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I have a question about coordinating flights. Next year I'll be flying from Belgium (BRU) to New Zealand (AKL). I will stay there with her for a month and then return to Belgium (BRU). My girlfriend, however, will first be flying to Australia (SYD) and return to Belgium (BRU) two months later (she's doing a long stop-over, so to speak). So this is what the routes would look like:

  • Me
    1. BRU to AKL
    2. AKL to BRU
  • Girlfriend:
    1. BRU to AKL
    2. AKL to SYD
    3. SYD to BRU

I would like to arrange it in such a way that me and my girlfriend can fly to New Zealand (AKL) together, sitting next to each other on the same plane. However, I can't seem to find a way to arrange this...

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    Book flights separately but on the same planes, then pay for advanced seat selection? – Gagravarr Sep 9 '15 at 13:13
  • Yeah, that had come to mind, but is there no better, more sure way to arrange this? Because this way, we won't be certain if it's possible to sit next to each other... – idix Sep 9 '15 at 13:14
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    @idix: I don't think such certainty is possible even if you're on a single booking. If you check in so late that there are no unallocated seats next to each other, you'd have to depend on the goodwill (and ability) of the gate agents to shuffle someone else around for make room for you in both cases. – Henning Makholm Sep 9 '15 at 13:18
  • Speak to a real-life (not online) travel agent, any half decent one should be able to arrange it all for you – Gagravarr Sep 9 '15 at 13:22
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    You can manually sit next to each other on the same plane, and you can ask that your PNRs be linked in case of disruption, but that is as far as it goes. Airline IT is not sophisticated. The linking process is just a cross reference in the free form notes field, but anyone manually adjusting the reservation will see it. – Calchas Sep 9 '15 at 13:29
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It really depends on the airline you fly with, as there is no one rule fits all for seat assignments.

Some airlines you can select your seat at booking. Some airlines you can log in after booking to select your seat. Some airlines you can pay to choose your seat. Some you just get what you get.

With the first three, you both simply have to do your travel arrangements at the same time, so you can see and choose two seats together. And you need to accept the fact that most seat requests are just that, a request, not a guarantee. So you have to monitor your reservation frequently to make sure no changes have occurred, as airlines do change seat assignments for various reasons.

With the "you get what you get" option, the best bet is to arrive at the airport early (like as soon as the flight opens usually 3 hours ahead) so there are the most seats open for the check in agent to choose two together.

And of course in worst case scenario, you ask your seat mates if they wouldn't mind switching so that you can sit with your girlfriend.

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This ought just to be a question of making sure you're both booked in the same cabin class (and, of course, on the same flight), and then checking in together when you reach the airport.

There's no rule saying that passengers can only sit next to each other if their tickets are bought together or otherwise "connected" before the flight. (Though a lot of people traveling alone would probably welcome such a rule if it would guarantee them having an unoccupied seat next to them :-) ).

Depending on the airline, there's also a good chance that you'll be able to choose your seats online before reaching the airport. In that case you can simply choose seats next to each other at that time.

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    Many airlines let non-status non-flexible ticket holders select their seats in advance for a fee. Some travel agents are able to arrange free seat selection at the time of booking for people on cheap tickets too – Gagravarr Sep 9 '15 at 13:23
  • @Gagravarr ...but for the sake of completeness, it should be stated that the seat selection for a fee doesn't always work. For example, if you have a Lufthansa leg under a non-Lufthansa ticket number, you can't buy the seat assignment for this leg. – DCTLib Sep 10 '15 at 11:40

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