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I booked a flight through United Airlines which is operated by Lufthansa. Is it possible to select a seat in advance?

When I view my reservation on United.com and click "View / Change Seats", I get the message "Come back within 23 hours of departure to Check in and select a seat through Lufthansa".

I was also able to find the Lufthansa confirmation number, and can view the reservation on lufthansa.com, but the "Seat Reservations" tab doesn't show any seats, and doesn't appear to offer anything to click on.

I would much prefer not to wait until check-in time, since it's pretty important to me to get the kind of seat I want. I would be willing to pay a fee if necessary.

(Before you ask, no, I couldn't have booked directly with Lufthansa, due to the Fly America Act.)

The cabin is economy, the routes are SFO-FRA and FRA-DEN, and the booking class is L.

  • 2
    Didn't know about that Act, but from its description on Wikipedia and this page from the GSA, it clearly allows flights on EU carriers. If it didn't, then I'm pretty sure even a code-share flight operated by a non-US carrier wouldn't qualify. – jcaron Oct 24 '16 at 21:24
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    @jcaron: I agree that EU airlines ought to be allowed thanks to the Open Skies agreement, but I am going to have to convince non-government officials who may not be familiar with these subtleties. But it's well established that code-shares booked through a US airline are allowed, no matter who operates them. In my experience, the people who check this usually just look at the name of the airline on the reservation. – Nate Eldredge Oct 24 '16 at 21:31
  • @jcaron: Thanks for suggesting it, though. After further research it seems like the relevant officials in my case do know about Open Skies, so I cancelled the United booking and rebooked directly through Lufthansa, and was then able to reserve seats (for the usual fee). – Nate Eldredge Oct 26 '16 at 19:47
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Lufthansa is much more restrictive than United is when it comes to seat reservations in the economy cabin. According to the Seat reservations for Economy Class passengers page on its website, it may not be possible at all for you to request a seat more than 23 hours in advance of your flight because it does not have a Lufthansa flight number.

Economy Class passengers can reserve seats in advance on all flights operated by Lufthansa, Lufthansa Regional and Austrian Airlines, dependent on the chosen fare/the chosen booking class, under the following conditions:

  • Only for flights and Lufthansa Express Rail connections under LH flight numbers
  • Only for flights which are operated by Lufthansa, Lufthansa Regional (Lufthansa Cityline, Eurowings, Air Dolomiti) or Austrian Airlines
  • Only for confirmed bookings (no waiting list bookings)
  • The planned departure time of the flight in question is more than 52 hours in the future

Had you booked with an LH flight number, you would be allowed to request a seat, but would have been required to pay a fee for the privilege. According to the same page, passengers on W/S/T/L/K fares must pay an additional 25 EUR/35 USD for a standard seat on a long-haul flight— even more for a "seat with more legroom."

  • So kind of them to burn Americans on the exchange rate there too. – Zach Lipton Oct 24 '16 at 22:06
  • @pnuts Only for flights and Lufthansa Express Rail connections under LH flight numbers, or at check-in. I think this is an improvement— about ten years ago I seem to recall I couldn't get a seat assignment on LH until day-of-departure. And there was plenty of consternation at FT from Star Alliance Golds dumped in 37E, since at the time, United was providing Economy Plus as a *G benefit. Of course, nowadays, United's own Silvers don't get Economy Plus until check-in. – choster Oct 24 '16 at 23:08
  • @pnuts That's why I didn't mark it as quoted text— because it isn't. – choster Oct 24 '16 at 23:58
  • @pnuts: I think the point is that this list gives necessary conditions for being able to reserve a seat in advance, i.e. prior to check-in time. If any of the conditions is not met, it may still be possible to reserve a seat at check-in time, within 23 hours of departure. – Nate Eldredge Oct 25 '16 at 4:52
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When booking a Lufthansa flight through United you can not pre select seats. The way around this is to call the Lufthansa number listed on United's booking site. It will cost you $200 more per ticket but you can select your seats at the time of booking.

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