I am going back to my country (Malaysia) from the U.S in May. My girlfriend wants to follow me when I come back to the U.S in August. She will stay for 2 weeks. If I buy a one-way ticket for myself and a round-trip ticket for my girlfriend, can we sit together in flights? I am wondering what should I do if we want to sit together. Do I have to pay extra money for that? Can anyone give me some webpage that provides cheap flight tickets? Thanks.

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    Note carefully that these days even if you buy the tickets completely together you're not guaranteed to sit together. (This is a huge problem-of-our-era for families, for instance - see many questions on here.) – Fattie Feb 23 '16 at 17:05
  • @JoeBlow Indeed, even if you buy the tickets together and check in together with adjacent seats, the airline can reassign the seats before you board. This happened recently to my sister in law, who was traveling wtih her husband and child. – phoog Feb 23 '16 at 19:23
  • fascinating !!! – Fattie Feb 23 '16 at 19:51

I doubt you can book both tickets under the same reservation (although some travel agents may be able to do it). But your best option would be to just buy the tickets separately and then select seats together. A few points on this:

  • Many airlines allow you to select seats right when you buy a ticket. (Some airlines, however, charge a fee for this).
  • Also, you can typically select seats when you check in, and this is usually free of charge. To get the best chance of getting the seats you want, you should check in online as early as possible (typically exactly 24 hours before the flight)
  • Keep in mind that in wide planes, seating together with someone means that one of you will have a middle seat. Typically nobody wants the middle seat, so booking 2 seats together for a couple is not that difficult.
  • If you still can't get seats together, you should politely approach the gate staff at the airport (where you board the plane), when they're not too busy (best to get to the gate as early as possible), and ask them. They can often reseat people.
  • If this still doesn't work, ask someone in the plane to switch. Again, this should not be too difficult, because you will want one middle seat, and typically nobody wants them (e.g. if both you and your girlfriend have window seats, one of the passengers next to you would probably gladly trade their middle seat for a window seat)
  • Finally, you may be worried about buying tickets separately (e.g. what if you buy your ticket, but then when your girlfriend tries to buy there's some error or there are no more tickets left at the price you want). This should not be too much of a concern with most airlines, because most airlines have a free 24-hour cancellation policy, so if you buy your tickets one right after the other, you'd be able to cancel your 1st ticket if there's a problem with the 2nd. (Obviously, check your actual airline policy first).
  • Correct, a PNR cannot contain two different itineraries for different passengers. – Calchas Feb 23 '16 at 20:43

Depending on your airline you will be able to choose your seats coming to the US, however based on your situation, you will have to book 3 separate flights. 1 for your individual trip to Malaysia, 1 for your trip with her to the US and the last trip with her going back herself.

For getting seats next to each other, some airlines let you pick your seats. However, you need to check if those seats will be honored. Sometimes airlines will give you the option to pick your seat but it is not guaranteed. In a other cases where they do not let you pick seats online, you pick your seats when you check in so I advise you to get to the airport early so you can pick your seats. In the very worst case that you cannot pick your seat at the ticketing booth, you can go to the gate and ask the attendant there if someone is willing to switch their seats so you can sit next to each other.

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    Why would the girlfriend's travel have to be booked as two separate tickets? I don't understand how that would help with anything. – phoog Feb 23 '16 at 18:04
  • What do you mean? In terms of booking seats together, they would book their flight together coming to the US. Since he is staying in the US, the girlfriend will be traveling back to Malaysia alone. Wouldn't that be considered two separate flights? – LampPost Feb 23 '16 at 18:18
  • Sure, but since booking two one-way flights is often far more expensive than a single round trip, it would make far more sense to book that way, and try to get seats together. As noted elsewhere, even if the first ticket is a one-way for two travelers, there's no guarantee that the couple will sit together. My sister in law was recently traveling with her husband and child and they were separated even though they were ticketed together and had checked in online with adjacent seats. The seats were reassigned between their online checkin and their arrival at the airport. – phoog Feb 23 '16 at 19:21

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