when the company( Airline) says we thought it was a good idea and no-one complained. People need to stand up and be counted. In this case either march with your feet or open your wallet.
We booked a flight to Melbourne on the same ticket, and being married, with the same surname. We only had one flight reservation number for both seats and we are both frequent flyers, but we were seated apart. I found out the seat allocation when I logged onto the internet prior to the day of travel and found that I couldn't change either seat as the plane appeared to have all seats fully allocated. I thought that was strange so I rang Qantas to ask what was wrong with the system and was assured it was probably some block seat allocation that the company uses and that we would be able to change the seats at the airport. We arrived early and the self check in system didn't allow us to change the seats. We asked when we checked our bags and they couldn't help us either. We asked at the gate prior to boarding and after about 10 mins on the computer we were eventually seated together, but put in the last row. I was told it was because our profiles weren't current. 1 ticket=seats together.
If that is true then Qantas has lost touch with its custromers. Groups that travel together generally should be seated together. The custormers pay the price that is offered to them without suspecting or being advised that they are being scammed or that they will be given a second rate treatment. Usually airlines lower their fairs in order to entice customers to travel with them. In particular if a customer books their ticket very early then generally the fare is cheaper. The cusomer does not nominate the airfare but rather the airline advertises a particular airfare for the purpose of selling seats. What Qantas is apparently doing seems to be unethical and unfair and no doubt the trend will catch on with other carriers. I cannot accept that a family with young children would be spread out rather than seated in the same row. Some people travel with a carer as they may have special needs. These people need to be given special consideration regardless of the price of their airfare.
You're never going to please everyone. However, it would stand to reason that there should be some human input where there is a face to face contact. We can not sit back and allow a computer to make all final descisions. I wounder if there ever would be a Airline created where there is one class, where we all get treat with the same care, kindness, and, respect throughout the flight no matter where you sit. I personally would love to create such an Airline. I would call it, "One" or "OneAir", because there will not be a ecconomy class and a first class. There will be One Class and that is Fist Class. Any backers out there want to give it a go? Remember Profit is not a dirty word. It is how the World survives. Sometimes people get confused with the word profit and mistake it with greed. Then again those people that get confused tend to thrive on making a living on those people trying to make a good living and make a difference in the World.
Virgin Blue allow you to change your seating. Perhaps that should be the new system... allow you to choose you're own seating allocation. I always check my seating on check in and don't think I've ever sat in any seat the airline has allocated me. I always change it to where I want to sit if it's available.

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