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Just this week, My Vacation Lady received a call from a client that wanted to book a vacation.  They like to go in the month of May to celebrate their wedding anniversary and their birthdays.

Booking the vacation was easy.  We were able to get them a room in an adult only all inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya within their budget with non stop flights from Newark to Cancun.  They are set to depart in 6 weeks.

The problem came with assigning them seats on the flights.  While I could get them some random seats on the return flight, there were NO seats that I was able to assign on the outbound flight.

It had always been that the airlines saved about 20% of their seats for airport check in only, so even if you didn’t have a seat assignment, as long as you checked in online or at the airport, there was a very good chance of getting a seat.  The operative words here are “very good chance.”  If you didn’t have a seat assigned upon check in- you were either put on the standby list or bumped to another flight.  Not a great way to start a vacation and certainly not the way I want my clients to start their vacation.

Their non stop flights from Newark to Cancun are on United Airlines, which recently took over Continental.  When dealing with Continental, we were, in most cases, able to call the airline and get seat assignments – especially in the cases of families traveling together or for special requests.  Most of their reservation agents went out of their way to help us out.

On this particular plane first 21 rows were either first class, business class or “premium seats” that would cost an additional $59 per person.  This is were the problem lies.

About 1/3  of the   coach seats are now  premium  seats and it  seems as though the “premium seat” category is getting larger and larger and the regular coach section is shrinking.  The later you book, the less likely you will be able to assign seats if you are booking in coach.

After 62 minutes on hold, My Vacation Lady was very lucky to be able to get them seats on the outbound (seats 15 D and E) with out the additional fee but it was likely because we got a former Continental reservation agent on the phone.

The moral of the story- book your vacation early or your chances of getting seats is going to be slimmer and slimmer.  By the way, those regular coach seats- are also getting pushed together more and more so on a long flight, you might want to break down and pay those premium seat fees.