Do NOT purchase reserved seats on Lufthansa

A few months ago, my wife and I flew to Barcelona on Lufthansa to speak at TechEd Europe.  Having never flown them before, I chose them for a number of reasons including itinerary, inclusion of cocktails, and they weren’t American Airlines.  I have to say my in-flight experience was pretty nice.

However, one thing I didn’t like is how we were suckered into purchasing a reserved seat.  After you book your reservation, you have the option to book a seat.  This will cost you between $15 and $35 per flight segment per person.  That meant for the wife and I, we spent $200 for the entire trip.  This allowed us to pick seats in advance.  Otherwise, you don’t get to pick them until you check in 24 hours in advance.  For our long haul flight, I picked us some decent seats near the middle of the plane.  I regularly checked the site to see if any new seats had opened up.  A few days before our trip, some new seats open up, 18A and 18B I believe.  I selected them and thought all was great.

However, the day before the trip, I was sad to see that I had now been assigned seats 44A and 44B at the very back of the plane.  That didn’t make me happy.  I called customer service and they could tell that we had the better seats but had no reason as to why we didn’t have them any more.  We decided to inquire when we got to the airport and the agent asked a manager and they pointed us back to their policy that basically states, you don’t actually reserve a seat.  You just reserve the type of seat and you have no guarantee that you will get to keep the one you selected.  When you go look for the fine print on the web site, you will see the following:

“Please note that a confirmed seat reservation does not give you any legal right to a specific seat, only to a seat in your chosen category, e.g. window or aisle.”

Although the web site has this information, the way they present it is very shady and misleading.  In essence what happened to us is that someone with higher status checked in and we got bumped.  I may or may not fly Lufthansa again, but I assure you if I do, I will never pay for a seat reservation.

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