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Where to sit?

Where to sit?

*Note: I feel like I should mention that following the lengthy diatribe below, which does show poor service it has to be said (and was accurate), I have been since contacted by CheapOair who say they are working to improve the seat selection as per the original request; “Mr. McFarlane, very sorry for the inconvenience regarding your seat selection, we are currently working on improving the seat selection for your convenience, and per your original request.” I will let you know how we get on with that here – although, that was Thursday and here we are on Monday with no update yet.


With our next forthcoming trip looming large on the horizon, and the nasty memories of us both having to sit all over the place separately on our last Etihad flights due to their very bizarre seating system which more or less guarantees you won’t sit together shy of super-mega frequent flyer status, or a divine intervention, we decided to take matters into our own hands this time.


By the way, before someone corrects me on the Etihad seating issue – yes, we did try to pick seats together at time of booking, that’s how far back we were talking. Needless to say their friendly Dublin handling staff were only too delighted to tell us there was nothing they could do. It seems to be something that, with the exception of Aer Lingus, I can never win on.


This time, we had booked with CheapoAir as Malaysian’s own site doesn’t seem to have the sense or ability to package the Aer Lingus Dublin to wherever connecting flight, a prerequisite to get bags checked in all the way and boarding cards issued. Aer Lingus’ site meanwhile is programmed to sell you tickets on their partners, so their ticket to Kuala Lumpur will take you on an extremely expensive Etihad routing all the way. It’s very complicated.


After a few weeks of CheapoAir (what a name) letting me know about their Enhanced Seating Program that promises to more or less hand-hold and cosset you into your seat, I decided to take the plunge and go for it – now, I wanted to see the map as you can imagine and while it says a very small notice before you click (which you actually could accidentally it’s that easy) that there’s a charge for the  ‘program’ – what it doesn’t tell you, is that it actually charges you when you click to the credit card which you originally used, which in my mind anyway is a stunning abuse of keeping a credit card number on file. I actually couldn’t believe it – no warnings that the transaction is imminent or about to happen (you would presume it would be later on by the way it’s worded). No, charged – to a credit card I used some months ago. Unreal!


Anyway, for the privilege of the enhanced program, you still can’t pick any seats with Aer Lingus – which suited me fine anyway as I know they’ll offer up the best in house at check-in anyway, but I’d have been disgusted otherwise.


Malaysia’s seats meanwhile, I went for row 42, window and middle. Job done, confirm, all happy.


So you can imagine my surprise when I went back online (by chance) later to find we now had seats 65 middle and even more middle. Needless to say I wasn’t for paying their international number for the US or UK and hit up online chat;


There are currently 1 chat request(s) before you in the chat queue.

Your Question: Enhanced Seating – changed the seats I'd picked earlier for worse ones

Please wait, an operator will be with you shortly.

There are currently 1 chat request(s) before you in the chat queue.

Your request is important to us. Please wait, an operator will be with you shortly.

There are currently 1 chat request(s) before you in the chat queue.

Your request is important to us. Please wait, an operator will be with you shortly.

There are currently 1 chat request(s) before you in the chat queue.

Your request is important to us. Please wait, an operator will be with you shortly.

There are currently 1 chat request(s) before you in the chat queue.


It went on like this for an incredible amount of time, before my main man ‘Maximus’ picked up on things; by the way, if you’re reading this Maximus, that’s a ridiculous fake name and I don’t appreciate talking by chat with someone who sounds like a porn actor.


14:59Maximus C: Hello Andy.

14:59Maximus C: How may I assist you ?

14:59Andy McFarlane: Hi Maximus

15:00Andy McFarlane: About the Enhanced Seat Program, with my booking, which was #175——

15:00Maximus C: May I have your booking number ?


It dragged on like this with him asking for my address a few times even though I’d given it, and so on. To be fair, I reasoned he probably had about 16 chat windows open and was struggling to keep ahead of them all. Now, in the below conversation are the maps I was looking at while we chatted (literally, live)…


15:00Andy McFarlane: I'm just wondering – I requested seats in 23 for the KUL – SYD sector, and that was fine

15:01Andy McFarlane: But I requested seats in 42 for the LHR – KUL sector…and without any warning or option, I'm not in 65 middle seating somehow, which doesn't suit at all?

15:04Maximus C: As I can see for the flight from London to Kuala Lumpur, you are assigned seats as 65 D and 65 E.

15:04Maximus C: DO you wish to change that ?

15:05Andy McFarlane: Well yes – what I'm saying is, I requested seats in row 42

15:05Andy McFarlane: I never asked for 65 D or E

15:05Maximus C: I'm afraid but row 42 is completely booked.

15:05Andy McFarlane: Really – but it shows free on the map?

15:06Maximus C: No sir.

 Empty Row 42


15:06Andy McFarlane: OK, then what about 73 B or C? (By the way, I promise – it is showing as free on your map)

15:06Maximus C: I am unaware of the Map you are checking.

15:07Andy McFarlane: Your one –
15:07Maximus C: However 73 row is completely reserved as well.

15:07Maximus C: Andy 73 row is completely booked.

15:07Andy McFarlane: Yes I see that – please see the link above with the map I'm looking at, it's your own one.

Another empty row...

OK Fine; I just wanted to get him round to offer me a decent window/middle seat and it may be that these are the best, although I'd be willing to pay more for them. In the end we had to agree to disagree – but then without a word warning came what was surely my personal favourite comment given the already fragile nature of the entire exchange…


15:12Maximus C: If you want to appreciate my efforts you can send us an email at for my assistance and CC it to and

What? Really?


In the meantime, both Malaysia Airlines and Cheapoair are ignoring tweets and e-mails;


– so here’s a question for all the good travellers out there; do we leave this to chance at check-in or is there a better way to reach out and get this sorted without having to resort to Maximus?!

Reformed backpacker & former ultra-cheap traveller, Andy now atones for his past by overspending on premium travel experiences and failing at making the most of the miles & points game. Former expat now returned to Ireland, he is a product manager by day, and travel aficionado by evening and weekend.

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