I called Lufthansa this evening to select seats for an upcoming itinerary for friends, and since it was a 747 I wanted to select seats 83A and 83C, which are the exit row seats. I checked the seatmap on ExpertFlyer, and they weren’t blocking the seats like they sometimes do for their elite Senator and HON members. Anyway, after giving them the record locator and flight numbers, the conversation went something like this:
Me: Yes, I’d like to select seats 83A and 83C
Agent: Sorry, those can only be assigned at the airport due to IATA regulations.
Me: Oh, really, is that new?
Agent: Yes, we have to actually see you to determine whether you’re eligible to sit in an exit row. Those are the IATA regulations.
Me: So if I were a Senator or HON I couldn’t select these seats either?
Agent: Are you a Senator or a HON? I might be able to do it then.
Me: I’m not, but why do IATA regulations not apply to Senators and HONs?
At this point she was getting a bit uncomfortable, since I obviously wasn’t taking crap from her. It gets better, of course.
Agent: Well we know our Senators and HONs personally, so we can put them there since we know they’re eligible.
Me: Oh, really? A colleague of mine is a Senator without once having flown Lufthansa. He simply credits all his flying to Miles & More. And you somehow know him personally? Last I checked he didn’t list his injuries in his Miles & More profile….
Agent: Sorry, there is nothing I can do, but you can select these seats at check-in. We just need to see you in person.
Me: And you don’t think Senators and HONs would pre-select these seats?
Agent: Well, sometimes we don’t have any of them on these flights.
Me: Um, ok.
At that point I was getting pissed and gave up. I’m guessing I could have had a bit more fun. Anyway, I called back and the next agent was able to assign those seats in about five seconds.