Unauthorised Seat Changes…Is it widespread?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  flier74 10 Jan 2012
at 07:27

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)

  • Anonymous


    On the post “Travelling in Club with an infant” two posters highlighted an issue I have encountered with BA, namely seat changes of pre booked seats. BA state that this can be done for operational reasons which if there are aircraft type changes I can well understand.

    My experience as both a Silver and Gold Card Holder has been to have pre allocated seats changed for non operational reasons and I would say, following unauthorised access to my PNR.

    I had 4 x 1 first row upper deck seats in club world HKG LHR changed to middle seats downstairs last summer. In addition 4 x front row Club Europe were moved to the back row on same PNR and BA absolutely refused to accept that I had not done this.

    They pointed out that the changes had been done via BA.com and concluded that it must therefore have been me or one of the party travelling with me.

    I have pointed out that access to my PNR via BA.com requires only my PNR and last name and therefore almost any member of staff of that airline and indeed many other airlines, can access my details and change the PNR within the rules of the fare paid. This can include cancellation! I accept that if anyone else had access to my PNR then they too could make similar changes

    Such access and changes are not traceable ( without a great deal of effort) as they are when such actions are conducted within the carriers booking system.

    In my experience this happens mostly 36-72 hours before departure but the HKG seats were altered two weeks before and whilst we were actually en route to HKG and so without access to the internet!

    It is rather odd that, in order to get a copy of your E ticket once in MMB, you require the credit card number used to make the booking, yet you can action all sorts of things via MMB on BA.com simply with last name and PNR.

    Given the comments by other posters I wondered if these are isolated incidents or is there a more general problem? BA simply washed their hands of my complaint so it would be interesting to see just how widespread seats changes like this are and if it is a significant issue then perhaps the BT team could take it up with BA on the basis of a significant security flaw with MMB.


    Having read Binman62 post I checked my flight to MRU in April only to discover that we had a change of seat. This is an AM2-4-1 booking and I only hold Blue status. No email received to tell me of this change.

    My love of Qatar (Gold) and there wonderful service precludes me from ever getting any higher with BA, although Bronze will be achieved this year (can`t wait) also unable to use my companion ticket, (advert over).

    I paid for specific seats 4E, 4F out and return (3 class 777) on checking MMB we have been moved to 10E 10F, out and return, On viewing the seat plan 4E is now reserved with 4F empty out and return.
    It is the same aircraft so cannot be for operational reasons.

    My only conclusion is that it is someone with more status then I have. For BA to move two people from a booked and paid for seat for this one person must be positive discrimination on the basis of status. (Or they have some sort of wish to sleep next to a stranger both ways, night flights).

    I have been unable to speak to anyone at BA as the phones are busy and you get cut off!


    5+ years ago, when doing far more regular (weekly) business travel than am doing now I found I was being moved 10-20% of the time.

    The”Operational reasons” included accommodating Royalty, Celebrities, Government officials or other people of influence and their (ever increasing) posse who “needed” to be seated as a group. More for pandering than security methinks.

    I complained once when I found out I was moved downstairs to accommodate a group from the travel industry on a freebee – no response!

    It was more prevalent on BA than other LH carriers. Am unsure if it was because BA more readily acquiesced to the celebrity demands or because it carried relatively more of them.


    @ 09/01/2012 10:02 GMT

    “I had 4 x 1 first row upper deck seats in club world HKG LHR” – upper deck, first row, would include 60B. Isnt this the staff freebie seat, so should not be possible to book by mere mortals, such as passengers!?


    @09/01/2012 12:59 GMT

    Sorry I was referring to first row of upperdeck as you enter the cabin…row 64? AB JK can’t remember …..I have not used Club before this as generally in the front. We MFU to F on the outbound 2 days before leaving LHR and when sitting in the CX loung in HKG noted the seat changes for the return. The flights were booked almost 8 months in advance and the entire cabin was available to choose from.
    As I ponted out to BA who in their right mind moves from the upper deck to lower deck in the middle voluntarily?

