How to select seats on partner bookings

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It’s common to book a trip through one airline that includes segments flown by other airlines.  For example, a trip booked through American Airlines might include segments flown by Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Qatar, Qantas, or other AA partners.  In some cases the partners are so well integrated that its possible to select seats through the airline you booked with (e.g. you may be able to select Air France seats when booking through Delta), but often you cannot.  Often, it is necessary to go directly to the operating carrier to select your seats.  Here’s how…

When you book a trip, the airline you book with creates a 6 digit Passenger Name Record locator (PNR) that can be used to find and manage your booking.  In some cases the same PNR can be used to manage all segments of your booking, including those operated by partners.  In other cases you’ll have to find the PNR for individual partner segments.  Once you have the PNR, picking seats is usually simple (it’s not always free, but it’s usually easy).

The process I recommend goes like this: First try to select seats through the airline you booked with.  Then, for each segment where you can’t select seats, try the following…

  1. Find the relevant PNR (see examples below)
  2.  Google for “[airline name] Manage Booking” and click to the airline’s website
  3. Enter the PNR and your last name to manage your booking and select seats.

Step 1: Find the relevant booking code (PNR)

When airlines maintain separate booking codes for partner segments, they usually make those numbers available to you when viewing or managing your overall booking online.  Here are a few examples:

Air New Zealand Booked through United

In the booking above, I used United miles to book a trip that included a segment flying Air New Zealand.  As you can see above, United offers an overall Confirmation number ABC123 and an Air New Zealand specific Confirmation number XYZ456 (note that I altered the PNRs in this post to protect the innocent).  United doesn’t have the ability to let you select seats on Air New Zealand and so it’s necessary to use Air New Zealand’s website to select seats.  Use the Air New Zealand specific confirmation number to do so.

Qantas booked through American Airlines

In the booking above, I used AA miles to book a trip that included a segment flying Qantas Airways.  As you can see above, AA offers an overall Record locator ABC123 and a Qantas specific Confirmation code XYZ123.  It is the latter code that is used to pull up the reservation on Qantas’ own website.

KLM Flight Booked through Delta

Delta only shows their own PNR (see Confirmation# ABC123, above), but many of their partners are integrated well enough to where you can use Delta’s PNR to pull up the booking.  For example, I used the above confirmation number (before I photoshopped it for this post) to retrieve my booking on KLM’s website.  There, I could easily see the Booking code that KLM uses more directly.  Alternatively, with some of these partners it’s possible to select seats directly through Delta.

If the above technique doesn’t work for your Delta booking, you can get the partner PNR by asking Delta.  Call, Direct message via Twitter, or message through the Delta app to ask for the partner PNR.

Multi-Partner Award booked through ANA

The booking shown above is for a Round the World award that I booked with ANA.  This award booking includes numerous Star Alliance partners.  With several of the partners, I was able to pick seats directly through ANA’s website.  With others, I used the single PNR provided by ANA (named “Reservation Number,” above) to pull up my booking in each carrier’s website.  In other words, ANA generates a single master PNR that can be used everywhere.  It would be nice if all airlines did this!

Step 2: Google for “[airline name] Manage Booking”

This is a simple shortcut for getting to the right place on the partner airline’s website. Suppose a ticket booked through United Airlines includes a segment flown on Air New Zealand and you want to pick seats for the Air New Zealand flight.  Simply Google for “Air New Zealand manage booking” and then click through to the carrier’s website.

Step 3: Find Your Booking, Pick your seats

Each airline’s manage booking page includes a place to enter your PNR and last name.  Do so to pull up your booking.  Here’s an example from Air New Zealand:

Once you pull up your booking, you should be able to find an option to choose seats.  Once you find the option and click it, you should then see a seat map where you can select seats.  Note that in some cases you will have to pay to pick preferred seats (or to choose seats at all).

Use the same techniques to check-in for flights

In some cases you’ll have to check in directly with the operating carrier rather than the airline you booked through.  In those cases, you can use the same techniques shown above to manage your booking and check-in on the operating carrier’s website.

 

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Amit

Thanks so much for this. Extremely helpful.

John

Fiji is a strange one too.

Hibiki

Is TK an exception? I booked it through AC, I haven’t pull up my reservation on TK site with TK code, it says to contact AC. AC code on TK site says can’t find it. AC site doesn’t allow me to pick seats. I think I was able to pick seats last year, though. Do I need to call TK?

Tracy Robey

For Star Alliance carriers, I’ve had success putting the record locator number in SAS’s website (I realize this makes no sense, but for some reason their software works better) to try to select/confirm seats. It worked for me when booking a RTW with ANA and flying on LOT, and Larry downthread was able to do the same when flying Austrian with a record locator supplied by Lifemiles.

Hibiki

Tracy,
I tried SK, with both TK and AC code, it said there was something wrong, try again later. When I entered my ticket number, it said the code must be 6 characters.

