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Are airlines withholding seats so you'll pay a premium?

A few months ago I booked a flight for two and then went to select seats on the airline's site. Based on the destination and time of year, I was surprised to find only two adjacent seats were available without paying a premium. But I was even more surprised a few weeks later, when we boarded the aircraft and a flight attendant announced that only 30% of seats were occupied, so we should all feel free to stretch out. ( More...

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I recently made reservations on Continental for a round trip EWR-SAV-EWR, I selected a return flight leaving SAV at 6:30 am. About a week and half later I received an email from Continental saying my itinerary had been changed. The return from SAV was now 11:25 am, Continental had done away with the early am departure. I called Continental to ask when I would see my $125.00 change fee in the mail, the silence was deafening, after letting the agent squirm some I admitted I really didnt expect anything, but to me the concept was somewhat valid. To their credit they did allow me to change my plans with no additional costs, very big of them.
Shaun Stamnes 2
Umm actually the answer would be YES. Delta has begun charging for premium seats and exit rows for non-elite Skymiles members. Exit rows always had a nominal charge but now it is up to $29 each way as well as $29 for anything they deem a "Premium" seat.
jhakunti 2
boohoo, don't like, fly private.
This is business!!! You got something lots of people want, jack the price until people don't want it any more. Cars, houses, land, food, anything - it always is supply and demand. Don't like it - ride the train/bus/car/walk.
s2v8377 -1
I don't agree. You should be able to fly without these issues. There should always be seats available without a fee, especially when they are available. To me the is "bait and switch"

Having good, reliable, consistent, friendly service and policies brings in more revenue than nit picking travelers.

Most airlines seemed to get by for at least half a century before this BS started up.

Why stick up for airline executives who aren’t even real airline people for the most part anymore. All they care about is cashing out with as much money as possible with little to no regard for the future of the airline or traveling public.
Stephen Clark 2
Valid point but I do disagree with you as well.

When we travel we all want to have as you said, "good, reliable, consistent, friendly service" Heck as an airline employee I WANT to give that to you lol.

But if the market supports it WHY NOT? I can tell you that thanks to these "non-real" airline executives I got a sizable profit share this year that meant the world to my family at that time. Moreover, I know some at other carriers that didn't get any this time around.

I don't like fees AT ALL but if people will pay then you cannot be mad at the exec's for just doing their job: MAKING PROFITS! Have a good day guys good conversation :).
Pat McKinzie 1
If you by a ticket you theoretically have a seat. You just don't know which one.
Overbooking & cancelations are mostly separate issues from this.
When I last traveled by commercial airline (Goes back to the days of Northwest, I have successfully avoided the ordeal for some time now) I learned that if I didn't select a seat early I always got a premium seat as those were the only ones left at go time. They don't charge extra at that point. As for overbooked flights, generally airlines will start with compensating volunteers first before denying boarding to non-volunteers. I have never been actually been denied boarding although years ago as a customer service agent I occasionally had to do it to someone else. So i understand it dose happen. My alternatives to airlines will not allow me to avoid taking a commercial flight to England next May unless i just don't go at all, so I will have a chance to test my practice once again, as I didn't bite on paying again for an early assigned seat.
It is a shame i used to try to get an opportunity to fly commercially, now i haven't even used my frequent flier miles to get a "free" ticket as I can fly myself anywhere I want go in the lower 48 states.
sparkie624 1
The answer here is NO. What happens a lot of business people will book more than one flight so that they can take the flight of there choice, and then when it gets closer they only keep the one they are going to use opening up more seats. Personally, I feel if you purchase more than one seat intentionally and then later cancel it, then no refund. But that will never happen.
preacher1 1
Disliked as it may be, we have to remember that they are private companies, in business to make a buck. If enough people get PO'd and don't fly them, they will change. Until then your only option is not to fly.IMHO
alistairm 1
UAL, LUV, DAL, NWA... these are all ticker symbols. Major airlines in the US are not private companies, they are owned by stockholders, the public. But yes, they are there to make a buck in order to keep the stock holders happy.
preacher1 1
picky, pick,, AND BY PRIVATE, I MEAN NOT GOVERNMENT OWNED>>>>>>>>>>>>>>lol
alistairm 1
Alright, alright..... i get your point Wayne, lol. FA members picky??? nooooooooooooooo, lol:) Have a good day dude!
On a recent UA flight DCA/ORD/LAX, I had purchased Econ Plus seats. Checking in online the day before, shazam!, I'm back in economy. The guy sitting in the seat I had purchased bought his ticket one month after I did. I'm waiting for my refund...
Chris Donawho 1
Like checked bag fees: wait until go time and these so called upgrades are free. Ive had gate agents ask me to check a bag at the gate or assign me an exit row row seat at the gate. Never had to pay for it, never will.
acmi 1
UA does it all the time, and so it now goes with CO also. I am booked EWR/BNA this weekend. When I bought the ticket on the web last week only premium seats at + $39 were available so I did not take an assignment. Today when I pre-checked in on the web...shazaam, the aircraft is only about 30% full. Since it is an RJ with 2x2 seating anyway, what difference does it make? Just pure greed


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