    @09/01/2012 11:16 GMT
    What you need to find out is who made the change. Wsa is officially by BA due aircraft type change or was it BA.com as a result of either you or someone else accessing the PNR.

    I am not so worried when there is an explanation for the move be it operational or for Heads of state and royalty. I am concerned about the ease with which it is done and the apprent lack of traceability.


    On numerous occasions with British Airways my pre-assigned seats have been changed without any warning or follow up notification. These changes could not have been made by other travellers on the same booking because they do not use computers. The changes must have been made by British Airways.

    Every time, the first I was aware of the change was when reviewing the booking using http://www.ba.com Manage My Booking. On the seats page, I saw a comment that the seats had been changed. There was a link to some generic text which gives some typical reasons for seat changes. But no specific reason for my change was given.

    In my experience the majority of these unexpected changes have been on Club World and Club Europe bookings, usually many months or weeks prior to departure. Often splitting up the party so we would no longer be seated together.

    I don’t book First class so can’t comment on that aspect.

    When I have noticed these changes, sometimes my original seat choice has still been available and I have reverted to assignments back to what they were. Which makes we wonder even more why the change was made in the first place.

    I now periodically review any current bookings for any unexpected changes.

    If I make a seat change then I receive a notification email that states seats were changed on the booking. As MMB pages can detect a seat change has been made by BA, then why can’t they sent an email when they make the change?


    This has happened to me on a number of occasions, always longhaul in Club.

    On each occasion my seat original seat was 62A but for some reason I get bumped out to a seat on the lower deck.

    BA offer no explanation other than a change of aircraft configuration on the route.

    Given the 744’s are identical on the upper deck why can’t they re-seat you in your pre-booked seat? – frustrating!!


    It’s not only BA, QF have done it to me in C before and I’ve just looked at an LH booking where I had 1C LHR-MUC and I now have 2C. That has never happened on LH before, I hope it’s not the start of them playing games too.


    This has never happened to me, but it wouldn’t surprise me that you might be bumped if you’ve picked a bassinet position (e.g. 64A/K, which seem to be always available to choose at the time of booking, unlike the last row on CW in the 777s) and some-one books who requests / needs it (and particularly if they are higher status than you).
    IIRC, you usually receive an email if any changes are made to your booking.


    The cynic in me keeps expecting a pro-BA poster to offer up a reason along the lines of this being a customer focused service enhancement to deliver an above expectation service experience because we know better bla bla…If you can chose your seat without a fee because of your status, there should be a message apologising for the “enhancement” when you are lucky enough not to get it.


    It’s been a few months I was moved from my pre-assigned seat, and I never had this problem the few times I’ve flown with BA, but I do feel it can be luck of the draw. Years ago with Air Canada I was moved from a window seat at the front of an economy cabin to a seat in the middle section right at the back. Whilst annoyed at check-in, boarding revealed the problem. I had been moved so a group of school children could be sat together. Being sat at the back I had two seats to myself and was far away from the noise of a school party. I had a similar experience recently with Air New Zealand, being moved from my assigned seat in business class so a large group could be sat together, but was given a window seat towards the rear of the cabin. So long as you haven’t paid to select your seat, and you are being moved to accommodate a group or baby who needs a bassinet, I think moving you is fair enough, especially if they can offer you a similar or better seat elsewhere on the aircraft. If the airline fails to provide an explanation, or if there is no obvious reason for the swap, I can certainly understand peoples’ grievances.


    same thing just happened to me, flying with BA to London tomorrow and then with QF to Sydney on the 380. Had 12JK pre assignes on the QF flight and as I went through online check in for the whole journey, the seats were changed to 2 minddle seats at the bery last row.
    Puzzled I rang Qantas who confirmed we are indeed in 12JK so why BA decided to change seats on another carrier for me is beyond me..
    Abandoned online check in and go through their website later to get thoise nice seats.

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