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Two of my friends flew Scandinavian Airlines from Norway to Denmark, and from Denmark via Dubai to India with Emirates.

They thought they could select seats 24 hrs before departure, but when they logged on it said that because of the first flight with SAS, it wasn't possible.

So, my question is: how can you know whether you are able to select your seat? Does it apply to all airlines that you can't do it if you have had a connecting flight with another airline? How about if you want to select a seat on the first airline, but have a connecting flight afterwards?

Specifically, I'm thinking about Norway to Heathrow with British Airways, and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. (The last leg is most important)

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In the US, Southwest Airlines does not provide seating assignments (except for an additional fee), even after you get to the airport; all aircraft are boarded by zones (A, B, C). Once on-board, one has to scramble to find the seat you want. –  tcrosley Feb 27 '13 at 20:06

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There's really two different issues here - that of pre-selecting seats, and that of how check-in works with multi-airline itineraries.

As far as pre-selecting seats, every airline has different policies. Specifically for SAS, they allow you to pre-select seats only if you has elite status with their frequent flyer program (Eurobonus Gold), or on flights to/from the US regardless of status. Some other airlines will allow it at time of booking, some only allow it if you pay an extra fee, etc. The specific airlines website should give you the details there.

The second issue is checking in with a single connecting itinerary with multiple airlines. Again the exact rules will vary here depending on the airlines involved, but in general you need to check-in with the airline that is flying the first leg of your journey - in this case, SAS. Depending on the agreements between the airlines they may be able to also check you in for any additional flights with other airlines, or they may not be able to - in which case you would normally do so once you arrive at the transfer airport.

In these cases seat selection again depends on the specific carriers. eg, if you were flying Emirates followed by SAS then within 22 hours of the flight you would be able to go to the SAS website, select "check-in", and whilst it will not actually allow you to checkin (as the first leg is with EK) it WILL allow you to select seats!

In short, there is no simple or single answer to what you're asking. Most airlines will publicize their rules for pre-selecting seats on their website - but be sure to read the full conditions to make sure that they apply to you, without needing status or paying any additional fees.

Specifically for Cathay Pacific, they DO allow you to select seats in advance, regardless of status. If the website/travel agent you are booking on/with doesn't give you the option, you can go to their website, enter your surname and booking number, and select your seats free of charge. British Airways on the other hand only allows you to select seats at the time of check-in (up to 24 hours before your flight).

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Thanks a lot for your comprehensive answer! When you say that with Cathay Pacific you can book in advance, how early is that? Also, with something like British Airways where you say you can select seats at check-in, is this the physical check-in at the airport? Is it bad practise to check-in at the airport the day before and leave again, and come back the following day? –  DarkLightA Feb 26 '13 at 21:25
    
Cathay - anytime after you've booked the ticket, even if it's months in advance (via their website). BA - At checkin, 24 hours in advance (again, via their website - no need to go to the airport) –  Doc Feb 27 '13 at 5:12
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BA will let people with BAEC status select seats in advance, at 7 days for Bronze, at any time for higher. I think a lot of airlines tend to do something similar for their frequent fliers, but not all –  Gagravarr Mar 5 '13 at 10:07

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