The situation hasn’t changed with TK site and AC site. TK with TK code says to contact original sales channel, AC code and ticket number said couldn’t find it. AC site said to contact TK. Maybe I’ll keep trying SK for next days, then I may need to call TK.

BTW, TK J IST-MEX/CUN is wide open almost every day for October, possibly other months, too

DaninMCI

Thanks for the tip. This just worked for me on LOT booked with Aeroplan award seats.

EVW

Doesn’t work with Lufthansa economy booked through United in my experience

Cavedweller

It changed a lot in 4 years easier to use points on partner airlines. To book seats and it makes u feel safer u will get there too.

usernamechuck

I’ve booked a few AA flights recently using avios – I was not able to get the AA reservation until 24 hours in advance. (Was trying to figure out if bags would be included)

TravelBloggerBuzz

I have your answer in this blog post under the heading “Advanced Travel Hackers”.

https://travelbloggerbuzz.com/world-economy-imperiled-three-arrows-capital-wipeout-best-boardwalks-ann-arbor-art-fair/

You’re welcome 🙂

Usernamechuck

Thanks!

Ram

Who can help me on this ? Booked JAL business class using Alaska miles. AS gave me JAL confirmation number. But when I login to pick seats for B788 Sky Suite, all Window seats are blocked and looks like you can only select them at check-in process. Is there any solution to this ?

MickiSue

Call JAL.

LarryInNYC

Seven character PNRs are showing up these days, not just six.

A commenter on Frequent Miler Insiders showed me that, for Star Alliance, you can use SAS to assign seats even when they are neither the seller nor the operator of the flights. I booked Austrian Airlines through Life Miles and Aeroplan and in both cases assigned seats through SAS using the seller-supplied PNR.

Bryan

You can do the same for One World through Royal Jordanian.

TCCQuest

That worked for LOT, thank you!

Can’t get it working for Turkish yet.

Robert

I can’t get this to work for recent Fiji Airlines J bookings I made with Alaska Miles. I used the Fiji record locator and the Manage booking, but it won’t allow seat selection. Is that a Fiji thing or should I call them?

Bryan

In my recent experience, one exception to this is Aer Lingus. I had to call (or in my case “chat”) with their Messenger system to assign business class seats. I was only able to view the seat map after check-in, and even then I was unable to actually change seats via their website or app.

Tracy Robey

To do this online, use the record locator (there are two on the Avios booking pdf, I forget which works) on the Royal Jordanian site. You’ll need to learn which free seats are open for your Aer Lingus flight — easiest way to do that (without an ExpertFlyer sub) is by making a fake paid booking on that Aer Lingus flight and then just don’t check out. Pick from the available $0 seats for a main cabin economy booking and enter your seat pick(s) on the RJ site. RJ will be able to record those seats to your booking; if you select from the seats that cost more than $0 or unavailable seats, the seat selection won’t record and write to your booking. You’ll be able to see the seats by looking up your record locator again on the RJ site, but it won’t transfer over to Aer Lingus’ record locator info roundup until check-in. If you’re nervous about it working, it’s possible to confirm (and even select seats) via Twitter DM with Aer Lingus, but their ability to edit Avios bookings was down this summer, so RJ saved the day for my May Ireland trip.

James

I’ve booked flights between BA and Iberia for several years now and when I wanted to get a seat assigned on the ‘other’ airline, I had to get a separate booking code. But not this year, I booked thru IB but when I went to BA to get the seats, it took the IB code…first time that happened.

Mike Hulst

Been trying to fix a seat on a SAS-operated flight with a Turkish Award booking….simply impossible. And of course TK doesn’t know (read: want to give) the SK PNR. Tried multiple Star Airlines-websites, but all give me the error.

jeph36

I have an Iberia leg on an AA itinerary in October. From the AA page, under the “Seats” column where Greg shows a double-dash, I have a link to “Choose Seats” that takes me directly to the Iberia page for seat selection – no Iberia login required. As Greg noted in the Qantas example, the Iberia flight record is also clearly shown on the AA page in case you prefer to go that route. Also as Greg noted might be the case, Iberia wants to charge me for seat selection but since it is a 2×2 seating and there are no middle seats, I am just going to take what they give me.

James

Interesting. I’ve flown Iberia for quite a while and never been charged for a seat selection. Hope this isn’t a change and they are adopting the BA way of seat selections.

jeph36

FWIW, this is an intra-European flight on Iberia. I am going CLT-MAD on AA and MAD-BLQ on IB. I have not had this combo before, so I can not comment if it is a change or not.

Michael Tarlow

When booking Qatar premium seats through American you have to contact the airline (I DM them on FB). They might show you the seat map for your flight and ask which seats you want. They might say something like there are no window seats or in the case of suites, there are no forward facing seats. I have not been able to get advance econ seat assignments.

Michael Tarlow

I did but I made the reservations about 9 months ago so maybe things have changed since then.

Parts Unknown

They changed this a few months back, you can select seats in the QR app/website now if you used AA miles to book.