When you book a flight ticket your reservation is given a PNR (Passenger Name Record) when you book an award for leisure travel, as I often do for both Mrs Saverocity and I then the ticketing is linked to one account number, and this causes several interesting effects, some of which are good, and some of which are a pain in the backside.
If you have tried to book any award travel recently you might have noticed a trend that finding multiple seats is so much harder than finding one seat, especially in Business Class. So I have been sitting on two Economy Award seats and staring at availability for just one Business Class seat, but they won’t let me have it because I am on the same PNR I cannot reassign just one seat it must be both of us – the seat gets assigned to someone way less worthy, and a few days later they open up just one more seat! This dripping of seat assignments is taken straight out of the book of Chinese Water Torture!
If you try to split your PNR after the fact you are hit with a hefty fee- I tried this with United today, in the hopes that I could put at least the dear wife into Business or First on the way home from our jaunt through the Indian Ocean and Japan and they wanted a whopping $300 for the split – which we declined. Though, it is nice to have the option to split online after the fact and we were having second thoughts – after all $150 plus the extra miles (40K in Coach and adding on 20 more for 60K in Business is worth it on a 14hr slog).
We’re flying in less than 24hrs so I thought that a last minute seat might open up, but when we returned from sight seeing in Hon Kawagoe ‘little Edo’ Japan I received a notification from Expert Flyer that 2 seats from NRT-ORD were open in Business/First on UA882, whilst it didn’t get us to NYC it was close, so I called up and whilst chatting away with the helpful agent they informed me that 2 seats to Newark were available in Business/First non-stop for a change fee of $75 per ticket and an extra 20K miles per person. We jumped on that and are heading home in style tomorrow.
However, that is a lucky case, and if we had just booked separately at the start we could have guaranteed these seats in Business months ago, splitting the PNR into separate accounts so it is one person per reservation would have also avoided the $75 late change fee.
From now on, I am booking separate tickets – this will mean that some flights Allison will be in Business and I in Coach, and perhaps we might even be on a separate flight – this is one risk that comes with splitting the PNR in that they won’t keep your party together. However look at a case like Narita-New York and that there are flights from Star Alliance Partners like United and ANA leaving within minutes of one another, wouldn’t it be better to travel solo and in comfort than travel together in the back of the plane where the poor people reside and chickens are flying around or whatever happens there in the cheap seats?
There is a flip side to this too, some people with the top tier of airline Status can get their travelling companions upgraded just by being attached to the PNR – typically in Domestic travel – however since I never pay for flights and hope to keep it that way my status is zero with the carriers, so it is separate tickets for me!
We just booked our next vacation today, heading to Rome for a 4 night stay in June, the flights will be on Separate PNR ‘s and we’re going to do everything we can to get us there in time and in style.
What do you think – would you risk travelling separately in order to get one or more of you access to Business Class?