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Travel company IT is a mysterious thing – airlines and hotel groups spend large sums on websites that rarely seem to work entirely as intended, unless the intention is to frustrate and annoy potential customers. Glitches abound and seemingly simple tasks often require an obscure ‘work-around’, if they can be completed at all. One such (theoretically) simple task is trying to select seats on Etihad flights booked with American AAdvantage Miles.
Read on if you want to avoid this screen:
Step 1: Get the right ‘record locator’
When you book a flight using American Miles, you’ll be given a ‘record locator’ – the booking reference for your award redemption. This consists of 6 letters, but to select your seat online on the Etihad site you’ll need a completely different 6 letter code – the Etihad record locator.
So, when you complete your booking with AA (which has to be done over the phone), remember to ask the agent for the Etihad record locator as well as the AA one.
Step 2: Avoid Etihad’s desktop website
You can’t select your seats using the American Airlines website, which is fair enough I suppose, but you would have thought that the Etihad site would be a reasonable bet now that you’ve got your Etihad record locator: wrong.
You can access your booking there, but if you click to select your seats you get the “We were unable to process your request” error message.
The trick is to use the mobile version of the Etihad site instead, which you can find here – note that you do not need to be using a mobile device to access it.
You need to pay to select Economy seats, but if you are travelling Business or First Class you can do so for free.
Step 3: Now what?
It all works pretty smoothly from this point. Click “Manage My Booking and “OK” on the next screen:
Enter your Etihad record locator and surname, then click “Additional Services”
All you have to do then is click on “Select your seat”, choose the one you want and then remember to click “Save Seats” at the bottom of the page:
Should I even bother…?
Yep! It’s a minor hassle, but when you know how, it only takes a couple of minutes – and selecting the ‘right’ seat really can make a big difference to your experience.
The ‘right’ seat obviously varies depending on whether you are travelling with someone you want to sit with or alone, prefer aisle or window seats, as well as on the aircraft type, etc.
On an Etihad A380, I’d want an inner middle pair if travelling with someone in Business Class, or a ‘true’ window seat if travelling by myself (it’s a staggered layout).
With the First Class ‘Apartments’, although any seat would be amazing(!) the only perfect ones in my view (front facing, properly next to the window) are 4A and 4K. If travelling with someone, you’d probably want to grab 3A or 3k too (so 3A and 4A, or 3K and 4K), as those suites can be (semi) joined together.
I have no idea why you can select seats on the mobile site but not on the desktop site. All I know is that it works!
Are there any tech experts out there who can explain why travel company IT is often so peculier/bad?